9 Ways to Improve Vapor Production from Your E-Cig
By Lindsay Fox Posted July 15, 2016
When first starting vaping, most people opt for something simple to use and (ideally) satisfying, with quitting smoking being the core goal. But when you’ve been vaping for a little while, putting out bigger vapor clouds starts to seem fairly appealing. Most of us don’t go the extreme and become full-fledged “cloud chasers,” but having a thicker, more substantial cloud of vapor is pretty satisfying. Thankfully, there are tons of ways to improve your vapor production. Although there are certain types of e-cig and atomizer that are better-suited to it, there are many things you can do to improve the vapor production with whatever device you have now. Here are 9 ways to do it:
But First… The Boring (But Important) Part
Cloud-chasing or improving your vapor production is closely tied to battery safety, so it’s worth talking about here. A lot of the advice in this post considers sub ohm tanks and rebuildable atomizers, and these tend to ask more from your battery than simpler atomizers. This is because the resistance of the coils is lower (sub-ohm means less than 1 ohm) and so they draw more current from the battery.
Batteries can only safely provide so much current (called the “amp limit” for the battery). So if you’re using a mod which uses a separately-purchased battery, make sure it has a high continuous amp limit. We have a list of high amp limit batteries here.
If your mod is a modern, regulated (with variable voltage/wattage) device with an in-built battery, you have nothing to worry about. These have pre-programmed amp limits to keep you safe anyway. Even the ones using separate batteries normally have a limit for safety purposes.
You can use an Ohm’s law calculator to work out the amps you’ll be drawing from your battery if you’re not sure if you’ll be safe. However, unless you’re vaping at very high power with a low resistance atomizer you’ll probably be within your battery’s safe limits.
For example, vaping at 70 W with a 0.5 ohm coil would draw under 12 A. This is well within the amp limit of all of the batteries on our list, and this would really be towards the upper end of what you’re likely to ask for from a single battery. If you’re going to be vaping at a similar power with a much lower resistance, then you should definitely learn about battery safety in some more detail. For example, in the same situation with a 0.2 ohm coil, you’d be asking for almost 19 A of current. This is still within the capabilities of most high-drain batteries, but is starting to approach the limit. If you won’t be going further than this, you’ll be fine as long as you have some knowledge of the basics.
And finally, if you don’t have a VV/VW mod, the main issue for vape pens would be the resistance limit on the vape pen. Most don’t support sub ohm tanks, and probably wouldn’t “fire” if you tried to use one. We wouldn’t recommend even trying, though, because if it does fire you’ll probably be asking too much from the battery and could run into serious issues. Unless it’s a sub ohm friendly vapor pen (like the eGo One), they’re designed for higher-resistance coils.
1 – Use a Higher-Power Device
It’s a little annoying to start with this, I know. But the truth is that there is only so much you can do to improve vapor production with basic vape pens, or “eGo-style” e-cigarettes. Most of the advice in this list assumes you have an e-cig that either supports better-performing atomizers or (ideally) variable voltage or wattage.
For more basic devices, only higher-resistance atomizers are usually supported, and most just send a fixed voltage to the coil. This means that while you may be able to improve vapor production with your puffing technique and higher-VG e-liquids, this is pretty much the only thing you can do. However, devices like the Evod VV and many others that could be called vape pens do have the potential for improving your vapor production.
The other good news is that VV/VW (variable voltage/wattage) mods are quite affordable these days. You can get several excellent options for less than $50, and if you spend a little more, things get even better.
Many come with in-built batteries, and even though the settings and complicated displays might seem daunting, it’s really not so bad. We have a guide to finding the right settings if you want to learn more.
The bottom line, though, is that for substantial improvements in vapor production, changing your device is one of the best steps to take.
2 – Use a Better Atomizer
Again, this is really more about getting the right equipment than improving what you have. However, the same reasons apply. The vapor production you get is so heavily dependent on your atomizer that there’s only so much you can do with a more basic option.
For the best vapor production, most vapers opt for sub ohm tanks or rebuildable atomizers. Both of these usually use lower-resistance coils and can tolerate much more power going to the coil. Sub ohm tanks are the best choice if you’re new to vaping, because these work just like the simpler clearomizers you may use when you’re just getting started. Rebuildable atomizers are a bit more technical, because you have to make your own coils to vape with. We’ll cover this in a future post, but while saving you money and offering great performance, it does have a steeper learning curve.
