Vaping- MTL vs RDA (DTL)
If you’ve walked into a vape shop (or looked for a simple kit to get you started online), you might be a bit baffled at just how many kinds of e-cigarettes there are. Most people start out with a complete kit, one of the ones that comes with everything you need, like a tank (or pod), battery and coils. Maybe you started with a mouth to lung kit, or went straight into Sub Ohm vape pens.
Generally speaking, most people get into vaping at the most basic end of the spectrum. If you stick with an e-cig you may go on to enjoy vaping so much it becomes a hobby. There’s a natural trajectory to this path so we thought we’d clear up where most people start and how they move up those levels - and how you can too.
MOUTH TO LUNG VAPING
Generally considered “Step One” when it comes to vaping, mouth to lung kits were created to emulate the inhalation style of smoking. You draw a little vapour into your mouth, then down into your lungs (just as the name would suggest).
As far as kits go, while it might be the most basic style of vaping, you aren’t limited for choice here. Pick from pod kits in a myriad of styles, designs, colours and pre-filled or open pods - they’re often the go-to for newbie vapers. You can also get pen vapes made for MTL inhaling as well as stand alone tanks that you can pair with a box mod if you want more control over how you vape. To be classified as a mouth to lung kit, they’ll have a coil resistance of 1.0ohm or more.
WHY DO PEOPLE USE MOUTH TO LUNG KITS?
Mouth to lung kits offer a simple, flavourful and low maintenance option for those who mostly just want to vape to get a nicotine hit without cigarettes. Typically you’ll use mouth to lung kits with higher PG liquids for a stronger throat hit and less vapour.
- If someone has chosen to make the switch, we often recommend something like a pre-filled pod kit. The reason being they’re the easiest way to vape. Just click a pod into place, switch the battery on and either press a button to vape or, in the manual draw kits, just inhale to vape.
- They emulate the style of inhalation you’d get from conventional smoking, meaning they don’t have such an “adjustment” for transitioning smokers. Aside from pressing a button instead of lighting up, they’re very similar.
- Mouth to lung kits are ideal for those of you looking for something that can deliver a high nicotine strength. Using more powerful kits with a strong nicotine level isn’t advisable, which is why people switching from a heavy smoking habit often pick up a mouth to lung kit to start with.
SUB OHM VAPING AKA DIRECT TO LUNG VAPING
After mouth to lung vaping, the next step for better flavour and more clouds is Sub Ohm vaping. Some people jump right in here when they start vaping (usually those using a lower nicotine strength), it’s not a whole lot different to mouth to lung vaping once you get used to it either. With direct to lung vaping, rather than a shorter, sharper inhale into your mouth you take a longer, deeper inhale straight into your lungs.
Sub Ohm vaping uses coils with a resistance of less than 1.0ohm which means more current can flow through the wire or mesh. The result - a warmer vape, bigger clouds and better flavour. When it comes to the kind of e-cigs you can get here, there’s even more choice. Bigger batteries, a huge variety of pen vapes (with fixed wattage or variable wattage), box mod kits and Sub Ohm tanks you can pair with the mod of your choice.
Sub Ohm vaping has a much broader range of coil levels which are suited to different wattage levels and up the vapour volume massively as well as giving you a lot more flavour. They have a similar design to mouth to lung tanks but offer a lot more airflow for an easier inhale.
- Generally, more vapour means more flavour and Sub Ohm vaping gives you a lot more vapour. Regardless of whether you’re a flavour chaser or a cloud chaser, you can tinker until you find the right kind of coil for you that strikes the right balance between the two.
- When you’re using e-liquids with more VG and less PG, you’ll have a mild to non-existent throat hit which most people prefer over time. While the harsher inhale is great for transitioning smokers, many people get over the need for that and enjoy a smoother inhale - particularly with direct to lung vaping.
- They’re better from the get go for people using a lower nicotine strength. When you use a more powerful vape and inhale it more directly, it’ll always hit a lot harder. Nic salts are a no-no in Sub Ohm kits and as a general rule we’d recommend using a 3mg, perhaps a 6mg at most.
While many people are happy to stop at the Sub Ohm vaping level, the final (and totally optional) step in vaping is building your coils from scratch. You might have already heard of RBAs. They stand for ReBuildable Atomisers which encompasses both RBAs and RTAs. Yes, more acronyms.
In essence, they were created to allow you total control over how you like to vape. Unlike conventional tanks that come with coils with a set resistance and metal type, you can make your own from scratch. Some of the most popular wires to use include nickel, stainless steel and titanium. You can also get fused coils which pair a few kinds of wire together, resulting in different effects from better flavour to the biggest clouds imaginable.
RDA stands for rebuildable dripping atomiser while RTA is a rebuildable tank atomiser. You can see why they get abbreviated. They’re quite a mouthful. So, what’s the difference?
There’s one key similarity and one key difference between the two. Both RDAs and RTAs will require you to build and install your own coils. This means curling your own wire, checking the resistance on either an Ohmmeter or a regulated mod and installing it onto the build deck. After that you’ll wick it with some organic cotton (the bit that absorbs your e-liquid) and you’re ready to vape.
The difference is that RDAs don’t have a tank or glass component to them, so hold less e-liquid. As you may have guessed, you drip e-liquid directly onto the coil and vape it away. There are e-liquid reservoirs in RDAs but typically these only hold around 1ml of vape juice. RTAs, as the name suggests, do have a glass tank like your regular MTL or Sub Ohm tank would. This means you can build your coil, seal it all up and use it in the same way you would a regular tank. You fill it up with e-liquid and don’t need to worry about dripping more onto the coils like you would with an RDA.
RBAs are one of the most versatile ways to vape, albeit a little more fiddly. When you build your own coils you aren’t limited to only Sub Ohm or plus Ohm coils - you can build however you like, from 0.1ohm all the way up to 3ohms.
- RBAs have all the benefits of Sub Ohm tanks (and mouth to lung tanks) for less cost. When you’re building your own coils, you won’t need to throw the whole wire away when the flavour starts to wane. Just remove the cotton you’ve wicked it with, clean the wire off of any e-liquid gunk, pack some fresh cotton in there and you’re ready to vape again.
- They take Sub Ohm vaping to a whole new level. Generally speaking you’ll find pre-made replacement coils at a 0.15ohm resistance at the lowest. With RBAs you can build even lower and depending on your wire type, can also operate in temperature control mode too. The end result is the biggest clouds possible, especially if you pair it with a high VG liquid.
- You’ll also be able to build for flavour over vapour if that’s more important to you too. Some coil types offer better flavour payoff and you’ll be able to hone in on the right resistance for the perfect balance of flavour and vapour.
- Having the choice between an RDA and an RTA also allows you to pick what’s important to you when it comes to flavour and vapour as well. With an RDA, because your e-liquid is vaped away quickly, you can swap flavours after just a few puffs. RTAs have all the benefits of building your own coils but require less faffing with e-liquid. Just fill your tank and you’ll enjoy all the benefits without having to drip your coils every few puffs.
For safety reasons, we’d always recommend using an RBA with a regulated mod, especially if you’re just starting out. They have plenty of safety features built in to make sure the resistance-to-output level match each other so you can vape safely.
No matter where in your vaping journey you’re at, there are plenty of options to explore and new ways to improve your experience until you reach that “just right” point.