(1) Proper Terminology - Is it a carto, a tank, or what? A Guide to Juice Attachments.
Proper Terminology: A Guide to Juice Delivery Attachments
A "juice attachment" is any device which has a heating coil which can vaporize e-liquid when powered by a battery or battery device.
One of the first words you'll read about is "atomizer". This word can be confusing to many novices, because it can have different meanings depending upon the context the word is used. It can be a catchall word meaning any and all juice attachments. It can also be a synonym for the heating coil itself. It can also refer to a more specific juice attachment, like a "510 drip atomizer" or a "rebuildable atomizer" (RBA); more about these later on.
A "tank" is an attachment with a reservoir for the e-liquid in addition to a coil. These typically have glass or clear plastic to easily see the level of the e-liquid.
What is "sub ohm" vaping? Becoming more and more popular in the last couple of years, sub ohm vaping means using heating coils with a resistance of 1.0 ohm or lower. Basically what this does is produce more vapor and more dense vapor, and arguably better flavor ... at the expense of consuming more e-liquid and battery power. Sub ohm vaping requires the use of a mechanical mod or a high wattage regulated mod. Ego batteries or low power variable wattage regulated mods don't have the amperage output to fire a sub-ohm coil.
"Open" vs "Closed" Systems
Open and Closed System e-cigarettes are the terms used to describe the two main types of e-cigarette.
Experienced vapors will know that there are a whole host of different ways to vape. However, anyone new to e-cigarettes may be unsure about the differences between Open and Closed System e-cigarettes. The contrasting features result in different vapes. In this guide we look at what the differences are as well as the advantages of each type.
The main difference between Open and Closed System e-cigarettes is the way the e-liquid is delivered to the heating mechanism. Open System e-cigarettes have a clearomiser which is filled with e-liquid manually by the user, whereas Closed System e-cigarettes use refills supplied by the manufacturer, which come ready-filled with e-liquid, and attach directly onto the e-cig battery; the flavors available are limited to what the manufacturer happens to offer.
Open System e-cigs also have a removable mouthpiece, whereas the mouthpiece on Closed System e-cigs is built into the e-cigarette cartridge. Most "cigalikes" and "pod" systems fall into the closed system; but there are a few pod systems that allow you to get empty pods and fill with your own favorite e-liquids.
Closed System - Cartridge and battery are attached together; Closed System e-cigarettes are similar to Open Systems, consisting of only an e-cig battery and a cartridge. The main difference is that the cartridge usually cannot be refilled like an Open System can.
A typical closed system would be a cigalike like Blue or Vuse, or many of the pod mods.
Open System - mouthpiece, clearomizer, and battery.
The main three parts of an Open System e-cigarette are the mouthpiece, the clearomiser and the e-cigarette battery. The middle section allows the user to manually add their own bottled e-liquid. On later generation clearomizers the wick and coil part can be detached/replaced to increase the longivity of the tank.
What are the benefits of an Open System E-Cigarette?
Open System e-cigarettes, which are sometimes called vape pens, are completely reusable as the e-liquid can be topped up once it has run out. Open Systems allow the user to use whatever bottled flavors he wants and not depend soley upon the limited flavors a Closed System manufacturer offers. Open System e-cigarettes often have a smoother draw. An Open System e-cigarette also has a more powerful e-cig battery, which means that it will last for longer when fully charged.
What are the benefits of a Closed System E-Cigarette?
Closed System e-cigarettes, which are also referred to as cig-a-likes and some pod systems, are ready to vape as soon as they are fitted together and charged. There is no need to refill any e-liquid which means there is no mess when a cartridge runs out and additionally there is no e-liquid to carry around. Once a Closed System e-cigarette is finished, the user can throw the cartridge away and install a new pre-filled cartridge. Manufacturers charge a premium price for this "convenience".
