Seth Barham Design
Minimal and effective design, inspired by culture.

Spartan Wanderer

Ramblings from the road, gear reviews, design trends, and whatever else happens to be on my mind.

A Review: Pax JUUL E-Cig

Perhaps some will think this is an uncharacteristic review from me, considering how much I dote on self-improvement and healthy living. I think it fits perfectly for the same reasons. China is a smoker's paradise, and before I came here I rarely touched cigarettes. Cigars and shisha on occasion, but not really cigarettes. They're kind of hard to avoid here. Especially in Tier-3 cities, smoking culture remains very big. In fact, 68% of Chinese men are smokers, largely enabled by low education and incredibly cheap prices - only $2/pack or less in Daqing. 

It is a common thing to offer friends, colleagues and especially people you're meeting for the first time. It's a kind of icebreaker, something to share while you have your first conversation together. Sometimes it is even perceived as rude to refuse (this is mostly a man thing btw), although this is becoming less so in the bigger cities as education on the negative health effects of smoking spreads. I am constantly on the receiving end of such offers, and I generally accept. I enjoy the pleasant buzz a cigarette delivers. I also think cigarettes are disgusting. The Pax JUUL is my solution to this conundrum. 


Vaping > Smoking

Let's get one thing out of the way very quickly. The prevalence of "popcorn lung" in e-cig users is largely a myth. The origins of this scare are in this Harvard study, which was later debunked in having any link between vaping and respiratory illness. One of the main chemicals in question is diacetyl - a flavoring agent found in many foods and is used in some e-cigarette liquids. This chemical can be harmful if inhaled in large amounts. The problem is that it's actually much more common in a normal cigarette than it is in e-cig juice. This study found that there are about 9 μg in an e-cig cartridge compared to 300-433 μg in a single cigarette

So, the evidence is well in the corner of vaping if you still want to get your nicotine buzz without damaging your health. Is it possible that vaping is bad for you in some undetermined way? Absolutely. But the evidence for that has yet to be seen while it is a fact that cigarettes can kill you. And all of that up there was kind of pointless considering that Pax does not use diacetyl or acetylproprionyl in any of its liquids. But I believe in being thorough. 

Anyway, this was my roundabout way of saying that talking about vaping is talking about self-improvement. If you quit smoking and pick up an e-cig instead, you've just improved yourself. After using the JUUL for about two months now, I don't intend on picking up a cig for a very long while. 


How it works

If you feel like an old man (like me) when you hear all of this vape lingo like "tank" and "mod", don't worry. The JUUL is made with the absolute beginner in mind. Even this brief paragraph is somewhat superfluous, because if you can't figure out how to use it out of the box, then all hope is lost for you. Your JUUL comes with three pieces - the body, the cartridges and a USB charger. Here's how it works. Take out the body. Insert a cartridge until you hear it click. Inhale. That's literally it. My device had a full charge out of the box. You can determine the charge simply by tapping the JUUL, and the light will blink either green, yellow or red. To charge, simply plug the charger into your laptop's USB port and the JUUL will magnetically snap onto it. When you draw, the light should be white. Be careful on your first few draws as the throat-hit can be quite strong.

The juice

Your initial order is going to come with a multipack of "JUULpods" that have four different flavors. The names that JUUL has given them are Cool Mint, Fruit Medley, Creme Brûlée and Virginia Tobacco. I've tried them all so far and my favorites are Fruit Medley, because it's basically like smoking shisha with a USB drive, and Creme Brûlée, because it's simply delicious. Menthol lovers should enjoy the Cool Mint, but I've never been a big fan so I'm not one to judge. Virginia Tobacco is solid, and hits all of the sweet notes of high quality tobacco leaf. I don't dislike any of the flavors. They all taste relatively natural and have avoided the manufactured, chemical taste one might expect from e-cig juice. 

For someone who, at his peak, smoked maybe 2 cigarettes a day, I find that the juice is quite strong. Each cartridge contains 0.7 mL with a 5% concentration of nicotine. That's equivalent to a pack of cigarettes or 200 puffs. If I take three or four good rips on this thing in the morning, I am usually set for most of the day. The thing that surprised me most about the juice is that the throat-hit feels similar to that of a cigarette. JUUL put millions of dollars into developing a juice quite different from what's already on the market. The juice contains something they refer to as "nicotine salts", which are found in leaf tobacco rather than freebase nicotine. Through my research, I've determined that these salts must be the benzoic acid that naturally occurs in tobacco, but perhaps JUUL didn't want such a frighteningly chemical name in their formula. 


The design

It's easy to see what JUUL was going for with the design. Steve Jobs would be proud. If you check out Pax's other vaporizers, this is not the first time they've gone for the aluminum unibody look. I'm a sucker for it. I love simplicity, and both form and function hold up to that in the JUUL. I often find myself playing with it without realizing and I probably use it more than I need to just because of the design. Having a solid chunk of metal with few moving parts also ensures that this thing is going to last a long while. Holding this thing in my hand is like a vision of the future. It is strange and incredible that we've gone for smoking leaves for a buzz to a metal stick with a cartridge. 


This is a shorter review, but it's hard to drag it out when you have such an amazingly simple product that works well. JUUL is not paying me, I just really love the thing. Addiction is not a good thing, and I'm not trying to glorify vaping or smoking. I like the extra buzz and I find that it boosts my creativity and productivity, especially when used in tandem with a cup of coffee. So, if you're like me and don't want to smoke cigarettes to get these effects, but also don't want to walk around with a massive vaping rig, then the JUUL might be for you. At only $50 for the device, charger and 4 cartridges, this is a great deal for newbies to the vaping world. 

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