If smokers relatively new to e cigs, maybe doing some research in preparation to buy, must understand that e cig cartridge life is almost ALWAYS exaggerated. I admit that even the careful measurements I take while testing various models out for the reviews on this site are exaggerated.
Here is why cartridge life is always exaggerated..
- Suppliers lie – ehem.. exaggerate to compete on cost
- Comparing electric cigs to real cigs is like comparing APPLES and DRAGONs (Yes, and I explain why it really may be THAT different)
Supplier e Cig Cartridge Life Exaggerations
First, e cigarette vendors exaggerate cartridge life to look better than the competition and to get you to buy.
Suppliers know that the high cost of cigarettes is one of the biggest reasons smokers take an interest in electronic cigarettes. They expect to you to do a little math to figure out how much money you could save so they lie, ehem, I mean exaggerate basically giving folks un-realistic expectations.
This has many bad side consequences with the worst being that people get a BAD first impression of e cigs and are set up for failure when they run out of cartridges in 2 days instead of 2 weeks like promised!
Scummy vendors typically say something like, “one cartridge is equal to 100 packs or 10 cartons of cigarettes, or 10,000 puffs” or something ridiculous like that.. OK, now maybe that’s really exaggerated, but you get the picture.
Comparing e Cig Cartridge Life to Real Cigarettes
Second, comparing cigarettes and electronic cigarettes really is “comparing apples and oranges.”
There are many practical reasons why it is really hard to compare e cig cartridges to cigarettes. These “practical reasons” are the reason why most of my cartridge life measurements are exaggerated. My cartridge life measurements are still somewhat useful though when comparing one brand of electronic cigarette to another. I will summarize a few:
Automatic Cut-off Switches
Many electronic cigarettes have an automatic cut-off switch that cuts power to the batter after a 2-4 second drag. The cut-off time is never exactly the same though. If a particular e cig I am reviewing doesn’t have an automatic cut-off, then I try to take 3 second drags. I do my best, but it is not very accurate.
Also, some people may be used to taking 4 or 5 second drags off a real cigarette. These people may need to need 2 drags off an electronic cigarette to equal their usual drag.
Low or Diminishing Vapor
As you smoke an e cig, the battery and cartridge slowly become drained. When this happens you may find yourself doing primer puffs, or extra multiple puffs to get the same vapor and nicotine hit you are used to when the battery and cartridge are fresh. Regular cigarettes don’t behave this way and so e cig cartridges get puffed more frequently to get the same result.
Some people prefer to give their atomizer a primer puff before taking a couple drags, or covering atomizer holes to optimize performance. Even though the atomizer isn’t totally warmed up on the primer puff, some nicotine solution still gets vaporized, but NOT inhaled and wasted in the process.
Nicotine Concentration / Absorbtion is Lower with Electronic Cigarettes
Generally, the concentration of nicotine that is extracted from tobacco and put into the nicotine solution is lower than what is in a real cigarette. Also, at the time of writing this, the chemistry of combusted cigarette smoke delivers the nicotine into the bloodstream far more efficiently than the chemistry of atomized vapor of nicotine.
One report I read said that cigarettes deliver 10X the amount of nicotine that e cigs can put into the bloodstream. This report however, didn’t say what strength cartridge was being used. It could have been 4mg for all I know.
The good news is that I read another report on improvements to nicotine inhaler technology that will improve e cig cartridge life greatly over time.
The Best Solution to the Problem?
First, just understand that comparing cigarettes to nicotine cartridges is like comparing apples to dragons! Well, maybe not quite that different. But, just be aware and don’t get your hopes up too much.
Second, if this is an issue that really bothers you then consider “dripping.” Some electronic cigarette vendors sell nicotine solution you can use “drip,” top off or refill your cartridges a number of times before they have to be replaced. A three piece electronic cigarette is the easiest to refill, but it is possible with many 2-piece designs as well.
Just be careful, because some e cigarette vendors void your warranty if drip your cartridges!!