While it may seem like a self-explanatory action, one of the most frequently asked questions we get here at LiQuid is “How do I inhale my vape properly?”. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to vaping or have been at it a while, knowing how to inhale a vape properly isn’t always obvious, and doing it “right” depends on a few different factors.
We’ll get into these factors and explore the most common vaping methods below. Before we do though there is one important thing to remember – if you are comfortable with the way you vape and it’s working for you, don’t feel like you should change anything.
For those people struggling with how to inhale a vape without coughing (especially common when just starting out), or those who just feel like they aren’t using their device properly, then we hope this guide will help you get the hang of how to inhale a vape properly!
What is Vaping and How Does it Work?
For those at the very beginning of their journey, let's cover the basics first:
Vaping is the act of using an electronic cigarette to inhale vapour which contains nicotine and flavourings, much like the act of smoking. The benefit of vaping is that it contains 95% fewer harmful ingredients and is considered far safer than cigarettes according to the most recent evidence from healthcare experts.(1)
An e-cigarette is comprised of three main parts: a battery, a tank/pod, and a coil. You can find out more about each of these in our guide 'How to Vape Properly' which is linked at the end of this article.
The battery passes a current through the coil, which then heats up. This coil is wrapped around a wick-like cotton in the tank. When you add your chosen e-liquid to the device's tank, it begins to absorb into this wicking material. When the coil wrapped around it heats up, it turns the e-liquid into an aerosol, or 'vapour' that we can inhale.
Balancing the right device and e-liquid type is important to ensure the vape you end up with is right for your needs and satisfies your cravings - learning how to inhale properly is a key part of that, so keep reading to learn how!
Inhaling Cigarette Smoke Vs E-Cigarette Vapour
While the act of lifting an e-cigarette to your mouth and inhaling is very similar to smoking, there are some differences to be aware of when inhaling e-cig vapour. Not only that, but there are two preferred techniques that most vapers fall into: Mouth to Lung (MTL) and Direct to Lung (DTL) - read on and we will explain the differences.
One of the biggest differences when inhaling a vape is the temperature. Because vaping devices turn e-liquid into an aerosol by heating it up with a coil, it feels much cooler than hot cigarette smoke. This can make the inhalation feel a little strange at first, give yourself time to adjust to this and it will soon feel more natural.
For some, that heat plays a role in why they enjoy the act of smoking as it contributes to the sensation of having a ‘satisfying drag’. If you find your vape isn’t as ‘harsh’ as you’d like, increasing your nicotine content strength can help recreate the sensation. Take care not to go higher than what you are comfortable with, and try to find a balance between the vaping experience you want and the craving satisfaction you need.
Nicotine Strength and Harshness
Your chosen nicotine strength can play a major role in the ‘harshness’ of your inhale when vaping. Low-strength products like 3mg or 6mg e-liquids are typically smoother, with 12mg and 18mg being incrementally harsher tasting respectively.
Thick HVG e-liquids like Short Fill vape juices are naturally far smoother tasting because they are only available in lower strengths. They also carry more VG (typically 80%VG-20%PG) which increases vapour production and is a little softer to vape than higher nicotine, higher-PG 50VG-50PG e-liquids
Some users prefer a harder hit at a higher strength, but for those who want a smooth vaping experience at a higher nicotine level, there are also nicotine salt e-liquids. These provide maximum craving satisfaction potential, but offer the smoothness of a 3mg or 6mg due to the special type of nicotine they use.
When it comes to your perfect inhale, choosing the right nicotine strength can be very important – go too harsh and you are likely to cough a little, but go too weak and your vape won’t satisfy -balance is key! If you like a harsher hit and are still coughing, try to take slightly smaller puffs so as not to overwhelm yourself.
How Long Should I Inhale?
This is really down to personal preference, although most vaping devices will have a cut-off for safety after a few seconds of holding down the fire button or inhaling constantly on a puff-activated vape device.
