Sub-ohm vaping is among the most popular types of vaping that you’ll notice today. Much of its appeal lies in how it produces large amounts of vapour without too much effort (there are even vapers called cloud-chasers who push this to the extreme, dazzling audiences with impressive stacks of vapour in competitions all over the world).
Sub-ohm vaping requires a specific technical setup. Some years back, only veterans dabbled in it because they had to build their own coils, but by 2014, sub-ohm tanks were already flooding the market. Sub-ohm vaping has now become a mainstay in the vaping world, with thousands of sub-ohm devices and vaping kits available even for the inexperienced. Sub-ohm vaping involve more power than usual, though, so you still have to follow certain safety rules.
How It Works
Sub-ohm vaping can be summarised in a single equation called Ohm’s law:
I (current) = V (voltage) x R (resistance)
Simply put, this means that to increase the current going through an electrical device, you have to increase the voltage or lower the resistance. More current means more vapour. In accordance with Ohm’s Law, sub-ohm vapers have the option of either boosting the voltage from the battery or lowering the coil resistance.
When sub-ohm vaping was still emerging, people initially tried to focus on high-powered batteries, but these had a limited capacity. There’s also the risk of burning the coil, which will give you nasty-tasting vapour.
The other option is to reduce coil resistance. Luckily, even only a small decrease creates huge gains in power. Low-resistance coils are usually made of thicker wires with greater surface area, allowing more current to pass through.
This became the dominant approach for sub-ohm vaping, which is defined as using coils with a resistance of less than one ohm. More e-liquid is vapourised, leading to large clouds.
What to Expect
Aside from huge vapour production, sub-ohm vapers also enjoy smooth and intense flavours—to the point that many of them don’t want to go back to other kinds of vaping. More flavour is inhaled with each puff, since the vapour is denser. It’s also pleasantly warm, and the throat hit is strong and satisfying because of the higher nicotine content.
Sub-ohm vaping generally goes best with a direct-lung inhale and unrestricted airflow to temper the high heat produced by the coils. Most sub-ohm devices have adjustable airflow so you can tweak the heat until it’s just right for you. During sub-ohm vaping, don’t jump straight to high heat—start with a low wattage or temperature, then gradually increase it so you don’t burn out the coils.
Initially, only veterans could experience sub-ohm vaping because devices had to be built manually. Sub-ohm vaping was still fairly new territory back then, and its main goal was going beyond the standard power capacities of devices on the market. For anyone to pull this off, an advanced understanding of Ohm’s law and significant experience with vaping were needed.
Thanks to these pioneers, sub-ohm vaping emerged and took off rapidly. It’s now accessible for all levels of vapers, as starter kits and sub-ohm tanks are readily available and pretty much every high-capability vaping device can be used for sub-ohm vaping. If you’ve been vaping for months, chances are, you already own a sub-ohm device (or you’ve attempted it yourself).
Sub-ohm devices tend to fall between 10 and 300 watts in terms of power, although 30 watts is the safe minimum for maintaining a resistance of less than one ohm in the coils. Given how much sub-ohm vaping has dominated the market, you have a healthy choice of devices.
There are generally two types:
Unregulated or mechanical mods are simpler and old-fashioned. The battery here is directly connected to the coils, without any circuit boards, screens, chipsets, or safety features built in. Many vapers have put together their own mechanical mods with tools such as batteries, wire, and cotton for the wick. Although they were the original sub-ohm vaping devices, unregulated mods are definitely not beginner-friendly and can be extremely risky if you don’t know what you’re doing.
For beginner and intermediate vapers, regulated mods are the best choice. Regulated mods have the advantage of being modulated by a computer processor. They have built-in safety mechanisms, and they’ll shut down safely or recalibrate to avoid dangerous situations. They’re also likely to have screens so you can see the device’s current status at a glance, no specialised mechanical knowledge required.
A crucial component is the sub-ohm tank, which is extremely convenient because you can fit it into any mod that’s capable of sub-ohm vaping. Compared to the average vaping tank, its wire and wick are much larger. Loosely speaking, the coil has a resistance level of less than one ohm, usually somewhere from 0.2 to 0.5 ohms. Sub-ohm tanks are also made of glass rather than plastic or quartz.
New e-liquids are constantly being released onto the market, but only some of them are compatible with sub-ohm vaping. What’s important to look at here is the e-liquid’s VG (vegetable glycerin) / PG (propylene glycol) concentration. These are the base ingredients of e-liquids, and sub-ohm vapers prefer a higher VG concentration because it’s responsible for producing dense vapour. High-VG e-liquids naturally create larger clouds, with a smoother throat hit. On the other hand, PG imparts more flavour, so most sub-ohm vapers would still retain a bit of PG, going for concentrations such as 80 to 90% VG. Cloud-chasers, whose primary agenda is the size of the vapour, more often choose 100% VG e-liquids.
Another important consideration is the e-liquid’s nicotine level. Sub-ohm vapers go for low-nicotine e-liquids, roughly 6% or below, because sub-ohm vaping exposes you to more concentrated nicotine with each puff. Vaping a low-nicotine e-liquid helps ensure that you don’t take in too much nicotine, which has many unpleasant side effects from nausea to diarrhea.
As exhilarating as sub-ohm vaping is, there’s the risk of mishandling devices and causing accidents or even explosions. More caution is needed with mechanical mods, but even if regulated mods are largely safe, all vapers should still observe safety measures.
The battery is the most important part of your sub-ohm vaping setup since it delivers the power that keeps your device running.
Choose batteries with high amp ratings that are meant for sub-ohm vaping and buy only from trustworthy brands. The batteries favoured by sub-ohm vapers are unprotected IMR or hybrid lithium batteries such as 18650.
Never go beyond the amperage limit because this might cause the device to malfunction or even combust. Batteries are damaged by overheating, so don’t expose them to extreme temperatures and keep them dry.
Overcharging can trigger batteries to overheat, so unplug your battery or device once it’s already at 100% capacity. The good thing is, if you’re charging through a USB port, it automatically stops charging once a certain percentage is reached. Regardless of your charging method, the adapter should be compatible with your device.
Mechanical mods are more prone to safety issues because you have to do monitoring and maintenance on your own. It’s possible for them to combust or explode right mid-use if the settings are inappropriate.
Regularly check your coil’s resistance and battery voltage with a multimeter. Using Ohm’s Law of Current = Voltage / Resistance, you can calculate the number of amps that your setup will generate. This should never be greater than the amp rating of your battery.
Another safety rule is to keep your mod clean. Check the air vents before vaping since these prevent the heat from being trapped inside, and replace the battery when your device is producing noticeably less vapour than before.
From Fringe to Mainstream
Although the overall vaping scene is constantly evolving, much of it has been defined by sub-ohm vaping, which has grown from a fringe movement to a staple that appeals to vapers of all levels. Millions all over the world practice sub-ohm vaping safely by observing the right precautions, and there’s a unique thrill to blowing large stacks of vapour, whether you’re doing it for fun, vaping together with friends, or participating in a competition.
Here at Vapour Days, we stock a wide range of sub ohm vaping kit, so why not have a browse or better yet, pop into our Bristol store and have a chat to us in person about the best kit for getting into sub ohm vaping.