The Type of Draw or Drag on an E-Cig: Mouth-to-Lung (MTL) or Direct-to-Lung (DTL)
The Draw on an E-Cig is Different Than on a Cigarette
CLEAROMIZERs , clearos, or CLEAROTANKS.
These early generation tanks generally used string-like silica wicks that fed e-liquid to an atomizer coil head. These can still be found on the market.
The heads with wicks were replaceable in some of these clearomizers (otherwise the tanks are considered "disposable"), so when the original head "died" or burned out, it could be exchanged with replaceable coil heads (also called the atomizer) available from a vendor. Depending upon the model, they could be top or bottom coiled for a different vaping experience. These were the tanks most likely suggested for beginning vapers because they were easy to fill and use. Examples are the Innokin iClear 16 and 30, Kanger Evod and Protank, and Aspire CE5 and Vivi Nova.
Liquid capacity is 1.5 - 4.0 ml. Filled by removing either the top cap or bottom base (upside down) depending upon the model, and dripping in the liquid, being careful to not get any juice into the center airhole.
early generation top coil with long silica wicks
The top coil clearos require you to tilt the vaping device horizontal frequently so that the string wicks stay moist with e-liquid. The bottom coil clearos are gravity fed, so do not require this. Top coils may provide a more warm vape, bottom coils may provide more of a cooler vape.
Heating Coil "Resistance", or "Ohms"
Lower Ohm Coils Will:
Higher Ohm Coils Will:
- Thicker wire (more mass) heats slower than thinner wire
- Produce More Vapor
- Drain The Battery Faster
- Use E-Juice Faster
- Produce A Warmer Tasting Vape
- Thinner wire (less mass) heats faster than thicker wire
- Produce “Less” Vapor
- Provide A “Cooler” Tasting Vape
- Use Less E-Juice
- Prolong Battery Life
These early generation clearomizers are known by several different brand names and models:
- generic CE4
- Aspire CE5, Vivi Nova
- Innokin iClear 16 & 30.
- Kanger line of T3S, Evod, ProTank, and Aerotank
- Smoktech Aro and PBC
- Vision Vivi Nova(* manufacturer names in bold type; models in fine type)Clearomizers can differ by how they attach to the battery device. Male threaded clearomizers (often called 510 clearomizers) attach to 510 threaded mods, while female threaded clearomizers (often called ego threaded) connect to eGo type batteries.
Adaptors are readily available to allow a female-threaded Ego clearomizer to attach to an 510 battery, and vice versa.
Videos on how to fill a clearomizer (top & bottom coil):
How to fill a disposable clearomizerLater generation or modern clearomizers came about with the introduction of the Aspire Nautilus. This was a groundbreaking model which would change the course of vaping and hardware used. The (BVC) bottom vertical coil design coil heads are larger in size, with larger coils and wicks, and are best used on the larger battery devices (mods).
How to fill your top coil clearomizer
How to fill a Kanger Evod vs Kanger Mini Protank vs Kanger T3 bottom coil clearomizer
They use Japanese cotton as opposed to silica as a wick. Most have adjustable airflow. They provide much better performance than the early generation clearos. Their vertical coils and cotton wicks allow modern clearomizers to perform similar to the old-style cartotanks; with easier convenience than a cartotank. Note below the wire coil inside the white cotton wick in the replaceable atomizer.
vertical coil for clearomizer
Clearomizers are the most common juice attachments today.
Examples are the Aspire Nautilus and Artemis, and Artic tank from Horizon, and the Crown from uWell. Some of these use sub-ohm coils, so make sure your battery device has the recommended power to use these.
My favorite tank is the Uwell Crown (original) Authentic Uwell Crown Sub Ohm Tank Clearomizer . Technically it is a sub-ohm tank, but you don't have to sub-ohm with it. It has 1.2 ohm coils available for it as well as sub-ohm coils. It is an easy top fill (4ml capacity). It has a ratcheted air control ring which allows wide open direct lung draws down to a tight mouth-to-lung draw. It has a wide bore mouthpiece, but you can always replace it with any inexpensive small bore mouthpiece if you desire. Great flavor, a lot of vapor. Very versatile for just about any style of vaper.
