Here, we take an in-depth look into sub-ohm vaping, what it is, how to do it and everything you will need in order to start your journey into a world of huge clouds and amazing flavour. Are you ready? Let’s go!
What is sub-ohm vaping?
Sub-ohm vaping, at its core, is vaping at a resistance lower than 1.0ohm. If this doesn’t make any sense, don’t worry too much, all will be explained later! For now, let’s just stick to the basics.
As vaping has evolved and technology has advanced, the term “sub-ohm” doesn’t always have to mean high power output and enormous clouds of vapour anymore.
Many brands have introduced pre-made coils that are often below 1.0 ohm such as the Aspire Nautilus 0.7ohm coil. This coil is hugely popular as it offers solid performance with great flavour. However, it wouldn’t be suitable for a vaper looking to get the most amount of vapour possible out of their coil, as it still runs at relatively low power.
In this post, we’ll split sub-ohm vaping into two categories - high power and low power - to help understand the differences between the two. Let’s start with low power…
Low power sub-ohm vaping
As a rule of thumb, we would categorise a low-power sub-ohm coil as any coil from 0.5ohms up to 1.0ohms. The main benefit to this type of coil is that a slightly higher wattage applied to the coil will heat up quickly which will create a little more vapour at a slightly higher temperature. In turn, this should bring some added flavour profiles from your e-liquid which, although subtle, can make a big difference to the vaping experience.
Almost all manufacturers are now offering many coils of this type with huge success. Some of the notable ones are the Aspire Nautilus mesh coils, Innokin Prism S coils and the Smok RPM coils, to name a few.
Low power sub-ohm vaping is a great way to start your journey as it isn’t much of a radical change. The devices are still fairly simple to use and the liquid is the same as most standard starter kits, but they’ll get the user familiar with lower resistance coils and warmer vapour ready for the next step: high power sub-ohm vaping…
High power sub-ohm vaping
High power sub-ohm vaping is where the fun really begins! Get ready for plumes of thick flavourful vapour, and big swooshy airflow that will change the way you look at vaping forever. While high-power “cloud chasing” isn’t for everyone, it is definitely worth trying as it really is vaping taken to the next level.
A high-power coil is a coil with any resistance lower than 0.5ohms, which often needs a minimum power of 50 watts and above. This will have a dramatic effect on the performance of your vape, with the temperature of the vapour being warmer, denser and much more flavourful.
So, with that brief introduction out of the way let’s get into the nitty-gritty!
Why would I want to sub-ohm vape?
For many people, sub-ohm vaping is the pinnacle of vaping, as it offers such a different experience from traditional electronic cigarette starter kits. Although it may look as though it is just a way to make huge clouds of vapour there actually are some significant benefits to this style of vaping too.
The high VG liquid used in sub-ohm devices is often found in much more complex and exciting flavours so there is always something new to try. Also, the amount of vapour helps to create much more flavour which in turn reduces the chance of flavours becoming tasteless or boring.
If you are an enthusiastic vaper looking to take your setup to the next level then sub-ohm vaping may be for you.
How do I get started?
So, you’ve made up your mind, you want to get into sub-ohm vaping and you’re wondering where to start and what you will need to begin your journey! Fear not, we’ve got you covered.
The basic components of a traditional electronic cigarette are all still present; they're just designed in a way that creates as much vapour as possible. Here is a quick breakdown of what you need:
- A mod/battery to supply power to the tank
- A tank or atomiser to hold e-liquid and feed it to the coil
- The coil which vaporises the e-liquid for you to inhale
- An e-liquid with 70% VG or above.
As you will see, all the components are found in almost all standard vape setups, they’re just a little more specific in their requirements. The e-liquid for example needs to be above 70% VG, as this makes the liquid a little thicker. When vaporised, this will produce much thicker vapour.
The coil also needs to have larger wicking holes to allow the thicker liquid to flow easily and helps to stop the coil from dry burning when the liquid can’t wick efficiently.
There are many different products available to suit different requirements. From a full kit with all the components you will need to get started, to mods and tanks sold separately, giving you the ability to customise your setup.
Some of the things to take into consideration when purchasing your new sub-ohm equipment include:
With sub-ohm coils needing more power to operate than standard coils you will need a battery device that is up to the task.
Most battery devices designed with sub-ohm vaping in mind will be either single battery, double battery or built-in battery and this will affect both the time between charges. It will also impact the size of the device so it is best to decide which is more important to you.
If you can only charge your device at night, it is best to go with a large battery capacity to get you through the day, but if you can charge your batteries during the day then you may want to go with a smaller device that is more pocket friendly.
Our favourite option is a single 18650 battery device and a couple of charged batteries in a protective case that you can put in your bag to swap out when needed. A battery device for sub-ohm vaping will usually require a minimum of 50 watts of power, but will often go up to 100-200 watts on some of the bigger battery devices. Most pre-made coils will need around 50-80 watts to run effectively, but there are some coils on the market that can go beyond this, so keep this in mind when selecting a device if you are interested in a specific coil or tank.
