Underground vaping culture: The secret world of the cloud chaser

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Estimates suggest that 178,000 people across Australia vape more than once a month, despite strict regulations on the sale and possession of E-cigarettes across the country. Many people turn to vaping, eager to cut down on their tobacco use, looking for legal loopholes and states with more liberal laws. The difficulty in navigating the legality of vaping has led to the rise of an underground vaping culture, with niche vape stores and dedicated users looking for ways to modify their devices to produce the best clouds. These people are known as ‘cloud chasers’, and cloud chasing has gained such a following that it has now turned into a competitive sport. 

What Is Cloud Chasing?

Cloud chasing is thought to have originated on America’s west coast. Cloud chasers modify their vaping equipment to create huge clouds of vape, much larger than the clouds emitted by the recreational vaper. Members of the community often gather with other trick vapers to hone their skills and show off their clouds, although because of Australia’s strict restrictions, they’re rarely seen in public places. Most often, cloud chasers will be found at private parties or in dedicated vape shops, or showing off their skills online via YouTube or on social media platforms.

How Is It Done?

Cloud chasers are thorough researchers: they know their tools, and read up on vaping news and culture. To increase the clouds produced by vaping, vapers tweak various components of their equipment to maximise the amount of vapour emitted, but their skills go beyond their tools, with careful attention paid to technique too. Cloud vapers generally don’t use nicotine in their machines because this can lead to shortness of breath, which is unhelpful to cloud chasing. They use Vegetable Glycerin (VG) e-juices as opposed to juices made with Propylene Glycol (PG), which produce more vapour and less of a throat hit. Careful thought is given to the atomiser, with the majority of chasers opting for sub-ohm tanks  which use low resistance coils of under one ohm, producing greater clouds of vapour than tanks with higher resistance. They tinker with their machines to increase the airflow, aiming to allow e-juice and air to flow through the coil more efficiently. Getting the best disposable CBD vape mod for clouds is a combination of the brand, building quality, power rating, and flexibility. Only the best vape kits and mods will produce immense clouds.

While modifying the equipment certainly helps, serious cloud chasers pay careful attention to their technique too. They will empty their lungs and exhale into their devices to give their cloud a head start, before inhaling for as long as possible, straightening their posture to open their lungs and allow more vapour to enter. Exhalation happens at a steady pace, opening the throat as much as possible to allow the vapour to escape. The real trick comes at the final moment when most of the air has been expelled: cloud chasers will then tighten their lips to emit a powerful shot of air, which causes the released vapour to produce a huge cloud.

A Competitive Sport

Cloud chasing remains largely underground in Australia due to the tight regulations, but it has evolved into a competitive sport across the world. Competitions are won by the vaper who produces the largest and most dense cloud, the majority using modified devices filled with VG juices. The largest competition to date is the International Cloud Championship in California, which welcomes contestants from across the world. While there are no official cloud competitions in Australia, competitive cloud chasers can be found practising and competing in vape shops and online across the country. Because the majority of cloud chasers don’t use nicotine, they’re legally able to practice the sport in areas where non-nicotine based vaping is legal. New South Wales, for example, allows the sale of e-cigarettes without nicotine, making it a useful location for competitive vapers.

Like any restricted activity, vaping has given rise to an underground culture in Australia. Cloud chasing is a sport that has grown a niche following across the world, and it’s no different in Australia. The only difference is that, because of our regulations, professional cloud chasers are harder to find.