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(1) Proper terminology - Is it a carto, a tank, or what? A Guide to Juice Attachments.
CLEAROMIZERs , clearos, or CLEAROTANKS. These tanks use string-like silica wicks that feed e-liquid to an atomizer head. The heads with wicks are replaceable in some of these clearomizers, so when the original head dies, it can be exchanged with replaceable coil heads available from a vendor. Depending upon the model, they can be top or bottom coiled for a different vaping experience. These are the tanks most likely suggested for beginning vapers because they are easy to fill and use.
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.
These devices are known by several different names and models, such as the CE4; Aspire CE5, Vivi Nova, and Nautilus; the Kanger line of T3S, Evod, ProTank, and Aerotank; Vision Vivi Nova; the Smoktech Aro and PBC; and Innokin iClear 16 & 30.
Videos on how to fill a clearomizer (top & bottom coil):
How to Fill a Vision eGo Clearomizer (aka CE4+ or Stardust Clearomizer) - YouTube top coil
HOW TO FILL YOUR VIVI NOVA TANK - YouTube top coil
Kanger Evod vs Kanger Mini Protank vs Kanger T3 bottom coil
* Some flavors, such as cinnamon and citrus flavors, can react with the plastic used in these and cause the material to crack or actually melt. The ProTanks, Aerotank, Nautilus, Aro & PBC are glass, so are safe. There is also a pyrex version of the Vivi Nova by Smoktech.
NANO CLEAROMIZER is a smaller clearomizer in 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.
Clearomizer tank review vision nano clearomizer - YouTube
* These use polycarbonate and are not safe to use with the volatile juice flavors.
510 drip atomizers
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 video on how to use a 510 drip atomizer:
How to Use a 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.
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 vapors 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.
A video on how to fill a cartomizer:
How To Fill A 510 Cartomizer (Electronic Cigarette) - YouTube
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.
cartotank with tool-punched carto inside
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.
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.
Tanks 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 clearomizers, although they have a slightly higher learning curve.
Video on how to fill and assemble a cartomizer tank:
Electronic Cigarettes 101: Tank Basics - YouTube
* 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. 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. They 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, but have the highest learning curve.
Information Resources for Your First RBA
Additional info for juice attachments: Vapors Table