The Guide to Vaper Speak

Vapor Reporter presents

The Guide to Vaper Speak

…a glossary of terms


When we were new to vaping, we were confused by the terms and acronyms vapers use.  You must admit, with all the strange words and abbreviations, it’s like a foreign language!

So we’ve created this guide. It’s a work in progress, evolving along with the language.  Others have contributed, and will continue to do so.  It’s less of a full dictionary and more of a quick list of common terms, to help you better understand vaping and decipher the Vapor Reporter site. We will add more words as we think of them or receive them in suggestions. You can write to talkback (at) if you want to suggest a new entry.

Vaping Terms:

1.5 and 2.0 and so on = the resistance, in Ohms, of the heating coil inside cartomizers (see carto’s, below). This has to do with the gauge of the wire and the total times it’s wound, which add up to the electrical resistance.  The lower Ohms mean the battery discharges faster.  However, at 1.5 Ohms, the feeling of vaping is more like smoking, because the “throat hit” (see TH, below) is more like that of tobacco. At 2.0 Ohms, that feeling is reduced a bit, but the flavor of the juice is more apparent. [Nerdy enough for you? Hold on, it gets better.]

510, 808, etc. = terms that indicate the type of screw threading on your personal vaping (PV) device. There’s a whole long list of these, and the battle for supremacy in the screw-threading world resembles the contest between VHS and Betamax in the 1980’s. Suffice it to say that most products on the open market today use the 510 threading, and adapters are available to change from one to another. You want to make sure the batteries you buy fit the cartos or tanks you buy, so get them with the same threading.

Atty = atomizer – the core element inside a cartomizer, and the part that turns juice into vapor so we can inhale it.  There are three basic types, differentiated by the type of coil within (see coils). It’s the part that makes the nice, flavorful fog.

Battery or batt or batty = This one can be confusing, because it’s used interchangeably for different things.  It can mean a stick battery, designed to look like a cigarette and about the same size.  It can also refer to the internal batteries inside mods, which often have removable batteries. Context tells the story. These provide the power so the atomizer can make nice vapor.

Burn = what happens when you take a drag on a carto or tank that’s dry, and you get a weird burnt-taste in your mouth.  Bleccchh!  The coils will light up, but since there’s no juice to turn into vapor, this can cause the actual wicking material to burn, thus giving you that bad taste.  No one wants to burn a carto or a tank wick.

Carto = cartomizer, the central vapor-producing unit. In the size for stick batteries, it means the little units sold in packs (pre-filled or not), where the juice goes. Looks like a tube, like the filter part of a normal cigarette.  Inside is some place to hold the liquid, some sort of wick, and a heating coil.  The term comes from the mash-up of cartridge and atomizer, and there are lots of different styles.

Condom = If you use stick batteries (they look like cigarettes) these are the little plastic tips that come on pre-filled carto’s. The point of these is to keep the juice from evaporating.  We like to keep a bunch of these around so we can enjoy a flavor for awhile, then switch carto’s to another flavor ….at which point we pop the end-cap (the “condom”) on the one we’re not using, to save it.  Think of these like “Tupperware” for your carto’s.

Drip Tip = the shaped tip you can optionally put on a carto – and which is necessary on a tank – to give you something to suck on as you vape.  They come in assorted materials like metal, wood, plastic, and nylon.  We think the name is odd, but it’s use started in the early days, so it stuck.

Dry Hit = Holding your finger over the bottom of a tank that you’ve recently filled and then pulling (sucking) on it gently to draw the e-liquid into the central wick, prior to connecting the tank and actually vaping.  If this is not done after a refill, it’s possible for the glowing coil inside the carto to burn the wick, which tastes nasty. [See Burn, above.]

Fluff = Polyfill, the stuff inside certain models of carto that holds the juice in place. Some vapers jokingly call it the “diaper.”  Most just say “fluff.” The cartos for stick style batteries all contain fluff.

FP = Flavor Profile.  This means “how the vapor tastes to you.”  It’s compared to the “bouquet” that wine connoisseurs talk about when they do their tasting. FP is purely subjective, and depends both on your own preferences and on the device you are using. Experimentation is a big part of vaping, and (to us) makes the experience fun.

