Vaping is one of the more vibrant and innovative modern industries. Manufacturers are constantly coming up with new and exciting ways for vapers to get their nicotine fix. So naturally, there is a wide range of vaping devices to cater to personal preference, with coils, mouthpieces and e-liquid tailored for different vaping experiences.
One of the best examples of vaping personal preference is mouth to lung (MTL) or direct to lung (DTL) vaping. Understanding the difference between the two vaping styles is necessary if you want to make an informed choice about the best device and e-liquid to buy.
In this article, we’ll take a look at:
● The differences between MTL & DTL vaping styles
● How both vaping styles work, and how to do them
● Which mods are best for each method
● What are the best coils for MTL & DTL
● What is the best e-liquid for MTL & DTL
But first, for the sake of new vapers and current smokers, what is MTL and DTL Vaping?
What is difference between MTL and DTL Vaping?
MTL and DTL are acronyms for mouth to lung and direct to lung.
MTL and DTL are two different inhaling techniques that vapers use depending on the type of device and e-liquid they use. Because they are done in different ways, they require different vapes, coils and e-liquids. However, there is a significant crossover between the items required.
What Is the Difference Between Mouth to Lung and Direct to Lung Vaping?
Mouth to Lung Vaping
Mouth to lung vaping or MTL is similar to smoking a cigarette. For new vapers who’ve just quit smoking, this is the style of vaping that will feel most natural. Additionally, MTL vaping best replicates the throat hit of smoking cigarettes, which partially explains its popularity with new vapers and ex-smokers.
How To Take an MTL Hit
For ex-smokers, this will be a familiar process. However, for many, MTL happens on a subconscious level. It’s a two-part process, three if you count the exhale.
1)Take a long, steady draw of vapour into your mouth.
2)Then, inhale into your lungs.
Another way to visualise it is to think about drinking through a straw. You bring the liquid into your mouth, then drink it down.
For MTL vaping, you draw the e-liquid into your mouth, then down into your lungs. Simple.
How Long to Hold the Vapour?
Again, this is a matter of personal preference. One of the reasons people love mouth to lung vaping is that it helps you better enjoy your e-liquid flavour. So, savour it in your mouth for as long as you’d like.
Once you’ve inhaled the vapour, holding it down for a moment is fine. If you do keep it down for longer, you’ll produce fewer clouds. MTL makes fewer clouds than DTL — so if you’re as discrete as the waiting staff at a private members club, this is the vaping style for you.
Direct to Lung Vaping
Direct to Lung is a style that is preferred by some more seasoned vapers. It’s considered less suitable for ex-smokers because it involves inhaling the vapour directly into your lungs, hence the name.
While drawing air directly to the lungs is how we breathe, when it comes to consuming e-liquid vapour, this can feel pretty unnatural to most transitioning smokers.
How To Take a DTL Hit
If mouth to lung vaping is like drinking with a straw, direct to lung is like drinking from a glass. It’s one fluid motion. Taking a direct to lung hit requires vaping slowly and directly into your lungs.
Close your eyes, and slowly draw in a breath. Now imagine doing it with a DTL vape device because it’s basically the same thing.
Once the vapour hits the lungs, it’s time to exhale.
How Long to Hold the Vapour?
If you’re new to vaping, your first DTL hit probably won’t feel pleasant. In fact, you should probably expect a few coughs as your lungs adjust to the vapour.
However, once you practice a little, you’ll soon be able to draw in a 5-10 second DTL hit and produce the dense cloud production associated with DTL vaping.
Something worth noting here is that some ex-smokers might have done too much damage to their lungs already. So, for some people, a DTL vape is off the menu
Is MTL or DTL better?
It’s a matter of personal preference. Both styles of vaping have their own pluses and minuses. However, if you are a current smoker looking to quit, MTL vaping is something you should probably try first. When you begin your vaping journey, MTL vape kits are the way to go.
For starters, they generally come at a lower price. Secondly, there is a less steep learning curve.
DTL vaping is better for more experienced vapers. There’s a bit more messing around and more things to figure out. If you want to stop smoking cigarettes, do yourself a favour and make things as easy as possible for those crucial first weeks.
MTL vs DTL: Devices
OK, now that you know the difference in styles, let’s look at the different vapes involved. You might wonder, can I use a mouth to lung device for direct to lung vaping and vice versa? The answer is that it’s not advisable.
Most tanks or pods are designed with one or the other in mind, although some provide versatility. Many sub-ohm mods can be adapted for mouth to lung vaping, and some DTL vape kits even come with high resistance coils suitable for mouth to lung vaping.
But, in my experience, the results can be up and down.
If you want to vape mouth to lung, your best bet is to choose an e-cigarette made to do it.
There are a few reasons for this.
Airflow adjustment settings are essential for either style. DTL tanks usually offer a wide airflow so that breathing in through the device is easy and non-restricted.
Conversely, MTL tanks offer a far tighter and more limited airflow to mimic the sensation of smoking cigarettes more accurately.
