Sub-ohm vaping was once a small, DIY culture, with only the most enthusiastic vape hobbyists exploring the world of sub-ohm devices. Before the 2010s, vapers had to tinker with their own coils and builds to achieve the perfect sub-ohm experience.
Today, sub-ohm vaping is becoming increasingly mainstream. Leading vape hardware brands have created vape kits with sub-ohm coils and vape tanks designed for hassle-free sub-ohming. It's no longer an exclusive hobby, but rather something that any vaper can enjoy.
So, if you want to get started in the exciting world of sub-ohm vaping, we've written this guide to tell you everything you need to know. We've also included advice for the best hardware and e-liquid to buy so that even beginner vapers can enjoy an amazing sub-ohm experience!
What is sub-ohm vaping?
At its most basic, sub-ohm vaping means vaping using a device with a coil resistance of less than one ohm. For example, if the coils have a resistance of 0.9 ohm, 0.5 ohm, or 0.1 ohm, this is considered a sub-ohm vape, whereas coils with 1.0 and above are considered plus-ohm vapes.
There are a few ways in which sub-ohm vaping differs from your standard type of vaping.
Sub-ohm vaping uses a Direct-To-Lung (DTL) or sometimes a Restricted-Direct-Lung (RDL) vaping style. This is a vape technique where you breathe the vapour directly into your lungs instead of holding it in your mouth first.
The other vaping style is Mouth-To-Lung (MTL) vaping, which means that you hold the vapour in your mouth before inhaling it into your lungs. The technique is similar to that of smoking a cigarette, which is why many former smokers start their vaping journey with MTL vapes. This type of vaping is associated with MTL devices like low-powered pod kits and vape pens.
Sub-ohm vapes produce larger amounts of vapour than other types of vape. This is because they are able to vaporise larger amounts of e-liquid in a short amount of time and use high VG e-juice that lends itself to creating big clouds. This is why sub-ohm vapers may consider themselves cloud chasers.
Sub-ohm vaping isn't really about getting your nicotine fix. Sub-ohm fans tend to use a low nicotine strength or nicotine-free e-liquid. This is for two main reasons. Firstly, because so much e-liquid is vaporised in sub-ohm tanks, it is easy to accidentally consume too high a nicotine strength in a short amount of time. Secondly, an e-liquid with too much nicotine can cause uncomfortable throat hits in a sub-ohm vape. For these reasons, vapers with sub-ohm tanks will tend to opt for low nicotine strength e-juice or one that is entirely nicotine-free, like a shortfill.
The science of sub-ohm vaping explained
Let's recap how vaping works: first, the battery sends power to the coils, then the coils heat up the e-liquid and turn it into vapour, and finally you inhale the vapour.
That's the simple version, but there's actually a lot more going on here. The speed that the coils heat up and therefore the amount of vapour produced is impacted by the resistance of the coil. Resistance, measured in ohms, refers to how easy or difficult it is for electrons to flow through a material. A material with low resistance means that the charge can pass through it faster, while a high resistance material slows the flow of the electronic charge.
A coil with a high resistance can be used with a lower amount of power, which flows through the circuit at a slower rate, leading to slower heating of the coils and less vapour production. In contrast, a coil with a low resistance can be used with a higher wattage, flowing through the circuit faster, and causing more rapid heating and vapour production.
This is why, in the early 2010s, vape hobbyists and manufacturers started creating coils with lower and lower resistances. These sub-ohm vape coils with a resistance below 1 ohm are able to provide amazing cloud production and rapid vaporisation that vapers love.
Is sub-ohm vaping safe?
Sub-ohm vaping is just as safe as the MTL vaping you may do with your pod kit or disposable vape. The e-liquid contains the same ingredients, just with a higher proportion of VG which is safe to inhale. Sub-ohm hardware has been manufactured and tested to the highest quality levels, meaning that using a sub-ohm device from your trusted vape store is just as safe as using a pod kit or disposable.
The only safety risks associated with sub-ohm vaping relate to the use of unregulated mods or rebuildable devices. Vapers should have a very good understanding of physics and ohm's law before embarking on these more dangerous types of vaping.
