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Verdict Time: Disposable Vapes VS Rechargeable E-Cigarettes

The disposable vape is taking the vaping world by storm and shows no signs of letting go.

Combining ease of use, cheap upfront costs and no maintenance requirements, disposable vapes, like elf bar vapes, are so simple to use that even my nan could vape with them. They’re a popular choice for both beginner and veteran vapers alike, and this is reflected by their growing popularity and hotcakes level of sales.

Still, there are questions to be asked before you take the plunge and buy a disposable vape without thinking — there’s a possibility a refillable e-cig might be the better choice. Rather than leaving you (not) high and dry, we’ve neatly summarised the pros and cons of each so you can spend your time getting your nicotine fix rather than postulating over the economics of a Juul

The Disposable Vape

As its name suggests, the disposable vape is meant to be used once and then discarded. They are pen-style vapes that come with a non-rechargeable battery and pre-filled liquid: once either part depletes or stops working, you don’t change out the components. You simply dispose of the vape altogether.

The industry standard for these bad boys is around 500 puffs, which makes them the equivalent of a 20-pack of cigarettes in terms of how long they’ll take to finish. They are typically filled with extra-strength nicotine salt e-liquids, which have between 16 to 20mg per ml of nicotine (as compared to starter vape liquids which begin with around 5mg per ml). That’s actually not a bad thing: this type of vape liquid results in almost zero throat hits and results in very smooth puffs, hence their popularity. If you don’t wish to start off at such a high nicotine level, it’s also possible to find disposable vapes with lower strengths.

Pros of a Disposable Vape

1. Ease of use

This might sound silly, but it’s actually one of the major selling points of a disposable. Smokers trying to make the switch to vaping often complain that it takes too long for them to learn how to puff: with a cig, you simply grab a lighter and stick the thing in your mouth; with a vape, there are so many different settings and hoops to jump through before you know it, you’ve wasted three days trying to learn how to suck some nicotine out of a cartridge when you could’ve just done it the good ol’ way. Through disposables, this confusion doesn’t exist. Simply stick it into your mouth and GO.

2. No maintenance or charging

Disposables require absolutely zero upkeep. Everything is pre-set, pre-filled, and pre-fitted. The only remaining step is to puff. There are no cables, no need to remember to charge, no nothing. Leave it around anywhere, vape when you want to.

3. Initial costs are lower, no commitment necessary

Price is a major factor for many. Rather than paying 30 quid for something you use once and decide you dislike (all the components of a standard e-cig), you could simply select a disposable that will set you back by £5 to £9 at most. Puff it once and decide you don’t like it? No worries, just finish as much as you can and then throw it away.

Cons of a Disposable Vape

1. Long-term costs

They might be cheaper in the short run, but in the long run, the cost of disposables adds up quickly. You are basically paying £5 to £9 for about 2ml of vape liquid when a refill pack for a traditional e-cig would cost the same (but contain 10ml instead). Paying a 500% surcharge for one or two experiments is OK, doing this all the time would just be silly. 

2. Less Customisation

If you’re the type who might be interested in trying all the wacky vape flavours out there, disposables aren’t exactly your best bet. They’re notoriously limited when it comes to flavour selection. To add to that, disposable vapes aren’t customisable — you won’t be able to tweak things in terms of strength, draw or throat hit: whatever the manufacturer dictates is what you’ll get.

3. Eco Impact

“Disposable”. There is no re-use. Once the liquid is depleted, the entire thing is chucked out and brought into a landfill with its other depleted disposable vape buddies (made mostly of plastic). It’s not a good look for Planet Earth, so if you’re the type who cares about that… yeah. Sorry.

The Rechargeable e-Cig

This refers to any ‘traditional’ vape. These consist of four parts: a battery, tank, vape coil and e-liquid. They’re refillable, rechargeable, and have a plethora of customisation options.

Almost every aspect of your vaping experience can be tailored, and with a hundred different flavours of vape to choose from (including stuff like Roast Chicken and Worcestershire Sauce), you’ll never get bored.

Pros of a Rechargeable

  1. Long-term costs

Wait… Isn’t this a repeat point? Of course it is! 

Turns out, the flaws of a disposable vape are the equivalent strengths of a reusable one… since, you know, “disposable” and “reusable” mean the opposite thing. But rather than bore you by repeating the same points, I’ll try convincing you with numbers: you’ll save somewhere in the region of £3000 every year using a rechargeable vape as compared to a disposable one. If you like money (and also vaping), there’s really no reason to stick to disposables.

  1. Customization

Now, assuming for some reason you didn’t like the feel of the vape the first time you tried it, no worries — adjust your settings, alter the air-flow, change flavours, do some voodoo on the vape coil… you’re bound to eventually stumble across a combination that you’ll fall in love with. All you need is a good guide on YouTube and an open mind. 

  1. Eco-Impact

Rechargeable batteries. Reusable components. Better builds, better quality, no throwing out entire e-cigs when you’re done with them.

Cons of a Rechargeable

  1. Maintenance

Aside from initial start-up costs (which we’ve already covered), the other major flaw of a rechargeable vape is maintenance.

Maintenance is annoying. No one likes maintenance; even the word is a pain to type out.

You’ll have to charge the batteries of your e-cig. You’ll have to refill e-liquid, you’ll have to swap out the coils periodically, you’ll have to be able to figure out what’s wrong with the vape when it doesn’t give you the hit you want.

But hey, if you put the time in to learn how to customise your vape, all these steps will become second nature to you. Rather than saying the primary drawback of a rechargeable vape is that it’s annoying, it’s more that it represents a sort of commitment — both in terms of time required and start-up costs. You’ll have to put in the time to maintain your vape and keep it in decent condition, but if you do, it’ll give you hits like no other.


Listen, I’ve talked up a storm and probably convinced you that rechargeable vapes are the way to go, but they’re both great products. Even if you bought only disposables for the rest of your life, it would still be multiple times cheaper than buying cigarettes — the lesser alternative to vaping, in my humble opinion. So long as you’re happy, so long as you’re keeping your lungs in check, and so long as you’re high… who cares? The choice is entirely yours!

Categories: Life