(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.
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.
CLEAROMIZERs , clearos, or CLEAROTANKS.
These early generation tanks generally used string-like silica wicks that fed e-liquid to an atomizer coil head. The heads with wicks are replaceable in some of these clearomizers (otherwise the tanks are considered "disposable"), so when the original head "dies", it can 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.
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 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). They use Japanese cotton as opposed to silica as a wick. They have adjustable airflow. They provide much better performance than the early generation clearos.
How to fill your top coil clearomizer
How to fill a Kanger Evod vs Kanger Mini Protank vs Kanger T3 bottom coil clearomizer
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.
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.
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
DRIP ATOMIZERS are juice delivery devices not too different from a cartomizer, but have no wick in them to hold e-liquid. With an 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. Many vapers prefer to use this method over others, as there is no wicking material involved which may affect the flavor of the juice. Many people use this method to test out new sample flavors.
A videos on how to use a 510 drip atomizer:
bottom feeding box mod with atomizer
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 Cartotanks
"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.
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.
These may at first seem to be a pain to fill, but its not really that hard; just a little more time consuming than a clearomizer. Plus, they don't leak like a clearomizer might.
Cartomizers argueably have better flavor production than most early generation clearomizers (because they use polyfill as their wick material rather than the silica string wicked clearomizers). Silica is not as good of a flavor carrier as polyfill, and does not wick as fast as polyfill, leading to more frequent dry hits.
Sadly, cartos and cartotanks appear to have fallen out of favor. Many online shops or brick & mortar vape shops no long carry either.
A video 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.
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.
Tanks 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.
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 are 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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