All vapers employ a certain vaping style—but most don’t even know it. Still, your vaping style dictates all sorts of factors, from your vape kit to your coil to the E-Liquids you can use. Let’s dive into the age-old question: what is MTL and DTL?
Every e-cigarette user has a vaping style whether they know it or not. For most, MTL and DTL vaping styles are just acronyms on a list of specs—but did you know that your vaping style determines which vape kits, coils, and E-Liquids you should use?
Before you buy your next vape kit, it’s a good idea to get familiar with your preferred style. And if you’ve already bought a vape kit and it’s different from what you expected, the answer could lie in its intended vaping style.
Let’s break down the different styles and what they mean for your vaping journey.
What is a Vaping Style?
A vaping style is essentially the way in which you inhale vapour. Everyone has one. And because each inhalation technique requires different amounts of power and elicits varying levels of vapour production, each style has different hardware and E-Liquid requirements.
Some vapers puff fast, hard, and deep into their chests. Others vape soft and slow like they would smoke a cigarette. Some fall somewhere in the middle—and there’s even a term for vapers like these.
It’s crucial to understand your vaping style when you’re buying devices and vape juices, because getting the wrong product can lead to a really unpleasant vaping experience. There’s nothing worse than shelling out thirty quid on a high-powered vape only to find that it punches you in the throat when you try to enjoy a nic salt.
If you’re a new vaper and you’re looking for your first vape kit, we recommend checking out our Beginner’s Guide to Vaping for a more beginner-oriented introduction to vaping.
Let’s dive into the different styles.
What are the Different Vaping Styles?
There are two main vaping styles—Mouth-to-Lung vaping and Direct-to-Lung vaping—and one hybrid style: Restricted Direct-to-Lung vaping. The differences between MTL, DTL, and RDTL vaping is the way the vapour is inhaled.
When weighing MTL vs DTL vaping, you’ll need to consider how you inhale, the type of E-Liquids you want to use, the amount of nicotine you need, and the level of cloud production you’re after.
MTL (Mouth-to-Lung) Vaping
Mouth-to-Lung (MTL) vaping is where you pool the vapour in your mouth first before inhaling, much like drinking through a straw. This is also how you smoke a cigarette, which is why a majority of new vapers who’ve just quit smoking employ an MTL vaping style.
Most MTL vapers use disposable vapes, starter kits, or pod vape kits, though some use vape mods with MTL tanks attached. These MTL devices are low-powered, offering a thinner vapour at a cooler temperature using E-Liquids which are higher in propylene glycol (PG).
Those who vape MTL do it for the satisfying throat hit similar to smoking cigarettes, plus the ability to use high-nicotine E-Liquids like nic salts.
DTL (Direct-to-Lung) Vaping
Direct-to-Lung (DTL) vaping is where you inhale the vapour directly into your lungs as you would with a water pipe (or simply breathing). DTL vaping, also known as sub-ohm vaping, is for more experienced vapers seeking more vapour production using low-nicotine E-Liquids.
DTL vapers use sub-ohm vape kits, including advanced vape kits and vape mods with attached sub-ohm vape tanks. These DTL devices are high-powered and deliver large clouds of vapour using E-Liquids which are higher in vegetable glycerine (VG).
Those who vape DTL do it for the large clouds, the low nicotine strengths, the customisation options, and the incredible vape flavours.
RDTL(Restricted Direct-to-Lung) Vaping
Restricted Direct-to-Lung (RDTL or RDL) vaping is a hybrid between MTL and DTL vaping. Think of it like an airier MTL vaping style, offering equal parts throat hit and cloud production. With RDTL, the vapour is partially pooled in your mouth as you inhale.
There aren’t many vape kits exclusively made for RDL vaping. Instead, you’ll likely find that many MTL vape kits offer adjustable airflow, allowing for an RDTL hit—though there are also some DTL vapes with adjustable airflow that can be restricted for an RDTL puff.
RDTL vaping a popular style for intermediate vapers who want more clouds and flavour, and many MTL vapers transition to the RDTL style over time.
5 Things You Need to Know About Vaping Styles
For DTL vaping styles, MTL vaping styles, and the RDTL in between, there are specific hardware and E-Liquid rules and restrictions you need to follow to get the best vaping experience. Using the wrong type of vaping device, coil, or vape juice for your specific vaping style will make the experience unpleasant.
And for those who’ve recently quit smoking cigarettes, this can mean an unfortunate return to smoking.
