Pod vapes are simple, portable and stylish. As they are quickly gaining popularity among the vaping community, we’ve decided to take a more detailed look into what pod vapes are, how they work, where they excel and what their limitations are.
In this guide, you will find:
- What is a Pod System?
- A Brief History of Pod Vape Systems
- What’s inside a Pod System?
- What are Nic Salts?
- What are the Main Pros of a Pod System?
- What are the Main Cons of a Pod System?
- How to Choose a Pod System?
What is a Pod System?
A pod system is an ultra-portable system that sits somewhere in the middle between a simple vape pen and a complex box mod.
As the name itself makes it clear, a pod system is a vaping device that uses special cartridges or “pods” — and not standard tanks or atomizers. With that, what they deliver in terms of performance is very similar: they let your turn e-liquid into a vapor that you can inhale through a mouthpiece. Pod systems are typically much smaller than box mods: they also come with smaller batteries (around 300mAh) and hold less e-liquid (most pods are 1ml or 2 ml). You don’t have to refill your e-liquid with a pod system: you simply take out the old pod and put in a new one.
The fundamental difference between a traditional cartomizer and an ultra-portable pod system is the above-mentioned cartridges. The cartridges are replaceable and contain all the vaping essentials: the coil, wick, and e-juice.
While not as powerful as box mods, pod systems typically offer more “oomph” than vape pens and cigalikes, which cap out at around 180mAh. Ultra-portable pod systems, on the other hand, can go up to 300mAh.
Pod systems are also relatively inexpensive. For a bit over $30, you will be able to purchase what can be considered a high-end ultra-portable pod system, whereas simpler models start at as low $15.
A Brief History of Pod Vape Systems
It’s impossible to talk about the history of pod vapes without turning to JUUL and Pax Labs.
The year of 2015 became the turning point for the vaping market: this is when Pax Labs introduced JUUL. The company’s first e-cigarette was named the Ploom Model One and it has not quite generated the amount of success that Juul did. While the Ploom Model One was revolutionary, it had plenty of design problems, produced very small clouds and allowed very small nicotine concentrations.
All of this changed with JUUL. When making the world’s most popular e-cigarette, the company looked to solve one important problem: they wanted to increase the conversion rate of smokers to vapers.
In order to make this happen, Pax Labs aimed to create a device that was truly simple to use for first-time vapers and delivered a sensation that would be very familiar to smoking.
On June 1st, 2015, JUUL was born. The world’s first mass-market pod vape featured a sleek design, was draw-activated and came with disposable pods. But what made JUUL really stand out was the use of nic salts — a new e-liquid format that allowed for higher nicotine concentrations. Thus, smokers would be able to get the familiar nicotine “kick” much faster than the other vape systems available on the market at that time.
By 2017, JUUL has become the top best-selling vape device on the market. The new vape style was so popular that the company was even struggling to meet the growing demand. Naturally, the vape industry took notice and, within a matter of months, a new generation of closed system pod-mods came to life.
There were several key factors that made JUUL stand out:
- Drop-in pods, that made JUULs much easier to use than any other vaping kit on the market.
- Flat, narrow, light and supremely portable design that allowed the mods to sit comfortably in a pocket.
- And nic salt e-liquids that were used in the pods came with a whole set of benefits of their own.
JUUL may have started the trend for vape kits with disposable pods, but the idea has since caught on and has been implemented by multiple companies.
What’s inside a Pod System?
While there are lots of pod vape models on the market, most of them have essentially the same components:
- E-liquid pod, which includes the coil, wick, and juice itself
- Additional elements: some pod vapes come with LED indicators that light up when you take a draw, come feature buttons, etc.
As we’ve mentioned several times throughout this guide, most pos systems use a different type of e-liquid compared to large box mods. The juice pods in pod vapes typically contain nic salt.
What are Nic Salts?
Before the arrival of JUUL, all vape devices used e-liquids that contained free-base nicotine.
Today, you can get vape juices with both free-base nicotine or nic salt. What’s the difference?
There are two methods of nicotine extraction used in making e-liquids: free base and nic salts.
Freebase extraction is the method that tobacco companies have been using since the early 60’s and it basically nicotine in its purest form. When heated, free-base nicotine provides a powerful “kick” — or what is known as a “throat hit” among vapers.
Nic salt, on the other hand, is the natural state that nicotine is found in tobacco leaves.
Nicotine salt is much more stable and not as volatile as the freebase form. Nic salt e-liquids also take higher temperatures to vaporize and, in its pure form, they are not the most effective way to deliver nicotine to your body (compared to free-base e-liquids). So why are they so popular?
In their goal to give vapers the sensation that was as close to smoking as possible, Pax Labs have found a way to use nicotine salt to deliver a high concentration of nicotine — 50mg while avoiding the harsh throat hit that usually comes when vaping freebase e-juices that are high in nicotine. The company has also been able to make 50mg nicotine palatable and more bioavailable than ever before on the vaping market. How was that possible? As in many great recipes, there was a secret ingredient involved: in this case, it’s benzoic acid. The chemical helps nic salts vaporize at lower temperatures and lowers the pH levels in the e-liquid, which results in the aforementioned smoother throat hit.
Thus, for those ex-smokers who used to smoke a pack or more a day, nic salt e-liquids would be the most efficient way of nicotine delivery.
Nic Salts are designed to be used in lower wattage devices due to the higher amount of nicotine absorbed as well as lower temperatures required to turn them into vapor.
