Vape coils play a vital role in any e-cigarette kit. Heating the e-liquid in your vape tank or pod vape system, coils turn that vape juice into the clouds vapour seeks. Different types create a wide range of flavour profiles, warmth and throat hit from your chosen e-liquid. For instance, you can find low resistances Sub-Ohm vape coils from 0.1 Ohms to 0.4 Ohms for maximum cloud volume at a higher temperature, as well as high-resistance MTL coils of 1.0 Ohm and rising, which provide a smaller amount of discreet vapour and a cooler vape. In between, you have the 0.6-0.8 Ohm range that tailors to both mouth-to-lung and direct lung vaping.
The coil you select will depend on several factors, which we cover in this comprehensive guide. Each coil is unique in its own right, with key features such as fast ramp-up time, coil wire type and longevity playing a major role in what vape coil you pick and why. Carefully shaped around the wick material, it’s a small fundamental part which varies between the plethora of devices available.
What Does a Coil Do in a Vape?
Vape coils are a fundamental heating element that acts as an electrical conductor in your pod vape or vape tank - without them, you wouldn’t be able to vape.
You can get different types of vape coils for vaping but most are made from standard wire (typically stainless steel) that is traditionally wrapped in a spiral shape around the wicking material that absorbs the e-liquid. However, you can also get mesh-styled coil wrapping, but more on that further into our guide.
The wire for the coil can be made from various heat-resistant materials, which is important depending on the ramp-up time you seek from your coil to get the best performance. Both the coil and wicking material are part of the atomiser head found in your e-liquid tank or pod. This is then:
- Attached to your e-cigarette battery
- Next, once the battery is engaged and switched on, the coil will heat the wicking material, which should be primed before use
- The battery-powered coils finally create a heat source, which in turn warms the e-liquid to create vapour, travelling through your tank chimney ready for you to vape and inhale
It’s not uncommon for experienced and advanced vapers to create their very own coil setups. However, that involves sourcing and buying all your materials, including any wires and tools to wick manually, as well as the maintenance and cleaning of vape coils to keep them as fresh as possible. This is good if you know how to test and get the correct power from your vape. For those who want an easy vaping experience with minimal fuss, buying replacement coils is the quickest and safest method.
How Long Does a Vape Coil Last?
This is a vital question for vapers, so they know when to stock up on vape coils again. Coil expectancy can vary between a week and 3 weeks with frequent use. The answer differs depending on how much you vape and the quality of the vape coil. A DTL vaper will need to change their vape coils more often because of the richness and viscosity of high VG e-liquids they need to pair with the device. Vaped at a higher temperature, these will diminish faster and impact the coil's longevity.
In contrast, an MTL coil will last longer because the e-liquids are thinner and vaped at a cooler temperature. Experienced vapers will tell you it’s obvious when the coil is losing life - because it will begin to taste burnt and lose that rich e-liquid flavour available when you started.
Different Coil Types
To understand the function of a coil in a vape device, you have to go back to basics. Different types of vape coil wire have their own set of properties and resistance levels that creates variety and innovation in the vaping industry. At the beginning of your vaping journey or simply because you don’t have the time, buying ready-made coils is much more straightforward. But which material do you go for and why?
With so many options these days, you’re spoilt for choice! Coil types can range from stainless steel which is more accessible to Kanthal which is the most affordable material. Those who love to Sub-Ohm vape and seek maximum flavour plus enhanced cloud production would opt for mesh coils, which are becoming increasingly popular with vapers of all levels.
This is due to the net design helping to prevent ‘hot spots', which you can sometimes find with other standard vape coils. It’s a testament to the manufacturers of coils for Sub-Ohm and MTL vaping from popular brands such as Smok and Innokin that they can continue to reinvent the wheel for not just the UK but vapers worldwide.
How to Change Your Coil
When that burnt taste begins to creep up on you or you’re simply beginning to lose flavour, it’s time to change your coils -
read here to know how to change your coils with ease. If you use a simple e-cigarette starter kit that does not require a coil change, simply swap the prefilled cartridge or pod which already contains a built-in coil.
With a standard vape pen, where the process of changing your coils is perfect for beginners, or an advanced Sub-Ohm vape mod with adjustable settings, you’ll be able to purchase replacement coils for your vape that simply screws into the bottom of your mesh or standard coil e-liquid tank, where your used coil once was.
Essentially, it’s all about finding the right balance and ensuring your coil resistance matches the correct wattage, viscosity of your e-liquid and the inhalation technique. Now that you know how to change the coil, let’s summarise the key advantages of each coil resistance and vape technique.
High Resistance Coil Advantages (MTL)
- Requires less battery so no need to charge as often
- Stronger throat hit
- Fewer carcinogens than lower resistance coil, although both are still better than smoking cigarettes
- Reduced amount of e-liquid required
Sub-Ohm Resistance Coil Advantages (DTL)
- Improved flavour and cloud size
- Heats your e-liquid at a faster speed
- Better suited for direct to lung vaping
Sub-Ohm Restrictive Direct to Lung Coil Advantages (RDL)
- The throat hit of MTL but the lovely flavour you get from DTL vaping
- Not as intense airflow from the coil as you would get from a Sub-Ohm DTL vape
- Easier switch from MTL vaping before jumping up to DTL - works well as a naturally progressive transition
You can find an in-depth comparison between MTL and DTL here if you want to learn more about the different vaping styles here.
Can You Vape With a Burnt Coil?
While it’s technically possible, the longer you continue to vape with a burnt coil, the nastier your e-liquid will taste. In some cases, your device may even stop completely, which is something you’ll want to avoid.
Another sign you need to change your device urgently is your device (usually vape mod) may start gurgling, popping and spitting in your mouth and face. It’s unpleasant but avoidable if you know how to fix it.
Gradually as the coil continues to burn, you will begin to lose the flavour that consistently arrives when you inhale on a fresh coil, that works together with the e-liquid to produce great flavour. Overall, it will feel like a completely different experience as your device will create less vapour alongside an increasingly bad taste. There are a few simple ways to ensure this doesn’t happen, including priming your coil before use and recognising you may be ‘chain vaping’ too much. To learn more about these causes and how to prime your coil effectively, read here.
Due to the various shapes and sizes of vape devices created, choosing a coil that is compatible with your device is key. If you select a coil that doesn’t fit together with your vape mod tank or vape pod, you will find it difficult to vape correctly and achieve maximum performance.
If you didn’t know already, some vape coils are available as single-coil, dual-coil and even quad coils. What’s best for you depends on personal preference. A single vape coil will use less battery than a quad coil because there is less wire to heat up. It’s easier to use, more discreet and an experience closer to smoking if you’ve just switched. With multiple coils and a thicker wick, this will enhance the flavour produced and create larger clouds.
We leave that decision up to you but like always, with any questions head over to our contact page and reach out to one of the V2 Cigs team for any assistance or recommendations. If your heart desires additional knowledge to soak up about topics other than coils, head over to our handy 101 guides, where we give you the lowdown on everything you could need or want to know about vaping.