What is sub-Ohm vaping?
The popularity of sub-Ohm vaping, (aka ‘Sub Ohming’) has grown enormously over the last five years. At its core, sub-Ohm vaping is all about firing up ultra-low resistance coils to produce sky-filling clouds of vapour. In terms of electrical resistance, 1 Ohm is pretty low. Sub-Ohm vaping mods, batteries and atomizers push the envelope even further. This equipment is designed to fire a coil built with a resistance below 1 Ohm.
Why go for sub-Ohm vaping?
In the recent past, sub-Ohm vaping had a cult status in the vaping community. Without any doubt, the biggest attraction was (and is) the effortless production of superhuman vapour clouds.
Big clouds aren’t the only attraction. It’s widely believed that whole sub-Ohm movement was originally driven by a quest for cleaner, fresher e juice flavour. There’s no doubt about the flavour superiority of a sub-Ohm coil wicked with organic cotton.
The increasing popularity of sub-Ohm vaping has helped to make variable wattage (VW) and temperature control (TC) mods much more widely available. By allowing adjustment of the power and coil temperature, these sophisticated mods allow you to vary the warmth of your vape. For some vapers the experience is closer to the mouth feel of a traditional, tobacco cigarette.
What do I need for sub-Ohm vaping?
The pace of change in the vaping equipment market is incredible. Luckily, for the vaping newbie that means better equipment at a more affordable price. Just a few years ago you’d need to invest in an expensive mod, a Rebuildable Dripping Atomizer (RDA) and a spool of Kanthal wire. Before self-building your sub-Ohm coils, you’d also need to dig out a physics text book to read up on Ohm’s law and basic electrical theory.
While a basic understanding of Ohm’s law is still pretty useful, you can now buy simple, sub-Ohm starter kits off the shelf from any vape store. The Eleaf iJust 2 Kit comes with an iJust 2 dual coil sub-Ohm tank and matched battery. The battery can be charged from any USB power source. This basic kit doesn’t offer much control over your vape, so you may prefer something a little more advanced.
The Uwell Crown Sub Ohm Tank is well respected and comes with 2 x VW coils and 1 x TC coil. The coils are pre-built and replaceable. For most users a coil will last about a week. Replacements are inexpensive and available from most vape stores. This dependable tank will need to be teamed up with a mod having a minimum 30 Watt power output.
The Eleaf iStick TC box mod would give you the option of both variable wattage (up to 40 Watts) and temperature control. Both features are well worth having, and this top-quality mod is available at a very affordable price.
A peek into the world of rebuildable atomizers
If sub-Ohm tanks, with their disposable coils and massive e liquid capacity seem a little too tame, how about tinkering with a rebuildable atomizer?
Rebuildable Dripping Atomizers (RDA’s) evolved from home-made set-ups created by vaping old-timers. Even so, there’s still a thriving community of dedicated drippers who believe that this is the way to go for the best clouds and flavours. The design is very similar to the atomizer in a sub-Ohm tank. Most RDA’s are basically a round metallic cup, with electrical connectors for your self-made (or shop bought) coils. The coils are fed by wicks – usually made from organic cotton. Before vaping, the e juice has to be dripped onto the coils and wicks. During each vaping session, the wicks need to be continuously topped-up with more juice.
To overcome the hassle of regular dripping, Rebuildable Tank Atomizers (RTA’s) have a slightly different design. The coil and connector deck of an RTA is almost identical to an RDA. The main difference is that the wicking material in an RTA draws e liquid directly from the tank. The big advantage? As long as there’s e juice in your tank you can just carry on vaping.
At this point we need to say a few words of warning. RDA’s and RTA’s need a certain level of skill and knowledge. Firing a dodgy self-built coil in a rebuildable atomizer can lead to equipment damage, burns or an exploding battery.
Is sub-Ohm vaping right for me?
While we don’t want to spoil the party, it’s probably worth checking if sub-Ohm vaping really is your thing. Here are some of the cons …
Sub-Ohming is probably going to increase your weekly vaping budget. Big clouds need a lot more e liquid.
Big vapour clouds may be fun, but they are going to put you right in the public eye. This can cause unnecessary hassle in public places, and lead to a lot of grief at work.
What’s your vaping style? Cloud chasing usually involves a direct lung inhale (DLI) style. If you’ve recently switched to vaping from traditional (analogue) cigarettes you may be more comfortable with mouth to lung (MTL) vaping. If you do switch to DLI, you may need to drop your e liquid nicotine level down to 6mg or lower.
How safe is sub-Ohm vaping?
Modern vaping equipment is safer than it’s ever been. Knowledge is power, so keep yourself safe by visiting the Reddit forums and checking out YouTube vape videos.
Basic electrical theory will tell you why your mod batteries need to be the right way round. A little more research into Ohm’s law will help you to understand how voltage, resistance and current make your coils glow.
Batteries are the most dangerous component in your vape set-up. Stay safe by choosing a battery (usually an 18650 type) that’s capable of feeding enough Amps to your sub-Ohm coils. Of all the various types of 18650 batteries on the market, only a small number are suitable for high-power sub-Ohm vaping. The AWT RED 18650 is a great example.
These days, regulated mods are packed with safety features. Automated computer control handles short circuit protection, overvoltage and safety shutdown features. Even inexpensive mods like the IPV D2 75W TC and Kanger KBox 200W, now come with an amazing range of features for safe, sub-Ohm vaping at high power levels.
Unregulated mechanical mods in combination with sub-Ohm tanks are potentially less safe. Good research and expert advice are vital if you’re a newbie planning to take this route. The most basic rules are, a) to make sure that you vape with a vented mod, and b) avoid sub-Ohming with a hybrid mech mod.
Is sub-Ohming a passing trend?
Over recent years, vaping store shelves are groaning under the weight of new sub-Ohm tanks and high wattage box mods. It looks like sub-Ohming is here to stay!
This doesn’t mean that you have to relegate an old mod to a dusty drawer. How about investing in a basic sub-Ohm tank? The interchangeable coils in modern sub-Ohm tanks like the Kanger Subtank Mini (link) make it easy to slip in a 1.2 Ohm coil and vape with a lower powered mod or battery. A basic mod with a power output of 12 to 25 Watts will still chuck respectable clouds and deliver sensational flavours.