How Does JUUL Work???

Many people understand the basic concept of how vapes work, but for others, the JUUL is their first vape, and they’ll find themselves asking the question: “How does JUUL work?”

Although classic cigarettes are pretty straightforward, the mechanisms of vaping may be a little more elusive to ex-smokers that have made the switch.

Not only will this post explain how the JUUL specifically works, but it will also give you an idea of the basic concept of all nicotine vaporizers!

Let’s get started!

How Does JUUL Work?: E-Juice

First, we need to understand a little bit about what E-juice or E-liquid is.

How Does JUUL Work Mystery E-Juice

E-juice, E-liquid, or vape juice is the lifeblood of all vapes.  It’s what contains the nicotine desired by vapers and smokers looking to quit.

E-juice is made up of mostly a mixture of propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, in which, nicotine is dissolved in one of two forms: free-base nicotine or nicotine salt.

Other than these three ingredients, E-juice also contains food-grade flavorings to create the tasty flavors found in almost all E-juice.

When E-juice is heated to a certain point, like all liquids, it vaporizes.  This simply means the juice is transitioning from the liquid state to the gas state.

However, there are a few different ways this can happen. The first is the desired goal, vaporization.  The second, in which the e-juice temperature gets too hot, is combustion or burning.

Combustion is what cigarettes use to deliver nicotine to the user, and this creates a harsher and hotter smoke that also forms many more harmful by-products.

Combustion is never the goal of a vaporizer, but it can occur due to improper use by inexperienced users.

Now that we understand what E-juice is, I can explain the mechanism by which vaporizers like the JUUL heat this nicotine-containing liquid to the perfect level for a comfortable vaping experience.

How Does JUUL Work?: The Process

There are a few steps going on here, that all seamlessly occur without the vaper’s conscious understanding, so I’ll break each one down below.

Step 1: Absorption of the E-Juice

The first step of the vaporization process of how the JUUL works is absorption, or wicking, or the e-juice.

The most common wick material in vapes is cotton, but the JUUL uses a different material: silica.

Cotton is usually preferred because it absorbs e-juice better than silica, however, the tradeoff is that cotton has a lower burning point than silica, which results in a higher chance to accidentally burn the wick and the E-juice.

This is part of the reason why the JUUL almost NEVER produces burnt hits, also called “dry-hits” by the vaping community.  AND it’s the reason that the JUUL has a tendency to not produce the most consistent hits, due to its wick’s slower absorption rate.

Regardless of what material is used, the job of the wick is to absorb the e-juice and then to be heated to vaporization temperature by the coil.

Below you can see a picture that points out the wicks in JUUL Pods.

On the left, you can see the wicks in an untampered JUUL Pod, and on the right, you can see them a little clearer with the wick and coil assembly removed and pried apart.

How Does JUUL Work Wicks

Step 2: The Coil

These wicks are wrapped in a metallic “coil”. This coil is the part that heats up and vaporizes the E-juice that was previously absorbed by the wick.

Coils come in a variety of different materials, usually some kind of metal, but also occasionally other materials like ceramic.

The type of material used in the coils all come with their own positives and negatives, and can entirely change the vaping experience.

This piece of the “how does JUUL work?” puzzle is generally called a coil because it is almost always coiled up around the wicking material like so:

How Does JUUL Work Coil

When electricity is passed through these coils via an attached battery, the metal heats up and creates the proper temperature for vaporization of E-juice.

Step 3: Bring on the HEAT

You can think of these coils like tiny little wires, similar to wires in all of our electronic devices, minus the plastic coating.

Metal conducts electricity, and when it does so with the proper resistance, wattage, and voltage, heats up the metal wire to a particular temperature.

The combinations of wattage, voltage, and resistance are endless and are also one of the main factors that allow a vast amount of customization to the vaping experience.

JUUL makes this part easy by controlling all these factors for you to create a consistent and pleasant vape hit.

The coil of the JUUL is contained within its metal contact points, making the coil itself difficult to see.  These contact points are what connect the coil to the JUUL battery through the metal plates on the bottom of the JUUL.

How Does JUUL Work Metal Contacts

When you take a hit from the JUUL, the battery activates, sending an electronic current through these metal plates and into the coil to create heat and vaporization of E-juice.

This E-juice vapor then rises from the coil, through the air tube, and into your mouth and lungs through the suction you produce.

This suction pulls air through the JUUL pod, which helps to regulate the coil’s temperature and reduce the chances of getting a highly unpleasant dry or burnt hit.

Step 4: The Cycle Continues…

As E-juice is vaporized from the wicks, they must reabsorb more E-juice from the JUUL pod so that the vaporization cycle can continue.

This is why taking multiple hits in a short amount of time can reduce the amount of vapor produced.  The wicks simply haven’t had enough time to absorb more E-juice.

Below I have made a diagram of this whole process unfolding so you can see the entire cycle at once:

How Does JUUL Work Diagram

How Does JUUL Work?: Summary

Although there are nearly infinite different combinations of materials, battery outputs, and general vape designs, they all use this same basic concept to deliver nicotine to the user.

Here is the list of steps again, in a nice condensed format:

  1. Wicking material absorbs E-juice
  2. The metal coil wrapped around the wick is heated by the battery when activated
  3. When activated, suction from the user pulls E-juice vapor from the heated coil and into the user’s mouth/lungs.
  4. The wicks reabsorb E-juice and the cycle starts anew.

If you’re still confused, here’s a helpful animated infographic created by the vape company Totally Wicked.

How Does JUUL Work? The Results are in.

I hope this post has helped answer the question of “How does JUUL work”.

Once you understand all this, you’ll realize that it’s really quite simple.

AND, you now have the general idea of how almost ALL e-cigarettes/vaporizers work!

Now you can explain it to all your friends who are just as curious as you were before reading this explanation!

Have a great day JUULers, I’ll see you soon!

Are you still confused about any aspects of how JUUL works?  If so, ask your question in the comments section below and I’ll be happy to answer!


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Sebastien · July 27, 2019 at 10:04 pm

Hi! Really great article, thank you for the in depth info! I just have one question: how does the battery get activated when you take a hit? Does it detect the air when you inhale?

    The Prof · August 15, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    Hey Sebastien!

    First of all, you’re welcome, and I’m glad you liked the post!

    I’m honestly not entirely sure how that part of the device functions!

    It’s definitely some crazy science stuff. According to this Wikipedia article, buttonless vapes can be activated through a number of different mechanisms.

    I encourage you to check it out if you’re still curious!

      Ola Winsnes · September 7, 2019 at 6:09 pm

      Hi Prof

      Great article!
      Can you tell me why the vapor isnt hot?

        The Prof · September 8, 2019 at 5:03 pm

        Hi Ola!

        It’s a combination of reasons actually.

        Firstly, the constant airflow passing through the coil while hitting helps to keep the temperature stable.

        Another reason is that the JUUL uses silica wicks, which don’t conduct heat nearly as well as cotton wicks.

        Finally, the JUUL is designed to produce low output from the battery to assure that the vapor never gets too hot!

        The vaporization temperature of e-liquid is much lower than that of it’s combustion (burning). This allows for comfortable low vaping temperature!

        Hope this answered your question! Have a great day!

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