Vape Coils Explained: Types and Components

What Do Coils Do in a Vape?

If you’re new to vaping or just looking to expand your knowledge, learning about coils is an absolute must. While a ton of factors influence the flavor and vapor production of your vaping experience, few things matter more than your selection of coils. This consideration is so important, in fact, that it’s strongly recommended you learn about various coils and their pro’s and con’s before picking up a vape. Most tanks are only compatible with certain types of coils and you’d be wasting money if you buy an excellent tank that just doesn’t happen to work with your preferred coils.

What is Vape Coil Made of?

Before we get into the details of all the various types of coils, let’s cover the basic elements of a vape coil. The variables to consider when looking at vape coils are the wire material, resistance, and the shape or style of the coil. Each of these components are combined in any given coil to provide it with its unique profile and affect its tank compatibility, ramp-up, flavor production, vapor production, and style of vaping (i.e. DTL or MTL).

Materials

Materials used in the construction of vape coils include Kanthal, Nichrome, Stainless steel, Nickel, and Titanium. There are, of course, other options, but these are by far the most popular. Each of these materials have their own properties and are compatible with either Power Mode, Temperature Control Mode, or both.

(For those using pre-made coils in simpler vape devices, you can disregard the TC vs. Power Mode distinction as many basic vapes do not include these options)

  • Kanthal – The original coil material, this is malleable, easy to work with, and works only with Power Mode.
  • Nichrome – An alternative to Kanthal, Nichrome is arguably more flavorful than Kanthal with a quicker ramp-up time. On the other hand, it is prone to burning and melting more easily. Also only useable in Power Mode.
  • Stainless Steel – The most versatile option, stainless steel works in both Temperature Control and Power Mode. It’s also known for its durability and longevity.
  • Nickel – Only works with Temperature Control, nickel is a very soft metal providing the quickest ramp-up time and excellent flavor. On the down side, it’s softness can make it hard to work with.
  • Titanium – The most expensive wire option, this is also only compatible with Temperature Control. It can be highly flammable and has some general health and safety concerns regarding its use, but it is one of the only options for those with severe nickel allergies.

Resistance

Resistance (measured in ohms) is a measure of how much the wire reduces, or “resists”, the amount of electrical current flowing through it. The higher the resistance of a coil, the less vapor production you’re going to get. Resistance also affects the style of vaping for which a coil is suitable. Sub-ohm vaping is generally considered the territory of direct-to-lung vaping, while resistances above one ohm is typically used with mouth-to-lung vaping.

Each of the factors discussed in this article impact the resistance of a coil. For instance, higher gauge wires are thinner and have a higher resistance. With these higher resistance options, you will need less power, use less e-juice, and improve the life of your battery. On the other hand, you will typically get a cooler vape with smaller clouds from high-resistance setups. As with all things involving coils, resistance levels are largely a matter of preference.

Vape Coils Types

Whether you’re looking to do it yourself or buy pre-made coils, it pays to know the different styles of coil available to you. These shapes can get a bit complicated, particularly if you’re looking to create them yourself. There’s a ton of resources and YouTube videos available to provide in-depth guidance if you choose to go that route; we’ll be keeping things a bit more surface-level with our summaries here.

For DIY vapers, we’ll be using a difficulty rating between 1 – 10 with 10 being master level difficulty and 1 being entry-level. If you’re buying pre-mades, feel free to disregard this info and don’t let it confuse you.

  • Clapton Coils
    • Name refers to similarity to guitar strings
    • Structure is high-gauge wire around low-gauge wire
    • Wide variety of resistance from sub-ohm to >1 ohm
    • Lower ramp-up than others
    • Compatible with Power Mode (Kanthal, SS, & NiCR) & Temperature Control (mostly SS)
    • Building difficulty – 5/10
    • Fused Clapton
      • Structure is one high-gauge wire around 2+ low-gauge wires
      • Various resistances for MTL/DTL
      • Faster ramp-up than standard Clapton
      • Building difficulty – 6/10
      • Staggered Fused Clapton
        • Structure is high-gauge around two Clapton cores with evenly-spaced outer wraps
        • Low resistance for DTL vaping
        • Thick, requiring large build deck
        • Slower ramp-up than standard/fused Claptons
        • Building difficulty – 7/10
        • Alien Clapton
          • Structure is de-cored Clapton around 3+ cores
          • Low resistance for sub-ohm vaping
          • Thick, requiring large build deck
          • Slower ramp-up than standard/fused Claptons
          • Building difficulty – 10/10
          • Staple Coil
            • Structure is high-gauge around 8-10 ribbon cores
            • Low resistance for sub-ohm vaping
            • Very thick build, requiring extra large build deck
            • Quicker ramp-up than fused Claptons.
            • Building difficulty – 8/10
            • Framed Staple
              • High gauge wire around stack of ribbon cores, sandwiched between two round wires
              • Low resistance for sub-ohm vaping
              • Very thick build, requiring extra large build deck
              • Quicker ramp-up than standard staple coil
              • Building difficulty – 9/10
              • Tiger Coil
                • Two twisted wires, one round write, one flat ribbon
                • Low resistance for both DTL and MTL vaping
                • Slightly thicker, but can fit most standard build decks
                • Building difficulty – 3/10
                • Hive Coil
                  • Two twisted wires twisted together
                  • Low resistance usually for DTL, but can be for MTL
                  • Fits most build decks
                  • Building difficulty – 3/10

 

This last section refers only to pre-made coils. When buying pre-made coils, you’ll likely face three choices: standard, mesh, or ceramic. Some companies may have different names for each of these, but you’re likely looking at a proprietary version of one of these styles. Standard, round coils will form the reference point here, so we’ll just be discussing mesh and ceramic.

 

  • Mesh coils
    • Usually made of stainless steel or Kanthal.
    • A strip of metal with holes punched in
    • Faster ramp-up
    • More vapor & intense flavor
    • Greater consistency
    • Great lifespan
    • Arguably better flavor quality
    • Less power needed to reach peak performance
    • Uses much more e-juice
    • Cooler vape than other options
    • Ceramic Coils
      • Two primary ceramic styles:
        • A coil (usually Kanthal) encased within a block of porous ceramic which acts as a wick and protection simultaneously.
        • A coil which is coated in ceramic but still uses cotton as a wick.
        • Increased coil lifespan
        • Protects coil against burning from dry hits
        • Reduces chance of spitback
        • Arguably better flavor
        • Not yet as popular as mesh, so compatibility can become an issue
        • Quicker juice consumption
        • Some concerns regarding the safety of vaping with ceramic.

 

 

Closing Words on Vaping Coils

While coils are arguably the most important consideration when vaping, there’s a couple things to keep in mind. First, nothing here is black and white. Which coils you enjoy is always going to be a matter of preference – that’s why there are so many different kinds to begin with! Second, a lot of the criteria and terms used to discuss coils can only really be grasped through trial and error. That is to say, you’re going to have to experiment to figure out which coils work best for you. For example, you may not really understand what’s meant by “a cool vape” vs. “a warm vape”  or which of those you’d prefer until you try it.

So don’t be afraid to try a bunch of different vapes and coils and figure out your own personal sweet spot! Experimentation is one of the many joys of vaping, especially in the current, rapidly-advancing state of vaping.