The only devices that really won’t do too well for improving your vapor production are basic clearomizers. Simple top-coil options are the worst, because the type of juice you can use with them is limited. Better clearomizers like the Kanger Protank or Aerotank series and the Nautilus still aren’t ideal for maximizing vapor production. If you have something like this, though, you can still do quite a lot to get more vapor.
The bottom line is that you’ll need something better than a CE5 if you really want to blow clouds.
3 – Increase Your Wattage
This is pretty simple. You’ll produce more vapor on a higher power setting (wattage) than a lower one. The more electricity flows through your coil, the more juice is vaporized and the more vapor you get. This is why VV/VW devices are really ideal for improving your vapor production.
The only problem is that you can easily go too far and wreck your coils. The best advice is to start on a reasonably low setting and gradually work your way up. At a certain point, the flavor you’re getting will start to decline and the vapor might get too hot or otherwise uncomfortable to inhale. The coil you’re using will normally recommend wattages, but we have a guide to getting the right setting too.
The reason the advice concerned wattage rather than voltage is because wattage is more widely-applicable. The wattage takes the resistance of your coil into account and adjusts the voltage accordingly. The same voltage setting on two coils won’t give the same performance if their resistances (in ohms) are different, but the same wattage will*.
*Note: this isn’t strictly true in all cases, such as for multi-coil builds vs. single coils builds or Clapton wire vs. regular kanthal, but it is if the coils are similar in construction.
4 – Increase Your Airflow
In general, more airflow over your coil means more vapor. If you don’t have very much airflow, even if you’re producing a lot of vapor it will be very hot and concentrated, so it won’t look like that much and it won’t be pleasant to inhale. When you open up the airflow, the cloud billows out a little more, and importantly, it cools down the vapor. When you’re vaping with higher wattages (and usually lower-resistance coils), this becomes very important because otherwise the vapor would be too hot to comfortably vape.
There is a balance to strike, though. First off, you might like the vapor a little warmer, so wide-open airflows might not quite do it for you. And if you open the airflow too much, your vapor cloud gets puffed out to the point where it looks wispy and weak. The other downside to airflow being too high is that it tends to reduce the flavor, but if your main interest is clouds this may not matter as much.
The one thing you do need is an atomizer that has adjustable airflow. All sub ohm tanks and rebuildable atomizers have these nowadays, so it isn’t too much to worry about, but this is the reason simple clearomizers aren’t great for clouds. They rarely have airflow options, and usually the draw is quite tight too.
5 – Switch to a Higher-VG E-Juice
There are a few important differences between PG and VG for vapers, but one is referenced a lot. VG is better for producing thick, dense clouds of vapor than PG. No matter how hard you try to get good clouds with a high-PG e-liquid, you’ll always lag behind the vapers with a higher-VG juice. The better vapor production from VG also means that the possible thinning out of your vapor cloud with more airflow isn’t much of a concern.
Another benefit of higher-VG juice is useful when you cloud-chase, too. PG is good for throat hit, but that means that when you have higher power settings, it can get a little harsh. VG is much smoother, so it’s much more tolerable than PG at higher wattages.
The only downside is that VG is thicker. This means it doesn’t soak into your wicks as well as PG-based e-juice, so you need well-designed wicking to tolerate it. Thankfully, sub ohm tanks and rebuildable atomizers don’t have a problem with higher-VG juice, so this doesn’t cause much of an issue for those looking for more vapor. If you have a simpler clearomizer, though, you may run into dry hits unless you reduce your power setting a little to compensate.
6 – Change Your Inhalation Style
How you inhale can also impact the vapor production you get. Although this is less of an influence than many of the other items on this list, it can make a difference. Also, this is especially worth trying if you have a simpler, lower-powered e-cig and it’s difficult to try many of the suggestions in this list.
For those with sub ohm tanks or rebuildables with a lot of airflow, make sure you get the most out of that airflow by inhaling fairly rapidly. A gentle inhale won’t make the most of all of that airflow you have. It also helps to switch to direct to lung inhales, if you haven’t started doing that already. You can still get great vapor production with mouth to lung hits, but if you really want to go as far as you can, direct to lung inhaling will improve things. There’s more information on inhalation styles here.
For lower-powered e-cigs and even ones without airflow control, the best approach is a little different. For vape pens (like eGos), the best advice is long, slow inhales. You can hold the fire button down for a couple of seconds prior to inhaling to help out too. You still need the airflow to be as good as you can, so don’t inhale too softly, but don’t worry too much about this. If you want better airflow with a similar e-cig, try a device like the eGo AIO or a compatible atomizer with adjustable airflow.
