Understanding coils and wicks

Published by Matt Brown on 31st Oct 2016

Coils and wicks can be confusing for the first time user. First off, they are often referred to in many different ways, such as a coil, wick, atomizer and several other variations. In reality, however, they all mean roughly the same thing.

The coil is the heating element which vaporises the e-liquid. This is supplied e-liquid by the wick - put both together and you get the full atomiser. Bung them in a container that can be easily switched out of the tank and you have a pre-built atomizer. People just tend to refer to pre-built atomisers as the coil for simplicity's sake.

So why are coils important? Well, the coil, together with airflow, governs pretty much the entire performance of your device. Change the coil and the characteristics of it, and you can completely change the user experience. So, assuming the battery or device can cope with the setup you choose, the coil is the part that dictates whether you are going to enjoy the vape or not.

Taking our SERIES-S as an example, we have produced 3 coils for it; 1x mouth to lung coil, and 2x direct lung coils. All offer entirely different experiences. The three characteristics of a pre-built coil are as follows:

The Resistance

Resistance is measured in ohms - lowering the ohms increases heat, so a 0.5Ohm coil will get hotter than a 1.0Ohm coil. Increasing the heat (lowering the ohms) does a few things; increases vapour production, increases the warmth of the vapour and increases hit from the nicotine. Lower ohms mean more vapour and more hit.

So, why don’t we just build all devices to have the lowest resistance possible? Well, the answer is down to personal taste. Lower ohms require more battery power and bigger batteries, as well as more juice, and not everybody wants to walk around with a massive device that drinks e-liquid and eats power. For most regular users, carrying around a mini power plant is not an attractive option.

The Wick

The wicking material supplies the coil with e-liquid. With a hotter coil, the liquid is used up more quickly, so you need a faster wick. Organic cotton is generally considered the best wicking material, as it is taste neutral (does not affect the taste) providing a cleaner, purer flavour from the juice, but it’s also very resilient to heat. Plus, it wicks (provides liquid to the coil) quickly. So you can ramp up the heat, and retain taste, without fear of burning.

This why our JOC (Japanese organic cotton) coils for the PT3 perform better than the standard versions, as these use a more resilient material for the wick.

So, why aren’t all coils made with organic cotton? Well, most are actually, the only reason not to use it is cost, and the benefits outweigh the cost, so I'd always advise buying pre-built coils with organic cotton, such as our S-Coils or the PT3 JOC coils. Synthetic wicks just don’t add up to me.

The Airflow

The more airflow you have, the higher the temperature the coil can go, as air passing over the coil will help to keep it from overheating. This, in turn, tends to mean bigger clouds and again more hit, but also more taste. Airflow also alters the feel of the drag, or the resistance you experience when taking a draw.

A normal cigarette has resistance to its drag, and most users drag on a cigarette and pull the smoke into their mouth prior to inhaling into the lungs. This type of drag (read airflow) is known as mouth to lung (MTL). It produces a drag similar to a normal cigarette and is what most new users are comfortable with, as it makes vaping a familiar experience.

There is also another type of airflow, referred to as direct lung (DL), but is also known as sub-ohm, or high airflow vaping. Direct lung is more like sucking on a straw and offers no resistance to the drag - you are literally sucking as much air as you can over the coil and directly into your lungs along with the vapour. Do this with a normal cigarette and you’ll get burnt lips and feel like your lungs are about to fall out.

This type of drag causes a far larger movement of air as your lungs are far bigger than just your mouth, and hence far higher temperatures can be reached by the coil. This, however, is also when you get into vapour production like a fog machine (people reading this with large lungs, Google ‘cloud competition’, as there may be a professional career in vaping waiting for you).

Something like our SERIES-S offers both of these options (MTL and DL), so if you’re a new user you can start in familiar territory with a mouth to lung coil. When you’re ready to kick it up and experiment, simply chuck in the direct lung coil and fog the place out. Each person finds their own personal preference, but the nice thing about e-cigs is that you have options to choose from.

Pre-built coils take all of the hard work out of vaping. When we build a coil for a device, we set it up to balance all three of the above characteristics to give you the best possible experience for the kind of vape it’s meant for, either mouth to lung or direct lung, without you needing to worry.


  • If you want a drag like a cigarette, mouth to lung is where it’s at.
  • If you want to maximum hit and clouds to make the gods envious, direct lung is where you’ll want to go.

Just remember, if you're new, the idea of flooding a room with vapour may appeal, but it’s not always practical in public places. You might find you’ll get hand bagged if you decide to demonstrate your cloud making prowess at the bus stop. You also don’t get something for nothing.

Big clouds mean:

  • High battery drain.
  • Increased e-liquid consumption.
  • For convenience, larger capacity batteries and tanks are preferable.

In this scenario, the best option is a box mod. Box mods can be a little too big and bulky, and may look odd to some, but our SERIES-B manages to do it with a stylish and compact design. It's definitely worth checking out. In the world of box mods it’s tiny, but offers all the features you’ll need for direct lung all day every day, but it’s also capable of many more things as well.

If you are ever unsure about what way to go, I’d suggest just experimenting, but you can also contact us and we’ll help as much as we can. We’re here to try and ease you through the learning curve, and our staff are knowledgeable and helpful. We'll help make the transition as painless as possible.