Welcome to our sub-ohm vaping guide! If you have been using a standard mod or perhaps a cigalike and now you want to get into the huge clouds of vapor that you get with subohm vaping, you have come to the right place. We will walk through all the details. From Ohms Law to mouth to lung vaping vs direct lung vaping and so on. We will cover the vape juice recommendations for subohm vaping, rebuilding atomizers and more.
Obviously, our sub-ohm vaping guide for beginners is going to contain a lot of detail and a good amount of length. The goal is to provide the information necessary for vaping beginners perhaps reading an ecig article for the first time to at least gain some insight and understanding so that anyone can make an informed choice on how they want to vape.
If you are looking for a first electronic cigarette, don’t discount cigarette style electronic cigarettes, often called cigalikes. Many experienced vapers will tell you that cigalikes are poor quality. While that is true in most cases there are a few exceptional quality cigalikes that are very easy to use and provide very satisfying vapor. Cigalikes keep it simple. All you do is attach a cartridge to a battery and enjoy. They are familiar and easy.
There are still many people out there stuck on tobacco who are looking for an alternative and I want to make sure that we as a community of vapers always keep them at the front of our thoughts. So for some of you the information will be old news but bear with us, we will include as much information as possible.
The idea behind vaping is that it is a smoking alternative. Vaping mimics smoking in that you inhale vapor instead of smoke to satisfy a nicotine craving. In order to generate vapor from a nicotine solution, or e-juice, you need to heat the solution to the point of vaporization. The heating element is the atomizer coil. First and most obvious, sub-ohm vaping involves using an ecigarette with a coil resistance of less than 1.0 ohms.
With standard vaping on a cigalike or standard mod the atomizer resistance is above 1.0 ohms. Usually, the ecig battery voltage operates in the 3.8 V to 4.8 V range to heat the coils. The vapor produced is inhaled mouth to lung, which is the same way cigarette smoke is inhaled. Mouth to lung, or MTL, vaping using an atomizer with a resistance over 1.0 ohms is typically what we call ‘standard vaping’.
Standard Vaping Mouth To Lung
Mouth to lung vaping is drawing the vapor into your mouth and then inhaling. This is the same way that you would smoke a cigarette. For most people interested in making the transition from smoking to vaping, you will probably be better served initially by choosing a vape kit that has an atomizer coil with a resistance of greater than 1.0 ohms so that you can experience familiarity with mouth to lung vaping.
When you draw the vapor into your mouth and then inhale, like with smoking, you are looking for that sensation of inhaling something like you get with smoking. This sensation is the throat hit. The throat hit is part of satisfying the overall craving.
In my book, this is an area where vape shops go off-track. Many vape shops do not even carry cigalikes and many do not carry any devices or coils with a resistance over 1.0 ohms. If you are new to vaping, you are best served by buying from the best e-cig brands online. Vape shops cater to experienced enthusiasts, generally speaking.
There are many vape mods that can be used in both standard and subohm mode. If you are just getting started, we recommend picking up a model that is capable of providing both styles of vaping. Look for vaping devices like the Aspire Plato that offer atomizer coils both over and under 1.0 ohms.
Before coming to our sub-ohm vaping guide, you may have also noticed that some of those sub-ohm vape mods have tanks with large, wide mouthpieces. This is the drip tip and specifically wide bore drip tips. A wide bore drip tip is designed for direct lung vaping. For mouth to lung vaping you will want something with a narrower bore because it condenses the vapor. For full on direct lung, sob-ohm vaping, bring on the wide bore drip tips!
Direct Lung Sub-Ohm Vaping
This is one of the biggest differences that we need to touch on in our sub-ohm vaping guide, this style of vaping is direct lung inhalation. This is really simple. All it means is that you draw in the vapor just as you normally draw in breath. You do not draw the vapor into your mouth first, instead you inhale it directly into your lungs.
