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The Ultimate Guide to Vape Coils

Ethan Parker

Written by: Ethan Parker

Updated on December 18, 2023

Vape Coils

Vaping has evolved into a popular activity, embraced by many for its variety and customizable experiences. Central to this experience is a small yet crucial component known as the vape coil. This guide delves into the intricate world of vape coils, exploring their types, functionality, maintenance, and much more. Whether you’re a seasoned vaper or new to the scene, understanding vape coils is key to optimizing your vaping experience.

What is a Vape Coil?

A vape coil, an essential component of electronic cigarettes or vaping devices, is a small, typically cylindrical piece of hardware. It consists of a wire (or wires) wound into a coil shape and a wicking material, usually cotton, that absorbs the e-liquid. When electricity is applied from the vape’s battery, the coil heats up, turning the absorbed e-liquid into vapor, which is then inhaled by the user. Vape coils are found in various types of vaping devices, including pods, tanks, and pens, and they come in different resistances and materials to cater to diverse vaping preferences.

Vape Coils

The vape coil is vital for a satisfying vaping experience, as it affects the flavor and vapor production. Different coils cater to various vaping styles, and regular maintenance ensures optimal performance. Essentially, the coil’s condition and type shape the overall quality of vaping.

Vape Coils Types and Varieties

When you start noticing a burnt taste or diminishing flavor in your vape juice, it’s a clear sign to replace your coil.

Vape coils come in a diverse range, with variations in resistance levels, materials, wire types, and wicking materials. The choice of coil impacts the types of E-Liquids you can use, the wattage for vaping, and the required vaping technique. This choice is crucial for your vaping experience.

Each vape kit is designed to work with specific coils. For beginners, the range of compatible coils might seem limited. It’s important to refer to the product description or the user manual of your vape kit to select the right coil for your device and E-Liquid.

Differentiating Coils by Resistance

Coil resistance, measured in ohms (Ω), indicates how much electricity the coil can conduct from the battery. In simple terms, higher power output corresponds to lower coil resistance, and vice versa. This implies:

  • Devices with high wattage need coils with low resistance (below 1 ohm).
  • Devices with low wattage work best with high-resistance coils (above 1 ohm).

Both low and high resistance coils serve specific purposes and are compatible with certain types of E-Liquids and vaping styles.

MTL Coils (Above 1 ohm)

Mouth-to-Lung (MTL) coils, with higher resistance, are designed for MTL vaping. They work well with E-Liquids high in propylene glycol (PG), including nicotine salts and 50/50 freebase E-Liquids.

These coils produce less vapor and offer a draw similar to traditional cigarettes, ideal for MTL vapers. They also allow for a cooler vape and a smoother experience with high-nicotine E-Liquids.

MTL coils are commonly found in starter kits, pod kits, and MTL tanks.

DTL/Sub-Ohm Coils (Below 1 ohm)

Sub-ohm or Direct-to-Lung (DTL) coils have lower resistance, conducting more power. They are suited for E-Liquids with a higher vegetable glycerin (VG) content, like shortfills and 100% VG E-Liquids.

Used in sub-ohm tanks and advanced vape kits, these coils are favored by vapers who enjoy intense flavor and large vapor clouds. However, they tend to use more battery power and E-Liquid.

Coil Wire Types

Vape coils are primarily categorized into wire and mesh types, each offering unique benefits. The wire connects the positive and negative parts of the battery within the coil.

Wire Coils

Wire Coils

Wire coils, typically spiral-shaped, are a common choice, especially for sub-ohm vaping. They come in single, dual, or quad coil configurations but all feature the same spiral design.

Mesh Coils

Mesh Coils

Mesh coils, made from a net-like material, have a larger surface area, allowing for quicker heating and more vapor production than wire coils. They are increasingly popular, especially in MTL devices, but consume more E-Liquid and battery power.

Coil Material Types

Coils are made from various materials, with stainless steel being a standard choice. Other materials include titanium, Kanthal, nickel, and nichrome, each offering different properties in vapor production, temperature control, and heat generation.