What are the Main Pros of a Pod System?
There are several key elements that make pod systems increasingly popular in the vaping community.
First and foremost, it’s their ability to efficiently deliver high nicotine concentrations. As a lot of pod systems are specifically designed for vaping nic salts, they are generally a more suitable option forex heavy smokers and anyone vaping in high nic dosages.
Second, it’s their simplicity. Pod systems are very easy to use — and this is something new vapers truly appreciate. With pod systems, you don’t need to tweak with settings, assemble and re-assemble your device, change coils and wicks. There is no learning curve as well — you simply take your pod mod and inhale. This is what makes pod systems so attractive to new vapers.
Third, pod systems are as compact as vaping devices get and most of them can easily fit into the palm of a hand and can be carried in your pocket.
Pod systems are affordable, The cost of pod systems varies from brand to brand, but most of them are less expensive than standard bigger mods. And, since the initial investment is smaller, the transition to vaping is made that much easier.
Pod systems offer a sensation that is much more similar to smoking than what other vaping devices can offer. Thanks to their ability to handle high nicotine concentrations, ex-smokers would find vaping nic salts more satisfying than vaping free-base.
Finally, pod systems are discreet. While large clouds are loads of fun, they are not for everyone. If you don’t like extra attention and prefer to keep your vaping to yourself, getting a pod system would be the optimum choice.
What are the Main Cons of a Pod System?
As great as pod systems are, they are not without flaws. And most of the disadvantages of pod systems have to do with their limitations.
First, there is a limited flavor selection.
One of the best things about vaping is that it’s incredibly versatile — and this is one of its main advantages over smoking. There is so much choice of flavors in e-liquids that you won’t possibly be able to ever try them all. But, while with large box mods your choice of flavors is pretty much limitless, with pod systems, it is.
The current issue with ultra-portable devices is that their design itself requires the use of specific cartridges. And, in the majority of cases, you will be limited to the brand-specific cartridges that are compatible with your pod system. While there is generally a nice range of flavor options for pod vapes, you will typically find them limited to popular tastes like methol, tobacco, mango, strawberry, etc.
Tip: Before choosing a pod system, take a quick look through the company’s selection of e-liquid cartridges. If you like the flavor assortment, go ahead. If you don’t find the selection versatile enough, consider doing more browsing.
Naturally, things may be changing soon and with the growing number of pod vapes on the market, we may be seeing an expansion in flavor variety as well.
Problem number two with pod vapes is their smaller e-liquid capacity. Naturally, smaller devices will carry less liquid. The smallest pod systems on the market feature cartridges that can hold less than 1ml of e-liquid while the biggest cartridges cap out at about 2ml. How long one pod will last is individual, as it depends on your vaping habits and the nicotine level of your e-liquid. However, most vapers report that a pod would last them an average of 2-4 days.
Another disadvantage of pod vapes is the limited battery life. While large box mods come with huge internal and external batteries, pod systems can only offer what they can fit into their tiny frames. Thus, a standard pod vape will last you an average of three hours on a single charge.
This is nothing a simple power bank won’t fix — but this is one of the aspects that’s good to keep in mind if you plan on making a pod vape your primary vaping device.
How to Choose a Pod System?
As the range of pod devices keeps expanding, choosing your first pod vape may be a bit overwhelming. There are just a few things to keep in mind when choosing a pod vape.
Open pod system vs. closed pod system
There are essentially two main types of pod vape gadgets on the market: open system vapes and closed system vapes. Open system devices come with pods that can be refilled with e-liquid. Closed system devices are pre-filled and can not be refilled.
So, which one do you go for?
Naturally, open system pod mods would be less expensive to maintain the long run — as you will be able to refill an existing pod a few times before switching to a new one. Plus, you will have a wider selection of flavors and nicotine concentrations to choose from.
The main cons of open pod systems are that you will still need to refill the little pods — and this takes a bit away from the simplicity and effortlessness that we praise the pod systems for. Plus, these devices may also be prone to leaks and condensation.
Closed system pod vapes, on the other hand, are very easy to use and don’t require any sort of experience. They are basically plug-and-play. These types of mods are generally draw activated and come in a distinct shape. Their main disadvantage is that they would be a bit more expensive to maintain in the long run and are limited in terms of flavors and nicotine strengths.
If you’re looking for a device that requires zero maintenance, it’s best to go with a closed system pod vape. If you want to experiment with e-liquid flavors, PG/VG ratios and nicotine strengths, open system devices are the way to go.
There are some other things to consider as well.
Battery life is an important factor. The bigger the battery, the more independence you will get when using your pod mod. The simplest and smallest pod mods typically come with the batteries of 100mAh, while the biggest and most powerful pod mods cap out at around 600mAh.
Depending on your vaping habits, your pod mod vape may last you from two to four hours.
The type of charging port is also important. The majority of pod vapes feature a standard micro-USB slot — but some do come with proprietary chargers. Naturally, micro-USB ports are more versatile and let you recharge your pod mod with any Android phone charger. Proprietary chargers will work only with a particular type of port and, if you lose the proprietary charger, it would be an extra expense to replace it.
And there you have it! We hope you know have more information about pod vape systems, their types, functionality, and main features. When starting vaping, you may have a lot of questions about the way things work and the variety of vape gadgets and e-liquids available on the market may be overwhelming. Pod systems are the perfect first steps into the world of vaping and a great introduction to all the benefits and versatility that vaping has to offer.