Juice = The liquid in e-cigs that is turned into vapor. It’s sometimes referred to as “e-liquid,” but is more commonly just called the juice. This liquid is made up of liquid nicotine, flavoring, and a carrier which is typically some blend of vegetable glycerine (VG) and propylene glycol (PG). If you get to buying juices in little bottles for refilling your cartos, you will see the ratio of PG to VG referred to in percents, like 60:40 or 50:50. (see VG and PG, below)

Mods = any vaping unit that doesn’t look like a cigarette. Mods typically have removable batteries. Some of them offer additional cool features, such as the ability to adjust the voltage. Changing the voltage changes the amount of vapor and affects the flavor.  Typically, mods are larger, heavier, and look more “sci-fi,” some resembling small light sabers  Highly nerdy, but considered cool among vapers. The biggest attraction is that, with their larger batteries, they can last all day and night.

PV = Personal Vaping Device.  Why it isn’t “PVD,” we don’t know. Maybe because that sounds too much like an underwear brand. The idea was to coin a term that covered all devices at once – a daunting feat – without being so vague as to be useless. Some people say it means Personal Vapor Device instead. Whatever. The point is, your PV is that thing in your hand that produces vapor.

RBA = Rebuildable Atomizer. These are gizmos that appeal to the geekier vapers. They are a type of tank (see Tanks, below) which can be rebuilt, as the name suggests, and require a fair bit of fiddling to get them just right. Some vapers swear by them, while others swear at them. If you know someone who just loves to fiddle endlessly with their computer, their sound system, or their car engine, they will probably love RBAs.

SC and DC = Single Coil and Dual Coil.  Refers to the wiring inside the cartomizer.  Some have one vapor-producing coil that heats up to create the vapor, while others have two.  The more coils inside, the more heat you generate to turn juice into tasty vapor.  Coils come in two configurations: bottom or horizontal coil (BC) and vertical coil (VC).

Tanks = juice-holding modules which are made up of some type of wick-and-coil combination inside a storage unit for the liquid (juice).  They are available in a whole range of sizes, from 1.5 ml up, and a dizzying array of styles. The point of tanks is to hold a lot of juice so you can vape for an extended period of time, and so you can refill with whatever flavor you like. Unlike the small prefilled carto’s, tanks come empty and require that you buy a bottle of juice to fill them.  If you want to vape all day, and you don’t want to switch your carto’s a lot, then tanks are for you.

TH or throat hit = The feeling one gets in their mouth and throat when inhaling.  Some people like a lot, some like a little.  When first switching to vaping, many smokers prefer a strong TH because it mimics real smoking. Throat hit is the result of a combination of factors and not the nicotine level alone.

VG and PG = vegetable glycol and propylene glycol, the bases for the all the vaping juices sold on the market.  We will elaborate:

PG, propylene glycol, is found in many food, pharmaceutical, and beauty products.  It’s been endlessly tested by the FDA and put on the Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) list.  Hospitals use it in a wide variety of applications, and you know how careful they have to be.  You can look up PG in Wikipedia.  PG is only toxic in huge quantities, more than you could consume if you drank the stuff by the glass.  Some e-cig detractors talk about how it’s also used as an airplane wing de-icer, but they fail to mention it’s also commonly used in pharmaceuticals that are injected or otherwise ingested, or that the tobacco companies have been using it for decades in cigars and cigarettes to keep the tobacco moist. This stuff is safe.

VG or vegetable glycerine is similar, but obtained from strictly plant sources. The downside for vapers is that pure VG is quite thick, and leads to clogging of carto’s and RBA wicks. Experienced vapers who like VG still cut it with PG so it will vape trouble-free. In fact, a lot of juices are a mix of PG and VG.  VG is also safe.

Vape = The act of puffing on an e-cig or mod, drawing in vapor, as in, “I’m vaping the new chocolate banana flavor.”  Those who vape call themselves “vapers.”  This is considered better than terms like “vapor-smoker,” since it’s not smoke, or “e-cig user,” which sounds clinical and awkward.

VP = vapor profile, which is the amount and consistency of the vapor you’re getting. It’s highly dependent on the juice composition, the type of coil you’re using, and the voltage setting of your PV.

Water = water or H2O… something you should drink a lot more of if you are vaping, to avoid odd smelling breath. The reason is that your kidneys need that water to clear the PG/VG from your body.  Doctors have been telling us for a long time that we need to drink more water anyway, so this is actually a good thing.  Failing to increase your water intake will result in weird breath from vaping – but that beats the heck out of the nasty breath that comes from tobacco smoke.  “Vaper breath” comes from ketones generated in the process of synthesizing the PG/VG as it’s filtered out of the body.  It’s really the only side effect from vaping, and it’s nothing compared to stained teeth and tar-filled longs when one smokes.  Drinking a few extra glasses or bottles of water each day will cure it, and your body will thank you as well.


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