What hardware do I need for sub-ohm vaping?
With the science of sub-ohm coils explained, you're probably wondering what type of hardware you need to start your sub-ohm journey. Here's the lowdown on your sub-ohm equipment.
While any coil with a resistance below 1 ohm is technically 'sub-ohm', innovative vape manufacturers have started creating sub-ohm vape coils with super low resistances. We recommend opting for a 0.5 ohm resistance coil or lower to enjoy the best vaping experience. These days, you can even get coils as low as 0.15 ohm.
What distinguishes a sub-ohm tank? Firstly, they're compatible with sub-ohm vape coils. Secondly, they often have more airflow holes than standard vape tanks, allowing for improved air circulation and vapour production. You will likely be able to adjust the airflow to achieve your preferred vaping experience with a sub-ohm vape tank.
Sub-ohm drip tips
The drip tip or mouthpiece of your vape often differs between sub-ohm and standard devices. To facilitate greater vapour production, sub-ohm devices often feature a wider drip tip with greater airflow.
The best sub-ohm vape kits for beginners
As a sub-ohm beginner, you'll probably want to start out with a vape kit designed for sub-ohm vaping. Here are some of our beginner-friendly favourites:
GeekVape Aegis Boost 2 B60 Kit
The Aegis Boost 2 B60 vape kit from Geekvape is a great sub-ohm starter kit. This pod kit can generate up to 60W of power using its internal 2000mAh battery and comes with pods featuring a 0.2 ohm Ni80 mesh coil (50-58W) and a 0.6 ohm KA1 mesh coil (15-25W). The 0.96 inch TFT display screen also allows you to easily switch between variable wattage, temperature control, boost, VPC, and SMART modes. Sturdy, dependable, and leakproof, this vape kit is perfect for anyone new to sub-ohming.
Smok RPM5 Kit
Another of our favourite user-friendly sub-ohm vape kits is the RPM5 pod kit from Smok. The pods are compatible with 0.15 ohm and 0.23 ohm RPM 3 mesh coils, which provide an excellent DTL vaping experience. The 2000mAh battery provides up to 80W of power and the 0.96 inch display screen shows your device's data in an attractive and useful format. As a sub-ohm pod kit, this e-cigarette is ideal for any vaper first getting interested in sub-ohming.
What e-liquid do I need for sub-ohm vaping?
VG / PG ratio
For sub-ohm vaping, you'll need an e-liquid that is higher in VG (Vegetable Glycerine) than PG (Propylene Glycol). A high VG vape juice is necessary because VG is the thick, sticky ingredient that helps produce those amazing clouds of vapour. A standard high VG percentage is 70%, but some e-liquids may have even higher proportions of VG. Most shortfills have a VG percentage of 70% or above.
Choose an e-liquid with low or no nicotine to avoid those uncomfortable throat hits and the risk of accidental over-consumption.
The flavour of e-liquid is entirely up to you. A sub-ohm tank will allow you to appreciate the flavours in all their glory, so pick a vape juice from a trusted brand and enjoy the enhanced vapour. For our sub-ohm e-liquids, we love shortfills by Nasty Juice, Dinner Lady, Twelve Monkeys, and IVG.
Sub-ohm vaping etiquette
The vast majority of vapers are conscientious people who are careful to be polite when vaping in public spaces. When you start enjoying your new sub-ohm e-cigarette, you might not be used to the huge and dense clouds that it will produce. Therefore, it's essential to be especially aware of your surroundings if sub-ohm vaping in public to avoid distressing people with your big, delicious-smelling clouds. After all, even if you love your e-liquid flavour, there's no guarantee that other people will appreciate it too!
Now, you're ready to start vaping with a sub-ohm device! If you want to learn more, check out our guide to cloud-chasing for beginners and read our recommendations for the best shortfills to try in your sub-ohm tank.
Here at Vaping 101, our mission is to make vaping accessible and enjoyable to everyone. If you have any questions or want advice, drop it to our friendly vape shop in Aberdeen or contact us online today.