What You Need To Know About MTL (Mouth to Lung) Vapes
If you’re new to vaping or trying to put an end to your cigarette smoking, an MTL device is the best choice for you. There are three main areas of difference between MTL and DTL vapes that you should consider.
MTL vaping is all about enhanced flavour and restricted airflow. This style won’t produce dense vapour clouds, but it’s perfect if you want to vape higher nicotine content e-liquid. If you’re going to have a draw that is most similar to smoking cigarettes, a tight airflow with some nicotine salts is the best way for your e-cig to emulate an actual cigarette.
Mouthpieces, also referred to as drip tips in the vaping community, are another way to ensure an excellent MTL experience. For MTL vaping, 510 drip tips are considered the best. However, due to the rise of pod vapes, much of the finer aspects of specialised tanks with specialised parts are becoming irrelevant.
If you’re new to vaping, just skip all the technicalities and go straight to a pod device. For starters, you won’t need to agonise over compatibility.
The main takeaway here should be that MTL mouthpieces are narrow because they help achieve a tighter draw. Additionally, due to their slighter circumference, they feel more like a cigarette.
MTL Coil Resistance
If you look at the side of a coil, it should note its resistance and recommend wattage. MTL coils generally have a higher resistance — 1.0-ohm or higher — and a max wattage of 25. For an excellent MTL vape, settings of around 8-20W are usually good.
Additionally, an MTL coil is typically smaller than a DTL coil, which helps with the restricted airflow you want from an MTL device.
Again, if you’re thinking, hey, I want to stop smoking cigarettes, not do an electrical apprenticeship, don’t worry. All vape kits come with compatible coils that are easy to replace, so you won’t have to get into the weeds on wattage and ohms.
Can you DTL with a MTL coil?
MTL coils aren’t really suitable for DTL vaping because of their high resistance.
Low resistance coil = More current, more power, huge clouds and vapour
High resistance coil = Fewer clouds, less current, more flavour.
Additionally, DTL vapers generally prefer to use higher VG e-liquids for dense cloud production. These liquids are thicker and tend to wick poorly with MTL coils.
If you want to get into DTL vaping, then it’s best to stick to a vape designed for direct to lung vaping
What You Need To Know About DTL (Direct to Lung) Devices
If you like big clouds of vapour and a more intense vaping experience, direct to lung could be for you. The DTL style of vaping exploded in the vape community when high VG e-liquids became popular. If you’ve seen large, complicated vaping devices with a big tank, these are the ones we’re talking about.
While some DTL vapers say they increase flavour due to higher concentrations, in my experience, this is not true. More air = less concentration.
That said, a DTL vape will usually have lots of flexibility, so changes to wattage and using specific coils can increase flavour intensity.
DTL clouds require lots of air. So, if you want to produce big, dense clouds, you’ll need to suck in lots of air. To achieve this, DTL vapes feature a vape tank that allows for an airy draw. So, set your airflow settings to as wide as possible. DTL tanks allow more control over their throat hit through adjustable air inlets.
Again, because direct to lung is all about maximum oxygen, the drip tips are typically wider. The most popular DTL mouthpiece is the 810.
It’s worth noting that many vape tanks can fit both 510 or 810
DTL Coil Resistance
Most DTL vapes use sub-ohm coils. These, as the name suggests, are under 1.0Ohm. DTL coils range from 0.1-0.9Ohm but are most commonly 0.5Ohm. Make sure you have a compatible tank and coil, and you’re ready to go.
If you want to produce big vapour clouds, you need lots of power. And if you’re going to run lots of current through your vape, you need low resistance coils to help you achieve the necessary power quickly.
What Vapes are Best for Mouth to Lung Vaping?
Nicotine salts have really changed the game in the last few years. This has been a significant benefit for MTL vapers as many new vapes are set up to work in harmony with nic salts.
This type of e-liquid requires less wattage and produces a quicker nicotine hit. If you plan to vape mouth to lung, there are lots of vapes to choose between.
Options for Vaping Mouth to Lung
Disposable pens or cig-a-like pens are good starter MTL vapes, especially now that nic salts are an option. For years these vapes were more likely to leak e-liquid all over your pocket than provide you with a satisfying throat hit, but not anymore.
Most modern pen-style vapes with refillable pods are designed for MTL vaping.
While many people still like an MTL tank, pod vapes have really taken off over the last few years. They’re easy to use and far less complicated than tanks and leak a lot less. You don’t have to screw them in, and they lock to your battery via magnet or clips.
In short, there are lots of MTL vape kits at a reasonable price that are easy to operate for anyone new to vaping.
What Vapes are Best for Direct to Lung Vaping?
If you want to try a DTL vaping style, you should get a high powered sub-ohm device. You need a machine that is capable of producing a higher wattage and a tank that holds sub-ohm coils, aka low resistance coils (i.e. between 0.1-0.9Ohm).
So this means larger mod devices that typically come with removable rechargeable batteries.
