E-cigars and e-pipes: Hands-on with the evolution of the e-cigarette

ePuffer Electronic Pipe 605 with Jeffrey VC

I’ve never been much of a smoker. I am the kind of guy who usually just bums a treat every so often on a night out. To me, cigarettes are a lot like a beer. They aren’t good for you, but in moderation, they’ll harm you about as much as that McDonald’s cheeseburger. However, when our resident 21st century savant Andrew Couts started smoking e-cigarettes last winter, I was intrigued. Vaping, as it’s called, gives you most of the buzz of a real cigarette without the horrible downsides like inhaling smoke, smelling up a room, or having to taste your cigarette for the next few hours. When I discovered that electronic cigars and pipes exist, I decided to investigate this phenomenon myself. 

In the sections below, I’ll describe my experiences and adventures with a rechargeable e-cigar, a rechargeable e-pipe, and some disposable e-cigars and e-cigarettes. Becoming a strange smoker from the future has been a fun journey indeed.

The next step in e-smoking

Before we go any further, lets hash out the basics. E-cigarettes and all of the other products we’re about to talk about, are made to look like tobacco smoking products, but are actually anything but. They contain no tobacco, no tar, and no flame. They do contain small amounts of nicotine (same amount, or less, than a cigarette) for the buzz, but are powered by small lithium ion batteries — the same kind of battery that powers all modern cell phones, cameras, tablets, laptops, and electric cars (yep). The battery powers a heating element in what is called an atomized cartridge. The atomized cartridge is basically a metal tube filled with cotton and what the industry calls e-liquid (water and propylene glycol, the same substances inside asthma inhalers and deodorant). The battery heats up and boils a small amount of the liquid, which produces a vapor that resembles smoke. The vapor doesn’t smell and will mostly dissipate in your mouth if you hold your breath for a few seconds.

There haven’t been any studies I can find on the long term health repercussions of vaping, but they appear to be minimal when compared to actual smoking. However, if you live a fearful sort of life, it might be best to steer clear. Nothing is for certain.

Getting Holmesy with the e-pipe

The first stop on my expedition into the deeper realms of vaping was the perhaps the most hardcore product in the vaping world: the electronic pipe. For this experiment, the folks at ePuffer were kind enough to let me try out their ePuffer Electronic Pipe 605 starter kit ($150). The kit came with the pipe, three atomized cartridges with differing levels of nicotine (zero – heavy), an extra mouthpiece, and a USB charger. After giving the pipe a good initial charge (essential for all electronic devices), I screwed in an atomized cartridge, pushed the mouthpiece on, and began my adventure.

ePuffer e-pipe 605 lit up Digital Trends

EPuffer’s e-Pipe is made of plastic, but could pass for a real pipe to a passerby. To use it, you have to hold down a small black button on the pipe as you inhale. As you draw, the bowl of the pipe lights up red, imitating a burning pipe, though the effect is more comedic than clever.

Traditional pipe smokers, you needn’t worry about your favorite pastime being replaced by electronic pipes anytime soon. Though the e-pipe worked well, it doesn’t offer the same enjoyment one gets from the act of lighting, relighting, and puffing on a good tobacco pipe. EPuffer has gone to lengths to try to mimic the flavor and intensity of a real pipe, but it wasn’t quite there. To get a good hit, I had to use the most powerful of the three cartridges that came with the kit. With the weaker cartridges, I had to inhale a lot, which somewhat defeats the point of a pipe.

However, what the e-pipe lacks in authenticity, it makes up for in oddness. When I took the e-pipe on a bachelor party trip to Montreal, it was the hit of the weekend. Passersby tended to double take or flat out ask what it was. And like the village bicycle, everyone wanted to give it a go. Most seemed quite amused and a few were genuinely interested in how the whole setup worked.

The battery on the e-pipe is the best of all the products I tested as well. Though I can’t say I used it multiple times a day, it lasted for weeks between chargings. Cartridges seemed to last for quite a long time as well — somewhere around 5-10 times as long as an e-cigarette, though I wasn’t counting my puffs. Replacement cartridges are cheap too. You can buy a pack of 5 for $16 or buy e-liquid and refill cartridges yourself.