With sub-ohm vaping you experience a major throat hit on the exhale. The exhilaration of the exhale is very satisfying to former smokers. Direct lung vaping is where you get the huge vapor clouds that so many of us love. Cloud chasers are always pushing the envelope.
As we will get a bit more into later in the sub-ohm vaping guide, when you are subohm vaping you are drawing a lot of power directly from the battery and very rapidly vaporizing large amounts of vape juice. When you direct lung inhale, you will be drawing in a lot of vapor. This is why you do not need much nicotine in your e-juice to enjoy nicotine satisfaction. For example, pack per days smokers will be well served by choosing a 1.8 mg e-juice but when sub-ohm vaping knock that nicotine content down to 0.3 mg of nicotine or 0.6 mg tops.
When it comes to e-juice, it is made up of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine and flavoring. Both VG and PG are food additives that are also used in many medications and cosmetics. VG is thicker and makes more vapor. When subohm vaping, you will also need an e-liquid with a higher VG content. Look for e-liquids that are at least 70% VG.
Some of the best sub-ohm vape mods can be very expensive. As are some sub-ohm vape tanks. But there are also a lot of high quality inexpensive options as well. You can get complete subohm vape kits for as low as $40. You don’t have to break the bank to give subohm vaping a whirl. Just avoid clones and junk. We have a couple of recommendations for affordable sub-ohm vape kits.
Ohms law dictates that I=V/R. Well, that explains that, on to the next thing! Just kidding. Look, if you are using pre-built sub-ohm atomizer coils, the manufacturer will provide information about the recommended optimal wattage settings to get the best vaping performance within the accepted power output range. For example, if you look on the side of an Aspire Plato 0.4 ohm coil it will say that the wattage setting that you should choose is between 40 watts to 50 watts.
Most of today’s pre-made sub-ohm atomizer coils come with recommended information regarding the ideal wattage settings to get the best performance from your subohm coils. This is very helpful and following the manufacturer’s guidelines with pre-made subohm coils is the easiest way to enjoy the huge vape clouds of sub-ohm vapor.
For people who like technical challenges and building their own atomizers, you should know about Ohm’s law. So back to that for a second, Ohms law is I=V/R. That is I=the current in amperes, or amps, and V is voltage and R is the resistance. So what this says is that the electrical current is moderated by the relationship between the voltage and the resistance to that voltage.
Many vaping aficionados have a much deeper understanding of Ohms law and the sophistication of these vapers is very impressive. For the purposes of our sub-ohm vaping guide, I think delving deeper into this would only add confusion, I know it would to me! So, for now we’ll stick to a more basic overview.
The lower the resistance the more amps are drawn from the power source as current. A volt is a unit of electromotive force. An amp is a standard unit of current. An ohm is a measurement of the resistance to that current. The relationships between the current and resistance determines amps drawn from the battery.
Now we get to the difference between variable voltage and variable wattage ecigs. A watt is a unit of joules per second. That is how much energy conversion is happening in relation to time. In a nutshell, using a device in variable voltage is like manually controlling the power where as using variable wattage is like an automatic power delivery. That is in variable wattage the current drawn will be automated to match resistance.
With subohm vaping, you will be using either variable wattage or temperature control. In variable wattage, the resistances are so low that it is simply more stable and more controlled. Temperature control is a different matter where you set the temperature of the coil rather than the power setting. The benefit is that the coil temperature is consistent. More on that in a sec.
For the purposes of determining what wattage settings correspond to the coil resistance, we have included a basic sub-ohm vaping guide chart:
So you can see the lower the resistance, the higher the wattage. If you build your own coils, you need to know the coil resistance. The most common sub-ohm coil resistance is 0.5. The safe vaping zone for this resistance is 20 watts to 40 watts. The lower the resistance that lets you draw more power does make more vapor. That’s why people who build coils like to push the envelope with ultra low resistnace atomizers and very powerful 200 watt mods.
