Coils, and Wicks, and Vapor, Oh My!

It’s be almost right at a year ago that I bought my first vaping starter kit. It consisted of a EVOD battery and a knockoff of a Kangertech mini Protank that only held a few milliliters of liquid. While vape shops and sites are not legally allowed to call e-cigarettes and vapor products a “smoking cessation” device, frankly that’s exactly what they are – at least for me they have been. Over the following four months I went from a pack a day down to half a pack, to a few cigarettes a day to eventually quitting altogether.* As I found myself craving cigarettes less in favor of vaping, I also found myself upgrading my vaping gear as well. I eventually purchased a variable voltage Vision Spinner battery and switched from the plastic protank clones to glass tanks instead. I liked being able to change the voltage based on the different liquids or as the coils started to wear out a bit, but I soon found out that these types of batteries did not last long. I had two, and was soon having to charge one mid-way through the day. The variable voltage also tended to cause the liquid to break down faster and become bitter and burnt tasting – that’s no bueno. Why would I want to continue to vape if the flavor was going to change and become unpredictable? The answer was to upgrade once again to a “box mod” with variable wattage control.

Going to a variable wattage rig also allowed me to start using “sub-ohm” coils, which I admit I was previously critical of because I didn’t understand the appeal of producing that much vapor. I soon found that sub-ohm coils were not just about more vapor, but better vapor control and better flavor as well. It also meant that the liquid did not get overheated and start to break down since the lower resistance in the coils meant vapor was produced faster so I didn’t have to hold the button down for as long to get the same satisfaction. Battery life is also greatly improved; instead of a battery only lasting part of the day, I can vape all day and even part way into the next before having to switch them out. In switching to a mod and tanks that use sub-ohm coils, though, I have also discovered an interest in the hobbyist aspect of vaping, that of winding my own coils.

I was previously quite satisfied and ok with buying premade coils for my tank atomizers. When I decided to get a box mod (mainly for better battery life), though, I went with a starter kit that included a new tank as well. The Subtank Mini by Kangertech not only uses standard premade coils, but also comes with a mini Re-buildable Atomizer (RDA) for building one’s own coils. I did not attempt it right away. I spent quite a bit of time watching how to videos on YouTube, beginning with how to wick the tank I have since the mini-RBA already had a coil installed as well as a couple of spares. Once I realized how easy that was, I started watching coil building videos and refreshing my memory about Ohm’s Law. Now that I’ve attempted a couple of coils of my own and I’m pretty sold on the concept. Sure it produces more vapor, which I really wasn’t after, but in doing so I get much better flavor and find that I don’t feel the need to vape as often with the older EVOD and Vision batteries with “regular” coil tanks. Still, I need more practice with coil making. I still probably waste too much wire and cotton, but I’m getting better. I had the good sense to order a toolkit called the Coilmaster that includes everything to make coils right, including and ohm meter.

The only problem I have now is finding myself getting sucked into wanting to collect different RDAs and dripping style atomizers. I’ve always used tank atomizers because I could fill them up and they would last me the majority of the day. I’ve also tended to have more than one tank, each filled with a different flavor – if I start off vaping Caramel Cappuccino in the morning, I might want to switch to Skittles later in the day and having at least two tanks helps facilitate that. With drippers, though, all I would have to do is change the wick and give it a quick rinse. RDA drippers also seem to have more options when it comes to coils. I could do either a single or dual coil build, I could try different gauges of wire, or different styles such as twisted wire. I like the mini-RDA on my Subtank as it has been a good starter for a newbie like me, but it is only single coil and as I found out the hard way, it’s tiny size doesn’t allow for very many options when building. I’m pretty much stuck with a single coil that’s been wrapped around a 2.5mm post (I tried 3mm wrap but it ended up too large to fit).

I have no regrets switching to vaping instead of cigarettes. It’s more satisfying, it definitely smells better (my home office smells of maple these days), it’s healthier (3-4 ingredients vs 3000+ chemicals), and learning how to coil build gives me a new hobby. Now if we can just get the fools in government to stop believing the bullshit false studies that big tobacco keeps commissioning to try to discredit vaping… but that’s a whole different blog topic for a later time.

~ JC

* I am sure the fact that I bought my first starter kit right as winter was starting helped, since vaping meant I did not have to go outside in the cold like I did if I wanted to have a cigarette.


