How Do Vape Coils Work?
Understanding how atomisers work will:
1. Help you maintain your coils
2. Result in an improved vaping experience.
The process is pretty straightforward:
Vape coils are a metal casing that houses wicking material (most commonly cotton) and a wire. When you fill your tank or pod, the wicking materials absorb the e-liquid.
Once you hit the fire button, this heats the vape coil, which in turn vapourises the vape juice the wick has absorbed.
From here, it turns into sweet vapour.
That’s the simple oversight of how it works.
What Materials Are Coils Made From?
Vape coil casings are usually made from metal; however, some vapers use ceramic atomisers.
The most commonly used wires in coils are Kanthal. This is an alloy of three different metals which take power nicely and work consistently. Nichrome is similar, but it’s made of two different metals. It’s generally a bit thinner, so it heats up quickly and can be found in many sub-ohm atomisers.
Other metals that are used to make the coil wire are Stainless Steel, Nickel, and Titanium.
It’s worth noting that some ceramic coils come with ceramic wrapped around the coil. However, while these coils promise a longer life span and improved taste, we wouldn’t recommend them due to health concerns raised in the broader vaping community about tiny pieces of ceramic breaking off and damaging the lungs.
The most common material used in vape coils is cotton, namely organic Japanese cotton. However, some atomisers use silica cord, stainless steel mesh or rayon.
What Are the Different Types of Vape Coil?
While all atomisers work on a similar principle, there is a fair bit of variety between them. Some of this is down to personal preference; however, specific designs or configurations are designed for different reasons.
Two broad categories that coils can be split into are high resistance coils and sub-ohm coils.
What is the Difference Between High Resistance Coils and Sub-Ohm Coils?
These categories refer to the electrical resistance of the atomiser. High resistance coils (the most commonly found coils) are 1.0-ohm or greater and are used for mouth to lung vaping (MTL).
Conversely, sub-ohm coils (coils between 0.1-0.9-ohms) are used for direct to lung vaping (DTL). Typically, MTL and DTL coils should be used for their own kind of tanks, but there are hybrid tanks out there that accept both types of atomiser.
What Are Ohms in Vaping?
Ohms are units of resistance. Because your battery is pumping current into your vape coil and ohms are a way to control (resist) the electricity.
One easy way to think about high and low resistance atomizers is to imagine you are stuck in a large building during a zombie apocalypse. There are a bunch of different doors that zombies are trying to come through. Zero ohms means they’re just rolling into the building freely. 0.1-0.9-ohms means you are boarding up a few doors and stopping many of them streaming in. 1.0-ohms or higher means you are resisting them quite a lot, and only a smaller amount of them are getting in.
Well, it’s the same with vaping. More resistance = less current.
Benefits of Each Type of Atomizer
Low-Resistance Vape Coils
- Generate more heat
- Generate more vapour
- Have less taste
- The vapour is warmer
- E-liquid is used more quickly
- Battery life is drained more quickly
- Atomisers have reduced longevity
High-Resistance Vape Coils
- Generate less heat
- Generate less vapour
- Have more taste
- Require less wattage
- The vapour is cooler
- E-liquid is used less quickly
- Battery life is drained less quickly
- Atomiser last for longer
How to Choose the Right Coil?
This depends on what device you have. Most tanks or pods are made to fit with specific coils.
If you bought a vape starter kit, it would have come with one of two coils, one of which is a replacement.
However, with DTL and MTL hybrid vapes, you will generally receive a lower and higher resistance atomizer that can be used depending on your preferred vaping style.
If you’re not sure, the easiest thing to do is check the box. If you no longer have it, check online or contact customer support.
How Long Are Coils Supposed To Last?
As a general rule, one to two weeks. However, it’s not the easiest question to answer. There are several factors that negatively affect coil life, such as
- Chain vaping
- Using cheap coils
- The type of e-liquid you use
Which E-Liquids Shorten Coil Life?
Sweet e-liquids and coloured e-liquids are the atomiser’s greatest enemy. While they are a fun and delicious vape juice to put in your vape tank, it comes at a cost. This happens because the artificial sweeteners in the e-liquid caramelise inside the atomiser head and around the atomiser wire. Over time, this builds up gunk, leading to poor wicking and a burnt taste.
If you’re vaping a specific e-liquid and you find you need to swap the coils a lot, you might need to make a change. You could try the same flavour from a different brand, or perhaps a less sweet flavour from the same brand.
What Else Affects Atomizer Lifespan?
While sweeteners are the main culprit, several factors affect the lifespan of a coil. If you use a power regulated device that allows manual settings, you might need to adjust your settings. Some e-liquids react better with either high wattage or lower wattage devices. Adjusting the wattage can help you get a better taste and help your coils last longer.
How Do I Know When My Coil Needs Changing?
There are a few different ways that you can tell your atomiser needs changing.
#1. When it Tastes Burnt
A burnt taste is the easiest and most obvious sign that your coil needs to be retired. When a bitter taste overpowers the flavour of your e-liquid, it’s time for a new coil. Once you get this taste, change your atomiser immediately to avoid damaging the other parts of your device.
#2. Your Vape Tank is Leaky
While pods have primarily solved this issue, if you use a vape tank and it’s leaking all over your pocket, this can be a sign that you need to swap it out for a new coil.
