Please note that sub ohm vaping isn’t generally recommended for beginners as it produces larger clouds of vapour which new vapers might find overwhelming. We suggest you check out our Different Types of Electronic Cigarette page if you’re new to e cigs.
Ever seen a vaper exhaling big plumes of vapour and wondered what it’s all about, or heard the term ‘sub ohm’ but have no idea what it means? Read on to find out what it is and where to start.
The short version
In short, sub ohm is vaping using a vape kit with particular specifications, which creates large clouds of vapour.
The In-Depth Version
In order to understand what sub ohm vaping is, you first need to understand the fundamentals of how e cigarettes work.
How do e cigarettes work?
An e cigarette consists of a battery and an atomizer (aka tank or clearomizer). When an e cig is activated by inhalation or pressing a button, power flows from the battery into the atomizer. The atomizer then heats e liquid in a tank or cartridge which turns it into vapour.
E cigs come in a variety of sizes and specifications with some kits being simple and others highly customizable. Please click here for our guide to different types of electronic cigarette.
Parts of an E Cigarette
E Cigarette Batteries
E cigarette batteries range from very small and made to look like a cigarette (in the case of Cigalikes), larger pen styles (like the ego vape pen shown above) or box shapes. Some have just one button to activate whereas some allow you to change settings such as the power delivered in watts or volts. Batteries with variable settings are usually referred to as variable voltage (VV) or ‘mods’.
E Cigarette Tanks
The tank is the part of the e cigarette which is filled with e liquid and usually is constructed in a similar way to the below example of the Smok Baby Beast Tank.
Nearly every vape tank or clearomizer nowadays has replaceable coil heads (usually just referred to as a coil). The coil contains the wicking material which soaks up the e liquid from the tank and the coil bundle which heats up and ‘atomizes’ the e-liquid (turns it into vapour).
The coil is the most relevant part of an e cigarette when it comes to sub ohm vaping and a coil can either be ‘above ohm’ or ‘sub ohm’. Generally, different tanks all have their own specific coils.
What are ‘ohms’ & where does the term sub ohm come from?
Without getting too technical, here’s a brief description of ohms and how the coil works.
When power flows through the coil, it meets resistance which is measured in ohms. If a coil has a resistance below 1 ohm, it generates more heat. This means more vapour is created rapidly than in a coil with a resistance above 1 ohm (above-ohm coils). Therefore, vaping with big clouds is known as sub ohm vaping.
Other elements of an e cigarette also influence the type of vapour created in terms of volume, heat and flavour.
Most more sophisticated vape tanks will have an airflow adjustment which affects the delivery of vapour. With sub ohm vaping, the vapour tends to be warmer in which case having the airflow wider is usually preferential as it creates a looser, cooler vape. Adjusting the airflow to the closed position will create a tighter, warmer vape. There are no rules here and the airflow can be adjusted for individual preference.
The wattage and voltage settings of the battery are also important in terms of sub ohm vaping. You can refer to the handy table on this page (https://vapingdaily.com/what-is-vaping/sub-ohm-vaping/) if you’d like more information on power settings in e cigarettes.
What are the pros and cons of sub ohm vaping?
- Big clouds of vapour
- Some say better flavour as the vapour is thicker
- Sub ohm creates a warmer vapour, which some people prefer
- More vapour means more nicotine in one hit which can be more satisfying (this is why the most common nicotine strength in sub ohm e liquids is 3mg)
- Not suitable for total beginners as the large clouds can be overwhelming
- Sub ohm uses more e liquid than ‘above-ohm’ vaping
- Kits are generally more expensive to purchase
- Some people prefer a cooler vape, in which case above-ohm may be more well suited
Is sub ohm vaping safe?
Originally, ‘cloud chasing’ as it’s sometimes know, was confined to those who could build their own coils and had a good knowledge of how e cigarettes work and ‘ohms law’, as the wrong combination of power and resistance in a coil can be dangerous.
Now however, it is much more accessible and sub ohm kits are regulated to ensure safety for users. Some kits come with batteries where you can change the wattage and voltage to suit you or you can buy kits that are very simple and already set up for a great sub ohm experience without the user having to change any settings. These are often known as all-in-one or AIO kits such as the Aspire PockeX or Smok Stick V8 Baby.
Provided you follow the overall safety guidelines for e cigarettes and batteries and buy a kit from a reputable supplier then sub ohm vaping is just as safe as above-ohm vaping.
What else do you need to know before buying your first kit?
Styles of vaping – Mouth to lung (MTL) and Direct to lung (DTL)
There are essentially two ways to inhale vapour from an e cigarette. One is mouth-to-lung where, as the name suggests, the user inhales the vapour into their mouth and then into their lungs. Direct to lung is again, as the name suggests.
Usually those who sub-ohm vape use the direct to lung method as you can take in more vapour this way. Sub ohm can take a little getting used to. If you find you cough when trying sub ohm for the first time, try breathing the vapour directly into your lungs.
The main ingredients in e liquids are Propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerine (VG), natural & artificial flavourings and nicotine (where indicated). The main base ingredients of PG and VG are important when it comes to the kit you are using.
Sub ohm e liquids tend to have a higher ratio of VG (usually 70% and above). Higher PG liquids like those from our Classic E Liquid range are more suited to above-ohm vaping as they’ll often be very harsh in a sub ohm tank.
As mentioned above, the increased volume of vapour with sub ohm means you will need to use a much lower nicotine strength. Most sub ohm vapers use 0.3mg nicotine strength or lower.
You can find out more about e liquid ingredients on our ‘What is PG/VG’ page.
Is sub ohm vaping right for you?
If you find that lower powered, above-ohm hardware such as an ego vape pen isn’t giving you the satisfaction you need, then sub ohm vaping might well be a great option for you.