Introduction: Homemade Vape Pen (e-cig)
This is an overview of my homemade vape pen / mod / e-cig that I've been working on and modifying lately. My challenge was to use all parts not made for vaping, and although it was difficult, I finally have a worthy product. This is not a tutorial but an explanation. It would be very difficult for one to acquire the same items that I used, so therefore all replications will be very diverse. I also challenged myself to make DIY e-juice with the same guidelines- no ingredients made specifically for vaping. Instructions to make the juice will be at the end.
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Step 1: Parts
For this project you are going to need some parts. If you're lucky, you might have some of these parts laying around. Here is a brief list:
- A battery. This is the most important part and the hardest to acquire. A disposable 9v battery may be used, but it is much better to use a larger, rechargeable battery such as an RC car battery, or in my case, I dissected a portable 1000 mAh phone charging battery and used that.
- Resistance wire. This is another item that will be hard to come by. You can buy Nichrome or Kanthal wire (the most commonly used resistance wires) online in bulk or you can get them at a vape shop. If you can not obtain the wire these ways, take apart a toaster or a hair dryer and use that! The gauge (AWG) of the wire depends on your battery. I use 28 AWG Nichrome, but sometimes I wish I had a 30 or 32. The smaller the number, the thicker the wire, the thicker the wire, the more entertaining it needs to heat up. I would recommend a 28-32 for most people.
- Some sort of wire terminal. You will need this because solder will not stick to resistance wire. Also, this will make it much easier to change out your coils if they get nasty or bent up. I used cheap screw terminals that I got on Amazon. I got 30 of them for only like $6. You can also use a crimping tool and small crimps, but it sacrifices ease of use.
- A button. Simple enough... This will be used to send the electricity to the resistance wire that is coiled up.
- Various hardware... Sorry it is hard to specify here, as this depends on your battery, your button, your terminal, and what design you're going with. I used some steel sheet metal to mount my button, brass end cap to enclose the coil, and a plastic sprinkler piece for the mouth piece (all from my local Lowes). Head down to the hardware store and give yourself a lot of time to look around. Remember to always have your coil enclosed in a metal casing, be mindful not to have any burning plastic also making its way into your lungs.
- Insulated electrical wire
- A soldering iron and solder
- Organic Cotton Balls or any sort of wick (Silicon wicks, cotton wicks, etc...)
- Juice! (See later in the tutorial for DIY juice recipes)
Step 2: How Vaping Works
The best way I can teach you how to make your own vape pen is to teach you exactly how each aspect of it works. Very basically what happens is the electricity from the battery is short circuited through the very thin resistance wire, which makes the wire heat up and vaporize the juice.
Atomizer vs Clearomizer (tank):
I'll tell you in short, atomizers are way easier to make. In an atomizer, you have the resistance wire coiled around a wick that is saturated and wet with the juice that you dripped on top of it. This happens in a small chamber and has an airflow source (a hole) under the coil. When you inhale, all of the vapors in the chamber are swept up and into your mouth. This is what I use in my homemade pen, but eventually I might make a clearomizer. Technically every vape pen in the world has some kind of atomizer in it, but when it is in a clearomizer, the wick absorbs juice from a tank rather than having to drip juice onto the wick yourself. The main advantage is the "ready to go" use, but these are much harder to make. There are clearomizers that have the coil up high and some that are down low. It would be easier to make one up high, rather than down low. In both ways the coil itself has to be in a central chamber within the tank, not in the juice. When the coil is high up, you can have the ends of the wick coming out of the chamber through small holes or slits and down into the juice, absorbing. When the coil is low, you have the wick crammed around in the chamber, with small holes on either side. The juice absorbs into the wick where the holes are. These variations can be altered and combined in different ways, to match your design, but I highly recommend started out by making a normal atomizer vape pen, and then working your way up to tanks in the future.
Step 3: How I Made My Vape Pen
This will be brief, as how I made mine will most likely not be like how you will make yours. I started with my spare phone battery (which was awesome because I can charge my pen with any android/kindle charger XD), and I took it apart and found the positive and negative terminals on the circuit board that originally led to the usb female output. I soldered wires onto those points and, after welding a mounting bracket for the button, ran the positive wire through the button. I then ran the two wires up to the other side of the battery, where i soldered them onto a screw terminal. I superglued a brass pipe end cap for pneumatics onto the battery and drilled two small holes in the side where the coil leads will go to where the screw terminal is glued to the outside of the the end cap. I then purchased a plastic piece that I found in the sprinkler section of lowes and screwed it onto the 1/2" threads belonging to the end cap. I made sure that the plastic was the female end, so that all of the heat was contained without melting any plastic. This was perhaps my 4th design, and so far the best. My next design will probably utilize a tank.
Step 4: DIY E-juice!
This gets me excited. I have been nonstop trying tons of different combinations for bigger clouds or stronger flavor, and it's really quite fun. There are a billion tutorials out there for this, so I won't go into too much detail, but I use CVS brand Glycerin. Make sure that whatever glycerin you use, is USP (pure) and also vegetable glycerin (VG). Sometimes it won't say if it is VG or not, but most likely it is. Glycerin is pretty thick in consistency, so you might want to add a little bit of water to make it easier to deal with, but adding water will effect the cloud. Glycerin is very cheap so experiment! Mess up every once in a while until you get it perfect. As for flavoring, don't use extracts made with alcohol. It won't hurt you, but it won't taste like much. You can sometimes use imitation flavors, just read the ingredients and make sure alcohol isn't used. Go to Walmart and find Lorann flavorings or just don't flavor the juice. The glycerin tastes naturally sweet so it's not bad. As for adding Nicotine, I have no idea. Google it :P
Check this link to see what Lorann flavors are safe to vape: http://bestvaporflavors.com/best-lorann-oils-vaping/