A Beginner's Guide to Vape Coils

One of the most important parts of your vape, your device would not be able to function without the coil. Coils have a huge impact on your vaping experience, determining everything from the performance of your e-liquid's flavour to the amount and temperature of the vapour. 

For anyone new to vaping or upgrading from disposable vapes for the first time, coils can be complicated and confusing. That's why we've put together this comprehensive guide to vape coils, written specifically for beginners and new vapers.

Here's what you need to know about vape coils. 

Vape coils explained

Inside the vape tank or pod, you'll find the coils and the wick of your vape. The coils, also known as atomisers or atomiser heads, are the vape's heating element.

Arranged around the coils is a small piece of material called the wick. This is often made of cotton. The wicking material is super absorbent and when you fill the vape tank the wick becomes saturated with e-liquid

When you fire your vape by taking a puff or pushing the fire button, the power moves from the battery through the vape's inner circuitry and to the coils. This causes the coils to heat up. The hot coils heat the wicking material, causing all the e-liquid that has soaked into the wick to turn into vapour. Then, this vapour rises through the mouthpiece (drip tip) and into your mouth. 

What is coil resistance?

First of all, don't worry, we're not going to make you read a whole physics lesson (but if you're interested in physics, check out our explainer about ohm's law)! Here are the basics of coil resistance. 

Coil resistance refers to how easy it is for the electricity current to move through the coil. The lower the resistance, the more power can move through the coil, while the higher the resistance, the less can pass through. Resistance is measured in ohms. Still with us? 

The earliest vape coils had fairly high resistance levels (above 1 or 2 ohm). This limited the amount of power that could be used with them, meaning that they couldn't get very hot or produce large clouds. Since then, improvements in technology have led to increasing numbers of low resistance coils, commonly known as sub-ohm coils. Sub-ohm coils are named this because they have a resistance of below 1 ohm. This low resistance means that they can be used with powerful batteries and can get very hot, vaporising large amounts of e-liquid rapidly to create those huge vapour clouds. 

What are the different types of vape coils?

MTL vs DTL coils

Perhaps you've heard of the two main vaping styles that vapers use: Mouth-To-Lung (MTL) and Direct-To-Lung (DTL)? In case these terms are new to you, here's a quick summary of what they mean. 

MTL vaping is the style of vaping most similar to the technique of smoking a cigarette. With Mouth-To-Lung vaping, you draw the vapour first into your mouth and hold it there before inhaling it into your lungs. Then, you exhale. MTL vaping provides less vapour and is often preferred by new vapers because of its discreet nature and similarity to smoking. 

DTL vaping is more like the technique of using shisha. After taking a drag on your vape, you inhale the vapour directly into your lungs without holding it in your mouth first. Then, you exhale. DTL vaping involves larger amounts of vapour and more powerful vaping devices. 

Remember how we looked at coil resistance earlier? Well, coil resistance is what determines whether a coil can be used for MTL or DTL vaping. Coils with a resistance of 1 ohm and above are generally considered MTL coils. On the whole, MTL coils are smaller and use thin vape wire. These coils are used in lower-powered vapes that produce less vapour.

On the other hand, coils with a resistance of below 1 ohm are often called sub-ohm coils or DTL coils. These tend to be bigger than MTL coils and are used in high-powered vapes to produce a lot more vapour, which is why they're favoured by cloud-chasers

Although on the whole MTL coils are plus-ohm (resistance above one ohm) and DTL coils are sub-ohm (resistance below one ohm), there are some exceptions to this rule! 

Coil materials

The most common coil materials are Nichrome and Kanthal. Nichrome is an alloy that contains nickel, chromium, and sometimes iron, and outside of vapes it is often used as the heating element in toasters and electric kettles. Kanthal is an alloy that contains iron, chromium, and aluminium, which is also used in heating elements because of its ability to withstand high temperatures. 

In addition to Nichrome and Kanthal, other coil materials include Stainless Steel, Nickel, and Titanium. 

Each coil material has its unique properties and features and can be used for different purposes. For example, Nichrome, Kanthal, and Stainless Steel have properties that allow them to be used in variable wattage and variable voltage vape mods. These mods allow you to customise the amount of power moving through the vape at any time. 

On the other hand Stainless Steel, Nickel and Titanium are the only materials that can be used in temperature control vape mods. These use a smart chip to set a desired temperature for the vape coils and keep them at this exact heat. 