Overall, the only real problem of the e-pipe is that I couldn’t get over how silly I felt lugging around a giant pipe in my pocket and how hipster-ey I felt ‘smoking’ it. Though you get a better hit than an e-cigarette, it feels more like you’re smoking a light-up Sherlock Holmes toy than an actual pipe. Like Halloween, once the fun of dressing up with my fancy gadget pipe wore off, I didn’t end up using it much. Sherlock Holmes may be a master of disguise, but the ePuffer is not. 

Next up: The e-cigar

Product Review

You don't need Alexa in your microwave, but you'd be surprised what she can do

Amazon has added to its long portfolio of products with the AmazonBasics Microwave, a small appliance that works with Alexa. We took the microwave for a test drive to find out more.
Computing

Protecting your PDF with a password isn't difficult. Just follow these steps

If you need to learn how to password protect a PDF, you have come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the process of protecting your documents step-by-step, whether you're running a MacOS or Windows machine.
Gaming

The plug-and-play PC Classic joins the retro console bandwagon

Gaming company Unit-e is creating the PC Classic, a plug-and-play retro console that will come bundled with around 30 of the best DOS games. The system will support gamepads and keyboard setups.
Deals

REI’s annual gear sale brings you 30 percent off top outdoor brands

Starting today and running until Monday, November 19, REI is hosting their annual Gear Up Get Out sale. Each day, you can receive up to 30 percent off exclusive items, with other doorbuster deals happening throughout the sale.
Deals

These 30 Amazon Coupons can help you save on the things you need

Did you know there are thousands of Amazon Coupons and promo codes that you can take advantage of? We found coupons for everything from tech to everyday products. Find out what savings you've been missing out on.
Smart Home

Wynd’s new air-purifying bundle lets smart home owners breathe easier

Wynd is already well known in the tech industry for its popular Kickstarter-backed air purifier and now the company is launching two new products designed to improve air quality to inform smart home owners.
Smart Home

Google Assistant adds smart home bells and whistles in time for the holidays

Just in time for the holidays, Google Assistant is introducing a bunch of new smart home features, including the ability to reply to broadcast messages, create and use cookbooks, and access enhanced storybook content for kids.
Smart Home

Brew it fast, hot, and flavorful with our favorite coffee makers

Whether you're looking for a simple coffee maker to get you through the morning or a high-end brewer that will impress your taste buds and your friends, you'll find some of the best coffee makers around on this list.
Emerging Tech

These Alexa-stuffed retro phones don’t listen until you take them off the hook

Looking for an Amazon Echo with a cool vintage touch? Los Angeles-based Grain Design is taking old, non-working antique phones and transforming them into amazing Alexa smart speakers.
Smart Home

This alarm clock uses targeted light and sound to wake you, but not your partner

The Wake v2 isn't like your typical bedside alarm. Instead, it wakes you by shining a soft light directly into your face, thereby not disturbing the person sharing a bed with you. Pretty smart, huh?
Deals

All the best Amazon Black Friday deals for 2018

Amazon may be an online-only retailer, but that doesn’t mean its Black Friday sales are anything to sniff at. In fact, due to its online status, Amazon has huge flexibility with the range of products and deals it can offer. Here's our…
News

Xfinity indoor/outdoor camera zooms in on Grinch’s faces and license plates

Comcast's Xfinity Home security cameras can help the police catch Grinches who steal delivery packages from your home. The cameras use artificial intelligence to analyze moving objects and zoom in on faces at your door and license plates.
Smart Home

Airbnb hosts are offering free rooms to those displaced by California wildfires

Several thousand Airbnb hosts in California are opening their homes to help those displaced by the devastating wildfires in the state. Free accommodation is being offered to those affected through November 29.
Smart Home

Here's our comparison of the Lenovo Smart Display and the JBL Link View

Looking for the right smart display? We're comparing the Lenovo Smart Display vs. JBL Link View, two excellent smart displays that are made for different audiences. Here's what you need to know about both displays and what they do.
1 of 2