Vaping is like romantic relationships. After picking your initial device, you try to build a partnership together, seeing whether you’re compatible. At the second stage, you come to a crossroads - deliberating whether to try a newer ‘model’ or stick with the tried and tested method. Opinions change and so do preferences. Finally, with the last stage, it’s decision time. Do you settle down with a level that tests your boundaries, pushing your capabilities (Sub-Ohm) or go for something simple that’s familiar and hassle-free (pods and lightweight vaporisers)? Maybe Sub-Ohm vape mods are the right path for you, should you want to try something new and different. If you’re new to vaping, then you’re probably becoming aware of the vast vocabulary associated with the great wide world of e-cigarettes. To understand Sub-Ohm vaping, which looks a complicated subject for beginners, there is much to consider and get your head around.
The terminology is just the beginning. It’s also useful to understand the difference between the different vaping techniques too, such as Mouth to Lung (MTL) and Direct to Lung (DTL), which is for advanced Sub-Ohm vapers. With a DTL technique for Sub-Ohm vaping, you have a greater ratio of Vegetable Glycerine than Propylene Glycol to help create thicker clouds of vapour. You inhale more e-liquid directly into your lungs, meaning a stronger hit of flavour. Adjust your airflow, opening up the valves to vape at an advanced level with a modified vape. However, it’s natural to have questions, like you would in any relationship, whatever stage of the vaping journey you’re on.
Is it going to be safe? Will it be worth the risk? How much will it cost me? And how will it differ from what I already know? Let’s discover what Sub-Ohm is all about and whether it’s the right match for you, or indeed for anyone.
What Does Sub-Ohm Mean?
Sub-Ohm vaping refers to the low resistance coils used in e-liquid tanks. The lower the resistance, the more you will identify as a ‘Sub-Ohm’ vaper. Any device with a coil resistance below 1.0 Ohm's is Sub-Ohm. The more resistance a coil has, the less electrical energy will be able to pass through. You can find more on 'Ohm's Law' below. A key component of vaping is your coils and they play a huge role in how your vape functions. The resistance of each coil determines how much vapour you can produce and what temperature it will be.
Found within prefilled cartridges, refillable e-liquid tanks and vape pods; metal coils made from materials such as Kanthal, Mesh, Titanium, Stainless Steel and Nickel transfer the power and energy from your battery to the wicking material attached to your coil. It creates a chain reaction, heating your wicking material to a higher temperature for a smoother texture, more intense flavour and much bigger clouds.
The wicking material, saturated by e-liquid from your Sub-Ohm tank evaporates the e-liquid to create an aerosol that is ready to be vaped. This is only one factor of Sub-Ohm vaping. Although it is a critical aspect, it’s one part of the overall process, with the e-liquid ratio and chosen technique (MTL or DTL) also key considerations, making a huge difference. With Sub-Ohm vaping, the power is literally in your hands because you have more features and ability to alter how your vape runs, using the Ohm's law principle.
Ohm's Law Triangle
While some mathematical equations and formulas can boggle the mind, Ohm’s Law is really simple, which is great for vapers. After all, you just want to work out how to power your Sub-Ohm device with ease. First of all, let’s explain what an Ohm means.
An Ohm is the measurement of resistance. Symboled like the Greek letter Omega (Ω), the aim of the game with the Ohm’s Law triangle formula (equation below) is to work out the voltage. This is because the voltage passing between two points must equal the same proportion as the current passing the other way. You can also work out the required wattage and ideal coil resistance respectively with formulas two and three below.
Less resistance creates a warmer temperature and a higher resistance creates a cooler temperature. The latter is perfect for those MTL vapers seeking a more intense throat hit similar to smoking, without the bad chemicals from a cigarette or large vapour you get from DTL vaping using a Sub-Ohm device.
- V (Volts) = I (Amperage) x R (Resistance)
- I (Amperage) = V (Volts) ÷ R (Resistance)
- R (Resistance) = V (Volts) ÷ I (Amperage)
Sub-Ohm Coils - Finding the Right Resistance
When the resistance drops, the need for higher wattage will increase. For the optimum Sub-Ohm vape, it’s ideal to find a lower coil strength and a wattage of 50W plus. However, it’s important to bear in mind the higher the wattage, the more likely it is to burn your coils. These tips will help you prevent a burnt taste, which all vapers want to avoid. Calculate what wattage or voltage you need by using the calculations above, ensuring it matches your chosen coil material and resistance. What’s good about many Sub-Ohm devices is the flexibility and modification options they offer. You’ll find that lots of them already adjust automatically to keep you safe when vaping.
