A Beginner’s Guide to Vaping Terminology


So, you’re new to Vaping? No idea where to start? Confused by the jargon? This handy beginner’s vaping terminology guide from the experts is all you need.

You want to vape, or you’ve recently started, but are bewildered by all the new terminology and jargon being thrown at you. It seems there’s a whole language to learn and you might be feeling a bit put off from giving it a try. Well, worry no more. Yes, vaping is a whole new world, but here’s some vaping knowledge to make your transition to e-cigarettes as smooth as possible.

In recent years the popularity of vaping has exploded and it’s a trend that’s going to keep growing, especially since Public Health England endorsed vaping as an effective quitting aid. But if you don’t know where to start, just dip into this glossary for a quick guided tour of all things vaping and e-cigarette related.

Your A to Z of E-Cigarette Lingo


Atomiser (Atty) – This is the part of the vapouriser that turns your e-liquid into a breathable vapour. It has a coil that heats the wick, turning the e-liquid into vapour. Sometimes also called a tank.


Batteries – Normally 3.7v Li-Ion cell. They power the e-cigarette’s atomiser. They can be safely disposed of at your local recycling point (find your nearest one via the Recycle Now website).


Cartomiser (carto) – this contains the cartridge with e-liquid and the atomiser in a single unit. They’re often cheaper than buying the cartridge and atomiser separately, plus they hold more liquid. You might hear them being called disposable e-cigarettes.

Cloud Chasing – Trying to create as big a vapour cloud as possible, preferably in interesting shapes. It’s quite an art form!

Coils – A coiled wire or mesh wire provides the heating element in the atomiser.


Direct to lung (DTL) – The vapour is inhaled directly to the lungs and is favoured by cloud chasers (see above). Sometimes called “straight to lung”. See also Mouth to Lung (MTL) below.

Dry hit – This happens when you run out of e-liquid, or it hasn’t soaked into the wick. It can damage your coil.


E-juice/E-liquid – A must for your vaping experience. This is the liquid you will inhale. It comes in various nicotine strengths and flavours.


Freebase nicotine – The original nicotine in e-liquids which gives a strong back-of-the-throat hit, probably not suitable for newbie vapers.


Juice/e-juice – See E-liquid above.


Mod – A vapouriser that is larger than the usual pen-shaped vapouriser. They can be variable wattage, mechanical or both. Because they’re user-friendly, variable wattage mods tend to be more popular with newbies.

Mouth to Lung (MTL) – Similar to smoking, you inhale the vapour into your mouth and then to your lungs before exhaling. See also Direct to Lung (DTL) above.


Nic salts – A special formulation of nicotine used to imitate the experience of traditional smoking. They’re smoother than freebase nicotine products.

Nic shot – A bottle of unflavoured pure nicotine that’s added to flavoured e-juice. Great for varying the level of your nicotine intake.


Ohms – The technical term for a unit of measurement of the electrical resistance of your coil. See also Sub Ohm below.

O-ring – i) A cloud-chasing trick practised by some vapers; ii) A rubber ring on the tank which allows it to be easily opened or closed.


PG – Short for propylene glycol. It acts as a carrier for nicotine and flavourings and gives the hit at the back of your throat like cigarettes. See also VG (vegetable glycerine) below.


Ratios – the percentage combination of PG and VG in your e-liquid


Shortfills – Nicotine-free vape liquid with room to add a nic shot. They can be 50ml or 100ml.

Shortfill calculators – Also called nic shot calculators or just nicalc. They work out the measurement of nicotine for topping up the vape liquid.

Sub Ohm – Also sub ohming or direct to lung. It refers to vaping with an e-cigarette with a coil with a resistance below one ohm. Sub ohming is great for creating vapour clouds and increasing flavour, plus you get a stronger hit.


Tank – another name for an atomiser (see above).

TPD – The Tobacco Products Directive lays out European Union regulations for the sale, supply and advertising of e-cigarettes.


Vape kits – The kit you need to start vaping includes a battery, a coil and a mouthpiece. You will also need your e-liquid.

Vape liquid/vape juice – Also known as e-liquid. They add flavour to your e-cigarette – there are scores to choose from so there are plenty of opportunities to experiment.

Vape pen – A vape kit that looks like a pen. They are compact and easy to carry.

VG – Short for vegetable glycerin. It feels smoother than PG and gives the billowing vapour. Vapers looking for a more authentic experience without high levels of nicotine often choose it. See also PG (propylene glycol) above.


Wick – Used in atomisers (or tanks). It absorbs the liquid.

Watts – Refers to output. The higher the wattage, the greater the power, although the final wattage is the result of the volts and ohms.


Youth – In the UK it’s illegal to buy vape kits if you’re under 18 or sell e-cigarettes and vape juice to anyone under this age. Most of the negative press headlines around e-cigarettes concern underage vaping.


Zero nic – Zero nicotine e-liquids so you can enjoy the pleasures of vaping without the nicotine hit.

So, that’s the basics! If you’re a smoker thinking of making the switch to vaping so that you can safely kick the habit, there’s plenty of support and advice available in this Stop Smoking Start Vaping guide.

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