Sub-Ohm Vaping Guide: Temperature Control
As we mentioned briefly before in our sub-ohm vaping guide, temperature control is another form of subohm vaping. Temperature control vaping coils are below 1.0 ohms in resistance and they sure do make some nice, big and consistent vape clouds. But instead of drawing a particular level of current from your vape battery, in temp control mode your vape mod will draw only the power necessary to heat the atomizer coil to a chosen heat level.
Temperature control vaping has the advantage of consistency and battery longevity because rather than always drawing the same level of power in temp control mode you draw only the power necessary to create the same coil temperature every hit.
To contrast, imagine picking up your mod and taking the first vape at 40 watts. Well that first vape is only going to warm up your coil, perhaps your coil heats to 250 degrees the first hit. The next vape might bring the coil to 300 degrees. If you are vaping heavily, every time you activate the coil it’s going to be a little hotter. In fact, you could overheat the coil and shorten the life of your atomizer. The bottom line is that the coil temperature won’t be the same every time.
Temperature control vaping addresses these discrepancies. In addition, it has also been shown that temp control vaping makes more efficient use of your e-juice. Temperature control vaping involves vape mods that measure the coil temperature and to accomplish that the coil components have to be compatible. Currently, the most popular temp control coils are nickel, or Ni200. Next most popular would be titanium or Ti coils. The new trend is stainless steel coils. You can build your own temp control coils or buy them pre-made.
So why would you ever go with variable wattage subohm vaping when you could be using temperature control? Well, temp control is amazing and efficient but many vapers still like the control of variable wattage vaping and pushing their own atomizers as far as they can. An ultra low resistance Clapton coil build is capable of off the charts vapor production.
Temperature control vape mods are now widely available. Most of them are fully capable of operating in either variable wattage mode or temperature control vaping mode. Temp control vape mod kits are affordable and we have a couple of samples for you below.
Sub-Ohm Vaping Batteries
Part of our sub-ohm vaping guide goals is to help you pick out the right device and that includes the best vape batteries. You will need a battery that is capable of a lot of power output. A typical standard variable voltage mod will not do the trick. You will need a variable wattage device capable of at least 30 watts of power.
Of course sub-ohm vaping batteries can be as powerful as 200 watts or even more. A 80 to 100 watt mod will get a beautiful vaping performance out of the vast majority of available sub-ohm atomizers and vape tanks.
The big thing as it relates to batteries in our sub-ohm vape guide is that you should be wary of cheap, low quality sub-ohm vaping batteries. The chief concerns are cheap generic sub-ohm vape kits dumped into the market and clone vape mods. Whenever you hear the media going wild about an exploding e-cigarette case you can typically trace the culprit to being a cheap piece of junk or a clone.
Clones and cheap generics are not driven by quality, they are trying to undercut the market so they cut corners on quality. One of the ways that they save money is by using low grade lithium batteries. They are cheaper but they are unstable because of the impurities in the lithium. So quality and authenticity are very important and should guide your buying decisions.
Sub Ohm ejuice is juice with a high VG content. You will want an e-liquid with a VG content of 70% and up. Vegetable glycerin e-liquids generally do not convey flavor as well as PG e-liquid or 50/50 e-liquid but the best e-liquid manufacturers have this down to a T. You can now enjoy really awesome flavor from great VG ejuices like Halo’s new V-Type E-Liquid.
Even a heavy smoker will probably be satisfied by a 6 mg e-liquid because the sheer amount of vapor is going to deliver enough nicotine to your system to satisfy your craving. The next most common option is 0.3 mg of nicotine.
The main reason that we wanted to bring up sub-ohm ejuice is to try and guide you away from amateur eliquid manufacturers who should not be making or marketing eliquids. In late 2015, Harvard caused a media stir by announcing that they had found diacetyl or acetoin in more than 70% of the eliquid brands that they tested. They claimed that this could potentially lead to a dangerous disease known as popcorn lung.
Diacetyl and acetoin are approved flavor additives that you will find in many foods. There has never been a case of someone contracting popcorn lung from vaping but be that as it may, many of the best ejuice makers never, ever use diacetyl or acetoin so it only makes sense to buy your sub-ohm e-juice from a professional manufacturer.
