The term “refill cartridge” can mean many things in the world of e-cigarettes, and knowing the specifics of how the different types of cartridges work can prevent you from having a very bad time if you are new to this hobby. The most important thing to know is that, if you are soon to be a new e-cigarette user, you want to avoid disposable e-cigarette cartridges and purchase an e-cigarette that uses cartomizers. Cartomizers are a newer technology, they’re far more reliable and they are absolutely worth spending a few more dollars on.
Meet the old type of e-cigarette cartridge. This was the type of cartridge that just about every e-cigarette on the market used until 2010-2011, and it’s the type that you want to avoid. When you shop for an e-cigarette, check the manufacturer’s website for pictures of the refill cartridges. You can recognize this type of e-cigarette cartridge, even in small pictures, by the fact that it has an exposed opening on the bottom rather than screw threading. Peering inside the opening, you’ll find a tiny wet sponge. This type of e-cigarette cartridge is part of what some manufacturers call the “three-part e-cigarette.” You assemble this type of e-cigarette by screwing a heating element called an “atomizer” into the battery and pushing the cartridge over the top of the atomizer. These cartridges cost almost nothing to produce and are very cheap to buy. Unfortunately, they also don’t work very well. I’ve seen manufacturers say that their e-cigarette cartridges are the equivalent of half a pack of cigarettes, but you’ll never get that much usage out of one. You’d be lucky to get the equivalent of 4-5 cigarettes out of one cartridge. They’re usually very unreliable and often expand and leak in warm environments.
These days, disposable e-cigarette cartridges have been replaced by cartomizers in most e-cigarette models. A “cartomizer” — a combination of the words “cartridge” and “atomizer” — is a refill cartridge that contains its own heating element. Cartomizers are very reliable and hold a greater amount of liquid than e-cigarette cartridges without being prone to leaking. Although they cost a little more than disposable e-cigarette cartridges, cartomizers are better in every way. The problem is that, because “cartomizer” is a term that people new to e-cigarettes may not understand, many manufacturers continue to call them “cartridges.” You can recognize a cartomizer by the fact that it has screw threading on the bottom. In some cases, the screw threading may be recessed.