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Sub-Ohm: A New Way To Vape

Some Like It Hot . . . From The Lung To The Mouth

In the beginning, all vaping devices operated at seven (7) to ten (10) watts of power. This is the perfect power range needed to replicate the experience of smoking tobacco cigarettes. At this level, the vapor can be fully inhaled into the lungs to provide that satisfying "hit" so familiar to cigarette smokers. This type of "drag" has come to be referred to as a "lung hit".

But some vapers were not satisfied with just replicating the smoking experience. They wanted more and more vapor, and more and more flavor. So these people started experimenting with their vaping devices, and changing them to provide more and more power to the heating coil. These changes required additional battery capacity and additional circuitry, so the new devices were typically enclosed in a small box. They were called "box mods", short for "modifications in a box". The terms "Mod" and "Box Mod" have survived to mean a battery device capable of operating at higher power levels with power and temperature control features.

But there is a limit to how much the battery output voltage can be increased in a small, portable device. It wasn't long before this limit was reached, but people still wanted more vapor and more flavor, and therefore more power. Going back to the definition of power in All About The Hardware, we find that the power can also be increased by reducing the resistance of the heating coil. Traditional vaporizers had heating coils with a resistance of between 1.5 and 2.0 Ohms. But if the resistance of the coil is cut in half, the power level is doubled. So along came new vaporizers with a coil resistance of less than 1.0 Ohms, and "Sub-Ohm" vaping was born.

The overall goal of using mods and sub-ohm vaporizers is to produce a much larger volume of much denser vapor, along with much more flavor. This is accomplished because the higher power levels produce a higher coil temperature which vaporizes the e-liquid at a much higher rate. All of the components of the e-liquid are vaporized very quickly, and therefore much more intensely, including the nicotine. This very high intensity vapor is difficult for most vapers to inhale into their lungs, so a new style of vaping came into being. It involves taking the vapor into the mouth, and then only a portion of the vapor into the throat, and an even smaller portion into the lungs. This new type of "drag" has come to be referred to as a "mouth hit", or "mouth to lung" hit.

This new way of vaping allows a vaper to experience the much higher flavor intensity without being adversely affected by fully inhaling the much more intense vapor. But the intensity of the nicotine was so extreme that it was too much even for a mouth hit. For this reason, e-liquid that is used in sub-ohm vaping typically has a nicotine concentration that is not nearly as strong as in conventional vaping. To get a nicotine dose equivalent to a regular tobacco cigarette requires an e-liquid with a nicotine concentration of about 16 to 18 milligrams per milliliter when vaping at a power level of less than 10 watts. At a power level of 20 to 30 watts however, the same nicotine dose can be realized using e-liquid with a nicotine concentration of three to six (3-6) milligrams per milliliter.

Because of the higher power level and the increased rate at which the e-liquid vaporizes, a PG/VG ratio that is higher in VG is highly recommended. VG withstands the higher power level better than PG resulting in a denser, much smoother, and less harsh vapor. The most popular ratios range from 50%PG/50%VG to 30%PG/70%VG while some sub-ohm vapers prefer Max VG (100% VG less the amount of PG in the flavoring components).

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