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Top Beginner Vaping Mistakes to Avoid

A lot of things start to go right when you choose to switch from smoking to vaping—you'll smell better, your wallet begins to fatten, you develop an uncanny connection with small woodland creatures…OK, maybe that last part isn’t true.

But there are a few things that can go amiss early on in your vaping journey. Too often, these stumbles can be off-putting enough to make you question whether vaping is really for you. Don't worry, these are universal frustrations. Millions of us have faced the same stumbling blocks along the vaping way and we've assembled a list of solutions.

Here are some exclamatory statements you might make in frustration when you’re just starting out, along with some time-tested advice on how to make things right.

“I thought vaping was just like smoking, but it's different!”

No matter what device you use, the experience is going to take a little getting used to. Since you’re not lighting your e-cigarette on fire like you would a cigarette, the draw technique is a bit different. It takes a bit of getting used to and some experimentation until you're able to puff comfortably. Besides that, you may also have to press the fire button when you want a drag depending on the device you've chosen. Try to spend a week getting accustomed to your device and playing with any settings it offers. If after putting some time in you still don't like the experience, it may be time to try a different type of device. Don’t toss your old hardware though. There's a good chance your vaping style will evolve over time and what isn't working for you today might be more appealing in the future. Plus, it's always good to have some Plan B backups on hand even if they're not your favorites.

“I bought this tobacco e-liquid and it doesn't taste like [insert your favorite cigarette brand here]”

While there are plenty of tobacco-flavored liquids to choose from, it's also true that most of them taste like fresh-cut tobacco leaves mixed with honey, caramel, or other flavors to sweeten or cut the tobacco taste. Menthol users may have a bit more luck, but there really isn't a vaporized liquid that's going to taste like dried tobacco wrapped in paper and doused with thousands of chemical additives that's been lit on fire and left to smolder into ash (aka a cigarette.) Instead of getting demoralized by this, use it as an opportunity to explore a different flavor spectrum.

That’s because there's a whole world of fruits, sweets, desserts and bakery flavors to explore, and the vast majority of vapers end up taking advantage of this array of choices. Here’s the proof: Less than four percent of experienced vapers cite tobacco or menthol as their favorite flavor. There are so many flavors to choose from! It's not smoking. Make it something better.

“I feel parched!”

Stay hydrated. While it's not exactly true that the clouds you're exhaling are just water vapor, it is accurate to say that they're mostly water vapor. When you're vaping, particularly if you're vaping often, your body is losing moisture every time you blow a cloud. To combat any signs of mild dehydration like headaches or dry throat, make sure to drink an extra glass or two of water, tea, or whatever liquid you prefer before you get to puffing.

“My taste buds aren’t working!”

A particularly unwelcome side effect called “vapers' tongue” occurs when, after a long session of vaping the same flavor, your mouth loses sensitivity not just to the strawberry cheesecake in your tank but to tastes in general. Going back to the water thing, this can be another sign of mild dehydration. But it can also happen even when you're getting enough liquids. Fortunately, it can cured fairly easily by switching out to a different tank or pod with a markedly different flavor for a little while—try going from cheesecake to lemonade, not strawberry cheesecake to raspberry cheesecake. After a few months this phenomenon begins to fade, and many vapers eventually end up adopting an all-day-vape (ADV) flavor that they find works for them all day long without any problems.

“Argh! Why won’t my device turn on?”

Remember to charge. It happens with your cell phone and it can also happen with your vaping device: dead battery. It's a bit harder to make this mistake today, when most vapor devices have a micro-USB charging port making it easy to charge on the go. But still, better to avoid having to charge up when you are on the go. If you're a vaper, we suggest you always leave home with with a fresh charge on your batteries and a spare set (safely stored in a sealed plastic container). It stinks to be stuck in your car with 30 miles until home and getting the dreaded dead battery flash.

“What’s that burning smell?”

Choose power levels wisely. If you've chosen a device that doesn't allow for power adjustment, this section is safe to skip. But if your mod has an array of adjustable power settings, it may be a little overwhelming at first. To keep things simple, start with the wattage setting—there's plenty of time to learn about temperature control and other features later. Most modern coil heads come with a recommended wattage range, but you're going to want to start out with a freshly primed coil a few watts below the bottom end of that range. Take a few puffs, and turn the power up by a tenth of a watt at a time until you find the right range. Remember, you can always increase power if you start low, but if you start too high you can burn your wick and trash your coil.

“I've got the jitters.”  

Find the right amount of nicotine. With the recent explosion in low-power, high-nicotine pod mods, choosing the right nicotine level is harder than ever. But it pays to get your nic levels just right: too much and you might find yourself on edge with elevated blood pressure levels and a higher dependence on the drug than before; too little and it's hard to keep cigarette cravings at bay.

We get into the process of selecting and adjusting your nicotine levels elsewhere in this series, but one suggestion that's helped many people in making the switch is to have two tanks or pods with different nicotine levels in rotation. Try to use the one with the lower nicotine level most of the time, but swap in the stronger stuff when the urge to smoke hits to power through a craving. Some people also use higher nic mods just to get through a longer period when they know they won’t be able to vape for a while, such as during a break at work.

“My mouth tastes like an old brake pad.”

Change Your Coils. A dirty, gunked-up coil will leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, literally. If you're using a device with a refillable tank or pod, remember that it has a limited lifespan. Unfortunately, how long a device survives varies quite a bit from brand to brand, and even from coil to coil. You might get a week out of one coil or pod, but just a few days out of another. Even if you do get the occasional bum coil (it happens), there's no reason to suffer. For less than the price of a pack of smokes, you can be up and running with a fresh setup and renewed flavor. Just make sure to spend the few extra minutes to prime your new setup to give it the best chance for a long life.

“There’s lint on my drip tip!”

Maintain Your Gear. Chances are your vape spends a fair share of time in your pocket or your purse. Then you put it in your mouth. Needless to say, you're going to want to spend some time keeping your gear clean. Changing out your tank's coil is a good time to break it down and give its components a gentle scrub with warm water and a mild dish soap. Doing this at least once a week also gives you a chance to inspect the glass for cracks, the rubber o-rings for pinches, and the threads for damage. Any one of these could cause leaking, and no one's got time for a sticky e-liquid mess. While you're obviously not going to want to get any components containing batteries or electronics wet, a quick wipe-down and a cotton swabbing to clean out the connector threads keeps things fresh and functioning as intended.


“I wanna throw in the towel.”

Don't get discouraged! Not everyone takes to vaping right away, and even people who do are bound to encounter at least a few of the snags we've covered here. Take your time exploring the different device options, as there are more of them than ever before. One is bound to be right for you, but it might not be the first one you try. And just like Rome wasn't built in a day (or any other tired cliché about good things taking time), successful switches from smoking to vaping don't happen overnight. And don’t forget, celebrate the cigarettes you don’t smoke rather than beating yourself up over the ones you do. You're on your way to a better place.