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what is a vape pen and how do vapes work

What is a Vape Pen and How do Vape Pens Work?

You may have recently got your hands on a new vape pen and not quite sure how to use it. Well, you’re on the right page as we’re going to deep-dive into everything you need to know about vape pens. 

Frown what exactly they are and their unique types to how they operate and even how long they last—we’ll cover it all. Now, let’s get you into this enlightening guide.


What Is a Vape Pen

A vape pen, also known as a pen vaporizer, is a compact, pocket-sized device designed to produce vapor from various substances. It was first patented in 2003 by Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik as an electronic device for heating flavored liquid to create vapor, thus delivering nicotine without burning tobacco. Initially used for nicotine vaping, vape pens have since adapted for use with various substances, including THC oil, CBD vape cartridges, dry herbs, and cannabis oils. 

The vape pen is essentially a power source, typically a rechargeable battery that heats a tank or cartridge to produce vapor. It consists of multiple parts, including a battery and an atomizer, a component that houses the heating element. When the battery is activated, the heating element in the atomizer vaporizes the substance, which is inhaled by the user. 

The design of a vape pen mimics that of a ballpoint pen, lending to its discreet and portable nature. Some vape pens are rechargeable for continued use, while others are available in disposable versions for convenience. These devices revolutionized the vaping market by offering large battery capacity, longer running times, and the ability to swap atomizers or cartridges, making them an increasingly popular choice among users.

Types of Vape Pens

Vape pens come in a variety of styles to cater to different user preferences and experiences—from those seeking ease and convenience to those wanting customization and control. Some of these pens, such as certain concentrate vape pens, are sometimes used as CBD vape pens for anxiety. Simply, each type offers different features and is intended for specific use.

Disposable Vape Pens

Ideal for beginners or occasional users, these are all-in-one devices that are ready to use out of the box. They contain a pre-filled liquid or concentrate tank and an internal battery. Once the e-liquid’s consumed or the battery’s depleted, the entire pen is disposed of.

Rechargeable Vape Pens

These are battery-powered devices used for vaping with a variety of atomizers and cartridges. They come in two main varieties:

  • Push-Button Vape Pens: These pens need to be turned on before use, usually by pressing a button five times in a row. Some let you adjust the voltage output and have a pre-heat mode.
  • Draw-Activated Vape Pens: These pens are activated when you puff them. They don’t require turning on and off and have no buttons but have fewer functionalities compared to button-activated vape pens.

Open System Vape Pens

Also known as refillable vape pens, these allow users to choose their preferred e-liquid. This type offers more variety in flavor and nicotine strength and is considered more cost-effective in the long run.

Closed System Vape Pens

These use pre-filled cartridges or “pods,” providing a clean and easy-to-use alternative to open system pens. There may be a limited choice of flavor, but there’s no need to deal with refilling or potential spills.

Reusable Vape Pens

These are battery units designed to be paired with various types of cartridges. Commonly available, these connect to a 510 cartridge and can use either disposable pre-filled cartridges or refillable tanks.

Pod Mods

A more advanced form of closed system pods designed for heavier vapors, these offer the power of mods with a slimmer, less conspicuous design. They are often larger than a standard reusable vape pen with more features and adjustable power settings.

Dry Herb Vape Pens

These have a chamber for heating and vaporizing dry herbs. Their design may be similar to a standard vape pen but adapted more to handle dry material.

Concentrate Vape Pen

Made specifically for vaping concentrates like waxes or oils, these pens typically have a heating coil in the chamber that quickly heats the concentrate to produce vapor.

Advanced Personalized Vaporizers (APVs) or Mods

These are typically used by more experienced vapers; they often feature customizable battery power and cartridge size.

Drip Tips

These do not use a cartridge. Instead, users drip e-liquid directly onto a heating mechanism.

How Do Vape Pens Work

The operation of a vape pen is relatively straightforward but involves several crucial components: the battery, atomizer, tank or chamber, button, and mouthpiece. 

The process begins when the user presses the button on the vape pen. This activates the battery that sends power to the atomizer—the heating element of the device. The atomizer heats the liquid (or in some cases, the flower or oil) stored in the tank or chamber to a temperature just below its combustion point. This vaporizes the substance,

Using the mouthpiece, the vapor is drawn into the user’s mouth. The user inhales the vapor, receiving the flavor and nicotine (if present). Some vape pens offer customizable temperatures.

Essentially, vape pens work by converting a liquid or oil into inhalable vapor through controlled heating.

How to Turn on a Vape

Turning on a vape varies depending on its type and model, but the process typically follows a similar structure.

First, ensure the vape is fully charged. Do this by connecting it to a power source with the included USB cable. Then, locate the power button, usually found on the side of the device. To activate most vapes, press the power button five times in quick succession. 

An LED light typically illuminates or flashes signaling that the vape is on. Once it is powered on, you can start adjusting the temperature or power settings.

Always remember that exact procedures on how to use a vape pen can vary between vape models, so be sure to check the device’s specific user manual.

How Long Do Vapes Last

The lifespan of a vape device depends on several factors, including its type and quality, how often it’s used, and how well it’s maintained.

Disposable vape pens are single-use and typically last 200 to 400 puffs. This still varies as some claim to last 200 to 1500 puffs. Rechargeable vape pens and mods, on the other hand, have a longer life span. They last for about 1 to 3 years, depending on charging habits and usage. Over time, though, the battery doesn’t hold much charge—indicating the end of its lifespan.

Regular cleaning and proper maintenance can extend the lifespan of your vape device. Hence, always follow the instructions for a vape’s proper care and maintenance.


You can find a variety of vape pens for sale at numerous locations, including online retailers, local smoke shops, and specialized vape stores. If you’re in California, the Greenstone is a popular option—offering a broad selection of high-quality vape pens. Just type “vape pens for sale near me” into your search engine to find the most convenient locations.

Vape pens’ costs vary widely depending on brand, model, and features. However, most vape pens cost around $20 to $30, while high-end ones with more features cost upwards of $100. When purchasing one, consider ongoing costs such as replacement coils and e-liquid.

To smoke a vape pen, ensure it’s turned on and properly filled with your desired e-liquid. Then, press and hold the power button while simultaneously inhaling through the device’s mouthpiece.

Using a vape pen involves two steps—preparation and operation. Preparation includes charging, filling it with e-liquid, and turning it on. Operation is adjusting the setting, pressing and holding the power button, and inhaling the vapor through the mouthpiece.

When smoking vape for the first time, start by taking small, gentle puffs to acclimate the device and its effects. Remember to inhale slowly and steadily while holding the vape pen’s button (if it has).

To refill a vape pen cartridge, unscrew the cartridge typically found at the top. Then, carefully pour or drip the e-liquid into it—avoiding the central airflow tube. Once filled, screw the cartridge back and wait a few minutes for the e-liquid to soak into the wick.

In Conclusion…

Whether you’re new or just exploring, understanding your device is paramount to optimizing your vaping experience. Remember, vape pens come in a multitude of types (yup! we only covered a few), catering to a variety of user preferences. Hence, it’s essential to find the one that best fits your needs and style.

And as you learn and master the use of vape pens, be sure to maintain them properly, and—more importantly, use them responsibly. With the knowledge you have now, you’re well on your way to becoming a responsible vaping pro. You’ve now gained an impressive wealth of knowledge about the ins and outs of vape pens. 

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