With the rapid rise of e-cigarettes over the years, there has been a large influx of jargon entering the social mainstream in relation to vaping. From clearomizers, cartomizers and coils, to dripping, tanks and HVG e-liquid.
One such term represents a vital part of any vaping device, namely, the atomizer. Understanding this key component will help make your vaping journey that much more successful. Read on as we explore exactly what an atomizer is.
What is an atomizer?
In standard diction, an atomizer refers to any device that emits a liquid as a fine spray such as the diffuser pumps on a perfume bottle. In vaping terms, the atomiser isn't much different. It is the part of the device which vaporises the e-liquid so it can be inhaled by the user.
It is actually more likely that you have heard the atomiser described simply as a vape coil. While this is an accepted shorthand way of describing the atomizer, it is not strictly accurate as the atomiser refers to the whole component. "Coil" actually refers only to the wrapped metal wire around the wicking material which is then heated to produce vapour.
How does an atomizer work?
Fixed inside the tank or clearomizer, an e-cigarette atomizer is powered by a battery to fire a red-hot filament known as a coil that helps the e-liquid to evaporate on contact.
The e-liquid itself is held in an absorbent material known as the wick. The wick absorbs the e-liquid when submerged within the tank via wicking ports in the atomiser housing.
As the coil wire wrapped around this wick heats up, it evaporates the soaked e-liquid, converting it into the vapour we inhale. the atomiser will have a central tube that allows for proper airflow which carries the vapour up and out of the mouthpiece at the top of your devices tank or pod.
When should I replace my coil/atomizer?
The atomizer itself can have a varied lifespan, with quality devices using "mesh-tech" lasting much longer than simpler designs. the lifespan is dictated by a range of factors including the type of e-liquid used, power output of your device and even correct storage.
You must use your common sense to judge when it is time for a new atomiser head (coil). However, keep your eyes out for the classic signs that it's time for a change:
- The wicking material is dirty/black/burnt looking.
- The e-liquid (even when fresh) changes to a dark colour very quickly in your tank.
- The flavour of your e-liquid is weaker, or tastes "off".
- There is a gurgling sound when you inhale, suggesting the coil wick has failed leading to coil flooding (where e-liquid seeps into the airflow).
- Your device display says "shorted", which suggests the coil has either failed or is not installed correctly.
- Your e-liquid has yellow or brown "tracers" seeping through it from the wicking ports, suggesting the material is burnt internally, even if not obviously so from the outside.
How do I replace the coil?
Different manufacturers have different styles of atomizers that may have their own proprietary method for fixing attaching a coil. The majority of devices however allow you to simply unscrew the coil for removal before replacing it with a new one.
Other designs feature push-fit coils that require no screw action, or single-use pods like the Elfa Pro Pods which feature a built-in coil that is simply discarded with the pod and replaced as a single unit.
In any case, you should always refer to your device instructions to establish exactly how to change your atomiser head/coil. This will ensure you do not damage the device or yourself in the process!
How can I help my atomizer last?
There are several things a user can do to keep his/her atomizer in good working order. The simplest approach is to avoid dropping the e-cigarette, or ensure it is stored it in a place without extreme conditions and where it can’t be knocked around.
Another way to increase its longevity is to avoid letting the e-liquid tank become completely empty before refilling – a wick that dries out loses its effectiveness and can easily burn.
A final method for maintaining your atomizer is to recognise when a new coil is necessary using the tips above, proper care will almost always prolong your devices lifespan.
We hope this post has helped to educate you a little in the anatomy of your e-cigarette, and next time someone asks you ‘What is an atomizer?’ You can help them understand a little more of the science behind vaping.
Experiment with e-liquid flavours
Now you understand your atomizer, it's time to fill it with your favourite liquid! We’ve got a wide variety of e-liquids for you to try - why not try some of our popular flavours such as strawberry milkshake, menthol or British tobacco.