I wanted to revisit this because in the four years since I first wrote about this everything has changed. Increased wattage and atomizers that vaporize a lot more juice have made all past wisdom on this topic irrelevant.
For the first four and a half years I vaped, I vaped 18mg juice. I could comfortably vape 24mg provided I didn't chain vape it all day. I could tell the difference between 18mg and 16mg, and 16mg never scratched the itch for me. I was never able to step down my nic content below 18mg, but for me 18mg was a success because it kept me off cigarettes and it never made me nic sick no matter how much I vaped.
On modern hardware, and for me that means RDAs and sub ohm RTAs, you have to step your nicotine level way down. I knew this going in, so when I finally joined the rest of you in the 21st century I ordered 6mg juice. Still too high for me. It seemed crazy to me that I would get nic sick off something as low as 6mg, but on days I was at home and my device never far from hand it was just too much.
FYI, I have an above average tolerance to nicotine. I may have traded in the death sticks for vaping four and a half years ago, but I still use nasal snuff and enjoy a cigar after dinner. It's been my experience that both of those forms of nicotine use constitute a higher level of nicotine delivery than any other form. I have to watch myself with the snuff. If I reach for it too often I get nic sick. I never get nic sick from enjoying a cigar, but when I first started smoking them they flat out made me buzzed in a way I hadn't felt since I first started smoking cigarettes all those years ago, and I could tell that cigars had way more nicotine than any other form of tobacco I'd ever used.
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It's been nine months since the original article, so I thought I'd update with some observations.
Most of that article still holds true. Cisco attys are still tough to beat, but they bring a premium price that may not justify the pluses. Joye attys are still the best all around atty in terms of longevity, price and performance.
There has been a change in SLB attys in the last six months though. I have been told by one insider that they were redesigned, which backs up my more recent experience with them. I have grown to really dislike SLB LR attys. They clog faster than any other atty. They feel restricted from the start. You can't even dry burn them, they just won't get hot no matter what you do. Previously I thought that the low price and the performance of SLB LR attys made them a firm alternative to Ciscos, but I do not feel that way anymore.
For my personal use I have really taken to Joye 306 LR attys. These give me everything I'm looking for in an atty. It takes a really long time to kill one of these babies, they perform great and they're cheap.
I'll touch on a couple newer areas really quick:
How much nicotine should a new vaper start with? If I smoked lights is 12mg the right amount to start with? Will I vape more than I smoked? Will the nicotine strength be enough to keep me from smoking?
Unfortunately there are no guidelines for the above questions that will apply to everybody. When you smoked, the tar deposited in your lungs served to act as a time release nicotine delivery mechanism. With vaping, the nicotine absorption is much quicker, and mostly occurs in the mouth and throat. We all seem to metabolize nicotine slightly differently through vaping.
If you're anything like me, standard resistance 510 atomizers were enough to get you to join the party, but it didn't take long before they didn't cut it anymore. I remember being scared the first time I heard a low resistance atomizer fire, and now I roll out of bed in the morning and vape low res before I've poured my first cup of coffee.
Low resistance atomizers deliver more of that cigarette-like impact you begin to miss once you become acclimated to vaping. A good low resistance atomizer performs within spitting distance of what a 5v device will give you, the difference being even more heat at 5v, and less strain on your batteries at 5v. If low resistance atomizers had been available from the get-go, we might not have as many high voltage options as we have today.
I have vaped almost all of the 510 low res atty choices. The following are my non-scientific, unquantified impressions. For more detailed analysis of atomizers I will refer Vapenstein readers to my esteemed colleague basilray's work. Dig through the VapeTV Live archive here for some of basilray's weekly VapeTV segments, which for the last month or so have had a definite atty-centric focus. Good stuff and required viewing.
Following are my experiences with various 510 low res attys:
Dr. Vapenstein's palate is out of commision today. The Creature gave me the crud. My throat is killing me and my sense of taste is out to lunch. I am vaping PG-heavy juice in the hopes that, despite its drying effect, it will act as a germicidal agent and kill whatever microorganisms have taken up residence in my esophagus.
I thought I would take the opportunity and address some of the frequently asked questions I get. One of those is how to get the primer out of atomizers. This might seem like a no brainer, but if you've never done it before, you're going to get a mouth full of primer and it isn't going to be pleasant.
The amount of primer present depends on the brand of atomizer. I exclusively use Joye brand attys in The Lab, and they are loaded with a pretty heavy dose of primer on arrival.
Begin by wiping off the outside of the atty, including the threads, with a paper towel to remove the primer that got on the outside of your atty. Once you've removed the external excess, gently blow from the threaded, or battery, end of the atty, holding your paper towel at the opposite end to absorb the primer. When it stops coming out, fold the end of your paper towel over a couple of times and carefully insert into your atty, being careful not to ram into the bridge, or the part that looks like steel mesh. Turn the paper towel to wipe and remove the excess primer fluid from the inside of your atty.
Wipe the outside of the atty again to remove any primer fluid, and then screw it into your device. Give it two drops of juice, and vape without inhaling the vapor for 7-8 draws. Give it one more drop of juice and vape about 6 more draws without inhaling. You should be ready to use your new atomizer now. Give it one drop of fresh juice and enjoy!