Vaping has come a long way since its first e-cig model was released by Hon Lik back in 2003. It’s not just the technology that’s evolved since then – a whole subculture has developed. It’s become so much of a “thing” there are even Instagram accounts totally dedicated to tricks and promoting different vapes. What exactly is vape culture and who’s a part of it?
The aesthetic and diversity
Despite the initial impression you might get from walking into a vape shop, it isn’t all men with tattoos and facial piercings who are a part of the culture. There’s plenty of women both working in and for the vaping industry. From Instagram accounts like Hannah aka ___justpeachyy to Zophie over on YouTube, while it’s often a younger vibe, it’s still pretty diverse. Aside from that, whenever you walk into a vape shop or chat to someone online – they’re almost always a wonderfully friendly bunch. With the vast majority of them having picked up vaping to quit smoking, they’re only too happy to help newbie vapers to enable them to do the same.
There’s something distinctly underground and unique about the branding. The products are also designed to be as diverse as the people purchasing them. Looking at mods alone you can get something super retro like a chunky, square box mod, to something modern and practically indestructible. The same principle is even more true for e-liquids. From packaging with designs that look like they come out of a flash tattoo book to bright and colourful fruity designs – no matter your look or vibe there’s a brand that suits your tastes both literally and aesthetically.
Vaping is such a big industry that the southeastern Chinese city of Shenzhen, aside from hosting one of the biggest vaping conventions in the world, is flooded with the world’s biggest e-cigarette manufacturers. The likes of Innokin, SMOK and Vaporesso all have factories there producing high quality vape kits, tanks, mods and just about everything else to do with e-cigarettes.
The vapers vocab
Remember the days where PG and VG were a mystery to you? And Ohms was just a vague memory of high school physics lessons? Now, vapers are well versed in a whole lot of chemistry and physics as well as plenty of their own lingo.
Juice: No longer just something you have with your breakfast in the morning, vape juice is the stuff you put in your tank or drip on your coils (if RDAs are your thing).
Squonking: You know it’s officially a word when you don’t get the red line under it when you type it out and squonking is a real life “thing” in the vaping community. A fancy word for the technique used when vaping with a squonk mod. Squishing the little silicone bottle that’s filled with e-liquid in the mod to re-saturate a rebuildable atomiser coil.
Sub Ohm: The big one to know when you want to get into creating the biggest clouds possible. Coils that are less than 1 Ohm in resistance allow more power through, can be used with higher VG liquids and create that dense fog you see on Instagram.
Cloud chasing: Following on from Sub Ohm, cloud chasing is the pursuit of the biggest and most dense clouds possible. There are whole competitions dedicated to this, with vapers creating super low resistance coils on unregulated mods for maximum fog.
Flavour chasing: For people less concerned about cloud and more about flavour, they’ll build coils (or buy pre-made ones) that enhance the flavour of their juice to make it as crisp as possible.
Dripping: A technique employed by cloud chasers and flavour chasers alike. This one is for when you’ve built your own coil on an RDA (rebuildable dripping atomiser) and literally drip juice straight onto the coil. It gives exceptional flavour on mouth to lung setups and supercharged clouds when you drip onto low resistance coils.
There are whole trade shows dedicated to vaping. They’re the best places to go for finding new brands, trying out new vape juices and meeting like-minded vapers. It’s also a great opportunity to see some of the best tricks you can pull with a vape. Some black-belt cloud chasers can create shapes that would make you think they’re air benders. From things like your entry level O rings up to the Irish waterfall and the jellyfish, aside from being a safer alternative to smoking – vaping has proven to be a lot of fun.
Vaping goes mainstream
From Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio to Cara Delevingne and Lady Gaga – there are plenty of well-known names who have been snapped, vape in hand. As soon as celebrity culture gets into it, you know it’ll get more mainstream. While there are still plenty of more alternative or underground aspects to vaping, the benefit of it being more publicly visible is that it often gains legitimacy.
In a relatively short space of time, vaping has gone from basic cig-a-like devices to a seriously diverse range of designs as well as thousands of brands and vape shops both on the high street and online. On top of that, it’s brought people from all walks of life, different ages and countries together to enjoy something that not only packs a whole lot of flavour (and fog) into their lives but also offered them a safer alternative to smoking.