If you’ve done any reading about vaping online, you’ve no doubt read plenty about the benefits of pod vaping systems. The JUUL is the most popular e-cigarette in America for a good reason — and that reason isn’t just good marketing. The reason why the JUUL is so popular is because it kickstarted two trends — pod vaping and nicotine salt e-liquid — that have influenced the vaping industry to this day.

This article contains a few words of advice for two types of people. You’ll find this piece useful if you:

  1. Don’t vape at all and are wondering which vaping system you should buy first, or you
  2. Already own the JUUL and want to know if something else could provide an even better vaping experience

There are probably dozens of pod vaping systems on the market right now, each scrambling for a slice of the market that the JUUL hasn’t claimed yet — and some of those devices are actually better than the JUUL in many ways. Whether you should jump the JUUL ship and buy a different pod vaping system, though — or skip the JUUL entirely if you’re new to vaping — depends on what you want out of your vaping experience. You can start yourself on that journey by making one key decision: Do you want a pod system with pre-filled pods, or do you want a pod system with refillable pods?

What Are Pre-Filled and Refillable Pod Vaping Systems?

There are two types of pod vaping systems: those with pre-filled pods that you buy in packs and those with empty pods that you fill yourself. Some people also refer to those as closed-system and open-system devices respectively. Your decision between an open-system and closed-system device can affect your vaping experience in some unexpected ways, and that’s what we’re going to discuss next.

Pre-Filled Pods Deliver the Convenience of Smoking

Part of what makes smoking so addictive is the fact that it’s so easy. You’re going out for a walk, so you light up. You’re typing an email at your desk at home, so you light up. You’re watching a TV show after dinner, so you light up. You smoke without even really thinking about what you’re doing. For some people, vaping has to have that same level of convenience, or it isn’t possible to make the switch. Only a pre-filled pod system gives you the same convenience as smoking — just push in a pod and go. One pod will usually keep you vaping all day, and when it’s empty, you’ll just throw it away.

Refillable Pods Let You Explore New E-Liquid Flavors

Have you ever visited a brick-and-mortar vape shop or browsed the e-liquid section at an online vape shop? Even a smaller vape shop will usually have dozens of different e-liquid flavors available. You’ll find complex flavor profiles drawn straight from the culinary world — everything from strawberry shortcake with whipped cream on top to bold tobacco accented with hints of dried fig and sweet almond.

You won’t find any of those complex flavor profiles, though, when you look at the selection of flavors available for a closed-system pod vaping device. Instead, you’ll see simple, single-note flavors designed to appeal to mass-market tastes. The JUUL e-cigarette, for example, has just eight flavors available such as mango, tobacco, mint and menthol. Those flavors are perfectly fine, but why would you limit the sum total of your vaping experience to just eight flavors when a much wider world of complex and interesting flavors is out there to explore? With refillable pods, you can use any e-liquid you like.

Refillable Pods Let You Reduce Your Nicotine Intake

As of 2019, JUUL Vapor has finally responded to customer demand and now offers JUUL pods in a 3% nicotine strength along with the original 5% strength. An e-liquid nicotine strength of 30+ mg, though, isn’t exactly low. Did you know that most mass-market e-liquids are available with just 3 mg of nicotine per ml? There are even a few boutique e-liquid makers who offer nicotine strengths as low as 1.5 mg.

When you first start vaping, your primary goal is simply to transition away from smoking. Once you’ve done that, though, wouldn’t you like to work toward reducing your nicotine addition? Vaping makes it easy to fine-tune your nicotine intake simply by buying e-liquid with a different nicotine strength — and with so many different nicotine strengths available, you can reduce your nicotine consumption so slowly that you’ll hardly notice. That’s only possible with a pod system or tank-based vaping device that you can fill yourself.

Refillable Pod Systems Are Cheaper Over Time

Have you noticed how inexpensive most of the vaping starter kits are at your local convenience stores and gas stations? Whether you’re buying a kit by JUUL, Vuse, Blu or another company, the story is the same — the initial kit will cost less than a few packs of cigarettes. If you’ve ever heard of the “razor-and-blades” business model, you already know why that is: the makers of those devices break even on the kits and earn their profit from refill pods and cartridges.

On the surface, that might seem like a fine way of doing business. After all, you’re still spending less than what you would spend on cigarettes as long as you only use one pod per day. As soon as you examine the cost of bottled e-liquid, though, you’ll realize that you’re actually missing out on huge savings.

Let’s compare the cost of a pack of JUUL pods to the cost of buying nicotine salt e-liquid — the same type of e-liquid that the JUUL uses — by the bottle.

  • One pack of JUUL pods costs around $16.00 and includes about 2.8 ml of e-liquid.
  • One 30 ml bottle of nicotine salt e-liquid costs as little as $12.00 and provides the same amount of e-liquid as 42 JUUL pods.

Using refillable pods and buying bottled e-liquid doesn’t exactly mean that you’ll reduce your vaping expenses by more than 90 percent. You’ll still need to replace your pods occasionally, after all. Even if you need a new pod every week, though, the long-term ownership cost of a refillable pod vaping system is significantly lower than that of a pre-filled pod system.