For so many of the friends and family I have who have been switching over to vaping from smoking, the biggest complaint has been about trying to find a flavor that suits them. The taste options are so much vaster than with combustible tobacco, but it is still a very different experience for most lifetime smokers.
Contrary to what the media and the anti-smoking coalitions have been screaming for many years, most smokers did not start because of pretty colored cigarettes or sweet flavors. Most smokers started with plain ol’ tobacco or possibly menthol. And, the stupid cartoon camel had relatively little to do with coaxing them to the “dark side”. There was possibly a “cool” factor. Their friends were doing it. More likely, their parents were doing it. They may possibly have thought James Dean and Steve McQueen looked super-cool lighting up, but the majority of the young adult population today couldn’t even tell me who those people are.
So, the smokers of today, predominantly, smoke tobacco-flavored cigarettes in a rather bland looking carton, and most likely purchased whatever happened to be cheapest and didn’t give them immediate headaches or nausea. Still, prices went up and sin taxes attempted to wage war against poor health choices. The pharmaceutical companies promoted various options in gum and patch and pill form to help people who wanted to quit smoking. However, all parties concerned never considered that there were people who didn’t want to quit. They knew it was bad. It wasn’t even necessarily the nicotine. People felt comfort in the ritual of lighting up. There was camaraderie in the smoker’s circle, shed, hovering around an ash receptacle.
But I started this talking about the juice, not the ritual. The point I was trying to make was that there have been a number of people that I have spoken to about vaping, and the common thread is that they really cannot find a juice that tastes right to them. Tobacco flavors tend to taste like “wet cigarettes” (according to my informers), the heavy PG types smell and taste like the fog machine juice, there is often a chemical aftertaste with the electronic cigarettes, and the fruit flavors are fine for a while, but many have stated that they just don’t like the “sweets.” The folks that can’t find their go-to juice for that daily vape by and large tend to drop back off the vaping wagon and go back to their old friend, the “ciggies.” It isn’t that they didn’t have the fortitude to stick with it, and it usually isn’t a resistance to change. They just don’t like it. It doesn’t feel or taste the same, and without the familiarity of the comforts ingrained in the habit, they just can’t get what they need out of the new practice.
Is there a magic formula that makes some people transition successfully to vaping while others do not? Is it something different about the people who choose to vape and give up on combustible tobacco products? It may be a combination of all of it, but here is what I have noticed in talking to people on both sides of that coin.
First is the amount of nicotine in the juice. While the ritual is definitely part of the process and one of the reasons vaping works for people for whom pharmaceuticals and patches did not, the active addicting ingredient is still the nicotine. If there is not a high enough level in the vapor inhaled, it isn’t going to satisfy that part of the smoker’s draw. Everyone is different, but for the moderate to heavy smoker, most of the “pen” variety of vaporizers do not produce a big enough spike in nicotine to fulfill the craving of that first cigarette of the morning (or last at night). The vape pens and starter kits generally provide a level of nicotine and vapor to keep a maintenance level of nicotine in the system. I’m not going into the electrical jargon of it all (there are way too many people I know who could do a better job at that), but for the spike issues, a variable wattage or dripper tank that produces a higher level of vapor as desired generally fulfills that part of the deficit.
The second part of the equation, and the more tricky part, is the flavor conundrum. There are two different arguments on this score. There are those who want that flavor associated with their old “friend,” and there are those who want to get clean away from any suggestion of the cigarette flavor that might just make them want to go back. Almost universally, tobacco flavors do not do well for new vapers. Again, I call your attention to the phrase “wet cigarette.” Now, the exception to that has been some of the pipe or cigar tobacco flavors with hotter vapes. The “hotter” usually refers to higher wattage and dripper rigs that produce literally warmer clouds of vapor that taste and feel more like smoking a pipe or cigar. Also, rumor has it that there is a manufacturer who does naturally extracted tobacco processes and has managed to come up with some decent flavors, River Bottom Fog Sauce. However, all their juices have some percentage of PG. Johnson Creek also produces a number of decent tobacco flavors with VG only options. Also, there has recently been a reddit discussion specifically about tobacco flavors that don’t suck. So, for those who really want the tobacco flavor, it might be worth a read. So for those of you, who just really want your tobacco flavors, check out some of the links below. Something may work for you, and the folks producing liquids are getting better every day with replicating flavors. No need to despair.
For the cooler vape and smokers who like or even tolerate menthol, most of the menthol liquids manage to come closer to the mark and make for a reliable daily vape. For those folks wanting to get away from the tobacco flavors, there are a plethora of options. Most of the local vape shops and dealers have a wide variety. Some mix their own and can do custom liquids for you. Custards and fruit flavors tend to be popular. Chocolates are more difficult to replicate, but frequently have more of a cocoa flavor. Coffee flavors often do pretty well, and spices like cinnamon transition to the vape medium nicely. Some flavors need to steep, meaning they need to sit for a while to allow the liquid (PG or VG) to absorb the flavors, and some tend to fade with time if not used. Several people I have spoken with like to try different flavors and have their “special sauces” for dripping or for the after dinner or social vape and then something else that is more constant for their “daily vape.”
Something else to keep in mind, when you first start vaping after smoking, your sense of taste and smell are still a smoker’s. What do I mean by that? Smoking combustible tobacco tends to dull the taste and olfactory senses. The longer you are away from smoking, the more your sense of smell and taste return. The liquid you liked so much at the beginning may not taste the same after being combustion-free for a couple of weeks. That is when it is usually time to adjust and possibly change over to something different.
For anyone having trouble with the transition but are still wanting to make the change from combustible to vapor but have not been able to find that right flavor, just keep looking. If nothing in your local area works for you, try some of the available options online. Join some of the social media groups or follow some vape lines on Twitter, and register for free samples. The point is that it may take some trial and error to get what works for you. Also, what you need to get you past the first hurdles may not be what you stick with for a daily vape forever. For those sensitive to chemical tastes (perhaps even have reactions to PG) try some of the 100% VG options. There are more available than there used to be. If you have a good vapor lounge or vape shop in your local area, talk to your vendors and let them help you find something for yourself. If they have smaller bottles (like the 10 ml options), try several just to see which one works for you.