Some time ago, we posted a news article profiling PAX Labs, a California company primarily known for producing high-end vaporizers. In the article, we described a new type of e-liquid developed by PAX Labs containing nicotine salts rather than the freebase nicotine used in most e-liquids. PAX Labs immediately applied for a patent and secured nearly $47 million in investment funding to develop the JUUL e-cigarette.
The JUUL e-cigarette has now been out for more than a year, so we’ve had plenty of time to gain a deeper perspective on its position within the market. The JUUL is not for everyone. In fact, if you currently use e-cigarettes, the JUUL really isn’t for you at all. The JUUL is for smokers. It’s designed from the ground up to give you almost exactly the same blood nicotine level that you’d get from smoking a cigarette. If you currently smoke — especially if you’ve tried to switch to vaping and couldn’t make it work because the nicotine hit just didn’t feel the same, the JUUL e-cigarette is for you.
Price: $34.99 for charger and battery, $15.99 for four JUULpods
Includes: JUUL e-cigarette, magnetic USB battery charger, four JUULpods
What Is the JUUL E-Cigarette?
The JUUL is a compltely new type of e-cigarette for beginners. It’s similar in size to a typical “micro” e-cigarette or “cigalike,” but the shape is rectangular rather than round to clearly distinguish it from a tobacco cigarette. The e-liquid contained within the JUUL’s cartridges — or “JUULpods” — contains benzoic acid, which transforms the freebase nicotine into a salt of nicotine. In other words, it becomes a form of nicotine much more similar to that found within actual tobacco leaves. On top of that, the e-liquid contains 50 mg of nicotine per ml of e-liquid. When you consider the fact that many e-cigarettes top out at just 16 mg, you can see what’s going on here. The JUUL delivers a fast nicotine punch like no other e-cigarette on the market.
Pleasing the FDA
Many people who switch from smoking to vaping follow a progression of beginning with a “cigalike” and upgrading to a larger “mod” later. Eventually, some take up sub-ohm vaping — blowing extremely large clouds of very low-nicotine vapor. The problem with mods, though, is the FDA. The FDA intends to regulate e-cigarettes by requiring all manufacturers to submit their products for and obtain approval to remain on the market by August 8, 2018. Unless something changes, mods and their accessories most likely won’t be legal in the United States two years from now.
The JUUL, however, is something completely different. It doesn’t work with cartridges or e-liquid from other companies, and every flavor comes in only one nicotine strength. Without going into the details of the FDA’s proposed regulations, suffice it to say that the JUUL is exactly the type of system that should gain approval. So, not only are you highly unlikely to ever find another e-cigarette that gives you the same nicotine hit as the JUUL, but the JUUL is also very likely to still be around in two years.
Who Is the JUUL E-Cigarette for?
- Current smokers. If you already use e-cigarettes full-time, you’ve made the adjustment to the lower nicotine intake and don’t require the higher strength of the JUUL. If you’re reading this, though, there’s a good chance that you tried an e-cigarette in the past and weren’t happy. When you switch from smoking to vaping, there’s a brief period of adjustment because most e-cigarettes don’t give you the blood nicotine concentration that you’d get with a tobacco cigarette. Most e-cigarettes also don’t give you the quick spike in blood nicotine levels that you get from a tobacco cigarette. You get that spike with the JUUL. For an illustration, take a look at the graph below.
JUUL E-Cigarette Review: Inside the Box
Inside the JUUL starter kit, you’ll find one JUUL battery, a USB charger and four JUULpods. Although the JUUL battery is slightly larger than most “micro” e-cigarettes because of its rectangular shape, it is incredibly light and very sturdy thanks to the metal casing. The JUULpods are color coded according to flavor, and the USB charger connects to the bottom of the battery magnetically. Before using the JUUL, connect the charger to your computer’s USB port and place the JUUL inside. You’ll see the light on the JUUL begin to flash slowly. When it turns solid green, the charge cycle is complete.
Using the JUUL E-Cigarette
Once the battery is fully charged, you’re ready to use the JUUL. You’ll get about 200 puffs out of a fully charged battery, which means that it should last about as long as a full JUULpod. To use the JUUL, remove the plastic bottom from a JUULpod and slide the pod fully into the top of the JUUL. Puff on the JUUL as if it were a real cigarette.
The JUUL has a touch-sensitive light that you can tap twice to see the current battery charge level. Alternatively, you can simply watch the light while using the JUUL. When the light turns red, the battery is just about out of power.
JUUL E-Cigarette Review
If you’re familiar with the JUUL e-cigarette, you’re probably most curious about it because you’ve heard about its ability to deliver more of a nicotine hit than other e-cigarettes. The reputation is not exaggerated. The members of our staff have been using sub-ohm mods for some time now. We’re all using e-liquids with 3 mg of nicotine per ml, so going from that to 50 mg makes a difference that’s immediately noticeable. It didn’t take long for us to start feeling flushed and woozy.
If you quit smoking when you start vaping, you’ll have to adjust to two things: the difference in blood nicotine levels and the lack of all of the other baggage that goes along with cigarette smoke. If you switch to the JUUL, your body will still need to adjust. It just won’t need to adjust to the difference in nicotine levels.
The battery life of the JUUL e-cigarette is as advertised. We had no difficulty draining a full cartridge with a fully charged battery. Also, our reviewers subjectively felt that they didn’t use the JUUL as often as they would have used their normal e-cigarettes because of the JUUL’s much higher nicotine concentration. With the decreased usage, we had no difficulty getting the JUUL battery to last a full day on a single charge.
The JUUL battery has an automatic puff sensor. It generates vapor automatically as soon as you begin to puff. In our experience, the sensitivity level of the JUUL battery was perfect. It wasn’t so sensitive that it triggered automatically while being carried in a pocket, but it was sensitive enough to trigger immediately at the beginning of a puff.
PAX Labs makes JUULpods in four different flavors: Virginia Tobacco, Cool Mint, Creme Brulee and Cool Mint. So, there’s a tobacco flavor, a menthol flavor, a fruity flavor and a creamy flavor. Whether you prefer sweeter flavors or simply want something that’s as close as possible to an actual cigarette, you should find something in the JUULpod lineup that suits your taste. Of the four flavors, we preferred the tobacco. We thought that the flavor meshed perfectly with the intense nicotine hit of the JUUL e-cigarette.
JUUL E-Cigarette Review: Conclusion
As we stated above, the JUUL e-cigarette has a very specific audience. If you’ve already switched to vaping fully and no longer smoke, the JUUL really isn’t for you. You’ve already made the transition to a much lower amount of nicotine, and there’s really no reason to increase it.
If you’re reading this, though, you probably aren’t using e-cigarettes already — or you’re using e-cigarettes but haven’t quit smoking. In other words, you haven’t found the e-cigarette that fully replaces the nicotine levels you’re used to. If that sounds like you, the JUUL e-cigarette is the product that you need to buy. There’s nothing else quite like it on the market. For any smoker who wants to switch to vaping and hasn’t been able to so far, it’s the best e-cigarette on the market.
JUUL E-Cigarette Review: The Last Word
- E-liquid formulation produces a powerful nicotine hit, like a real cigarette
- Very inexpensive starter kit and fair price for long-lasting cartridges
- Closed-system design should make FDA approval easier
The Not So Good
- Not intended for people who have already quit smoking and use e-cigarettes full-time