Most e-cigarettes have:
- a mouthpiece, or cartridge
- a heating element
- a rechargeable battery
- electronic circuits
As the user sucks on the mouthpiece, a sensor activates a heating element that vaporizes a flavored, liquid solution held in the mouthpiece. The person then “vapes,” or inhales, the aerosol solution.
The nicotine content varies from zero to “extra-high,” or 24 to 36 milligrams (mg) per milliliter (ml).
The mouthpiece is a cartridge that is fixed to the end of a tube. A small plastic cup within the mouthpiece holds an absorbent material drenched in the liquid solution.The cartridge can either be refilled or replaced with another pre-filled cartridge when necessary.
The atomizer is a heating element that heats the liquid, causing it to vaporize. The solution can then be breathed in, or inhaled.
The battery powers the heating element. This is normally a rechargeable, lithium-ion battery.
The sensor activates the heater when the user sucks on the device. An LED may show when it is activated.
The solution, also known as e-liquid or e-juice, is made by extracting nicotine from tobacco and mixing it with a base, usually propylene glycol, and flavoring. Propylene glycol is used in inhalers, for example, for asthma. There is a wide range of flavors to choose from, with names such as traditional, watermelon, menthol, and lava flow.
Some flavors, such as a combination of tobacco and menthol, try to resemble traditional cigarettes. A number of them claim to mimic specific brands.