1. All Vape Kits Are Compatible With A Specific Vaping Style
Every vape kit available today is designed for a specific vaping style. If you’re a DTL vaper and you buy an MTL vape, you’ll find the draw tight and unsatisfying. If you’re an MTL vaper and you get a DTL vape kit by mistake, you’re in for more clouds and heat than you bargained for.
More detailed information on the topic of hardware can be found in our in-depth vape kit guide.
MTL Vape Kits
MTL kits generally fall one of a few categories: disposable vapes, starter kits, vape pens, and pod kits. These vape devices are small, low-powered, and are designed to create a smooth and satisfying MTL hit using high-nicotine E-Liquids like nic salts and freebase 50/50 E-Liquids.
MTL vape kits are particularly ideal for new vapers since they tend to have far fewer settings and require less maintenance, making them more accessible and user-friendly for those transitioning away from smoking cigarettes. Plus, they’re compatible with high-nicotine E-Liquids, which is what most smokers will need to successfully make the transition.
DTL Vape Kits
DTL vape kits, also called sub-ohm vape kits, are typically bigger than MTL kits and have larger batteries to accommodate the amount of power they use. Sub-ohm devices produce large clouds of vapour using low-nicotine E-Liquids like shortfills and 100% VG E-Liquids.
Direct-to-Lung vape kits are great for experienced vapers who want to tailor their vape, since these vaping devices tend to have more settings and customisation features. The numerous settings mean that sub-ohm kits aren’t ideal for beginners. They’re also not the best choice for new vapers because you can only vape low-nicotine E-Liquids in them.
RDTL/RDL Vape Kits
There aren’t many vape devices made exclusively for Restricted Direct-to-Lung vaping. Instead, you’ll find both MTL and DTL vape kit models offering RDTL as a bonus, though this is more common with MTL kits. These devices have adjustable airflow so you can achieve the RDTL hit.
If you want to use a high-nicotine juice but want more vapour than an MTL vape, you can choose an MTL device that also offers RDTL to get the same satisfaction. DTL kits that support RDTL are good if you’re looking to use a low-nicotine E-Liquid instead. You can find if a device is compatible with RDL vaping in the product description for each vape kit.
2. Choose Your Coil Based on Vaping Style
Every vape kit has a coil, and the coil you use will be dictated by your vaping style. Vape coils are measured in ohms (Ω), which is a unit of electrical resistance. MTL vaping requires coils above 1Ω, while the DTL vaping style uses coils below 1Ω—also called sub-ohm coils.
MTL Coils – High Resistance
Mouth-to-Lung (MTL) vaping requires vape coils with a resistance above 1 ohm, though there are some available at resistances as low as 0.8 ohms. These coils require less power and consume less vape juice. They’re usually used in starter kits, vape pens, and MTL pod kits.
MTL coils are designed for use with thinner E-Liquids with a PG/VG ratio of 50/50, though you can also use 60% PG E-Liquids as well. These coils produce a discreet amount of vapour with a satisfying throat hit.
DTL Coils – Low Resistance
Direct-to-Lung (DTL) vaping uses vape coils with a resistance below 1 ohm, also known as sub-ohm coils. A sub-ohm coil requires large amounts of power and consumes more E-Liquid than an MTL coil. These coils are used in sub-ohm vaping devices and DTL vape tanks,.
Sub-ohm vaping coils are designed to be used with thicker E-Liquids which are higher in VG, like shortfills. Because of their coils, DTL devices produce massive clouds, which is part of the allure for DTL vapers.
3. Each Vaping Style Requires Different E-Liquids
Another huge point when considering MTL vs. DTL vaping is the type of E-Liquid you’ll be using. The DTL vaping style requires thicker E-Liquids, while MTL vaping uses much thinner juices. You’ll need to consider the PG/VG ratio—that is, the ratio of vegetable glycerine to propylene glycol—when purchasing E-Liquids for your vape kit.
For more on which juices you should buy, check out our E-Liquid guide for a more detailed explanation.
For MTL vaping, you’ll need to ensure that you buy an E-Liquid that has a VG/PG ratio of about 50/50—though any high-PG E-Liquid will do. This is because PG is much thinner than VG, which is more conducive to low-powered MTL kits and vape coils.
One of the benefits of MTL vaping is that you can vape high-strength E-Liquids with nicotine strengths all the way up to 20mg (2% nicotine). You’ll find a wide array of nic salt E-Liquids available in strengths from 5mg to 20mg, and freebase E-Liquids available in an even wider variety—from 3mg up to 18mg.
