How Does a Vape Pen Work?

Vapes, or vape pens, are portable vaporizers that use a battery to heat up a liquid substance and then vaporize it. However, there is much more involved in vaping than simply heating the liquid and exhaling the vapor––the equipment also requires ventilation. But don’t worry! We have got your back with this guide to how vape pen work so you will always be able to figure out what’s going on inside your vape.

The Basic Parts of a Vape Pen

vape pen parts Airvape OM
vape pen parts Airvape OM

Vape pens are typically cylindrical, with a few variations that can add complexity. However, the basic parts of any pen are an atomizer, a tank for liquid, and a rechargeable battery. The atomizer has what’s called an ‘e-coil’ (or heating coil), which heats up when electricity passes through it. When the coil is hot enough, it vaporizes the liquid in its tank that goes to its mouthpiece and then out into the air. The coil heats up enough to create a small amount of steam when there is no liquid in the tank, but this means you can get dry hits (which is not ideal).

The tank has a button, which you press to heat up the coil. You are able to adjust the temperature of the coil, which lets you heat it to the optimal temperature for your liquid. There are many options for you to choose when it comes to temperature, so you can always find what works best for your liquid and your experience. There’s also a preheating setting that preheats the vaporizer before you use it (ideal for tobacco vapes).

Most vape pens also have an outside battery. This is recharged through a USB cable and is what makes the vaporizer portable. A full charge will last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, with the average being about an hour and a half. You can also use your battery while it’s charging––this is known as ‘vape and charge’ and is an easy way to take your vape on the go. Lastly, these cigarettes usually have some type of lighting system so you can see what you are doing and avoid steam burns.

The Types of Vape Pens

There are three main types of vape pens: waxes, oils, and e-liquids (especially for the smoking industry). The first two are significantly more advanced and have a lot more parts, but the general principles of how they work are the same. The e-liquid pen is a very basic version of an e-cigarette since it only uses one tank with one coil. It’s usually disposable, which means that once it runs out of liquid, you throw it away.

Every type of vape pen has coils that heat up to create vapor. The coils range in size; e-liquids have small coil units (1mm), and waxes have large units (5mm). You can tell by looking at your vape which one you need––if there’s a small tank for liquid, then you have an e-liquid pen. If there is a large tank, then it’s probably a wax pen.

Note that vape pens for waxes and oils are significantly more expensive than e-liquids. This is due to the more complex heating mechanisms and their larger coils. They also contain more parts––many of these pens are made of glass, which makes them prone to breakage. Furthermore, they are usually run on batteries that come with adjustable temperature settings. There’s also an additional part called a ‘dabber’ for waxes and oils, which you need to use to apply the substances to your heating element (this makes it easier for you to put enough on).

Vape Pen Maintenance

vape pen portable vaporizer
vape pen portable vaporizer

As mentioned, vape pens vary greatly in terms of the number of parts they have, the complexity of their heating mechanisms and the overall size and weight. However, you can generally expect to see something like this: a tank that has a coil on it (often two), an airflow control ring that works to change how much vapor comes out and your battery. The battery is typically rechargeable through USB, but some are rechargeable through a traditional wall charger.

Just like any other cigarette, you must keep these devices clean. Furthermore, they can’t be played with while charging––people have found burned coils from doing this and then charging their device. Read your manual carefully and focus on how to clean or maintain your device.

The Similarities in All Vape Pens

There are five components that are common in vape pens and that you should know about: coils, batteries, heating chambers, atomizers, and drip tips. For each of these, there is a corresponding part in the pen. The first two parts (coils and battery) are an essential part of any vape pen. The heating chamber turns the liquid solid so that it can be vaporized, while the atomizer produces the vapors. Finally, the drip tip is what attaches to your vape and regulates how much vapor comes out.

The difference between smoking vs vaping


Both vaping and smoking produce vapors from materials.

However, the vapors released by smoking cigarettes are produced from combustion, which is an incomplete burning process that releases tar and other harmful chemicals into the air.

On the other hand, vaping has almost no combustion. When you vape, you heat up a liquid so that it becomes a vapor but not hot enough for combustion to occur. In this process, it produces no smoke or tar and only minimal amounts of vaporized substance.

Vaping can still contain nicotine depending on what you are inhaling and how much of it there is in your e-cigarette; however, the amount of nicotine in e-cigarettes is far lower than regular cigarettes.