For example, stainless steel is versatile for both wattage and temperature control modes, while Kanthal is suitable only for wattage mode, and nickel is best for temperature control.

Wicking Material Varieties

Common wicking materials in coils are cotton and ceramic, with other options like rayon and silica available for those who build their own coils.


Cotton, the most prevalent wicking material, offers a good balance of absorption, durability, and flavor. It’s the standard in most vape kits.


Ceramic coils, known for their longevity and absorbency, differ as they don’t use a traditional wick. Instead, the wire is coated in ceramic. They provide an even flavor and last longer than cotton, but consume more E-Liquid.

How Do Vape Coils Work?

Vape coils are integral to the operation of electronic cigarettes and vaping devices, transforming electrical energy into heat to vaporize e-liquid. Here’s a step-by-step explanation of this process:

1. Absorption of E-Liquid

The coil’s wicking material, usually cotton, soaks up the e-liquid from the device’s tank. This step is crucial as it prepares the liquid for heating and vaporization.

2. Activation and Electrical Current

Upon activating the device (through a button or an automatic draw-activated mechanism), an electrical current flows from the battery to the coil.

3. Heating Process

The coil, made of a resistive material like Kanthal or stainless steel, heats up due to the electrical resistance it offers. The amount of heat generated depends on the coil’s resistance level, measured in ohms. Lower resistance coils heat up more and faster, producing more vapor, while higher resistance coils generate less heat.

4. Vaporization of E-Liquid

The heat from the coil causes the absorbed e-liquid to vaporize. This vapor, containing the e-liquid’s flavors and nicotine, is inhaled by the user.

5. Cooling Down

After deactivation, the electrical current stops, and the coil cools down, ending the vaporization process.

6. Preparation for Next Use

The wicking material then reabsorbs e-liquid from the tank, readying the coil for subsequent use.

In the working of vape coils, several factors play a crucial role in influencing their performance. The resistance of the coil is paramount; it determines the heating dynamics, directly impacting the amount and intensity of vapor produced as well as the flavor. The type of wicking material used, typically cotton, also significantly affects the process, as it dictates the efficiency with which the e-liquid is absorbed and then vaporized. Additionally, the composition of the e-liquid, particularly the ratio of propylene glycol (PG) to vegetable glycerin (VG), influences the optimal heating temperature, which in turn guides the choice of the coil. These elements collectively shape the vaping experience, making their consideration essential for any vaper.

How to Choose the Right Vape Coil?

When venturing into the world of vaping, selecting the right vape coil is a crucial step that can greatly enhance your experience. Understanding and balancing several factors is key to making an informed choice.

The resistance level of the coil, measured in ohms, is a critical aspect to consider. Lower resistance coils, known as sub-ohm, are preferred for their ability to heat up quickly and produce substantial vapor, making them ideal for vapers who enjoy direct-to-lung inhalation and intense flavors. On the other hand, higher resistance coils offer a more controlled experience, akin to traditional cigarette smoking, and are well-suited for mouth-to-lung vaping.

The material of the coil also plays a significant role. Different materials like Kanthal, stainless steel, nickel, and titanium each bring unique characteristics to the vaping experience, influencing aspects such as flavor, vapor production, and compatibility with temperature control features. For instance, stainless steel is versatile for both wattage and temperature control modes, while Kanthal is renowned for its durability in wattage mode.

Another crucial factor is ensuring that the coil is compatible with your vaping device. Using a coil that doesn’t match your device’s specifications can lead to subpar performance or even damage the device. It’s always advisable to adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations for compatible coil types.

What is the Lifespan of a Vape Coil?

The lifespan of a vape coil varies significantly based on several factors, but typically, a vape coil can last anywhere from one to four weeks. This range, however, is influenced by various elements that can either extend or shorten the coil’s life.