For example, if you have a variable wattage mode, you can go up or down in increments, typically by a value of 0.5W to find the right power that suits. What your mod will do is automatically update the number of Volts you’ll need to vape based on the selected wattage. It’s best to start at a low option for your coil strength of around 0.2 Ohms if possible and work your way up to the required flavour and cloud production.
Why Vape Sub-Ohm? - The Key Benefits
- Supports Direct to Lung vaping capabilities.
- Improved flavour compared to MTL vaping.
- Smooth texture, with a less intense throat hit because of reduced nicotine.
- More options for wattage range, types of wicking, coil wire and much more, giving greater variety to the vaper.
- Less restricted airflow, which needs to be tighter for those who’re used to Mouth to Lung technique, especially when vaping nic salts.
- Vaping Sub-Ohm consumes battery much faster.
- It also requires more e-liquid.
- Some people prefer cooler vaping temperatures.
- Sub-Ohm devices tend to be bulkier when you increase in wattage, unless you get a smaller mod just above the Sub-Ohm threshold with fewer modifications available such as temperature or wattage control.
How Do You Vape Sub-Ohm?
The way you sub-ohm vape will be slightly different to the way you would vape a standard e-cigarette or vape pen. Similarly to how you would have smoked back in the day, many of the lower-powered devices involve mouth to lung (MTL) vaping. This means that vapour travels from your device and to your mouth, before moving to your lungs. In contrast, sub-ohm vaping involves the vapour travelling directly to your lungs (DTL), while bypassing the mouth altogether. Due to the extra power, adjustable airflow and high VG e-juice, your vape mod will create much more vapour, which in turn creates the vast vapour clouds that have become a familiar sight.
Do I Need a Special Kind of Vaporiser?
This depends on your level of knowledge as a vapour. Because you’re flirting with a higher degree of wattage and a lower coil resistance, your science calculations need to be correct to avoid any disasters like battery explosion or device malfunction. If you can find a Sub-Ohm device that’s regulated and set up for even beginners to use, that’s the perfect solution. You can even find some higher wattage devices that support multiple coils made from materials like mesh to increase the user experience. However, some vapers like to build their own coils - each to their own. Ensure you educate yourself on everything you need to know, allowing safe vaping to avoid any injuries.
When the word e-cig is used, the image conjured in your mind will probably be the kind of device that mimics the shape and size of a traditional cigarette. Relatively low powered; these devices are still a great way to stop smoking; however, it’s safe to say that once you’re a vaper, your intrigue may lead you into a wonderful world of devices that vary in shape, size and functionality. From vape pens to vape pods, there is a range of devices manufactured to suit the multitude of preferences that exist amongst the vaping community.
But because a predominant aspect of sub-ohm vaping is cloud chasing, there will be a specific kind of device that you need. Vape Mods are part of the natural evolution of vaping and were explicitly designed with sub-ohm vaping in mind. Vape Mods essentially allow you to modify your vaping experience, be it airflow, wattage or temperature, hence the name ‘mod’. More importantly, it is all these different kinds of functions that enable you to create the vast plumes of vapour suitable for cloud chasing. Vapers have more options when Sub-Ohm vaping if they pick from one of the highest wattage devices.
Which E-Liquid Should I Use?
As you’ll know, there is a massive range of different e-liquids that exist. You could try Shortfills, where you dictate how much nicotine to add. But some people are in the vaping game to reduce nicotine completely. If this is the case, Sub-Ohm might be a good distraction. Because you inhale more vapour, too much nicotine will feel too harsh on the throat. If you can manage to cut down nicotine slowly to complete removal (nicotine free vapes do exist), the addiction will eventually pass but the Direct to Lung technique can remain. Plus, to fully appreciate the experience of vaping sub-ohm, you will need to take a look at the ingredients of your intended e-liquid, with particular attention paid to the PG/VG content.
A common rule of thumb to consider is that PG creates a great tasting vape with a thinner e-liquid and VG produces thick vapour clouds but more likely to clog your coils. Because you might want both, many e-juice companies create an optimal blend that lets you experience the best of both worlds. But if you’re choosing an e-liquid that you wish to Sub-Ohm vape with, choosing a juice that has a favourable VG ratio or even a 100% VG such as VSAVI’s Gourmet Range of e-liquid is what you should be looking for. At the very least for Sub-Ohm vaping it should be a 70/30 VG to PG ratio.
It’s not advised to use nic salts for example because the nicotine content will be too high. Vaping thick clouds of that at a low coil resistance will be harsh on the throat and difficult to manage, especially when using a high wattage vape. The greater PG ratio will reduce your chances of large cloud production too.
Like with most aspects of vaping, it all comes down to personal preference. What’s ideal with a Sub-Ohm device is a much greater choice, providing you use it safely. The ability to adjust the device modes will help you find the cloud production, while not compromising on flavour to extend your coil life.