Tip: About once a week, put a Q-tip through the mouthpiece down into the coil area. Coils naturally accumulate a bit of gunk from unvaporized sugars in the e-liquid, and removing this substance will prolong the life of the coils. I get up to 4 weeks with my coils.
Tips and tricks for getting the most out of your clearomizer tank
Prime the coil head before first use
Before using a new coil head for the first time, it should be “primed.” E-liquid should be applied to the head’s inlet holes or slots to wet the wicking just inside the shell, then 2-4 drops of e-liquid should be dripped into the open top of the head, directly onto the coils and wicks. The wick can be observed to absorb the liquid. Then add 2 - 4 more drops. Wait. Add more until the cotton looks like a wet slushy drink before the initial firing to allow complete absorption into the wick. This prevents burning the cotton wick because it’s dry. Have patience. This is a very important step to avoid premature burning of your coil heads.
Break in the coil head gradually
With a new coil head, start firing at low wattage, say 20 watts. You won’t get much flavor and perhaps no vapor at all, but that’s OK. You’re letting the coil head ease into doing what it does so well, and this is essential. Then gradually increase the power in steps over a period of minutes or even hours. No matter how well-primed a new coil head may be, hitting it with 70 watts of power right off the battery will probably shorten its life span dramatically.
Keep tissues or paper towels handy
Vaping is messy. There’s no way to avoid spilled or leaked eliquid. Whether the discussion is about RDAs, RTAs, or Sub Ohm Tanks, keep a box of tissues or a roll of paper towels within arm’s length. You will need them to wipe up e-liquid spills or clean up leaks.
Replace the coil head when necessary
Coil heads that last forever are the holy grail of vaping tanks, and manufacturers are moving in that direction with ceramic heads and plate technologies that eliminate coils completely. They’re not yet there, however.
Coil heads wear out in two ways: 1. the coils themselves gunk up with residue and burned carbon, and 2. the wicking material gets burned or fouled and either loses its ability to wick e-liquid to the coils.
The easy way to tell if your coil head is dead is to vape. If the flavor diminishes or gets funky, it’s time to change the head. Sometimes, however, we’ve forgotten how great the coil head was when new, so we don’t notice reduced or tainted flavor. For that reason, a second, visual method is needed:
Whenever you’re about to refill a sub ohm tank, examine your coil head. Look down the open top end. Is the wicking material still white or darkened toward brown or black? If it’s black, it’s done and needs to be replaced.
Additional Vaping Tips:
Flooding is a common occurrence in e-cigarettes. The definition of flooding is getting juice into the air passage of the tank. This can include any point between the mouth piece and the very bottom part that connects to the battery. Each tank has holes in that air passage, where the wicks passthrough. This is required for the device to work properly. Unfortunately, this opens up the possibility for flooding. The trick with flooding, is knowing how to avoid it. I’ll explain a little more, but a few common causes for flooding a tank include: improper filling, over filling, pulling too hard when hitting the device, and the temperature can even play a role and/or damage.
Before I get into the explanation, let me explain how an e-cig works a little more in depth. Nearly every tank has a wick that is used to absorb the juice in the tank. This wick cuts through the air passage. Typically, the wicks look like strings hanging in the tank, but some have smaller wicks located at the bottom of the tank and the ‘strings’ are not visible unless the tank is disassembled. Each wick has a piece of wire that wraps around it in a coil. When you activate the button on the battery, you send electricity through the wire. As the wire heats up, it vaporizes the juice that is in the wick.
Improper Filling: When filling your tank, you have to be careful not to get juice into the center tube of the tank. This center tube is the air passage. When you take a draw, air comes from the bottom of the tank, through the air passage and into your mouth. If you get juice into this passage way, your tank is flooded.
