Are you 21 or older?
Vape Cannabis Health Law Consume Dictionary History News

What Is an Atomizer on a Vape? (With Detailed Illustration)

John Doe

Written by: John Doe

Updated on December 27, 2023

What is the Atomizer

A vape atomizer is a unit consisting of multiple components that work together to produce and deliver vapor to your mouth. The atomizer is equivalent to the car engine of your vape. It’s where the magic happens.

The main function of an “atomizer” is to produce vapor from liquid, which in the vape translates to creating vapor mixed with the flavor. So, without the Atomizer, your vape mod is essentially just a battery pack.

Keep reading this article to learn more details about the vape atomizer, how it works, common issues along with their solutions, maintenance tips, and more.

What Is an Atomizer on a Vape?

Visually, an atomizer is the top portion of your vape, which sticks out from the box mod. If your mod is a different shape, you can identify it as the detachable unit at the top.

The function of this unit is to create the flavored vapor you consume. That is why the mouthpiece, tank, and coils are connected to this piece. Other key components are also housed inside it. Atomizers come in ready-to-use and rebuildable varieties.

How Does an Atomizer Work?

To understand how atomizers function, first, you can take some time to assess this schematic diagram of an atomizer:

What is Vape atomizer

Now that you know which components are considered part of this piece, it’ll be easier to understand how it works.

First, you should screw the atomizer using the pin (also called the 510 pin) onto the mod. That will connect the atomizer to a power source. Then, add your e-liquid into the tank to fill it out.

Lastly, you should add wicks (or cotton) to the coils on the build deck. Now, your atomizer has been set up. Now, let’s look at the internal process of your atomizer.

The battery in the mod powers the coils inside and provides heat for the e-liquid’s evaporation. The e-liquid is soaked into the wick, surrounded by the heating coil. As the coils become hotter, the liquid evaporates. The airflow rings allow air to cool off the coils and move the vapor out of the drip tip.

Once you suck on the mouthpiece or push the button on your mod, the atomizer begins working.

Types of Vape Atomizer

There are a few categories of atomizers varying in their function and reusability. Before you can pick a preference, you should know the differences between each type:


Cartomizers are the cheapest options on the market and have the simplest functions. They operate on basic vapes, normally used by new vapers, so they don’t require you to have any experience in removing and reattaching them.

Normally, they’re disposable, so you can buy multiple cartomizers in one pack, and they are the most affordable option. Since they’re cheap, they are lower quality and leak often.


Clearomizers are a step ahead of cartomizers. A clearomizer has removable coils and a clear tank directly connecting to the battery. To use it, you attach the clearomizer to your mod and simply fill the tank with your vape liquid. You can enjoy a refill for up to a week or two.

Clearomizers are more expensive but easier to use and last longer with proper maintenance. They are also compatible with different products, so you won’t have to buy a new mod to use one.

Dripping Atomizer

As the name suggests, a dripping atomizer uses liquid drops directly on the atomizer. It’s a model that doesn’t use a tank, meaning you don’t have a consistent supply of vape juice and must reapply drops after some time.

These are harder to use, so only veteran users can handle them well. Plus, the user experience is also more hardcore than a basic atomizer. You get the most intense hits from it, so users beware.

How to Clean Your Vape Atomizer?

Maintenance is key to receiving a satisfactory experience with your vape. Dirt, grime, or build-up can worsen the device’s performance and shorten its lifespan.

Keeping your atomizer clean is a simple task, but you should habitually do it every once in a while. Here are some ways to give your atomizer a much-needed refresher:

  1. For light build-up, you can soak a cotton bud into isopropyl alcohol and gently rub it onto the needed areas. Remember to apply light pressure and switch the bud after it collects dirt.
  2. For hardened dirt, you can soak your atomizer in isopropyl alcohol for up to an hour. Once the build-up has softened, you can wipe it away with a cotton bud. Leave the atomizer for a day or so to dry it out completely before using it again.
  3. For detailed cleaning, a pro-tip uses a pin or other pointy tool to take build-up out of tight spaces or for detailing. You can combine this with an alcohol rub or soak to make it easier.

Ensure you don’t poke the pin into any delicate parts or surfaces to avoid damage to the components. Plus, taking extreme precautions regarding the coils would be best.

In the case of a dirty or sticky accident, you should take your atomizer to the professionals. If you’ve accidentally dropped your vape into any oils, sticky substances, or other liquids, they may cause a decline in its performance.

Read More: Guide to cleaning a vape and its components.

