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Vaping 101 | Atomizers: Sub-ohm Tanks

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Atomizers: Sub-Ohm Tanks

In a nutshell the 3 basic atomizer options for vapers these days are sub-ohm tanks, rebuildable tanks, and the classic rebuildable drippers. Today I will be talking about sub-ohm tanks.

Sub-ohm Tanks provide a great option for both the beginning vaper as well as the seasoned veteran. The sub-ohm part of the name is used to distinguish tanks with pre built coils from tanks that the user can build their own coils for, as well as letting the user know that the tank likely has a coil option that has a resistance below 1.0 ohm, which is a whole new topic we will get to later. But for now, what you need to know is that sub-ohm tanks are definitely the easiest option for new vapers (aside from clearomizers and cartomizers which are rarely seen anymore as sub-ohm tanks provide a much better experience), as well as a great option for those who are on the go, or don't want the hassle of building their own coils or having to drip liquid onto their cotton every few puffs.

The basic sub-ohm tank is comprised of a tank area for storing liquid, a chimney in the center of the tank for airflow, a premade coil below the chimney that turns the liquid into vapor, an airflow control that can be set to allow for more of less air through the coil and out the chimney as well as a top cap that generally has a filling area for filling the tank with liquid and finally a mouthpiece or drip tip that you put your lips on and inhale the vapor through.


The design of the tank can vary dramatically. Aside from materials and color options (that seem to be ever growing), there are an astonishing amount of different options when it comes tank designs. What you will be using your tank for will determine what exact options you will need.

Size, Capacity & Filling Method

The process of finding the right tank for you can be narrowed down by knowing what you will be using the tank for. If you will be using the tank all the time or as your only setup you will need to take a few things into consideration. There are tanks out there with 30ml (a whole medium sized bottle) e-liquid capacity all the way down to very small tanks with only 1.5ml or so capacity. Having a tank with a huge liquid capacity can be handy. You rarely have to fill it up and you won’t need to carry a bottle of juice with you unless you will be away from home for a few days, but the tank itself can be pretty big. For girls who carry purses this may not be an issue but it can still be annoying just lugging the big thing around. For guys and girls who don’t carry a purse around, carrying a setup with a very large tank can be a bit tedious, so be sure to weigh your options. Some people opt to have a smaller setup to take with them when they are out and a larger setup for the house. Some just take the middle road and get a medium sized tank and throw a bottle of juice in the car with them. Really it’s up to you, but it is something you will want to think about.

As far as filling method is concerned it’s somewhat a topic of the past as nearly all tanks are top filled now, but it’s something that should be looked at as there are definitely some tanks with better filling methods than others. In the old days you would have to unscrew your tank while holding it upside down, fill it up while trying not to spill it and then screw it back down. Since then they have moved the filling hole to the top and many companies have found great ways to make it easy for the user to fill their tank up with ease. Some tanks have very bad filling methods and when you are buying a tank you should take into consideration that over time these tanks will break down and if a filling method seems like it’s a bit wonky, imagine it after being used 100 times. It’s probably going to be a hassle. I prefer tanks that have a very simple method, like the Super Tank from Tobeco that literally just has a screw on top cap that you unscrew and remove to fill and then just screw it back on when you’re done. No moving parts. It works perfectly. I’m really surprised there aren’t hundreds of these types of tanks but there aren’t. So when you are choosing your next tank be sure to find the right size for you and remember that you’ll be carrying it with you so be sure to get one that won’t be annoying 2 days in.

Chimney, Mouthpiece & Airflow

The chimney is the part of the tank that (typically) comes after the coil and directs the vapor out through the mouthpiece and into your lungs. The fact that it is generally just a small round tube would make it seem that the chimney has a very small part to play when it comes to the overall functionality of the tank, but it really does. Some companies have even begun utilizing the coil as the chimney so that there is less in the way to block or slow down the vapor on its journey from the coil to your lungs. This increases flavor in almost all cases. A smaller chimney with a straight path from the coil to the mouthpiece will generally have good flavor. Tanks like the Cleito that utilize a 1 piece coil/chimney combo will really shine when it comes to flavor as long as the coil is built with flavor in mind. Also I have found that using a smaller circumference mouthpiece or drip tip will almost always yield better flavor than a wide bore mouthpiece. I believe it has to do with the vapor being condensed, but that is just an idea of mine. Those looking for huge clouds rather than huge flavor should look for a tank with a big circumference when it comes to the chimney as well as the mouthpiece coupled with the biggest airflow stream as they can find. However, even though you find a tank a tank with your perfect setup it doesn’t mean that you will for sure get your desired result. The coil itself has a huge part to play as well.