Amateur ejuice makers blended in garages or the back of vape shops are prone to contaminants and diacetyl in eliquid. They probably have the best intentions in the world but at the end of the day they are simply not qualified to create a product that you will be inhaling. Many claim to produce diacetyl free ejuice and they make the claim based on the fact that they don’t see that particular ingredient listed on the flavorings they use. That in no way means that there is no diacetyl.
Under FDA provisions for proprietary protection, flavor makers and others are not required to list every single ingredient. As long as there product meets standards and the main ingredients are listed, they are allowed to sell their flavorings. That’s all great as long as we consume diacetyl, but it is another matter when it is vaporized and inhaled.
It is best to stick with proven ejuice brands like VaporFi and Halo. Their ejuices are blended by professionals in a state of the art lab setting. They also use testing and independent lab reports to verify the quality of their e-liquids. Stick with one of these sub-ohm ejuice brands to get your VG eliquid.
Building Sub-Ohm Atomizers
For those of you who want to build your own subohm atomizer coils, there are generally two options. First you have RBAs, rebuildable atomizers, and RTAs, rebuildable tank atomizers. Both are designed to allow you to build your own coils to whatever specifications you wish.
RBAs are designed so that when you need to add more ejuice, simply remove the top of the RBA and drip ejuice directly onto the wick. This is called dripping. An RTA is similar but it has a tank that will contain ejuice so you don’t have to drip. For more on RTA’s check out our Sigelei Moonshot review, the most popular RTA of the year so far. For a great RBA check out the VaporFi vBit.
Building your own coils can take some time, patience and a lot of practice. First, you need your coil metal. The most popular is Kanthal. If you are building temp control subohm coils you will want Ni, Ti or stainless steel. When you wrap your coil, we recommend a coil jig for nice, even coils. You will want some ceramic tweezers because when you mount your coil on the atomizer deck it will probably need to fine tuning so that it heats evenly.
To test out whether or not your coil heats evenly, attach it to your mod and fire it. The coils should light up evenly. If you see spots on the coil that are not glowing, use the tweezers to nudge the coils together or gently rake the top of the coil to even out the current distribution.
Once you get the coils right, let them cool off and then you can put in the organic cotton wick. Form the coil into a shape that will fit inside the coil and trim the edges. Now, put some drops of ejuice on your coils and assemble you RTA or RBA.
This is a very general description for making coils and there are many different styles. There are a number of good YouTube videos that show you some effective ways of making your own coils. Check out Grimm Green.
Sub-Ohm Vaping Safety
Sub-ohm vaping safety depends on the device, the ejuice and the wattage vs resistance. Today’s sub-ohm vape kits are very easy to use and pre-made sub-ohm coils come with specifications of recommended wattages. As long as you stick to the manufacturer’s recommendations and are using a diacetyl free ejuice with an authentic, quality sub-ohm vape mod, you are going to be taking every step for safe sub-ohm vaping.
If you are building your own coils and using a powerful mod, this is where it becomes especially important that you are aware of your battery and how it relates to the resistance of the coil that you build. Most mods have an ohms meter built in. The good mods have accurate readers. If you have any doubts, you may want to consider buying an Ohm meter separately.
So that’s about it for the sub-ohm vaping guide! If you are a beginner your best bet is a quality sub-ohm vape kit that uses pre-built sub-ohm coils. The pre-built coils made by Aspire, VaporFi, Apollo, Kanger, Smok and others are exceptional quality and allow you the easiest path to subohm vaping.
One final note for those of you new to vaping. Yes, subohm vaping is an amazing experience and the vapor is a sight that’s for sure. You see people vaping everywhere making huge clouds and it is only natural to want to do that yourself! By all means try subohm vaping, but don’t feel like you have to. In other words, you have a lot of options. Cigalikes are standard mods today are also very good and provide a satisfying vape. The main thing is to stay away from tobacco and smoking.