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Before we get started, a quick disclaimer: there are a lot of different types of vape coils. You might say there’s an almost infinite variety; that’s because many vape coils are homebrew. In other words, a lot of vapers make their own coils, and there are new innovations coming from these homebrew coil makers almost daily.
So here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to talk about three important variables in coils: whether or not they’re premade, what materials they’re made out of, and how they’re crafted. We won’t get into each and every different material or make because that would take more than one article. If you’re interested in learning more about a specific facet of coil-making, shoot us an email, and we might run another blog on the topic.
When you’re shopping for coils, you have two choices: you can buy a premade coil, or you can make your own. For most people who are just getting into the hobby, premade coils are the way to go. There are two reasons for this:
The disadvantage of premade coils is that they can be more expensive in the long run (you’re paying for labour), and they might not deliver the most satisfying vaping experience - customizability means you can fine tune your rebuildable coil to match your preferred style of vaping. Be careful, though - poorly made rebuildable coils are more prone to leaking.
Coils can be made out of several different types of metal. Five of the most popular are Kanthal, nichrome, stainless steel, nickel, and titanium.
Kanthal is an iron-chromium-aluminium alloy. It’s probably the most popular material to make vape coils out of, because it’s:
The main disadvantage of Kanthal is that it can’t be used in Temperature Control (TC) mode. Without going into great detail about the physics behind this, the resistance of most wires will change depending on the temperature of the wire. Kanthal, however, has a negligible change in resistance at higher temperature, so the methods by which TC monitors temperature aren’t applicable.
Nichrome is a nickel and chrome alloy. It’s in many ways similar to Kanthal, but it has a faster ramp up time. The main disadvantages of nichrome vs Kanthal are:
Stainless steel coils are becoming more popular, because they have a property few metals share - they can be used both for wattage vaping and TC vaping. They’re also quite inexpensive and widely accessible, and if you change which mode you vape on frequently, they’re absolutely perfect.
The main disadvantage of stainless steel? There’s a ton of different types on the market - some are springier than others, some contain more nickel than others, and some are more expensive than others. Finding the right stainless steel alloy takes a bit of market research.
Nickel and titanium are both TC-only coils. Nickel is inexpensive and ramps up fast, but it can be pretty tough to work with - and again, some people have nickel allergies. Titanium, on the other hand, is easy to work with but a bit more expensive - it can also be hard to find.
There are fears that both nickel and titanium can create toxic chemicals when vaped at too high a temperature, so it may be best to avoid them if you’re concerned about your health.
There are a lot of different kinds of coil: the Clapton, the fused Clapton, the Alien, the staple, the hive - the list goes on. They’re basically all just wire wrapped around wire to achieve different effects. Some will ramp up more quickly, others favour textured surface areas in order to maximize flavour, and many try to find a balance of the two.
We could certainly write a whole article delving into all of the different ways you can make your coil. For most vapers, the number one question is going to be the same: how low is the resistance? People who want sub-ohm vaping need to find very low resistance coils, while those who aren’t going for sub-ohm probably don’t need to worry about it.