Most electronic cigarettes take an overall cylindrical shape although a wide array of shapes can be found: box, pipe styles etc. Many are made to look like tobacco cigarettes. Common components include a liquid delivery and container system, an atomizer, and a power source.[27] Many electronic cigarettes are composed of streamlined replaceable parts, while disposable devices combine all components into a single part that is discarded when its liquid is depleted.[28]


Along with the battery, the atomizer is the central component of every personal vaporizer. Although many kinds of atomizers are in use, they generally consist of a small heating elementresponsible for vaporizing liquid, as well as a wicking material that draws liquid in.

A small length of resistance wire is wrapped around the wicking material and then connected to the positive and negative poles of the device. When activated the resistance wire (or coil) quickly heats up thus turning the liquid into a vapor, which is then inhaled by the user.

The electrical resistance of the coil and the voltage output of a device play important roles in the perceived quality of the vapor that is produced by an atomizer. Atomizer resistances usually vary from 1.5Ω (ohms) to 3.0Ω from one atomizer to the next but can go as low as 0.1Ω in the most extreme cases of DIY coil building which produce large amounts of vapor but could present a fire hazard and other dangerous battery failures if the user is not knowledgeable enough about basic electrical principles and how they relate to battery safety.

Wicking materials vary greatly from one atomizer to another but silica fibers are the most commonly used in manufactured atomizers. "Rebuildable" or "do it yourself" atomizers can use silica, cotton, porous ceramichempbamboo yarnoxidized stainless steel mesh and even wire rope cables as wicking materials.

A wide array of atomizers and e-liquid container combinations are available:

  • Cartomizers

Most of the devices that imitate the cigarette form factor use a "cartomizer" (a portmanteau of cartridge and atomizer) or "carto" as an e-liquid delivery system. The piece consists of a heating element surrounded by a liquid-soaked poly-foam that acts as an e-liquid holder. It is usually disposed of once the e-liquid acquires a burnt taste, which is usually due to an activation when the coil is dry or when the cartomizer gets consistently flooded (gurgling) because of sedimentation of the wick. Most cartomizers are refillable even if not advertised as such.

Cartomizers can be used on their own or in conjunction with a tank that allows more e-liquid capacity. In this case the portmanteau word of "cartotank" has been coined. When used in a tank, the cartomizer is inserted in a plastic, glass or metal tube and holes or slots have to be punched on the sides of the cartomizer to allow liquid to reach the coil.

  • Clearomizers
eGo style e-cigarette with a top-coil clearomizer. Silica fibers are hanging down freely inside of the tank, drawing e-liquid bycapillary action to the coil that is locate directly under the mouth piece.

Clearomizers or "clearos", not unlike cartotanks, use a clear tank in which an atomizer is inserted.Unlike cartotanks, however, no poly-foam material can be found in them. There are a lot of different wicking systems employed inside of clearomizers to ensure good moistening of the wick without flooding the coil. Some rely on gravity to bring the e-liquid to the wick and coil assembly (bottom coil clearomizers for example) whereas others rely on capillary action and to some degree the user agitating the e-liquid while handling the clearomizer (top coil clearomizers).

  • Rebuildable Atomizers

A rebuildable atomizer is an atomizer that allows the user to assemble or "build" the wick and coil themselves.

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Last edited: 30/06/2015