The cartridge, a small plastic container with openings on each end, serves as both a liquid reservoir and mouthpiece. It allows the passage of liquid to the atomizer and vapor from the atomizer back to the user's mouth, without leaking liquid into the mouth.
Most models adopt a plastic sponge to keep the liquid in place but it is also common to use a refillable tank to carry the liquid with a separate tunnel connecting to the atomizer. When the liquid is depleted, users can refill it or replace it with another pre-filled cartridge. Some users forgo the use of liquid reservoirs and "drip" liquid directly onto the atomizer in a method known as "dripping".
The atomizer contains a small heating coil that vaporizes the liquid, and generally consists of a simple filament and wicking metal mesh to draw the liquid in. It is positioned in the center of the three components that make up the entire electronic cigarette cylinder, as the cartridge attaches to one end, and the power unit to the other. The atomizer's filament will lose efficiency over time due to a buildup of sediment, or "burns out" entirely, requiring replacement. In some models, the cartridge and atomizer component are integrated, known as a cartomizer.
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