Options for Vaping Direct to Lung
Sub-ohm vaping is all about choosing the right coil, tank, and mod. DTL sub-ohm devices generally run at a higher price and require vapers to purchase separate batteries. Additionally, there is a steeper learning curve.
While many people build sub-ohm coils at home, it’s not recommended if you’re unsure what you are doing. So, if you want to try the DTL direct to lung vaping style, make sure you have:
● A powerful vape mod capable of higher wattage
● A coil between 0.1-0.9Ohm
● A tank that is suitable for DTL Sub-Ohm vaping
Mouth to Lung vs Direct to Lung: E-Liquids & Nicotine Strength
Most MTL style vapes are low wattage, portable devices that produce less vapour. Traditionally, these vapes used higher PG (propylene glycol) to provide a better throat hit. However, since the advent of nicotine salts, most juices have become 50/50 PG VG (vegetable glycerine) blends.
Nicotine salts have revolutionised the industry due to their high nicotine content and smooth taste, which allows a great hit from smaller vapes. This has seen a trend for more portable, slimmer pen-style vapes because there is less need for bulky, box mods.
Best MTL E-Liquids
The best mouth to lung e-liquids is 50/50 PG VG nic salt blends. Because these devices have less power, usually less than 25w, people use them to vape higher concentration e-liquids like 12mg or 18mg.
However, as mentioned above, nicotine salts have allowed users to scale back, and now a 10mg or 20mg nic salt is perfect for the vast majority of MTL vapers.
Additionally, MTL vaping is suitable for higher concentration freebase PG e-liquids. Not everyone likes nic salts, so PG e-liquids up to 100% concentrations work just fine for MTL vape devices.
Best DTL E-Liquids
Because direct to lung vaping is more concerned with large cloud production, they tend to perform best with higher VG blends. Typically, this means 70:30, or 80:20, in favour of VG. 100% VG vape juice does exist, but a lot of devices can’t handle their thickness.
One of the reasons that DTL vaping became so popular was because it facilitated higher VG e-liquids. Direct to lung vaping needs low nicotine e-liquid to make sure the hits aren’t too harsh on the lungs.
Additionally, it’s best if you vape these higher wattage vapes with lower strength e-liquids. Most DTL vapers smoke juices at around 3mg to 6mg concentrations. Anything higher, and you’re likely to absorb too much nicotine.
It’s worth mentioning that nicotine salts are far too strong for sub-ohm vaping. If you vape nic salts in a sub-ohm mod, there’s a good chance you’ll take in way too much nicotine, and you’ll feel pretty sickly. So, stick to the right e-liquid, folks.
Mouth to Lung vs Direct to Lung: Advantages and Disadvantages
When it comes to choosing between mouth to lung and direct to lung vaping styles, there is no right or wrong way. It really just comes down to whatever you like. But each style has its own advantages and disadvantages that we can study below.
Mouth to Lung Vaping Advantages and Disadvantages
- Allows higher nicotine strength
- Great flavour for 50/50 PG VG blends
- A closer approximation to cigarette smoking
- Requires lower wattage and therefore allows more portable vapes
- Suitable for simpler vapes that are cheaper, easier to operate and charge quickly
- MTL vapes use less e-liquid, which means they’re more cost-effective
- If you need to be discreet, a mouth to lung vape is the way to go
- Less vapour means less of those big clouds
- MTL mods have less power and a lower battery life
- Less customisable mods
Direct to Lung Vaping Advantages and Disadvantages
- Smoother hit
- Dense clouds and more vapour
- DTL kits are more customisable and have a wider variety of settings
- DTL vaping requires lower strength e-liquid
- It uses far more e-liquid
- VG has less flavour than PG
- A DTL vape generally comes at a higher price
- Complicated mods that require more upkeep and learning
- Less portable
- Big clouds mean discretion is not an option
Mouth to Lung versus Direct To Lung: A Conclusion
Now we’ve got all the science and acronyms out of the way; you should have a good idea about the difference between MTL and DTL vaping.
So, which vaping style should you choose?
Again, while there is no right or wrong, and it’s very much a matter of personal preference, there are some considerations to make that will help you make an informed choice when choosing a vape mod.
If you’re a current smoker, any vape method or e-cigarette is objectively better. However, DTL vapes might not be the best vape to start with. It’s less intuitive, and your lungs might not be ready for it.
Additionally, if the price is a factor, MTL is recommended. Cheaper mods and less e-liquid consumption keep the shopping cart a little lighter.
For me, giving up was simple. I needed three things.
1) A good throat hit
2) A source of nicotine
3) Something to do with my hands.
That’s it. So, for anyone trying to transition away from smoking, an MTL vape with a few e-juice flavours is enough to get started and stay off cigarettes.
If you’ve been vaping a while — or if you find you have a sensitivity to PG liquids — then DTL could be for you. It’s a different experience, but one that I find intensely pleasurable.
As mentioned above, both vaping styles have advantages and disadvantages. However, if you’re trying to stop smoking, MTL should be your first port of call.