For cigalikes, the advice is similar to vape pens but more limited. The only thing you can really do is take longer, slower inhales and do a few “priming puffs” before your main one. “Priming puffs” are short inhales before you take a full draw; a couple of short, sharp puffs to start heating the coil before you vape.
7 – Think More About Airflow – Drip Tips and Tank Chimneys
Airflow is so important for vapor production that there’s a whole other aspect to consider too. While your airflow setting is the main control you get over the airiness of your vape, the size of the central chimney in your tank is also an important factor. For example, the Aspire Cleito has a huge central chimney, and this is one of the reasons the tank is so fantastic when it comes to vapor production.
The other side of this is your drip tip. While the influence of this is fairly minor, wider bore drip tips will improve your vapor production. You can’t change the bore of the center chimney in your tank without getting a new tank, but you can get a new drip tip pretty easily. It’s better to have the whole package (a wide-bore chimney and drip tip), but one or the other will help too.
8 – Change to a Different Type of Coil
When vaping first became popular, coils were all the standard type. They had four or five wraps of fairly high-resistance wire and each wrap was spaced apart. Things quickly changed, though, and now we have tons of different types of coil to choose from. For those looking to improve vapor production, this choice does make a difference.
Most coils you find in sub ohm tanks will be single vertical coils, and these are generally great for vapor production. However, if you find a tank with dual coils or other options they’re worth checking out. For instance, “Clapton” coils – wrapped with a guitar-string like wire, with a central core and thinner wire spiraled around it (shown above) – are great for flavor and vapor, so any tanks that support them tend to be excellent for vapor production. Again, the Cleito is an example of this, but there are many others.
You don’t need a special coil type, but if you don’t want to rebuild but do want maximum vapor, it’s worth considering.
9 – Build Coils for Cloud-Chasing
This is a huge topic worthy of an article on its own. We’ll devote more time to it in a future post, but a couple of posts on Olympia Vapor Works (here and here) runs down some of the many options for builds to maximize vapor production.
In general, the more coil you have in contact with your wick and juice, the more vapor will be produced. This is why wire “gauge” is important. Lower AWG (American Wire Gauge) coils have lower resistances per inch, so you can use more wire without increasing the resistance. So if you build with 32 AWG wire, you’ll either have a higher resistance coil or one with less surface area than if you built with 26 AWG wire. Higher resistance means it’ll take longer to get up to temperature, so decreasing wire gauge makes sense for cloud-chasers.
This is also why dual coils are a good idea for cloud-chasers. Coils in parallel are connected up to the posts separately, rather than in a chain one after another. This is the type build supported by three-post RDAs, and by far the most common way to vape dual coil. When you make coils like this, it lowers the overall resistance, but doubles the surface area of coil touching the wick and juice. For consistent performance, take special care to ensure that both coils are the same. Use the same length of wire, the same inner diameter and the same number of wraps for both.
Additionally, larger-diameter coils are better for clouds than smaller-diameter ones. This is again down to surface area: you get more of the coil touching the wick with bigger-diameter coils than with smaller diameter ones.
On top of all this, wire types can make a big difference. Twisted or Clapton coils have a greater surface area than standard coil types, and these will improve vapor production (and usually flavor too). The only downside is that some builds can take a longer time to ramp up. One solution to this is to use staged heating coils, which incorporate a more conventional style of coil (with a quicker ramp up) with a slower-ramp up design. This gives you the benefits of more advanced wire types but protects against some of the downsides.
As I said, this barely scratches the surface of the topic. The basic rule – more surface area without too high a resistance – is the key take-away. However, you can jump down the rabbit hole and start experimenting with different builds if you want to. Even if you aren’t into extravagant coil builds, rebuilding is an enjoyable, affordable and rewarding way to vape, and it’ll probably improve the vapor production you get anyway, so it’s worth considering.
As long as you’ve got something with a few more features than a basic vape pen, there are quite a lot of ways to improve the vapor production you get from your e-cig. If you’re looking for as much vapor as you can get, you can use all of these tips and you’ll get fantastic vapor production. But for most vapers, we’d just recommend trying a few things out and seeing how they work for you. With a high-powered mod (and capable batteries), an RDA and a few cloud-friendly builds to try out you’ll be chucking clouds in no time.