Vaping terms, lingo, what does it all mean? (Part 1)

Vaping terms and acronyms

The way experienced e-cigarette users talk about their equipment can be extremely confusing for a new vaper. The numbers, acronyms and jargon you'll find being used on forums and in Youtube videos can sometimes be more of a hindrance than a help. We'll start this week by taking a look at some common acronyms and numbers. Next time, in part 2 of this blog, we'll go over some of the nicknames and phrases too. 


AFC is short for air flow control, it's the mechanism that allows you to adjust how much or how little air enters your vaping device. It's sometimes combined with other words like AFC screw or AFC ring to describe how the airflow is adjusted on that device. Not all vaping equipment will have an AFC, some will have a fixed airflow that isn't adjustable.


AIO is used to describe an all in one e-cigarette device. These are typically stick or pen shaped devices, but they don't have to be. It's essentially any device where the part holding the battery and the part holding the liquid are not separate items. They are often thought of as beginners’ devices because of the simplicity but this is not always the case, there have been some very high quality and great performing AIO vaping devices so they should not be seen as inferior.


AWG is American Wire Gauge and is often used when talking about the wire vaping coils are made from. The bigger the number that follows, the thinner the wire is, so 32AWG is a thinner wire than 24AWG. In the UK and other parts of the world people may use millimetres instead. Thankfully there are plenty of conversion charts and calculators online you can use if you need buy wire from somewhere that uses a different standard.


This is used by companies to describe a type of replaceable coil. The most notable use was by Aspire when they launched the Nautilus BVC coils. It stands for Bottom Vertical Coil, to describe the way the airflow enters the coil at the bottom and flows upwards through the centre of a vertical coil. It's a very common design now but at the time horizontal coils were the most common.


DNA are a range of circuit board electronics by the American company Evolv. They are used in several manufacturers equipment and are considered to be a very high-quality product. They can also offer computer connection and a whole host of customisable features for your vaping device. Common Evolv products are the DNA60, DNA75c, DNA250c. It's a bit like when you see a computer with 'Intel inside” but in our case it would be 'DNA or Evolv inside.'


N80, or sometimes Ni80, is an abbreviation for Nichrome which is a very common wire type used for coils in vaping. The '80' refers to the nickel content of the wire, in this case it's 80%. It is used in many replaceable coil heads and is used for wattage/power vaping.


Ni200 is 99.6% pure nickel wire and can be used for temperature control vaping. It's not all that common anymore, some people still use Ni200 but it never really caught on in a big way. To use a coil made of this wire on your device it will need a 'nickel' setting in the temperature control settings. This wire should not be confused with N80 above.


RBA is for Rebuildable Atomizer, a coil head where you can replace the wicking material and the coil itself. Sometimes they will come with a tank, giving you the choice of using the stock screw in coils or a coil that you 'build' and wick yourself. Other times they will be an optional extra. Building these can be fiddly, annoying and time consuming, especially the smallest ones.


An RDA is a Rebuildable Dripping Atomiser, when typing 'dripper' is too much effort you can use RDA instead. It's a type of vaping atomiser that doesn't usually hold a lot of liquid like a tank, so e-liquid is dripped through the top onto the cotton and coil. It's seen both as an advanced way of vaping and an old way of vaping. Either way it's loved by its enthusiasts and it's a great way to test flavours out without filling up a whole tank. It's not the most practical way to vape for most people though.


An RTA is a tank that doesn't use stock coil heads that you simply screw or push in. A Rebuildable Tank Atomiser is a tank that you need to make the coil for and then wick it yourself before use. The biggest advantage with an RTA is money saving, as wire and cotton wicking materials are both very cheap. There's a learning curve to making coils and using RTA's and some people enjoy the convenience of just screwing in a replacement coil. If you enjoy DIY an RTA could be a great choice though. 


SS316 and SS316L are both Stainless Steel wires used for coils in vaping. It's used in many replaceable coil heads and can be used for wattage/power vaping and temperature-controlled vaping. For that reason, it's become a very popular wire to use. SS316L is a low carbon version of SS316.


Variable Voltage is a way to adjust the power a device sends through the coil. The first adjustable vaping devices used this simple method of adjusting the voltage up and down to create a warmer or cooler vaping experience, or for coils of a different resistance. It's still essentially how every adjustable device works regardless of what it's showing on a screen.


Variable Wattage is another Evolv creation (See DNA above) and one that almost every other manufacturer went on to adopt. The screen on the device shows wattage and you can vary the power up and down. It makes more sense than showing the voltage as depending on the resistance of the coil 4.2v could be a very hot vape or a very cool one.


510 is a number that confusingly refers to quite a few things but thankfully it does refer to a standard size. Firstly, it's the standard connection between the battery part of a vaping device and the tank. Known as a 510 connection it means that 99% of all brands equipment will work together, so you can put an Aspire Nautilus on an Innokin stick battery when they both have a 510 connection.

510 is also the standard size of a mouthpiece connection, so we have 510 tips and 510 holes in the top of tanks. There are exceptions to this, both proprietary tip sizes and the 810 size below, but the 510 is still a very common size especially on mouth to lung devices. There is a whole plethora of after-market tips available in different colours and shapes with a standard 510 connection.


810 is the 510's bigger brother when it comes to tips and mouthpieces. Commonly found on RDA's and high powered sub-ohm tanks that are designed for direct to lung inhale, the bore of an 810 tip is wider than a 510, allowing a much larger and looser airflow. If you are looking for a tighter draw somewhat like a cigarette, you'll be best to avoid an 810 mouthpiece.

18650, 21700, 20700, 18350, 26650

These are all battery sizes and the most commonly used removable and rechargeable cells for vaping. The first two numbers are the diameter of the battery in millimetres, the third and fourth are the length and the zero on the end means it has a circular cross section. It's important to remember that these numbers only refer to the size and shape of the battery, they are not an indicator of its suitability for your device or vaping use in general.


I know this doesn't address all the abbreviations and acronyms that you might come across (some have already been covered in previous blogs), I'm starting to think that you could probably write a whole book on the subject! Vaping is always evolving and terms and phrases often change as the equipment we use changes.

I don't know how we've got ourselves into a situation where we need glossaries to understand what we are reading on the back of a product's packaging or to make an informed purchase online, but that seems to be the case. It's not absolutely necessary to know everything however, I have friends who've been vaping for years and would have no idea what an AFC is and they seem to get on just fine, so don't worry if you still sometimes feel a little in the dark.

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