The next thing to look at is the tank itself. The tank mainly just holds your e-liquid and houses the coil, but there are a couple of things to consider when choosing a tank that is right for you such as airflow, filling method and accessories.
Airflow will be similar across the board so it probably isn’t as important as the other two, but is something to consider nonetheless. Some tanks have a more restricted airflow which will decrease the vapour production, but you can usually guesstimate the amount of airflow a tank will offer by looking at the air holes. If they are very large you will usually get the most airflow possible.
The filling method can be very important to some people, depending on if you prefer top fill or bottom fill tanks. We prefer to top fill so you don’t have to unscrew the tank in order to fill it, but bottom fill can be better if you need to change your coil and don’t want to lose the liquid in your tank (as the coil is screwed into the base and can be turned upside down to gain access while keeping the juice in the tank).
Last, but by no means least, we come to accessories - in our humble opinion, the most important factor.
We recommend using a tank with a few coil options so you can try different coils and see which you prefer, as each coil will give a slightly different vape experience, with some running warmer or cooler. Most tanks come supplied with at least two coils of different resistances for you to see which you prefer without having to buy a full pack, only to find they don’t like that particular coil!
We also like a tank to have a couple of options of glass size. All tanks hold 2ml of liquid as standard but many manufacturers offer larger glass sections as an add-on accessory which allows the tank to hold more liquid between fills. This can be important in a sub-ohm tank as you will go through e-liquid quicker.
The most important part of choosing a liquid to go in your shiny new tank is the ratio of VG (vegetable glycerine) and PG (propylene glycol), which are the two diluents used in e-liquid manufacturing.
It is strongly advised that you use a liquid that is 70-80% VG as this will keep the vapour nice and smooth which is very important when taking long direct lung inhales.
A high VG ratio is also essential for making the thick clouds of vapour that we are looking for while sub-ohm vaping. Usually, vapers will use either use a 3mg or 6mg liquid for sub-ohming as anything more than that tends to be a little too strong on the throat while inhaling. If a high-PG liquid is used, it will be a much thinner viscosity, which could cause gurgling and leaking as the liquid will flood the large wicking holes.
In the UK it is easy to choose the right liquid as it is usually supplied in large 50ml-100ml bottles, so just grab a shortfill bottle and you’re good to go.
When vaping in a public space, it is always good practice to consider others when exhaling vapour, but it is even more important while sub-ohm vaping as the amount of vapour created is so much more than a regular pen vape. For instance, you may be okay to vape in a pub or restaurant but if the room is suddenly filled up with thick fog-like vapour, you may be asked to stop or could be banned by the owner which could impact other vapers too. It is often not a big deal in most circumstances but is something to keep in mind while using a sub-ohm vape.
How to sub-ohm safely
Safety is of the utmost importance with any electronic cigarette, but especially when using a sub-ohm setup.
When this style of vaping first came onto the scene it was almost exclusively using mechanical mods which are completely unregulated (they have no electronics or built-in safety features), so it was vital that the user knew ohm's law inside out!
However, as technology has evolved this is no longer the case (but having a basic knowledge is still advised)! The good news is that all sub-ohm devices sold at TABlites are fully regulated and have a huge array of safety features meaning your chance of running into safety issues is slim to none.
However, but if you are unsure then just find an Ohms Law Calculator on Google and this will give you all the information you need. Here is an example below:
When using an ohms law calculator you will only need two pieces of information, the voltage of the battery and the resistance of your coil which are shown in the blue boxes.
A fully charged 18650 battery is almost always 4.2v (but check the sticker on the battery) and the resistance of the coil will be printed on the side of your coil. Once you have entered these into the relevant boxes and hit calculate, the ohms law calculator will give you the information we’ve highlighted in the red boxes.
The current is measured in amps, and this relates to your battery. On the sticker on your battery, it should display the amp limit (usually 20-30 amps). As long as the displayed amps on the calculator are lower than the amp limit of your battery it is safe to use.
The power box gives you a recommended wattage for you to set your device to. We advise you to set your device 5-10 watts lower than the recommended on a new coil and up the wattage gradually until the coil is fully bedded in to avoid burning out the coil. Check our handy dandy guide on priming your coil here for more information.
The final step for many vapers on their journey is rebuildable devices like dripping atomisers or rebuildable tank atomisers. These are tanks and atomisers where the user installs their own coils that they have wrapped using wire (often Kanthal) and cotton wicking material.
The purpose of these is the flexibility offered to the user with limitless options for resistance and types of coil to use. Rebuildables can be quite tricky to use for some people as the building process requires some tools and can be a little fiddly, but once you get the hang of them they are very simple and can be quite a fun process. Think of it like cooking at home vs. ordering a takeaway!
The most simple and effective form of rebuildable is the dripping atomiser (or dripper for short). This is a small atomiser that has a building deck to install a coil and requires the user to drip 3-4 drops of liquid directly onto the coil. This will give around 2-3 puffs, and then the process will need to be repeated.