Over Filling: If you over fill a tank (specifically a top coil like the ones that come with the starter kits and gift boxes), the wicks can become over saturated and just like a rain cloud, they will leak into the air passage. Once this happens, you have a flooded tank.
Pulling Too Hard: As I mentioned the wicks absorb the juice in the tank. As you pull on the device, you cause a vacuum effect that pulls juice into the wicks. If you pull too hard, you can pull in more juice then the coil can vaporize. If this happens, the juice leaks into the air passage and you have a flooded tank.
Temperature: E-Juice is a viscous liquid. Which means that as it warms up, it will thin out. And in the opposite form, it will thicken when it gets cold. When it thins, it is more difficult for the wicks to hold back the thin juice. This usually causes the wicks to over saturate and, you guessed it, it will leak into the air passage and you have a flooded tank.
Damage: There are o-rings and gaskets used that can wear out with usage. If certain ones fail or get lost, leaking will occur, in turn flooding the air passage and causing you to have a flooded tank. Other than accidentally losing something, damage can occur when its carried in a purse or a pocket or by over tightening the tank to the battery. Over tightening is a very common cause of leaking due to the damage it creates.
Why does my Tank Leak and what can I do about it? | E-Cigarette Forum
Why tanks leak! my contribution.
Why does my atomizer crackle&pop and spit hot juice on my tongue? | E-Cigarette Forum
Troubleshooting Tips: When Your Atomizer Doesn’t Work With Your Mod/APV
* Some flavors, such as cinnamon and citrus flavors, can react with the plastic used in the early generation clearomizers and cause the material to crack or actually melt. The ProTanks, Aerotank, Nautilus, Aro & PBC are glass, so are immune to juice cracking flavors. There is also a pyrex version of the Vivi Nova by Smoktech. All of the later generation clearomizer tanks use glass.
NANO CLEAROMIZERS are a smaller disposable clearomizers the size and shape of a cartomizer. For someone who doesn't drip on an atomizer, these can be useful for testing out new flavor samples. They only hold 1ml of juice, and are easily re-useable by simply removing the first flavor and adding the next. Easy screw off top like the regular clearomizers above to fill.
* These use polycarbonate plastic and are not safe to use with the volatile juice flavors.
510 DRIP ATOMIZERS (non-rebuildable) are juice delivery devices not too different from a cartomizer, but have no wick in them to hold e-liquid. With a drip atomizer, one drops just a few drops of juice into the atomizer and then vapes it (called "dripping"). After a several puffs, a few more additional drops of juice will need to be added to continue vaping. This ritual is repeated as long as the user vapes.
These juice attachments, along with cartomizers, were the first juice attachments available to the early vapers. Neither are that common today. Neither had mouthpieces, so "drip tips" were created to put on them to avoid burning lips (3rd pic above).
Many early vapers preferred to use this method over others, as there is no wicking material involved which may affect the flavor of the juice. Many people used this method to test out new sample flavors. Drip Atomizer non-rebuildable
A videos on how to use a 510 drip atomizer:
____________________________________________Bottom Feeding Box Mods with RBA (Squonkers)
A dripping atomizer used on a bottom feeding box mod combines the superior flavor of an drip atomizer with the added convenience of a tank. Feeding the atomizer in this setup is called "sqonking". Inside the mod or box, houses both the battery and a "tank" filled with e-liquid. To add e-liquid to the atomizer, one sqonks or squeezes the tank through a window in the battery door; this causes an measured amount of e-liquid to fill the atomizer. Literally, "dripping upside down".
Cartomizers and Cartotankscigalike with cartomizer
"Punched" cartomizer for cartotank
CARTOMIZERS or carto's are steel tubes filled with polyfiber filler that looks like a cigarette filter. A heating coil within this material heats e-liquid into vapor. A small air tube in the center of the filler runs its entire length which directs vapor into a drip tip placed on the end. The drip tip is just the name vapers use for a mouth piece.