However, beginner vapers are probably not using devices that offer temperature control, so it's not important to know about these specific types of vape wire. 

Mesh and ceramic coils

There are a wide range of other types of coils that people use for vaping, and two of the most popular among more advanced vapers are mesh coils and ceramic coils. 

Mesh coils are one popular coil type. Instead of being made of a looped piece of wire, these instead consist of a flat sheet of metal with holes punched in it to resemble mesh. This is then twisted into a cylinder. Mesh coils are great to vape with because their flat design and high surface area leads to even heating of the wick, reducing the risk of burnt spots. 

Ceramic coils are another type of coil that has become popular in recent years, although they are still fairly rare. Unlike other coils, these have no wick but instead have a ceramic coating which is porous and absorbs e-liquid. These coils are slow to heat up but good at retaining heat and provide an extremely pure and strong flavour from your vape juice. 

How do I know which replacement coils to buy?

If the world of coils is already seeming complicated and confusing, don't fret! Coils are not universal so the type of replacement coils you need to buy depends on the vape kit you are using. 

When you choose a vape kit, the packaging or description on the website will tell you exactly which replacement coils you need to buy. Often, a vape tank by a brand such as Vaporesso will be compatible with a range of different Vaporesso coils, allowing you to choose the resistance and style that you prefer. Or, a GeekVape vape kit will be compatible with a range of coils from GeekVape. 

How do I take care of my vape coils?

The first thing you'll need to do to take care of your coils and extend their lifespan is prime your coils effectively. Priming means adding a few drops of e-liquid to the coils and letting it soak completely into the wick, then leaving the coil in a vape tank full of e-liquid before you use the coils for the first time. Some people will also take a few dry hits without firing the vape in order to draw the e-juice up into the wick.

Priming is important because without priming there might not be enough vape juice in the wick, which can lead to a horrible burnt hit when you start vaping. Burnt hits are where the wicking material is not fully saturated with e-liquid and therefore you are inhaling burnt cotton instead of delicious flavoured vapour. 

Want to learn more about how to take care of your vape's coils? Read our guide to making your coils last longer

When do I need to change my vape coils?

Your coil life is limited, so depending on how frequently you vape you'll probably have to change coils anywhere from once every few days to once every few weeks. Here are some of the sure signs that your coil might need replacing:

  • There's an unpleasant burnt taste to your vapour: this indicates that your coil wick has burnt out and you'll need to install a new coil
  • Your vape tastes different: this could be a sign that your wick is overly saturated with the gunky residue from previous vape juice
  • You can hear gurgling from the tank: this can indicate a problem with your coil so you'll need to drain the e-liquid and switch to a new coil
  • E-liquid is leaking: while leaks are not always caused by a faulty or old coil, switching to a replacement coil is the first step in troubleshooting the issue

In general, vapers should switch to a replacement coil at least once a month, although depending on how often you vape and how well you take care of your coils this can vary. 

Which are the best vape coils?

The vape coils you use depend on the type of vape tank or pod kit you are using. If you use a vape tank, you will probably buy replacement coils in packs of three or more. If you use a pod kit, you may instead buy replacement pods which already contain the coil installed inside the pod. 

With that in mind, here are a few of our favourite vape coils to use. 

We love the Uwell Caliburn G and G2 replacement coils. Designed for use with the beginner-friendly Caliburn G Pod Kit from Uwell, these coils come in three different resistances so you can enjoy your preferred vaping experience. Featuring Uwell's plug and play coil design, these vape coils are extremely easy to install in your pod kit. They provide smooth and pure flavour and are best used with 50/50 e-liquids

For more advanced users, we recommend using a Voopoo vape kit with the Voopoo PnP replacement coils. These can be used with a range of models from Voopoo including the Drag X 80W Mod Pod Kit and the Drag S 60W Kit. The PnP coils come in a wide range of types and resistances, ranging from as low as 0.2 ohm to as high as 1.2 ohm and featuring mesh, ceramic, and regular varieties. This makes them ideal for trying out different vaping styles to find your perfect vaping experience. 

Conclusion

That's the end of our beginner's guide to vape coils for now! With all this information, any new vaper should now be ready to choose and maintain their vape coils.

Here at Vaping 101, we have a huge range of different vape coils in stock at the lowest prices, making vaping more accessible to everyone no matter your budget. Browse our selection to find your new favourites. 

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