It’s not the most practical way of vaping as there is no tank to hold liquid - you just drip the liquid directly every time you want to vape - but the flavour is unlike anything else as the vapour only has a short distance to travel! Drippers can be set up in a variety of ways with both sub-ohm and plus-ohm capabilities depending on the user's preference. When looking at a true “Cloud Chasing” setup it will almost always be with a dripper, as they usually produce far more vapour than a tank. This is because a dripper has much more airflow.
If dripping doesn’t sound up your alley but you are interested in rebuilding, then an RTA (Rebuildable Tank Atomiser) may be for you. An RTA is basically an atomiser tank, but instead of installing a pre-made replaceable coil, you will install your own coil and wicking material. This has the benefit of allowing the user to use different types of liquid, as you can add more or less wicking material depending on how thick the liquid that you are using is. You can also use a variety of different coils that can vary the vapour production, temperature, flavour and even your battery life!
Coils & Wicking Material
Now is probably a good time to go through the different coils, wicking material types and some of the terms that you may run into while researching your options.
Whether your coil is pre-made or a coil you have made yourself, they all share many similarities in both materials and performance. Coils come in many different varieties and materials such as kanthal, nichrome and stainless steel to name a few. They all have a few subtle differences, but for the most part, they’re very similar. You will usually find these materials in three different varieties - round wire, mesh and twisted wire.
Round wire is most common as it is the simplest to make. It’s just a single strand of wire wrapped around a cylinder or drill bit to create a coil. Very easy to make and the best place to start for any novice coil builder, they offer excellent results with minimal effort required to install them into your rebuildable atomiser.
Mesh is the most recent innovation and is quickly growing in popularity thanks to its quick heating time and excellent flavour. Mainly found in pre-made coils but can be used in some rebuildables too, mesh is exactly what it sounds like: a flat sheet of metal that has holes machined into it which allows the liquid to absorb into the cotton. As it has a larger surface area than round wire it can vaporise more liquid at once which in turn can give better flavour.
Wrapped/Twisted Coils started out as a creation made by the vaping community and in subsequent years have been adopted by many of the big brands to use in their pre-made coils. The most well-known coil of this type would be the Clapton Coil, which is aptly named as it looks a lot like a guitar string! The Clapton coil has been around for a few years now and consists of a thinner strand of wire being very tightly wrapped around a thicker strand of wire often using a drill to wind the wires around each other, there are many YouTube videos showing this process. The Clapton and other variations have become very popular with the rebuilding community as the wire used in the construction of the coil has much more surface area than a standard coil which often produces more flavour.
Wicking material is most commonly unbleached cotton - cotton wool that hasn’t been treated with any chemicals. Some manufacturers have experimented with other materials such as hemp, flax and wood pulp in an effort to increase the flavour and longevity of the cotton to make the coil last a little longer. Horizon Tech is leading the way in this with their Falcon series of tanks and coils, which use many different types of wicking materials and work extremely well with regard to flavour and vapour production.
Pros & Cons of Sub-Ohm Vaping
Okay, you know what sub-ohm vaping is, how to do it and what you need to get started! Now, you’re probably asking if this is for you. So as a final tool we’ve put together some pros and cons to use as a guide to help make your decision a little easier:
Pros of sub-ohm vaping
- Increased flavour from your e-liquid.
- Smooth vapour (not as harsh on the throat).
- More variety of liquid with much more complex flavours available.
- Increased vapour production, huge clouds!
- If you find the temperature of vapour from a standard kit to be cooler than you would like, try sub-ohm vaping as the vapour is much warmer.
- For many, it becomes a new hobby and makes vaping fun and interesting and not just an aid to quitting cigarettes.
Cons of sub-ohm vaping
- Can be overwhelming at first as there is more technique and knowledge involved.
- High power kits and accessories can be more expensive but tend to be made from better materials.
- You will use more e-liquid
- Coils can burn out faster but this will depend on e-liquid and power settings.
- Much looser draw than standard kits so would be unsuitable for users who prefer a tighter draw like that of a cigarette.
And there you go! Just like that, you’re ready to choose your first kit and delve into the cloudy world of sub-ohm vaping. We hope this was informative and helps you progress your vaping journey.
There are many useful guides out there to help so always do as much research as possible to both fully understand sub-ohm vaping, but also which kit is right for you, so you don’t waste your vaping budget on a device that you won’t enjoy.
YouTube is also a fantastic resource for both helpful guides and product reviews, there are many excellent YouTube channels dedicated to vaping that have helped us over the years and continue to do so today! GrimmGreen, Rip Trippers & Vaping Bogan (watch with headphones, he swears A LOT) have all got superb guides on sub-ohm vaping that are still full of excellent advice even years after they were made.
If you have any questions about this article or anything else vape related please don’t hesitate to contact the team through the website, give us a call or email us and we will be more than happy to help.