Don’t Go to Vape Shops Unless You Know What You’re Doing Vape shops are a whole new world of retail, and they're as new as you.

When you go to a vape shop, you’re going to almost inevitably be upsold on the latest, over-$100 mechanical mod and many of you, feeling price shock, are downgrading to cheaper $80 setups.

Vaping isn’t as appeasing for smokers trying to quit, because it lacks the feeling of burning something to ashes.

The smell is better and you’re making a healthier decision, but you really can’t trust a lot of the vape content marketing out there. I’ve been paid to write a lot of it myself.

It’s all sales pitches and biased editorial content.

Before you buy anything vape related, you need to understand what it is you’re craving and needing from it.

Versability vape ecig ejuice cartridge brian penny

3 Types of Vape Equipment

Disposable eCigarettes – Disposable ecigarettes are also known as cigalikes, vape pens, and simply ecigarettes. These devices are similar in shape to regular cigarettes and are most commonly found in convenience stores and retailers like Walmart.

Blu (Imperial), Vuse (RJ Reynolds), and Mark Ten (Altria) are among the most popular ecigarettes, and each are manufactured by major tobacco companies. Disposable ecigarettes are prefered by smokers who want the feel of a cigarette in their hands.

Many vapers dislike these devices because of the high nicotine content, limited flavor availability, and cost – you’ll spend upwards of $10 for only a few ml of vape juice.

I love the feel of these and seek the slimmest batteries and tanks (typically found in cannabis dispensaries or places that sell CBD vape tanks) and refill the tanks, although those are rechargable and replaceable, making them the next category.

Rebuildable Atomizer – Rebuildable atomizers are also known as RBAs, eGo, and personal vaporizers. These devices are similar in shape to a cigar and are commonly found in smoke shops.

RBA vaporizers have two pieces – a battery and tank. The tank holds ejuice and can hold much more than a standard disposable ecigarette.

These tanks are easily refillable and each individual piece can be replaced if it fails. Rebuildable atomizers are preferred by those seeking to make their own ejuice or refill with flavors of their choice.

Batteries cost from $5-$20, as do tanks, and these are the most portable handheld vape systems you can get.

In my personal opinion they’re very convenient, but tank quality is subpar over long-term usage. They do, however, produce much more vape than the disposables, so you can get that throaty hit you’re seeking off these.

Rebuildable Drip Atomizer – Rebuildable drip atomizers are also known as RDAs, mechanical or digital mods, mod boxes, sub-ohm, and advanced personal vaporizers (APV).

These devices are often as large as a cell phone and are commonly found in vape shops. RDA vaporizers require the user to replace the coil, wick, and mouthpiece, which can take some getting used to. 

They’re customizable and often have a variety of features, with voltage and heat adjustments being the most common. Instead of a tank, these mods require you to drip ejuice onto them in order to vape.

Drip atomizers are preferred by cloud chasers for their ability to adjust and personalize and can cost from $100-$1000.

I own several mod boxes, but I’m not a big fan, as they take too much time maintaining throughout the day. I like a more out-the-box solution that’s closer to the convenience of sparking up a cigarette.

violin mod ecigarette with tank

How to Choose a Vape Pen

A poorly made vaping device could result in an explosion, causing injury or death. It’s important to buy quality, but it can be difficult to tell what’s authentic and what’s just another cheap knock-off in the vape industry.

Here’s what to look for in a mod box so you can test products at vape and smoke shops yourself before ending up stuck with a purchase that doesn’t fit your needs or, even worse, doesn’t work.


The single most important aspect of a mod box is the quality of the battery. Vaping is a high-heat activity, and a poorly made battery will explode. You could use a cheaper mod box so long as you use higher quality batteries.

The type of battery used in vaporizers are 18650 batteries, and although you may not be familiar with the mod box manufacturer, the safest batteries to use come from consumer electronics companies you’re already familiar with.

Look for mod boxes that utilize the Samsung 25R (2500 mAh), LG HE2 (2500mAh), Sony VTC4 (2100 mAh) batteries. These are the three batteries most prefered by vaping enthusiasts and cloud chasers worldwide.


Of course, a great battery is useless if the shoddy buttons on a poorly made mod box stick. Before purchasing any mod box, be sure to test the button quality to ensure it’s sturdy and comfortable.

Innokin, Eleaf, Smok, and Tesla all make sturdy mod boxes with high-quality mechanical parts.