Along with 510 drip atomizers, cartomizers were the first juice attachments for early vapers. Cartomizers and cartotanks were extremely popular because they allowed one to carry a large quantity of e-liquid without having to refill during the day, and offered quite good vapor & flavor compared to the early clearomizers. Initial setup had a slight learning curve. With the advent of the more convenient and better tasting clearomizers now available, cartomizers and cartotanks have drastically fallen in popularity.
Sadly, cartos and cartotanks appear to have fallen out of favor. Many online shops or brick & mortar vape shops no long carry either.
Single-coil cartomizers have 1 heating element, dual-coil cartos have 2. Heating coils have a resistance (ohm) rating, which determines the amount of energy used to heat e-liquid and turn it into vapor. A drawback to using a cartomizer solo is being unable to see your juice level to know when to refill it. Using a carto in a cartotank allows larger quantities of juice to be used, and since these tanks are usually clear you can see the juice level in them to more easily know when to add e-liquid to prevent dry hits.
A videos on how to fill a cartomizer:
A cartomizer can be placed into a tank to allow longer periods of vaping than when used alone. Holes are required to allow juice from the tank to enter the cartomizer. Juice levels can be easily monitored in the tank. Cartotanks were extremely popular years ago but their popularity has faded to the point where finding supplies is difficult.
Above is a diagram of a typical CARTOTANK setup. It is made up of a clear tube with end caps on either end. A punched cartomizer is inserted between the two endcaps. A drip tip (mouthpiece) fits into the end of the carto. This combination is what is referred to as a cartomizer tank or cartotank.
Cartotank sizes are categorized by length: standard (using a 35mm cartomizer) or XL (using a 45mm cartomizer). The diameter of tanks vary greatly, but typically are between 15mm and 25mm.pre-punched or pre-slotted carto by the factory
tool-punched carto with a carto punch tool
carto punch tool
The first pic above is of a laser-drilled or "pre-punched" cartomizer. Note the small hole near the bottom of the cylinder. Pre-punched cartomizers are ready to be filled and inserted inside of a cartotank. The second pic shows cartos which were previously unpunched cartos and holes have been made with a carto punch tool. I recommend for beginners to purchase the pre-punched cartos initially. Two holes are adequate for all but the most thick e-liquids.
Cartotanks can have a capacity of between 2 - 8 ml. Tube material can be polycarbonate or polypropylene plastic, pyrex glass, or stainless steel. Pyrex is preferred. End caps are either plastic or preferably metal.
Cartomizers in a cartotank can last for 1-3 weeks. A cartotank can be refilled multiple times using the same cartomizer. When the carto has either flavor loss or a stiff pull while vaping it should be replaced. Spent cartos are discarded and a new cartomizer can be filled and inserted into the tank.
Cartos and cartotanks were generally thought to have better flavor production than the early generation clearomizers, although they have a slightly higher learning curve. With the advent of the latest generation of clearomizer tanks, with coil head designs borrowed from cartomizers, cartos and cartotanks have recently fallen out of favor.
Video on how to fill and assemble a cartomizer tank:
Very special tool for cartoanks:
* Tanks that use polycarbonate are not safe to use with the volatile juice flavors.
RBA / RDA (rebuildable atomizer/ rebuildable drip atomizer)
These juice attachments are geared more toward advanced vapors. They are not out of the box friendly for most novices, and can only be used on Advanced Personal Vaporizors or Mods. They require specific knowledge in the principals of Ohm's Law, require DIY skills to make your own wicks and wrap your own wire coils, know how to use an ohm reader to measure coil resistance, know how to spot coil hot spots and hard shorts and know what to do to eliminate them.
These must be used with high drain IMR batteries. If considering one of these, please do your research first. These will provide the very best flavor and vapor production of all juice delivery devices, are the most cost efficient juice attachments to maintain in the long run, but have the highest learning curve.
Additional info for juice attachments: Vapors Table
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