Once the wicking material becomes overused it can fail to absorb your e-liquid. Either way, if your device starts leaking you should act swiftly. If e-liquids get to the battery it could cause your vape to malfunction.
#3. Gurgling or Bubbling Sound
Babies gurgle, everyone likes that. But there’s nothing heartwarming about hearing your vape gurgle. While sometimes this gurgling is the result of a flooded coil that can be retrieved, other times it’s a sign that a coil just needs to go.
#4. Weak Flavour
A weak flavour is another classic sign that you’ve run a coil into the ground. If you’ve filled up your tanks or pods with your favourite e-liquid but it tastes off, it could be time to replace the coil.
#5. Poor Vapour Production
This might be more noticeable for cloud chasers running sub-ohm tanks, but if your vapour production has dropped, it might just be because the coil has reached the end of the line.
In short, vapers know it’s time for a new atomiser when your vape just doesn’t work as it should. There is no time for sentiment when it comes to coils. Yeah, you might have had some good times together, he served you well etc., but you knew they were disposable when you got into this union. When a good coil has turned into a bad coil, it’s time to sever ties.
How Often Should You Change Coils?
One to two weeks is around the typical lifespan of a coil; however, it could be as little as every few days if you use sweet e-liquids and vape heavily.
Really though, time isn’t the best way to judge a coil life. E-liquid throughput is a better measure. With nicotine salt e-liquids, about 20mls worth of refills can see them drop off in quality.
How To Solve The Problem Of Burnt Coils?
Burnt coils are the scourge of an acceptable vaping experience. However, there is a persistent myth in the vaping community that this results from defective or “bad coils”. Practising good atomiser maintenance goes a long way to making an atomiser last and reducing burnt hits.
#1. Prime Your Coils
This is crucial when you have a new dry coil. There are two ways you can go about this.
Priming the Atomizer
1)When you take your atomizer out of the packaging, put a few drops into the juice holes on its side. This allows the wick to absorb some liquid.
2)Then, place a drop inside the head to saturate the centre of the atomizer. Again, make sure to use the e-juice sparingly, because you don’t want to flood the coil and make it spit back or gurgle.
3)Then grab a paper towel and dry off the metal, making sure no juice has dripped on the connection. Leave it for a few minutes and then it’s primed and ready to go.
If that sounds like too much hassle, just insert your atomizer and fill your tank with juice. Wait at least ten minutes before pressing the fire button so that the juice can be absorbed into the wick.
This tip is vital because if you don’t adequately saturate your coil, it can result in a nasty tasting dry hit that can also wreck your atomiser.
#2. Less Chain Vaping
If you never have your vape out of your hand and you’re continuously tapping the firing button (we’ve all been there), you can burn the cotton inside your coil.
The wick inside the atomiser needs to be re-saturated with e-juice before it’s fired again. Chain vaping interrupts this process, leading to dry wicks and burnt atomisers.
If you are vaping more sparingly, this problem won’t occur because once you stop after a short session, the wick has time to absorb more e-liquid.
However, when you’re continuously vaping for longer periods, eventually, you will dry out and burn the wick.
#3. Make Sure Your Vape Tank or Pod Aren’t Running on Empty
The wick inside the atomiser needs to be able to soak up any e-liquids to stay saturated. If you let your tank run low, the coil will become too dry.
The best practice is to keep an eye on how much juice is in your vape tanks. You can tell by looking at it, and you’ll undoubtedly be able to tell when you draw from it, and it has a slightly burnt flavour.
#4. Use Vape Juice With Less Added Sweeteners
While many vapers love sweet juices, unfortunately, they come at a cost to your atomisers. As mentioned above, the additives in these liquids (for example, dessert, coffee, candy flavours) can caramelise around your atomiser and cause poor performance.
If you like these types of e-liquids but you feel like you’re tearing through coils, consider a clear e-liquid for your next purchase and see if it lasts longer.
#5. Keep Your Device in an Upright Position
Although modern pod devices seem to have largely eliminated this problem, when you are putting your device down the coil friendly choice is to leave it in an upright position. This allows the air inlets to keep the tank wicked with e-liquids.
#6. Don’t Dry Burn Your Atomizer
Although most vapers probably don’t do this, there are a few cloud chasers online who I’ve read telling people to dry burn their atomizer. Dry burning coils is the process of firing a few short blasts into new coils to eliminate manufacturing residuals.
This can have an adverse effect on the atomizer and cause particles to creep into your juice.
This tip won’t just save your coils, but also your health. At least according to this guest blog by a chemist on Nicotine and Science Policy a few years back.
#7. Regular Cleaning
Regular cleaning of your device has many benefits for the longevity of your atomiser. It doesn’t have to be too big an operation either. Just take the coil out of the tank or pod and dry it down with a paper towel every couple of days. This can remove some of the gunk that can settle around the juice holes.
#8. Use 50/50 Vegetable Glycerin (VG) and Propylene Glycol (PG) Blends
VG is viscous, while PG is a thin and fluid liquid. As a result, atomisers that weren’t designed for VG can easily become clogged. This can quickly result in a burnt-out coil.
#9. Use a Lower Wattage
When you run a lot of current into your atomiser, it produces lots of heat. If you run your device on too high a setting for the atomiser, you increase the chance of the coils burning and getting dry hits. Coils last longer if you go easy on them and use the appropriate level of heat.