The temperature and power of a mod box are important considerations, and what temperature you use depends on what you’re vaping.

Vaping ejuice should be done within a range of 200 to 350 degrees Celsius (392-480 Fahrenheit).

Vaping dry herbs like cannabis should be done at 175 to 190 degrees C (347-374 F). Anything above 230 C (446 F) will burn the plant.

Here are a few mod boxes we’ve tried and found to be sturdy, dependable, and trustworthy.

1. Eleaf iStick – I use an Eleaf iStick 100W and absolutely love it. The output ranges from 5-100w nad you can adjust the voltage, wattage, and temperature, which is displayed on the digital screen.

What seperates Eleaf from the competition is it instantly heats to whatever temp you have it set for with no need to warm up, so you get a consistently smooth vape every time. It also uses Sony VTC4 batteries, which are among the safest in the industry.

The iStick 100W mod box can be purchased for $43 from the Eleaf website, though you’ll need to also purchase a battery and tank if you don’t already have one that’s compatible. The full kit will run you about $100 and can also be found in many smoke and vape shops around the country.

2. Wismec Reuleaux DNA 200W – If the Eleaf isn’t enough power for you, a great step up to high-end mod boxes is the Wiemex Reuleaux DNA. This box includes 3 LG batteries and has an output range from 1-200w as well as a temperature control chip.

The battery life in the Wismec Reuleaux is second to none, and it’s one of the highest quality mod boxes available. It even comes with software that’ll monitor every possible aspect in real-time.

Although it’s quite expensive ($150), it’s worth it for those seeking a top-of-the-line vaping experience.

Vape Chemist Flavor Collection
Flavored vegetable glycerin

The FDA Vaping Regulations

By now you’ve already heard the FDA now regulating vaping, and it has a lot of people in the industry worried. Many argue the steep costs of filing FDA applications ($1 million+) will push out all but the major tobacco companies.

This is somewhat true, but it’s not going to affect as many products as opponents are declaring across the Internet. Here’s what you need to know about the impending regulatory action against ejuice and electronic cigarettes.

Juice Manufacturers Use Distributors

While on the surface, it seems like a lot of mom & pop vape companies are closing, many of these companies aren’t actually producing the ejuices themselves.

In reality, aside from store-owned proprietary brands, many of the most popular ejuices in the country are produced by the same centralized labs.

The brands you see are simply repackagings of the same manufacturers. This is a common practice in the food industry as well. For example, Girl Scout cookies are made by Keebler and Interbake Foods.

In the vaping world, Mr. Good Vape, Vape Chemist, Cuttwood, Halcyon, and Frisco Vaper are all produced by Molecule Labs.

This makes Molecule Labs the manufacturer who must meet FDA regulations on product quality, while the other companies act as distributors that must only adhere to labeling restrictions.

I’ve been assured by both Molecule Labs and Vape Chemist they will have no issues adhering to the new regulations.

So the reality is the variety of vape juices on the market is already a fallacy. The only brands you’ll see disappear are the ones that weren’t producing juices in a safe, sterile laboratory environment.

The Attack on Flavorings

The real painpoint in the FDAs vaping regulations is the flavorings used in vape juices. While most companies use the same food-grade flavorings found in candies, sodas, and juices, they’ve only been FDA approved to eat. They haven’t been approved for heating, evaporating, and inhaling.

While many fear the FDA is buckling to big tobacco lobbyists, the reality is they’re raising funds to perform tests on the benefits and hazards of vaping each individual ingredient in vape juices.

While politicians may not approve of certain flavors that may target children, the FDA is focused on chemicals like diacetyl that has been found to cause popcorn lung.

It’s also important to know the regulations don’t just apply to vaping – it also includes cigars, hookahs, and other tobacco products that have been traditionally underregulated.

Personally I’m more worried about my favorite flavored blunt wraps being pulled from the shelves than any particular vape flavor, as those can be purchased online and to make homemade ejuice.

So while many vape companies are crying foul and encouraging customers to stock up on ejuice supplies, I’m not at all worried.

Regulation isn’t necessarily a bad thing – the FDA is simply looking out for public health to avoid the same problems we experienced in the 1970s when tobacco companies convinced us through marketing that smoking is safe.


Dr. Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. You can find his work in Cracked, High Times, HuffPost, Lifewire, Forbes, Fast Company, and dozens of other places, although much of it is no longer under his name. Dr. Penny loves annoying fake media.

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