MODifying my Vape

I’ve written before about having quit smoking by switching to vaping. Since January I’ve spent just under $900 on vaping supplies, including upgraded equipment. By comparison, in 2014 for the same period I had spent over $1100. At the moment, that doesn’t seem like much of a difference, but when you take into account that the bulk of the vaping supplies has been me choosing to buy new tanks and batteries, there’s very little comparison. Over the long term, vaping is still less expensive than smoking. A bottle of e-liquid costs around $12 and typically lasts as long as carton of cigarettes, which costs closer to $50. Speaking of vaping gear, I recently upgraded once again to a box mod battery, specifically the SUBOX Mini by Kangertech. I actually went with the starter kit so I also got the SUBTANK Mini as well, which means I can now use sub-ohm coils. Previously I was using a Vision Spinner variable voltage battery with either a Kangertech GeniTank Mega or an Aspire Nautilus Mini. Those work well, and suit the purpose for the most part, but as the batteries (I have two of them) starting requiring recharging more often I realized it was perhaps time to upgrade. Going to box mod which uses a removable 18650 battery seemed the logical next step.

I’ve had the SUBOX Mini for two weeks now. While I was not previously interested so much in being able to use a sub-ohm coil (I mainly just wanted a battery that would last longer) I’ve discovered what all the hype is about. The lower resistant coils definitely delivery more cloud, but they also deliver more flavor. The difference between the SUBOX and the Vision Spinner, as far as function, is variable wattage versus variable voltage. With the SUBOX, you control the wattage and the voltage is calculated automatically based on the resistance of the coil (which also is shown on the LED display). I can use both standard and sub-ohm coils with the box, but only standards on the spinner. The spinner also gets hot and so the juice breaks down and becomes dark and the coils tend to burn out faster as well. With the spinner, a coil might last a week or two (depending on the juice being used). With the box, after two weeks, the coils in all my tanks are still fine and the juice still is just as clear as when I filled the tank for the first time.

As for flavor I can definitely tell a difference. The Blueberry Donut juice by eLic, to me, didn’t really hit its peak flavor potential until I put in the SUBTANK with a 0.5-ohm coil (too bad the only shop that sold this brand closed a couple of months ago nor can I seem to find it online). Not only that, but the Nautilus Mini tank, even though it uses a 1.8-ohm coil, performs much better on the box than it did on the spinner. On the variable voltage battery, the cotton in the coil would blacken fairly quickly and vapes would start to taste bitter and burnt within just a few days. Two weeks in, and I’m still on the same coil as when I switched it to use with the box. The GeniTank also performs better on the box than on the battery, but I tend to prefer the Nautilus over the GeniTank. But I prefer the SUBTANK over both of them. I’ll likely get one or two more SUBTANKs because I like having a three flavor rotation and I tend to switch on the fly by having more than one tank, each with a different juice.

The other advantage of the SUBTANK is potential long term savings by adding a bit of a hobby aspect to my vaping experience. I’ve always used tanks that only used prebuilt coils; the SUBTANK comes with both a prebuilt organic cotton coil (OCC) and re-buildable atomizer (RBA). The coils for the GeniTank and Nautilus both cost around $3 each. The OCCs for the SUBTANK cost around $4 each. However, the RBA gives me the ability to wind my own coils and wick them with cotton; I can get a 100′ spool of Kanthal resistance wire and bag of Japanese organic cotton for a little less that the cost of three OCCs and get several dozen coils and wicks out of that. The kit came with two coils and small pad of cotton for the RBA. I have experimented with wicking the coil already (with some success, although I didn’t use enough cotton the first time so it burnt up quickly). I’ve watched several tutorials on winding coils so I may try my hand at that soon as well, but I can also get pre-wound coils for fairly cheap starting out.

Even with all of the gear I have purchased, I have still spent less on vaping than smoking and I certainly enjoy the flavor more, not to mention no longer smelling of smoke. Sure, I’ve traded one vice for another, but the new one is much more enjoyable.


I’m All About That Vape

b653795acec5ddd46bf1ff183e17ffb9Back in January, in my post “Not Exactly New Year’s Resolutions” one of the things I mentioned was my quest to quit smoking by using e-cigarettes. I am happy to report that as of six weeks, five days ago, I am cigarette free and now exclusively “vape” for my nicotine fix. In fact, I recently upgraded to glass tanks instead of the small plastic ones that came with the starter kit I bought back in November. I’ve also started dropping my nicotine levels, having started with 24mg and now down to 18mg in the e-liquids I use; and with the new glass tanks I foresee dropping that down again soon. My current collection of vaping supplies includes a Vision Spinner variable voltage battery with an EVOD as a backup, a KangerTech GeniTank Mega, an Aspire Nautilus Mini tank, and of course a few smaller tanks that resemble the KangerTech Mini ProTank. For liquids I rotate three different ones – Apollo Green Apple 18mg, eLic Java Wava Caramel Macchiato 18mg, and eLic Berry Yaya Blueberry Donut 18mg.