Coil Options, Different types of inhaling & Temperature Control

Probably the biggest and hardest to understand is the premade coils that sub-ohm tanks use. The coil you use will determine how much wattage you will need to properly use the tank; how much vapor the tank will produce; the amount of juice it will use and even how much money will will have to spend each month for new coils. There are two main types of coils and which type you will need will depend on what type of smoker you are/were. If you are a person who puffed the smoke into your mouth and then sucked it in you are probably a mouth-to-lung inhaler and will most likely favor a tight draw, with little airflow and a non-sub-ohm coil. These coils are not available for all tanks but are available for the vast majority. They will have a resistance of 1.0 ohm or higher (ie: 1.2, 1.5, 1.8, etc). These coils coupled with a tank with a tight draw will typically produce a vape experience closer to what you are used to. Many smokers walk into a vape shop and ask the tattooed, trendy cashier to set them up and this part is never addressed. Thus, they are sent home with a sub-ohm tank built for someone who doesn’t inhale in a mouth-to-lung fashon and within a few days they give up and go back to smoking. It’s a sad deal, but i’ve heard this story many, many times. Aside from mouth-to-lung inhaling, there is the more widely used option which is for those of us who inhale straight down to the lungs in a fluent single motion. Many of those who vape started out as mouth-to-lung inhaling and switched to direct lung inhaling due to the vast amount of options. Or because of the fact that direct lung inhaling uses sub-ohm coils and produces a lot more vapor which many see as “cool”. Sadly, the “cloud chasing” phenomenon draws a lot of attention from outsiders and is subsequently the reason for many anti-vaping laws, not to mention the fact that it really draws unneeded attention to all vapers, cloud chaser or not, but i’m getting off topic. Once you’ve decided that you are a mouth-to-lung inhaler or a direct lung inhaler you have a starting point. You can then look for tanks that have coil options for your type of inhale. Sadly, there are far less options for those who MTL (mouth-to-lung) vape. I personally would suggest the Cthulhu MTL tank which was specifically designed for the MTL vaper in mind and has all of the options a MTL vaper need plus the coil options that you will want as well. Direct lung inhalers have many more options available to them and your coil options will depend on whether or not you will be focusing clouds or flavor. I personally have no need for clouds so I tend to focus flavor type coils. As far as flavor is concerned you will typically be using less than 100 watts, so high end expensive devices will not be needed, nor will fancy, expensive coils. I have found many stainless steel and ceramic coil options shine as well as basic dual vertical coil options. But each person will have to try many coils to find their happy medium. As far as cloud coils, the number of options are growing every day. You will be likely using over 100 watts so many of the low end devices will not be able to power your tank and coil if you are looking to get into cloud chasing. On last thing I would like to mention when coils are concerned are temperature control coils. These are coils made from nickel and titanium and stainless steel (stainless coils can be used in both wattage and temperature controlled modes). Temp controlled coils are coils that specific devices that have temp control functionality use to try to keep a coil at or less than a certain temperature. Some use time, wattage and some other calculations to try to figure out the temperature of the coil and if it is higher than the set limit it will stop heating it for a split second to keep it under that set temperature. Others will use the setting you set and try to keep the temperature of the coil right at that temperature by raising, lowering, and stopping the wattage going into the coil while the fire button is pressed. Using a temperature controlled coil does require a device that has temperature control functionality but some say that it is really useful. Others say it’s useless. Only you can decide if it is worth it for you. I did notice personally that when using temperature control that I used less liquid which saved me some money, but the difference I noticed wasn’t anything to write home about. However, you may find something completely different to be true.

and Lastly, RBA Coil Heads

For the beginner, tanks are easily the easiest thing to use and even for us vets, many still choose to use a sub-ohm tank as it just means less to worry about. However, lately many sub-ohm tanks have been coming with a second coil option, a RBA coil head. Unlike actual RTAs (Rebuildale Tank Atomizers) the coil head that comes with sub-ohm tanks is generally much smaller and usually harder to fit a coil or coils into, however it does give the user a cheaper option to use if they find fit. It could be used as a backup for when you can afford or find a coil. It could be used as a stepping stone from basic pre-made coils to full on RTAs or it could be an extra piece that just sits in the box that you’ll never use. Either way, I do like that they are putting these in with many sub-ohm tanks. Just remember that these RBA coil heads are usually much harder to build coils on due to their small size, so don’t let the inability to build on a RBA coil head doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to build on a RDA or RTA.

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