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What is Mouth to Lung Vaping?

lady vaping

Every vaper has their own preferences when it comes to their vape. With so many choices available, from the thousands of device models, setups and e-liquid flavours, you have unlimited freedom to customise your vaping experience.

Even how you inhale can vary. There are two main breathing styles when it comes to vaping: mouth-to-lung or direct-to-lung. Each has its pros and cons, producing a drastically different vaping experience, and it’s important to know these because not all devices and e-liquids will be compatible with either style. While you can definitely use both for different purposes, most vapers end up heavily preferring one over the other.

Mouth-to-lung vaping is the much more common style. It arrived on the vaping scene first, and it’s what vaping newbies and smokers default to, which is why you’re bound to hear the term quite often. Let’s examine what it’s all about and why it’s important for those looking to get into vaping to help them quit smoking.

Mouth-to-Lung Vaping

This is exactly what it sounds like. As with smoking a cigarette, the vapour from your devices is collected in your mouth first before it enters your lungs. Here’s how it works, step by step:

  • Take a long, smooth drag from your device.
  • Hold the vapour in your mouth.
  • In a second motion, inhale the vapour into your lungs.
  • Relax and exhale.

For anyone who used to smoke, mouth-to-lung vaping feels like second nature, although one crucial difference is that smoking goes with short, sharp drags. Since you want to let the vapour linger in your mouth when vaping, your drags should be longer.

Still, even for non-smokers, mouth-to-lung vaping is easy to master. Since vaping was originally designed to resemble and replace smoking, devices before could only be vaped mouth-to-lung. This may no longer the only option today, but many vapers still stick with mouth-to-lung because it’s satisfying and convenient.


There are several reasons why mouth-to-lung remains a classic way to vape:

Similar to Smoking

Many vapers are smokers. In fact, a huge proportion of these are smokers who are looking to quit. Because quitting is notoriously difficult, a recommended route is to gently switch from smoking to vaping than dropping it outright. Mouth-to-lung vaping helps make quitting more comfortable because it resembles smoking a cigarette. Smokers also face a reduced learning curve with mouth-to-lung vaping, so there’s less adjustment needed.

More Inconspicuous

Mouth-to-lung vaping naturally produces less vapour than direct-to-lung, although most vapers are already happy with this amount. While you won’t be churning out clouds, the flipside of this is that you’re less conspicuous when you vape. You can even do it in a crowd, hand wrapped around your mod, and nobody will notice. After all, the longer you hold the vapour in, the less visible it will be when you exhale. In contrast, the huge vapour from direct-to-lung vaping is easily seen by people nearby.

Higher Nicotine Levels

You have more control over the nicotine level with mouth-to-lung vaping. One disadvantage of direct-to-lung is that you can’t vape high-nicotine e-liquids safely. With mouth-to-lung, you’re allowed a much wider range of nicotine levels. Heavy smokers or vapers who crave a strong throat hit often start with nicotine levels as high as 12 to 20 mg before slowly tapering down. On the other hand, it’s also okay to vape mouth-to-lung with low- or even zero-nicotine e-liquids, depending on your preferences.

Maximised Flavour

When you let the vapour linger in your mouth, you can enjoy the flavour better. Your taste buds remain in contact with the vapour for a while, maximising the flavour profile even for mild concentrations. Aside from this, there’s less air added to the vape, and the high-PG e-liquids often used for mouth-to-lung vaping tend to be better at retaining flavour. In direct-to-lung vaping, you can’t appreciate the flavour as much because you’re sucking the vapour in fast.

Smooth Throat Hit

Mouth-to-lung vaping gives a much smoother throat hit and a mild tingling sensation. This is much friendlier for beginners and occasional vapers, who may feel overwhelmed with direct-to-lung vaping.


For regular vapers who consume several e-liquid bottles in a month, cost may be a major consideration. Mouth-to-lung is much more economical with e-liquid. Because the inhalation is gentler, less e-liquid is vapourised with each drag. Experienced vapers will notice that e-liquids last longer with mouth-to-lung rather than direct-to-lung, which consumes a lot in exchange for larger vapour production. Over the long run, mouth-to-lung vaping is significantly less expensive.

Cooler Temperature

While some vapers aren’t very particular with the temperature of their vape, those who like it cooler might prefer mouth-to-lung. It relies on less power, so the resulting vapour won’t be as hot as with direct-to-lung.

Best Setups

Finding devices for mouth-to-lung vaping doesn’t take much effort. It doesn’t require extremes in power or resistance, so nearly all mods available today can be adapted for mouth-to-lung. However, you have to consider these factors:

High-resistance coils

Devices for mouth-to-lung vaping must be equipped with coils that have a high resistance of 1.0 ohm or above. These coils are made to produce less vapour, so they don’t require that much power. Scorching or overheating the e-liquid is less likely, and the vapour is maintained at the right temperature, with the flavour profile intact.

OBS mini coils

Tight airflow

The most obvious difference that you’ll notice between mouth-to-lung and direct-to-lung tanks is the size of the mouthpiece. Mouth-to-lung tanks have a narrower mouthpiece. This creates a tighter airflow, allowing you to take vapour in at a more controlled pace. Most devices are already manufactured with adjustable airflows, and you can simply tweak these for mouth-to-lung vaping.


E-liquids are made with a base consisting of two chemicals: propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG). In e-liquid descriptions, the specific PG-VG ratio is usually included because it affects almost everything about the e-liquid, from its taste to its potential for cloud production.

The devices used for mouth-to-lung vaping work best with e-liquids having a medium to high concentration of PG. Since PG is the e-liquid component responsible for the throat hit, high-PG e-liquids naturally provide a satisfying throat hit that smokers will especially appreciate. In addition, high-PG e-liquids are also better at preserving flavour. Do note that there’s a higher risk of allergy with PG than VG.

E-liquids for mouth-to-lung vaping can also have nicotine levels reaching up to 12 mg or above.

pod salt fusions big tasty e-liquid

Mouth-to-Lung or Direct-to-Lung?

Despite its multiple benefits, mouth-to-lung vaping isn’t ideal for every situation. Its weaknesses can be thought of as the other style’s strengths. For one, your mouth can’t contain that much vapour when inhaling, so vapour production is limited. Sub-ohm vapers inevitably turn to direct-to-lung instead. Direct-to-lung also results in a stronger, more intense throat hit, which some veteran vapers prefer. It’s considered the more “modern” method, with many bestselling devices today crafted for it.

All in all, if you’re into sub-ohm vaping or if your top priority is cloud production, then you’re definitely better off with direct-to-lung. But for nearly everyone else, mouth-to-lung is the default or “safest” vaping style. Newbies should start their vaping journey here since it’s much simpler to pull off. It’s also a favourite of smokers, who love its throat hit and tolerance for high nicotine.

In any case, vapers are encouraged to experiment as much as possible to find the style that best suits them. We recommend trying out both styles. Vapers typically start out with mouth-to-lung as beginners, then test direct-to-lung when they become more advanced. One of these styles will be your sweet spot, serving as the foundation of your vaping experience.

2 thoughts on “What is Mouth to Lung Vaping?

  1. Thanks for this, helpful as there are so many terms of a new vaper. So which kit would I be best going with for mouth to lung, particularly the salt pods?

    1. Hi Maz, thanks for your enquiry. There are many MTL vapes available to choose which can be found on this link. In terms of which is ‘best’ would be worthy of a phonecall to discuss what your current smoke or vape volumes are. We would be more than happy to help. After lockdown has ended you’ll also be welcome to come and see and speak to us about the various MTL kits in our Bristol shop.

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