What Is An Atomizer?

What Is An Atomizer

If you’re a vaper, whether new or experienced, you’ve heard the word atomizer before. While many veteran vapers know exactly what this means and what kinds are available, a lot of beginners will ask: what is an atomizer?

You’ve come to the right place on the web to find the answer you’re looking for. We’ll not only provide you with an explanation, but dive into every aspect you need to know about a vape atomizer.

Atomizers - often called "attys" - are simply what you use to vape out of. However, there are plenty of different types of atomizers catering to different vaping experiences. So, yes an atomizer is something you’ll use to vape. Now, you might see atomizers described differently, but these are NOT the same! We're talking about vaping here not perfume and sprays.

Types Of Atomizers

Moving on, each atomizer will look different based what kind it is as there are a number of variants. For example, an atomizer cartridge will look much different from a rebuildable atomizer. So let’s dig in.

Dry Herb Atomizers

Dry herb atomizers are exactly what you think they are. These types of atomizers are designed specifically for dry herb. Simply, they offer a chamber within glass for dry herb alongside a heating element allowing you to vaporize.

Most, if not all dry herb atomizers do feature a 510 thread which allows you to use them with pretty much any battery. Additionally, they’re often constructed of glass material and feature ceramic. Although this is true, popular products you may see online – like the Puffco Peak Atomizer – which feature ceramic, are more designed for wax than dry herb.

Just always keep in mind with these kinds of atomizers, you’ll only use these for a specific kind of vape experience. If you’re looking for something that can vaporize e-liquid, this isn’t your cup of tea. However, if this is indeed something you’re after, then you’ll want to check out our list of best dry herb atomizers.

Squonk Atomizers

Now these style atomizers have skyrocketed in popularity within the past two years and for good reason! As confusing as what  an atomizer is to a beginner, even some experienced vapers may not truly understand what a squonk atomizer is. Think of this as a regular rebuildable dripping atomizer (which we’ll get into later) just with a drilled hole in the 510 pin. What this allows you to do is "squonk" or squeeze an e-liquid bottle built onto a device, which are called squonk mods.

So rather than having to fill e-liquid back onto the squonk atomizer yourself, vape juice will travel up through the 510 into your juice well as you press the bottle. To say the least, this is incredibly convenient. If you’re still curious about this style of vaping, then you’ll definitely want to check out this video where we cover the complete basics of squonking and squonk atomizers.

MTL Atomizers

MTL atomizers were very popular back in the beginning of vaping but dropped in popularity after sub-ohming became the norm. Fast-forward years later, and they’re back at the top. MTL atomizers are designed with one specific type of vape in mind: mouth to lung, which is exactly what "MTL" stands for.

You won’t see plenty of clouds with these vape atomizer types, but you’ll get an experience that’s comparable to combustible cigarettes. Additionally, MTL attys are often used with higher and stronger strenth e-liquids such as those formulated with nicotine salts.

Rebuildable Tank Atomizers

Rebuildable atomizers (RBAs) allow you to build your own coil and install them yourself in order to vape. Rebuildable tank atomizers, or RTAs, are the same except with one major difference. That one key difference is the fact that is has a tank section which holds a set amount of e-liquid. Typically, they’re constructed of both stainless steel and glass for the tank section.

These atomizers come in a variety of sizes as well, so no matter what you enjoy most, we’re sure you’ll find something that’ll suit you. Even when it comes to pricing, these cheap vape tanks won’t break the bank that’s for sure. Now the best part is that there are multiple designs on the market that cater to both direct lung or sub ohm vapers and mouth to lung users.

Rebuildable Dripping Atomizers

Unlike the previous, rebuildable dripping atomizers or RDAs are essentially the same as RTAs, except they do not feature a tank. You have to drip e-liquid - hence the name dripping atomizer - in order to continue vaping. Additionally, you'll use a coil that you made or bought.

E-Juice does not feed to your coil and cotton like others such as squonk atomizers where you can feed vape juice with a push of a bottle. Don’t let this stray you away! Even though they're not as convenient as a traditional vape tank, RDAs are often the primary choice for many vapers.

Rebuildable Dripping Tank Atomizers

Next, we’ve got rebuildable dripping tank atomizers or RDTAs which combine both RDAs and RTAs into one single atty. These have tank sections built into them just like a vape tank, but have the coils set up higher to your mouth similar to an RDA. With that being said, e-liquid feeds into your cotton and coils as you tilt to vape.

Like the other rebuildables, you’ll see these in a variety of sizes ranging from 22 mm all the way up to a massive 30 mm in diameter. If you’re looking to see more differences between all of these mentioned, check out our full guide.

Health Concerns

Firstly, you cannot vape atomized lidocaine. As mention earlier, you’ll also want to keep in mind that what we’re explaining here is different from atomizers used for purposes other than vaping.

With that out the way, you’ll always want to keep in mind ohms law and battery safety as these are key to staying safe while using vaping atomizers. Definitely stray away from dry hits! Not only is the taste awful, but is a health concern for many. Simply ensure that your cotton and coils are saturated with e-liquid and you won't have that experience. With dry herb atomizers, be sure they’re packed properly and have your settings in check.

How To Clean Atomizers

Keeping your atomizers clean is important to keep problems at bay, including those annoying "check atomizer" warnings you’ll often run into. We recommend using atomizer disinfectant alongside washing them out with warm water. This will work with basically all vape atomizer types. Another great and easy way to keep your atomizers clean is with ultrasonic cleaners. Simple yet effective.


As shown here, there are plenty of different vape atomizers on the market, but we do hope this helps you understand what is an atomizer. It can be confusing, especially at first for new vapers. However, as you continue your vape journey and experience all kinds of vape atomizer types, you’ll discover what you enjoy most.

If you’re not sure where to begin, take a look at our top RBAs money can buy. Now, if you know what you want, but vaping on a budget, we have pages full of atomizer deals that’ll save you TONS of cash.

Thanks for reading! If you have any additional questions about atomizers, feel free to leave them down below!

I am a vape hobbyist currently living in the central Florida area. I have been vaping for over two years now, and constantly keep up to date with the newest vape gear. I recently started working in the vape industry, and my goal is to inform as many people as I can of the benefits of vaping, and how to go about getting the best deals possible.

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