Why Does Your Vape Say “No Atomizer” and Fix Methods

The No Atomizer notification on a vape often gets a few scratches on the head. New vapers are concerned, and seasoned vapers are confused. But it’s nothing to get worried about, and the problem is much easier to fix than you’d assume. Some quick fixes include:

Check the Connection

The first response to your “No Atomizer” or similar notification is to check if the extension is connected properly.
The 510 connection is normally made by screwing the atomizer onto the mod, which may be left loose, needing a few more turns. Once your mod detects it, the message will go away. If it doesn’t, then there’s an internal issue.

Clean the Atomizer and Mod

Sometimes, grime or dirt on the device can affect its connectivity and performance. If wax, dirt, e-liquid, or other material is stuck between key areas of the atomizer or mod, the device may not read it even if it’s connected. So, give your device a deep clean and try to reconnect it.

Try Other Tanks or Mods

If there’s a problem with either device, check it through a different tank/mod.

Remove the atomizer and connect it to a different mod; if the new mod gives the same message, you must purchase a new one. Alternatively, if you add a new atomizer onto an old mod and it doesn’t connect, you need to take a closer look at the mod or replace it.

How to Maintain Your Atomizer?

A sustainable way to keep your vaping hobby is by purchasing longer-lasting devices that help your wallet and the environment. To keep investments like atomizers running, you’ve got to maintain them well.

You can habitually clean the mod regularly since it’s necessary for the atomizer to work and is bound to get dirtier quickly. Then comes the atomizer, which includes refreshing the tank every time you refill liquid and cleaning the coils.

The coils go through intense heat every single time you puff your vape. That means they’re bound to stop working before any other component. So keep a check and change the coils whenever their performance drops.

Read More: Guide to Vape Coils

Comparing Atomizers with Cartomizers and Clearomizers

Atomizers, Clearomizers, and Cartomizers are all close relatives. They all have similarities, but they’re quite different in their function and reputation.

Firstly, the atomizer is generally used to refer to Rebuildable Tank Atomizers (RTA), which are customizable atomizers, as the name suggests. They can be created to suit your liking and are generally the longest-lasting of the three. Thus, it is also the most expensive investment.

Clearomizers are a less jazzy version with a pre-constructed atomizer and clear tank. They’re not customizable and are thus a smaller investment. However, since they’re disposable, you’d need to repurchase them often.

Cartomizers are the cheapest version. They’re also considered “extended atomizers” because of their looks. Their performance isn’t as impressive as the others.

Common Issues with Atomizers and Troubleshooting

New and old atomizers can present similar problems, but mostly, it’s easy to get everything working again. Some common issues you can face with atomizers:

Burnt Taste and Dry Hits

Burnt-tasting puffs and dry puffs are two separate problems, with differing reasons.

A burnt taste in your puffs comes from the wick being burnt by the coil. That can happen for various reasons, but the solution is to ensure the wick always stays soaked in e-liquid.

Alternatively, dry hits come from vape juice, which isn’t evaporating properly. This problem can be attributed to inefficient coils that have build-up, are old, or brand new. High wattage can burn e-liquid too quickly, making the puffs drier.

Leaking Issues

Leaking is a pesky problem with a few underlying reasons. You may experience it due to:

  • wrong coils,
  • poorly-fitted seals,
  • overfilling vape juice,
  • leaving the device horizontally (laid out),
  • damaged o-rings,
  • short drags,
  • insufficient wicking material.

Short Lifespan of Coils

Coils are a sensitive business. You’re experiencing a shortened lifespan for many reasons, especially if you’re a low user.

Low-quality vape juice is common, so switch it to a renowned brand. Plus, if you use sweeter flavors, they can also caramelize and mess up your coils. To fix the issue, change the heat settings, get a different flavor, and keep your coils clean.

Tips for Proper Maintenance and Care

Now, for a summary to help you keep your Atomizers running longer:

Keep Your Atomizer Clean

Your coils, tanks, and wicks should be your priority. But don’t neglect the airflow vents, 510 pins, and other nooks and crannies.

By keeping your mod and atomizer clean, you’ll get a longer and more enjoyable experience throughout.

Use High-Quality E-Liquids

As mentioned, vape juices can mess with your atomizers. So try to steer clear of sweet flavors, cheap companies, and sketchy ingredients.

Remember to avoid mixing two different e-liquids, especially those infused with THC and other substances.

Vape Responsibly!

Sometimes your devices can stop working before their expiration because of your user habits. You should give your device time to cool off in between smokes. Plus, space out your puffs and take longer drags to keep the atomizer healthy.

Frequent Ask Questions

John Doe
All-in-one Disposable