What Is Sub Ohm Vaping and What No One Tells You about It?

What is sub ohm vaping

With the release of the Kanger Subtank and the Aspire Atlantis, the term “sub-ohm vaping” is flooding the Internet and social media. Vaping technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and many of us have a tough time keeping up with all the new jargon. But what is sub-ohm vaping exactly? Do you need to buy specially designed sub-ohm tanks? Can you use your existing devices? Why would anyone want to sub ohm vape in the first place? Well, if you are a fan of both huge cloud production and the biggest burst flavor possible for your favorite e-juices, sub-ohm vaping might be for you.

What is sub-ohm vaping?​

As the name implies, sub-ohm vaping deals with electricity, and this is not a subject that should be taken lightly. A traditional tank atomizer or cartomizer has a range of about 1.5 to 2.8 ohms. With sub-ohm vaping, atomizer coils or series of coils, with a total measurable resistance that is less than 1.0 ohm, are used. According to the laws of science (Ohm’s Law), a non-variable voltage source (like the battery in a Mechanical Mod) can produce more power (wattage) by lowering the resistance (ohms) of a circuit. So, using a lower ohm atomizer coil will result in bigger clouds, hotter vapor, and an intensified flavor.

Previously, to vape at sub ohm levels you would have to use a rebuildable atomizer to build your own coils. Now that sub-ohm tanks have arrived to market, consumers can now vape at sub ohm levels without having to resort to DIY. The basic concept behind sub-ohm tanks is to attempt to duplicate the effects of rebuildable dripping atomizer without all the hassle.

What is involved with sub-ohm vaping?​

Before the sub-ohm tank craze, to vape at sub ohm levels vapers had to use rebuildable atomizers. This allowed them to construct their own sub ohm coils out of a wicking material, such as cotton, and kanthal wire. They would then use an unregulated mechanical mod, with an 18650 battery inside, to power and heat the atomizer coil.

Of course, if the do-it-yourself sub-ohm builder wasn’t an expert in Ohm’s Law, then this could sometimes lead to some very catastrophic results. Make sure to read our Sub Ohm Vaping Safety article if you plan to use a mechanical mod and a sub ohm atomizer.

Now, instead of using mechanical mods and rebuildable atomizers, many vapers are using regulated box mods and sub ohm tanks to enjoy their vaping at sub ohm levels. The latter combination tends to be a safer option, because regulated mods have restrictions that prevent them from firing an atomizer with too low of a resistance.

These are the three main methods of sub-ohm vaping:​

RDA or Rebuildable Dripping Atomizer:​

plume-veil-15-rda-atomizer-vaporizer

Before the release of the Aspire Atlantis and other sub-ohm tanks, RDA’s were the only method available to sub-ohm vape. RDA’s are also called drippers, and we can use them with almost any Mechanical or Box Mod.

Drippers are usually smaller than tank atomizers and include a deck for building the coil that we then attach by using a screwdriver. We then wick the coil with cotton. Users then drip a tiny amount of e-liquid on the coil and wick, re-dripping once every few puffs.​

RBA, RTA, or Rebuildable Tank Atomizer:

Kayfun RTA

This method is for people who want to avoid dripping completely but who still want to build their own coils. RBA’s are basically clearomizers that require the user to build the coil or coils inside. The great thing about this option is that users can custom design any coil imaginable to produce the precise vaping experience that they want.

Not all RBA’s are for sub-ohm vaping though. So be careful. Some do not have the appropriate airflow controls and insulation required for sub ohm vaping. Without proper airflow an RTA can create a very hot vapor that may burn your lips.​

Sub-Ohm Tanks:

Aspire Triton Tank

This method is likely the perfect choice for first-timer sub-ohm vapers. They work very much like an RBA, but these use pre-made, disposable coils that can be purchased from the manufacturer.

Some sub ohm tanks have optional RBA heads so users can choose to either build their own coils or use pre-built coil heads. This technology is the basis of the Kanger Subtank and the Atlantis Aspire, among many others (Check out our article “Best Sub-ohm Tanks” for more information).​

If sub-ohm vaping is so great, why isn’t EVERYONE doing it?​

​There are always going to be pro’s and con’s with any new technology. Many vapers buy their very first vape kit and stick with it for years. Others like to experiment and try new things.

The Pros

  • Bigger clouds: Not everyone has the urge to blow massive plumes of vapor that are bigger and thicker than their neighbor’s, but if cloud chasing is something that you’re into, sub-ohm technology might be something worth trying.
  • Hotter vapor: The higher wattage creates a warmer, hotter vapor. This hotter vapor is why the RDA’s, RBA’s, and sub-ohm tanks have the airflow controls that cool the e-juice slightly so that it won’t burn the lips of the user. Many vapers prefer the hotter vapor because it simulates the effects of smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes.
  • More intense flavor: Steeping e-juices takes a great deal of time, in most cases. And leaving those tiny bottles lying around in closets and refrigerator shelves is very dangerous, especially for homes with small children. Because the e-liquids burn hotter, they also taste fuller, richer, and more intense. Many vapers who try sub-ohm methods often say that they will never again go back to the high-resistance, ceramic fiber clearomizers ever again.