Factors Affecting Coil Lifespan

  • Frequency of Use: The more frequently you vape, the quicker the coil will degrade. Heavy vapers might find themselves needing to change coils every week, while occasional users might see their coils lasting several weeks.
  • Type of E-Liquid: E-liquids with higher vegetable glycerin (VG) content are thicker and can cause more strain on the coil, leading to a shorter lifespan. Additionally, sweeter e-liquids tend to leave more residue on the coil, which can caramelize and cause the coil to burn out faster.
  • Power Settings: Using a coil at a wattage level that’s higher than recommended can cause it to burn out more quickly. Consistently vaping at high temperatures puts additional stress on the coil.
  • Quality of the Coil: Higher quality coils, generally, last longer than cheaper, lower quality alternatives. Coils from reputable manufacturers are often more reliable and durable.
  • Maintenance: Regular cleaning and proper maintenance of the coil and the vape device can significantly extend the coil’s life. A well-maintained coil is less likely to accumulate residue and burn out prematurely.

How to Maintain and Replace the Vape Coil?

Proper maintenance of vape coils is essential for prolonging their lifespan and ensuring a quality vaping experience. Here’s how to maintain and clean your vape coils, as well as signs to look out for that indicate it’s time to replace them.

Regular Cleaning

Regularly rinse and clean your vape tank. For a thorough cleaning, remove the coil and rinse the tank with warm water. Let it dry completely before reassembling. Avoid using soap or harsh chemicals as they can leave residue.

Dry Burning

For certain types of coils, like rebuildable ones, dry burning can help remove residue. This involves firing the coil without any wicking material or e-liquid, causing the residue to burn off. However, this should be done sparingly and carefully, as excessive dry burning can damage the coil.

Avoiding Burnt Hits

To prevent burning the wicking material, ensure the coil is always properly saturated with e-liquid. Avoid vaping with a dry or nearly empty tank.

Priming New Coils

When installing a new coil, always prime it by applying e-liquid directly to the wick and letting it soak for several minutes before use. This ensures the wick is fully saturated and reduces the risk of burning the coil on first use.

Using Appropriate Power Settings

Stick to the recommended wattage or temperature settings for your coil. Exceeding these limits can strain and burn out the coil prematurely.

While maintaining your vape coils can significantly extend their lifespan, there comes a time when replacement is inevitable for optimal performance. Being able to recognize the signs that indicate a coil needs replacing is crucial for maintaining a consistent and enjoyable vaping experience. Here are the key indicators to watch out for:

  • Burnt Taste: One of the most noticeable signs is a persistent burnt taste when vaping. This usually means the coil has been overused and the wicking material is burnt.
  • Gurgling Sounds or Leaks: If your vaping device starts making unusual gurgling noises or begins to leak e-liquid, it could be a sign that the coil isn’t functioning correctly and needs to be replaced.
  • Reduced Vapor Production: A significant reduction in vapor production under normal operating conditions often indicates that the coil is losing its efficiency.
  • E-Liquid Flavor Changes: A noticeable decline or change in the flavor of your e-liquid can suggest that the coil is deteriorating and no longer effective in vaporizing the liquid properly.
  • Visible Damage or Residue: Physical signs such as visible damage, discoloration, or significant residue buildup on the coil are clear indicators that it’s time for a replacement.
  • Time-Based Replacement: Even if you don’t notice any of the above signs, it’s good practice to replace your coil regularly, depending on your vaping frequency. A general rule of thumb is to consider replacing the coil every 1-4 weeks.


Vape coils are more than just a component; they are the heart of the vaping experience. Their type, maintenance, and timely replacement shape the quality of vapor and flavor, making an understanding of vape coils indispensable for any vaper. By embracing the knowledge and tips provided in this guide, you can enhance your vaping journey, ensuring each puff is as satisfying as the last. Whether you’re experimenting with different coil types or meticulously maintaining your current setup, remember that the key to a fulfilling vaping experience lies in the small yet mighty vape coil.

Ethan Parker
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