Bear in mind that the longer you inhale, the greater the risk of your coil giving you dry burn. This is when the cotton-wicking material has not had long enough since being vaped dry to absorb fresh e-liquid from the tank or pod.
Longer inhales keep the heat on for longer, so naturally you will need to give it longer before puffing again or you will likely get dry burn – a generally bad taste that can also ruin your coil if you aren’t careful!
A good general rule to get you started is to take shorter puffs on higher-strength e-liquids and similarly, those that produce big clouds. Doing this will reduce the risk of coughing and dry burn. If it’s a little lower in nicotine or is exceptionally smooth, you will likely get away with a longer puff, just be mindful of your coil!
What is MTL Vaping?
MTL stands for mouth-to-lung. This name gives away a little about this technique. It is the inhale style most similar to smoking traditional cigarettes.
- A familiar technique that will feel natural for recent ex-smokers
- It can give a more intense flavour
- It can help prevent coughing when vaping high nicotine strengths
- It can increase the risk of coughing when using High-VG devices
- It does not allow you to blow large clouds
How Do I Do it?
- Inhale gently using your vaping device.
- Hold the vapour in your mouth for a second.
- Now inhale into your lungs.
- Smoothly exhale.
Try to be calm and gentle in following the above steps, don’t panic if it takes some getting used to! If you used to smoke a cigarette, try to apply the same principles when MTL vaping, and you will be able to inhale without coughing in no time.
What Vaping Devices Suit MTL Vaping?
- 50-50 style devices with a coil rating of 1.0ohm or higher
- This includes most pod systems like the EDGE GO
What E-liquid Suits MTL Vaping?
- 50-50 e-liquids in a standard nicotine range of 0mg, 3mg, 6mg, 12mg or 18mg.
- Nic salt e-liquids
What is DTL Vaping?
DTL stands for direct-to-lung or direct-lung. Again, the clue is in the name! This technique is a little different to smoking a cigarette, and is better suited to high-power devices running thick HVG juice.
- Allows for inhaling bigger volumes of HVG vapour without coughing
- Allows you to exhale big clouds which can be handy for vape competitions
- Only suitable for lower nicotine strengths or becomes too harsh
- Only suitable for larger high-power devices which are not ideal for beginners
- Less natural feeling than MTL inhalation making it harder to adjust to
How Do I Do it?
- When firing the device, take one smooth deep inhale straight into your lungs.
- Do not attempt to hold the vapour as this will make you cough.
- Smoothly exhale the vapour cloud.
- Allow for a clear breath between DTL puffs, it will help keep your chest clear and won’t overwhelm you.
Just like MTL, don’t panic and inhale the vapour calmly and smoothly to avoid coughing. This technique is a little more specialised, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t master direct lung first time around!
RDL vaping is a newer technique that functions in the same way as DTL vaping, however as the name suggests the devices which offer this style of inhale have a reduced airflow - still more open than MTL kits and coils, but slightly more restricted than typical DTL inhales.
It is most commonly offered by sub-ohm coils built into refillable pod kits.
What Vaping Devices Suit MTL Vaping?
- 80-20/HVG type devices with a coil rating of 0.9ohm or below
- This applies to many mods and pod-mods, however, these are all called ‘sub-ohm vaping devices.
What E-liquid Suits MTL Vaping?
- Thick High-VG e-liquid also called ’70-30’ / ‘80-20’ / HVG
- This includes 10ml HVG vape juice but also Short Fill
How Do I Know Which Vaping Style is for Me?
Your chosen device and e-liquid will make a big impact on the style that best suits you, but there are always exceptions to these guidelines, and it is entirely up to you to decide which technique you prefer.
The important thing to remember when you start vaping is to adjust for the differences between vaping and smoking, and be prepared to explore your options to find the perfect balance to master inhaling your vapour to vape safely.
To learn even more about the basics of vaping, check out our guide How to Vape Properly. If you have seen any jargon here that left you with more questions – Our Jargon Buster should help you get your head around the vaping lingo.