Using an E-Liquid with a higher ratio of VG to PG for MTL vaping will cause your coil to burn prematurely and may lead to leaking, gurgling, and spitting from the mouthpiece of your pod or vape tank, among other unpleasant side effects—so make sure you get the right type of E-Liquid for your kit.
Tip: If you’re an MTL vaper, a good rule of thumb when looking for E-Liquids is to seek out 10ml bottles, since E-Liquids containing nicotine in the UK have a legal volume limit of 2ml.
For DTL vaping, you’ll need to buy an E-Liquid with at least 70% VG. This is the case for a majority of shortfill E-Liquids. Because DTL vaping requires more power and lower-resistance coils, the E-Liquid has to be thicker to avoid burning the coil prematurely.
Because of the amount of vapour produced with DTL vaping, you should only be using E-Liquids with a nicotine strength of 0mg to 3mg (or 6mg at maximum). Using more nicotine than this will cause a harsh, uncomfortable throat hit and can also lead to you consuming too much nicotine.
Always ensure you get the right type of E-Liquid for your vape kit. Using a high-PG vape juice like a nic salt in a sub-ohm device will cause an unpleasant hit and may cause your coil to burn. In addition, you’ll likely experience a lot of leaking and spitting from your vape.
Tip: DTL vapers should look for large bottles of E-Liquid when shopping for juice, like 50ml or 100ml, since shortfills for sub-ohm vaping are usually sold in much larger bottles.
4. Consider How Much Nicotine You Need
Nicotine content plays a huge role when it comes to vaping style. MTL vaping allows you to use high-nicotine E-Liquids, while DTL vaping only allows for the use of low-nicotine E-Liquids.
If you’re a new vaper who has just quit smoking, you should opt for higher nicotine strengths to give you the best chance of quitting for good. Those who were only light or casual smokers and those who’ve been vaping for a while can opt for lower strengths instead.
Nicotine Strengths in MTL Vaping
MTL vaping is ideal if you require higher nicotine strengths—which would be the case for most new vapers. Mouth-to-Lung vaping allows for the highest nicotine strengths available, all the way up to the legal UK limit of 20mg (2%).
Mouth-to-Lung vaping allows you to use vape juices with strengths ranging from 3mg up to 20mg. This is why MTL vaping is the style of choice for those who are currently dependent on nicotine to stay off of cigarettes.
Nicotine Strengths in DTL Vaping
DTL vaping is for those who aren’t reliant on high nicotine strengths. Because of the amount of E-Liquid used per puff, DTL vapers should only vape 0mg to 3mg nicotine strengths—otherwise, they risk overdoing it.
Direct-to-Lung vaping is a great choice for those who don’t need nicotine to stay off of cigarettes anymore—particularly light smokers and experienced vapers. It’s also great for those trying to wean off of nicotine altogether.
5. Experience Dictates Vaping Style
There’s a reason that we say DTL is for advanced vapers.
Most vapers start out with MTL vaping, then gradually adopt an RDTL style over time as they become accustomed to the experience (and start craving bigger clouds and more flavour). MTL kits are usually simpler to operate, require less maintenance, and are designed to be beginner-friendly.
Over time, as your nicotine dependence wanes, you may want to shift to DTL vaping to enjoy low-nicotine juices with bigger clouds and more customisable hardware.
As of now, a majority of DTL vape kits offer a great degree of personalisation, with options like adjustable wattage, temperature control, coil variety, and more. Advanced vapers can fine-tune their vape to deliver the exact experience they’re looking for, though learning all of the ins and outs of all of the settings has a bit of a learning curve.
This is why you’ll find that DTL vapers are usually much more experienced in the world of vaping compared to MTL vapers. This is reflected in the complexity of the hardware.
Summary: MTL and DTL Vaping
MTL, DTL, and RDTL vaping are the acronyms that dictate everything from which kits and coils you can use to how you inhale vapour—which is why it’s crucial to understand the differences before making a purchase. You’ll need to ensure that you not only get the right kit to start with, but that you also pair it with the correct coils and juices for a satisfying experience.
You should now be more familiar with MTL and DTL vaping styles. MTL is great for new vapers, while DTL is generally reserved for advanced users. Both styles have advantages and disadvantages and require specific hardware and e-juices to work properly.
If you’re still confused about the differences between MTL (Mouth-to-Lung) vaping and DTL (Direct-to-Lung) vaping or you need help finding the right kit, coil, or juice to suit your vaping style, our customer support team is here to help. Contact us by phone, email, or live chat and a member of our team of expert vapers will help you find what you’re looking for.
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