There are lots of choices when it comes to coils, and a lot of confusion when it comes to which E Liquids and tanks are compatible with them. A little heads up, there’s a fair bit of vaping jargon ahead so you might want to open our Jargon Buster while you read on (just in case you need a reminder of what some of the terms mean). There’s no shame in being confused though. Before vaping, the only people who needed to know about Ohms and resistance were electricians or students. Thankfully, when it comes to the coils used in vaping, it’s a lot more straightforward.
What Are Vape Coils?
Pretty simple right? So let’s break that down a little.
When we talk about a “Coil” we’re usually referring to the entire atomiser head you pop out of the blister pack and put into your tank. This includes the outer casing, the wicking material, the connectors, and of course, the resistance wire. If we’re going to be technical however, the coil is actually just the bit of resistance wire inside the atomiser.
The standard wire used for vape coils is primarily made from Kanthal or Nichrome (which we’ll get into later). This wire is coiled (wrapped in a ‘coil’ shape) around a wicking material (which is usually made from cotton). When E Liquid is added to a vape tank, the wicking material inside the coil begins to soak up the E Liquid.
Still with me? Ok, good. So what happens when you fire the mod?
The electrical charge from the battery makes the coil heat up which, in turn, vaporizes the E Liquid soaked inside the wicking material (it turns the e liquid into vapour). When you inhale, you draw the vaporized E Liquid from the centre of the coil into your mouth or lungs. This draws more E Liquid from the tank into the cotton, so you should get a continual flow of E Liquid replacing the vaporized juice each time you take a hit.
The Different Types of Coils
This is where things can start to get confusing. Thankfully in recent years, coils have become much more standardised. When vaping was first conceived, manufacturers were constantly innovating to try and find the best possible coil for taste and cloud production. This led to several categories of coils that, while not as popular as they once were, still exist and therefore should be explained.
What’s this Resistance stuff about?
The resistance of a coil is pretty much what it sounds like, it refers to how much the coil resists the electrical charge sent from the battery. Coils with a higher resistance require less power to heat up than coil’s with a lower resistance. Electrical resistance is measured in a value called Ohms (Ω). As standard, all coils will fall into either high or low resistance. Coils with a resistance less than 1ohm are Sub Ohm coils, while coils with 1ohm or more are considered Plus Ohm coils.
What is a Sub Ohm Coil?
As stated, Sub Ohm coils require more power to heat up than their higher resistance cousins. Because of this, thicker E Liquids are required as thinner E Liquids will be vaporised too quickly meaning the coil will burn out faster, and you have more chance of taking a dry hit. As a general rule of thumb, Sub Ohm coils should only be used with E Liquids in a 70% VG to 30% PG mix since VG is much thicker than PG.
The low power resistance allows for much higher temperatures to be used, meaning more E Liquid can be vaporized in one go. This combination allows users to intake massive amounts of vapour without any harshness on their throat (allowing you to “rip” those “fat clouds”, if you’re so inclined). This is also why most 70/30 E Liquids only come in a maximum strength of 6mg. Since you’re inhaling so much vapour in one go, you don’t need as much nicotine.
Because of this, Sub Ohm coils are designed to be used by DTL vapers. No, this isn’t some hip new group or an acronym for how cool we all are, it simply refers to the method of inhaling; Direct To Lung. DTL vapers won’t draw the vapour into their mouth before inhaling, they will inhale directly from the tank and straight into the lungs. This means the size of your ‘hit’ is only limited by the size of your lung capacity.
What is a Plus Ohm Coil?
Plus Ohm coils on the other hand are designed for MTL (Mouth To Lung) vapers. As the name suggests, people with this vaping style will draw the vapour into their mouth before inhaling (in the same way most people smoke cigarettes). Since the last thing you’d want if you vape this way is a powerful blast of vapour forced down your throat, the higher resistance ensures you need a much harder pull to get the vapour into your mouth.
The lower power means the E Liquid isn’t as easily vaporised when compared to the high power Sub Ohm coils. To combat this, thinner E Liquids are generally used to ensure the E Liquid is correctly vaporised at the lower temperatures and doesn’t “gunk” up the coil too quickly. As a general rule, you should use E Liquids with a higher PG content such as 50/50 E Liquids (50% VG to 50% PG). Since PG is much thinner than VG, it will pass easier through the higher resistance coil.
MTL vapers are only intaking a small amount of vapour in comparison to Sub Ohm users so they can get their E Liquid in a variety of strengths all the way up to 20mg. Due to the similarities to smoking a cigarette, and the higher possible nicotine dosages, Plus Ohm coils are recommended for new vapers who’ve just made the switch to vaping.
When To Change a Vape Coil?
This is one of those “how long is a piece of string?” questions I’m afraid. There probably is a scientific formula which takes into account the force at which someone vapes, the wattage/temperature of the device, the resistance of the coil and the viscosity of the E Liquid being used, but we haven’t found it (and we aren’t anywhere near good enough at maths to figure it out ourselves). But fear not, there are a couple of ways to tell when your coil is past its best and should be changed.
How Long Do Vape Coils Last?
As above, there’s no definitive way to tell how long a vape coil will last. Everyone vapes at different voltages with different resistance coils, with different E Liquid mixes and nicotine strengths. As standard though we’d expect a Sub Ohm coil being used a moderate amount to last around a week.
A Plus Ohm coil used around the same amount could last as long as 3 weeks. As you get used to your device and coils you’ll be able to tell the subtle differences in taste and vapour production which alert you that the coil should be replaced. After a while you’ll be able to judge just how often you need to buy a new pack. Unfortunately, it’s just as much of a personal thing as the flavours we choose.
If you use a POD device, your coil will still be a Sub Ohm or Plus Ohm, so you can still follow the same advise depending on the resistance.
Why Does My Vape Coil Burn Out So Fast?
There are a few reasons this could be happening with pre-made coils, and lots of reasons when it comes to DIY coils. Usually this is down to some form of misuse from either being too hasty to get vaping, or just not understanding how coils work. Here’s some of the causes, and their solutions:
Why Is My Vape Gurgling?
This happens when your coil has been flooded. Just as you can run out of E Liquid in your tank and burn your coil, you can also draw too much E Liquid into the cotton making it impossible to vaporise. This is indicated by spluttering when you inhale, usually leading to small amounts of warm E Liquid spitting into your mouth.
To avoid flooding a coil, make sure you use the recommended temperature/wattage to ensure all the E Liquid is vaporised when you activate the mod. If your wattage/temperature is too low, the E Liquid won’t be vaporised correctly leading to the coil becoming oversaturated and flooded.
Again, make sure you’re using the correct E Liquid mix for your coil’s resistance. If you’re using a High PG E Liquid with a Sub Ohm coil, the E Liquid will not be vaporised correctly. Flooding can also happen if you get E Liquid into the middle of the atomiser. If this happens while you’re filling your tank, I’m afraid you’ll need to replace the coil.
What About DIY Coils?
In a nutshell, DIY coils as the name suggests are coils you make yourself by coiling your own wire around your own wicking material, and using it with a special tank known as an RBA (Rebuildable Atomiser). We don’t sell DIY vape materials here at Vapoholic, but we do have a couple of DIY enthusiasts working for us. If you’re interested, our guide to building your own coils is super easy to follow and covers all the basics so you can see if it’s something you’d be interested in.