Switching to the glass tanks hasn’t been without its mishaps. A few night ago, I decided to take the Nautilus completely apart to clean it so I could change flavors, and I managed to chip the top of it. I quickly learned that trying to play that off and use it anyway results in a big old mess of leakage since it couldn’t form a solid seal and vacuum… oops. Thankfully, a replacement glass tube was only about $6 which is a good thing since replacing the entire thing would’ve been $30. I bought the Nautilus first – last weekend in fact. I liked it enough that I decided to go to my regular shop (because I kind of felt bad that I didn’t do my first tank upgrade there to begin with) to pick up the KangerTech GeniTank. Having a spare tank is always a good idea, plus it allowed me to 1) have more than one flavor pre-loaded and 2) try a couple of different styles. I’ve only had the GeniTank for about a day, versus the Nautilus Mini for a week, but I think I already like the GeniTank a little better. Both have a adjustable airflow, but the Nautilus basically has four predetermined settings while the GeniTank’s air valve is more like slider giving even more control. The GeniTank also hold more liquid than the Nautilus Mini so I don’t have to refill as often. Both have replaceable parts and can be disassembled for cleaning because there are no glued in place parts (it also means, if I really gave a shit, that I could get different colored glass or seals to customize the look). They both use a removable drip tip; unfortunately, they don’t fit each other so I can’t just trade those around (well, the GeniTank’s drip tip will fit in the Nautilus, but not the other way around which is weird since they’re both supposedly 510). The Nautilus came with a “beauty ring” for use with a battery that has a smaller diameter than the tank. It’s really just an aesthetic add-on, but it works well with both tanks with either of my batteries (not sure why the GeniTank didn’t come with one too).

You may be asking, “Why spend the money on the glass tanks in the first place?” and that is an excellent question. I could go into how it’s a better vaping experience because of the ability to control the airflow, or how they hold more liquid and don’t have to be refilled as often, and that they’re easier to clean since they come completely apart, and all of that would be true. Originally I was resistant to switching to glass because they were more expensive and I really didn’t see the value in investing in one since my small plastic ones worked just fine. What I quickly discovered, however, is that not all liquids are created equally. Some get hotter than others, like the Caramel Macchiato by eLic, and the plastic tanks just don’t do well with those because they can start to leak or their coils burn out faster due to the heat.

As for liquid, there’s debate about the PG vs VG percentages (PG= Propylene Glycol, VG=Vegetable Glycerin). I know that the eLic liquids I use are 50/50 and I prefer that. The Apollo, I think, is 60/40, which isn’t bad, but one other brand I tried had more PG to VG ratio, and I just didn’t care for it (too much of a throat hit for my liking). I’m still new to the vaping scene, so I can’t really comment on it more that this for now. I just know I like what I like, so I’m hoping Cigars Plus in Alpharetta, GA stays around for a while because they are the only ones around here that I’ve found that carry Apollo or eLic. There are dozens of vape shops popping up all over the Metro-Atlanta area, but they appear to all do their own brands of liquid. For more about PG and VG (and no, they are NOT toxic chemicals), check out the article, “What is E-Liquid? What You Need To Know”.7e2c6999b656235bfd5013984df26782

Speaking of Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerin, let’s go ahead and address the 500lb. Gorilla in this blog. Vaping is NOT smoking. It is NOT just as dangerous as smoking, nor more dangerous than smoking, and there is NO second hand smoke risk. Anyone who believes that is a dumbass and hasn’t done their homework and just wants to believe what the mainstream media puts on television from unreliable sources or the government. Let’s face it; the CDC tries to lable vaping liquids as tobacco products, even though they are not, so the government can make the case to tax the hell out of it like it does for tobacco and alcohol. I’m not going to launch into a huge debate/rant about it here; I’ll just say do some research, like the article I linked to in the previous paragraph and know what you’re talking about before you criticize someone who vapes. For me and countless others, it’s helped kick the smoking habit.


~ JC