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How electronic cigarettes work

A personal vaporizer has a cartridge, atomizer and battery. The cartridge has nicotine-laced 'juice' and a mouthpiece. The atomizer has a small heating coil. With the push of a button, the battery powers the atomizer to heat the juice, turning it into a vapor.

By Amber Dance

July 6, 2013

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Electronic cigarettes deliver nicotine-laced, vaporized liquid instead of burning tobacco fumes.

Indeed, some users — "vapers" — prefer the term "personal vaporizer" to distance their devices from smoky, stinky cigarettes.

The basic personal vaporizer consists of a cartridge, atomizer and battery. The cartridge holds the nicotine-laced "juice" and a mouthpiece. The atomizer contains a small heating coil. With the push of a button, the battery powers the atomizer to heat the juice, turning it to a vapor.

Personal vaporizers come in a broad range of forms. Small versions look a lot like cigarettes. Many users prefer larger units, the size of a cigar or small digital camera, because the larger battery means they last longer without recharging.

A typical juice recipe contains four ingredients: propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, liquid nicotine and natural or artificial flavor. Aside from the nicotine, these basic ingredients are accepted food additives. There are a variety of flavors, including tobacco and sweet tastes such as bubble gum or strawberry waffle. Juices contain different levels of nicotine, and some contain none.