What is Sub-Ohm Vaping?
To put it simply, sub-ohming is vaping with a device whose atomiser coils have a resistance of less than one ohm. Although it might sound simple, sub-ohming is actually a complex and often controversial topic within the vaping community.
Why would you sub-ohm?
If you have seen someone walking down the street and they’re blowing out huge, dense clouds of vapour, then the chances are that they are using a sub-ohm vaping kit. So why do some vapers choose to go down the route of sub-ohming?
- Massive (and we mean huge) vapour production.
- Some think the flavour is more intense (others disagree on this).
- Dense, warm vapour hits.
How Does Sub-Ohm Vaping Work?
There are 2 basic methods to get more vapour out of your device.
- Increase the power to your coils.
- Use a high VG e-liquid- typically 80%VG/20%PG (smoother, with less throat hit).
Sub-ohm vaping requires a lot more power. Whenever you increase the power to your device, the resistance generates more heat and with an ordinary 1.8 ohm coil it would become uncomfortably hot and also burn your wick, giving an unpleasant burnt flavour.
To get around this problem, sub-ohming requires the use of a coil made from a wire with a lower resistance, where power can be increased without generating excessive heat. Lower resistance requires a thicker wire, so more current can pass through it. The higher current gives more energy to the coil, which can then be heated to a higher temperature without the risk of it burning out. Lower resistance coils therefore require more power to heat them to the temperature required to vapourise your e-liquid. Sub-ohm coils can have resistances as low as 0.12Ω.
Traditional eGo-style batteries supplied in many starter kits are unable to supply the higher power needed for sub-ohm vaping, so you will need to use a regulated mod (more experienced vapers might use an unregulated “mechanical mod”, but these can be very dangerous unless you know what you’re doing, so I won’t be covering them in this guide).
A device which uses a high drain IMR battery with a suitable amp limit is required. A regulated variable wattage device, such as the SMOK AL85 is the best solution to this. These are devices (commonly referred to as mods or box mods) which allow the user to set their preferred wattage output. Even if you choose to change your coil resistance, or switch frequently between tanks, the device automatically recalculates the volts required in order to continue vaping at the chosen wattage.
Tanks & Airflow
Sub-ohm vaping can generate a lot of heat and so sub-ohm tanks are designed with adjustable airflow controls. These allow the user to control the amount of air that passes over the coil, which cools the hot vapour before it reaches your lips. Some sub-ohm tanks have even been designed with cooling fins to help get rid of excessive heat from the tank, which could otherwise become uncomfortable to touch.
One great advantage of sub-ohm tanks is that some of them can be fitted with Nickel (Ni200), Titanium (Ti) and Stainless Steel coils designed for use with temperature control devices. Sub-ohm coils usually have wider holes to better absorb the thicker high VG e-liquid that is commonly used.
E-liquid & Nicotine
Sub-ohmers usually vape e-liquid with a higher percentage of vegetable glycerine than propylene glycol. The reason for this is that the vegetable glycerine produces larger clouds and denser vapour. VG has a much smoother throat hit compared to PG which helps if you’re inhaling large amounts of vapour. Because more vapour is inhaled, sub-ohm vapers tend to reduce their e-liquid nicotine strength (typically 6mg/ml and under).
Sub-ohm vapers inhale vapour straight into their lungs (the direct to lung technique). Vaping higher strength e-liquid with the direct to lung technique is definitely not recommended because the powerful nicotine rush is unpleasant- it can make you feel very light-headed and may even make you vomit.
One more thing- massive clouds of vapour can upset non-vapers and worry people who think that vaping is unhealthy, leading to bans in pubs and elsewhere; do remember to use some common-sense and show due consideration for others- see our guide to vaping etiquette.
Is Sub-Ohm Vaping Right For You?
With all of the above to consider, sub-ohm vaping is quite a complex and even controversial activity. It doesn’t appeal to some vapers, so if you’re happy with your existing setup then we’d encourage you to continue to use whatever works for you. For many others though, sub-ohm vaping offers them a better vaping experience, so let’s just weigh up the pros and cons of sub-ohming.
Pros of Sub-Ohm Vaping
- Firstly, perhaps the biggest reason for the popularity of sub-ohming is the massive vapour production, enabling the user to blow huge clouds.
- Sub-ohmers believe that more vapour also means more flavour- although the wider airflow might also reduce the flavour to some extent.
- A more satisfying vape because of a stronger hit and more nicotine- although we recommend using an e-liquid with a lower nicotine concentration.
- If you prefer warm vapour, you’ll love sub-ohming, but if you prefer a cooler vape then this might be a disadvantage
Cons of Sub-Ohm Vaping
- We wouldn’t recommend sub-ohming for new vapers, who might find it too complex and too much vapour can be overwhelming.
- Generally speaking, sub-ohm vaping kit is more expensive than normal vaping kit.
- When you sub-ohm, you consume a lot more e-liquid, which can make it expensive unless you DIY your own e-liquid.
- Any type of vaping is not risk free. According to Dr. Farsalinos, the more vapour inhaled creates more of a risk. If you double your consumption, you are doubling your exposure to potential toxins.
- Increasing the power means your batteries will drain faster.
- Sub-ohming is not an ideal option for those who love mouth to lung vaping.
If you’ve weighed up the pros and cons and have decided you want still want to have a go at sub-ohm vaping, we can recommend the following starter kits:
Beware- once you have tried sub-ohming, you might find it difficult to go back to your old set-up!