The Cons

  • Mouth-to-Lung Hitters: Sub-ohm vaping tends to give the user a massive lung hit of vapor. This extra “kick” is a feature than many sub-ohm enthusiasts simply love. Others in the vaping community call these people “Mouth-to-lungers.” Newbies to the technology might be a bit surprised at first.
  • Hard to Hide: The massive plumes of smoke and intense aroma produced from sub-ohm tanks draws a lot of extra attention from those around you. If you are trying to sneak a vape at the office, it’s going to be much tougher to hide. For the stealthier vaper, this might not be the best choice of tank.
  • Juice Monsters: It takes a lot of juice to make those massive clouds. For those just entering the world of sub-ohm vaping, don’t be surprised if you start going through e-juice like crazy. If you are vaping-on-a-budget, then this technique may not be your best choice. On a more positive note, vapers who use sub-ohm technology also tend to prefer lower nicotine levels in their e-liquids of perhaps 6mg or less, which can save you a little money. Some even opt for the zero-nic options. The bigger blast of vapor means a bigger blast of nicotine.

Still not sure about sub ohm tanks? Give "Is Sub Ohm Tank Right for You?" and the sub-ohm vaping guide from 1Guide.net a read.

The new sub-ohm tanks on the market are very safe and reliable, but first-timers should always take the time to read the included instructions very carefully. Remember, we are essentially increasing the power of the electrical device that you will soon be holding up to your lips.

Always be sure to use the proper batteries indicated on the package, and never exceed the recommended amperage of the batteries, as well. You read this article because you wanted to know "What is sub ohm vaping?" and I hope I have answered your question.

If not just leave a comment below and remember to vape responsibly at all times, especially when sub-ohm vaping.​ Do consider watching this video if you like visuals rather than text.

11 COMMENTS
  • DuWaye 09/18/2015

    Best way to get around the increased cost of ejuice is to make your own. PG and VG are pretty easy to find for $13ish per liter, or $25 per gallon. The cost of flavoring runs between $5 and $8 for 4oz bottles, or $13.50 and $22 for 16oz bottles from the supplier I use. The same supplier has quite reasonable prices for nicotine solution, depending on strength and carries it in a variety of VG/PG ratios. I use 100mg/ml, in 100%vg, because I prefer max VG ejuice.

    All in all, it costs me less than $15 per 473ml batch. I generally use pint canning jars, with plastic lids because they are glass, have wide mouths, and I can top them with cheesecloth held in place with the metal canning rings periodically for steeping. I also use 60ml syringes to bottle it and the wide mouth makes it really easy to get the syringe into the jar.

    I would note that even if my supplier sold pure nicotine I wouldn’t use it. Yes, it would be a little bit cheaper, but it would require mixing my own solution to make it safe to work with. I pay $15 for a 120ml bottle of 100mg/ml, which is easier and safer to work with.

    Of course the irony of making your own ejuice, is that you need to consume a lot of ejuice before it goes bad. Keeping it well sealed would help I suppose, but once the nicotine is mixed with a carrier a chemical reaction starts. Opening it to the air will make that reaction go more quickly, sealing it tight should slow it, *but it will not stop it.*

    • Jesse 11/25/2015

      Hey duwaye Where do you buy your supplies at?

  • Heather Gray 09/21/2015

    Thanks for all the information, very useful. VC is definitely my favorite vaping site.

  • John Flener 09/21/2015

    I am interested for a different reason. I want larger tanks, and better quality coils. It is inconvient to have to constantly test for OHM, and if close, use to poor quality or restricted air comes, and rebuild. The larger Kanger tanks don’t promote coil life and are actually more expensive than the 4.5 or larger subohm tanks.

    Background reasoning stated, My question is will the Kanger, Cloupor Z4, Anyvape Fury, or Kayfun, improve my experience at 1.2 to 2.00 on a 30 watt box. I use the vv/vw box to extend the life of a coil when anything less than the 3100 ego-t or 2200 Nego-Twist will not product enough power. Before you comment subohm smoke can be controlled, two points – 30 watt limit, and don’t want heavy clouds.

    • Nathan 09/21/2015

      I’m confused as to what your asking.

      • John Flener 09/21/2015

        What I was trying to ask was “Will a subohm tank using an RBA work at high ranges of 1.5 up to as high as 2.5, or with rebuilt heating elements reset to 1.2 or higher function as a regular tank like a Aerotank or Genitank?”
        My concern is with the increased airllow, which can be cut back, and the larger juice ports which may need the higher voltage and might flood at my normal range of 9 to 12 WATTS. Sorry the first time it sounded like a rant.

        • Nathan 09/22/2015

          Oh, an RBA head inside a sub ohm tank. Yes, you can use higher resistance coils inside a sub ohm tank but it may not work that well because of the large amount of airflow. Most sub ohm tanks do have adjustable airflow but they can’t usually get as tight as a Nautilus or something similar. The large wicking holes could also be a problem. I really don’t think your going to want to build much over 1.0ohm on a sub ohm tank. However, I have not tried it and it will depend on the tank.

  • John Flener 09/23/2015

    thanks for reply, it was helpful. I currently use geni, kwx, and aerotank, and can use them up to about 10 or 11 watts. above this, it appears they fail faster. It has forced me to learn to rebuild. However I still do not like the big clouds, messes up my computers, and irrates those around me. It actually fogs my glasses.
    I may go with the Kanger , they do have a 1.2 ohm, probably not to hard to rebuild. If they do not have a decent life span, they would get expensive. If you know of any other tanks that operate in the 9-12 range please let me know.

    • Nathan 09/23/2015

      My favorite non-sub ohm tank is still the Aspire Nautilus, I still use mine all the time. It’s prefect at 9-12 watts.

  • unit3 12/20/2015

    how do you know when juice has goon bad ? i had some blue berry that was siting around for two years when i made the mistake going back to cig’s and i just vaped it and it was fine rather good like it fomented like wine ?

    • Nathan 12/20/2015

      I think most people agree that ejuice will probably go bad after 2 years. However, what “bad” means is up for debate. The nicotine has probably lost some potency but other than that I don’t really know what happens to ejuice after sitting for years.

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