Electronic vapor cigarettes have dominated conversations about smoking alternatives, but they overshadow another choice: vaporizers. Electronic cigarettes and vaporizers are very similar, but not the same. Find out more about these products and, with any luck, you will be on your way to finding a replacement for cigarettes.

E Liquid, Herbs, and Waxes

An e cigarette operates exclusively with nicotine juice. This is a suspension of propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerin, sometimes water, flavoring, and possibly nicotine. A great feature of e cigs and juice is that manufacturers and mixologists have omitted nicotine from many varieties to give ex-smokers a way of quitting their nicotine habit without having to completely break from the action of smoking.

Vaporizers operate with one or a combination of materials: usually herbs and or oils/waxes, but sometimes e liquids as well. A device capable of handling three materials is called a 3-in-1 vaporizer and there are only a few out there worth looking at, such as the Pro Series 3 by the well known brand V2 Cigs.

As for the dry herbs used with a vaporizer, a common one is tobacco. This method of “smoking” creates vapor but does not get rid of nicotine. Even e liquids made from natural tobacco extracts cannot completely do away with nicotine.

Some consumers buy vaporizers not to suck through a straw or inhale vapor from a balloon but to create a relaxing aroma. An Arizer V-Tower would be suitable for this purpose with its top-mounted cyclone bowl.

Desktop, Portable, and Pen

In the vaporizer market concerning herbal and wax/oil consumers, there are three distinct categories: desktop vaporizers, portable devices, and pen-style vapes. The first group has been around longest. Almost all vaporizers are made with most of the parts found in a desktop mod, just smaller.

Desktop Products

Major advantages to choosing one of these include their large chambers or bowls for holding materials. One does not have to refill every 15 minutes but can load up and keep going for somewhat longer before a refill is needed (or a break). Examples of a tabletop vaporizer are the Storz and Bickel Volcano, 7th Floor Silver Surfer, and Arizer Extreme Q.

Desktop mods also plug into a wall socket. Although this means it has to sit on a table all the time and will not operate in the car, a big vaporizer connected to mains electricity keeps running while there is power. The only thing that would stop your unit from running would be interruption to that power source or a malfunctioning part. Stick with the best models and the latter is unlikely to happen.

Buying a box mod can cost as little as $100, but some durable devices designed to endure thirty years of regular use will set you back $500 or more. These can be elegant items, colorful, artistic, unique, or just plain black and boxy.

Portable Power

Portable vaporizers run on battery or butane power. They are cordless, light, and often so small they fit into the palm of one’s hand, but not necessarily. While stealth is a positive selling point, wireless vaporizing is the main feature you are looking for here. Many of these vaporizers (like the Davinci Ascent, Pax by Ploom, and Firefly) cost more than $200, but they provide excellent service for that money.


Pen-style vaporizers take portability to the next level which, in this case, is lower and higher at the same time. They offer a higher level of discretion. Pen-style vapes are literally the size of markers or Sharpies, sometimes thinner. They lose a level in being less powerful and needing to be frequently recharged (power and materials).

In the pen market, one pays far less for the privilege of vaping: around $100 and rarely more. This category represents 3-in-1 units costing around the same amount. They work with e liquid, herbs, and wax/oil.

Handheld Comparisons

In the looks department, both of these styles can be fun to look at or discrete and classy. A Palm vaporizer resembles a pipe. Puffit devices look like inhalers. Some pens are sold in psychedelic colors. Ascent and Davinci vaporizers put one in mind of a boardroom, the hardwood chamber of a CEO, and luxury, in general.

Expensive portable units do not come apart into two or three pieces. They can be dismantled, but the chamber is accessed by taking off a magnetic lid or swiveling the bottom portion away from the base.

Temperature on a portable vaporizer is usually adjustable. Using a button or a dial, the consumer selects how hot his materials should become. Pen-style vapes are less high-tech, except the Pro Series 3 which will be joined by a variable temperature mod soon.

Vaporizing with E Liquid

From $10 for a disposable to $200 for a limited edition mechanical mod, electronic cigarettes are part of an interesting field. They come in shapes that resemble cigarettes, walkie-talkies and felt markers, even hand grenades. Like portable and pen-style vaporizers, one recharges the battery to keep it going. Like most of the best mods in the category above, the unit used to power your atomizer (heating element) and heat juice is the battery itself. So when that fails, a consumer buys a whole new unit.

Advanced electronic cigarettes have most in common with vaporizers; far more than cigalikes. With adjustable voltage and replaceable atomizers, they allow the consumer to choose the temperature of their e liquid by reducing or increasing voltage and also changing the resistance of their atomizers.

Buying Materials

The mechanical end is one market; herbs, waxes, essential oils, and e liquids is another. Vaporizer manufacturers rarely carry and sell vaping materials, but some vaporizer retail sites carry multiple models of hardware plus herbs, oils, and various accessories. E cig manufacturers usually sell their devices through general online markets where e juice is available besides hardware and parts.

One can purchase an Innokin SVD and e liquid by Space Jam; an advanced eVic by JoyeTech and nicotine juice made by Halo. There are more organic suppliers for vaporizer materials than e liquid, but that could change as the FDA delves into the industry.

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