What are vaping devices?

What are vaping devices?

Vaping devices, also known as e-cigarettes, e-vaporizers, or electronic nicotine delivery systems, are battery-operated devices that people use to inhale an aerosol, which typically contains nicotine (though not always), flavorings, and other chemicals. They can resemble traditional tobacco cigarettes (cig-a-likes), cigars, or pipes, or even everyday items like pens or USB memory sticks. Other devices, such as those with fillable tanks, may look different. Regardless of their design and appearance, these devices generally operate in a similar manner and are made of similar components. More than 460 different e-cigarette brands are currently on the market. Some common nicknames for e-cigarettes are:

  • e-cigs
  • e-hookahs
  • hookah pens
  • vapes
  • vape pens
  • mods (customizable, more powerful vaporizers)
what is vaping

Overall, e-cigarettes are battery-powered devices designed to look like a pen, a thumb drive, or even a real cigarette. Some have refillable tanks while others have disposable pods. But regardless of what they look like, they basically all work the same way.

E-cigarettes have containers filled with liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. A battery-powered heating device turns the liquid into vapor, which users inhale when they take a puff off of the device.

Using an e-cigarette is called vaping, although teens refer to using JUULs, a pod-type of e-cigarette, as juuling. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of different types of e-cigarettes on the market, and almost all of them contain nicotine. Sometimes, they even contain THC, the chemical found in marijuana that makes users feel “high.”

The Risks Associated With Vaping

There is a fierce debate about the risks and possible benefits of vaping. Some believe that vaping could help millions of adults quit tobacco cigarettes, while advocates argue that vaping normalizes the habit and lures children into smoking. But those two arguments aside, there is mounting evidence that vaping negatively impacts your health.

For instance, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine indicated in a consensus study report that reviewed more than 800 different studies, that using e-cigarettes, or vaping causes health risks. They also concluded that e-cigarettes contain a number of potentially toxic substances that irritate the lungs and cause a number of health issues.

Meanwhile, a study from the University of North Carolina found similar results indicating that the two primary ingredients found in e-cigarettes are toxic to cells. They also reported that the more ingredients in an e-liquid, the greater the toxicity. But the concerns with vaping do not end there. There are several other surprising risk factors associated with vaping. Here is an overview of the potential issues that result from vaping.

Vaping Devices Can Blow Up

Perhaps one of the most shocking risks associated with e-cigarettes and vaping is the risk of explosions and fire from the devices. In a 2017 report from the U.S. Fire Administration, officials reported that the shape and construction of e-cigarettes make them more likely to explode than other products with lithium-ion batteries. In fact, when the batteries fail, they behave like “flaming rockets.”

Meanwhile, another study found that more than 2,000 visits to the emergency rooms between 2015 and 2017 were related to e-cigarette burns and explosion-related injuries. That is nearly two hospital visits a day over a three-year period. What’s more, some of the cases were very severe. People lost teeth, suffered damage to their eyes, lost parts of their face or mouth, and experienced third-degree burns. There are even reports of people dying in the explosions. For instance, a young man in Texas was killed when his e-cigarette exploded sending a piece of metal into his neck and severing an artery.


E-cigarettes produce an aerosol by heating the e-liquid with metal coils. Those metal coils can be composed of a variety of substances, including an alloy of iron, chromium, and aluminum called Kantha, or a combination of nickel and chromium.

To help prevent e-cigarette explosions, the FDA recommends that users only purchase vape devices with vent holes. They also suggest replacing e-cigarette batteries that get damaged or wet and to store loose batteries in a case away from keys and coins.