The Vape Cloud UK Advanced Vape Guide – By Aidan Cooper.
Finally, we’ve come to the end of your vaping journey, the pinnacle/end goal for experienced vapers, cloud chasers, and aficionados alike.
This guide is for vapers who love lots of power, lots of flavour, like building their own coils and who use devices that require a little more knowledge on how to use.
You may have heard about devices such as mechanical mods and RDA’s – two different types of vaping gear which are definitely considered to be advanced.
This guide is intended for users who want to learn about getting into this area of vaping, so we’ll start from the top.
Also bear in mind that some of these types of devices can be extremely dangerous if mishandled or used without a clear understanding, so please do your own research
Box mods are the powerhouse of the whole kit and are most similar to to look and feel to for a mid-ranged device. The reason they are aptly named box mods is due to being able to accommodate the extra batteries and power.
A typical beginner starter kit will have between 14- 20 watts of power. Even lower end box mods, such as the intermediate kits start at around 30 watts of power, with the more advanced reaching upwards of 200 watts.
An e-cig mod will usually have a variable level of wattage, allowing the user to adjust the levels to suit their preferences. Mod have become and will continue to be a more attractive offer for e-cig users, especially after spending a few months with a beginner style device.
The reason? Well, it’s simple, really: longer battery life and more power! The higher watts helps to improve vapour production, in turn increasing the amount of nicotine delivered into your body, and can assist in creating a better overall flavour. In conjunction with the right tank, it’s a match made in heaven!
High powered mods – dynamite power!
High powered mods, both regulated and unregulated, are used together with RDA’s, RTA’s, RDTA’s, and high powered sub-ohm tanks to allow you to get the very best flavour (and clouds!) from your favourite e-liquids. These mods are also necessary for those wanting to do a little ‘cloud chasing’. With the sub-culture of vapers who love making massive plumes of vapour, the right rebuildable/sub-ohm tank combined with a high-powered mod (as well as a lot of knowledge and understanding), can make a huge difference when it comes to cloud chasing!
The world of rebuildables! RDA’s/RTA’s/RDTA’s
The rebuildable atomiser is a essentially a blanket term which is used to describe similarly styled advanced products. Typical terms you will hear are:
The RDA: The rebuildable dripping atomiser is the most common of these types of devices and has been around for the longest period of time. A typical RDA will have a coil, either wrapped by hand or pre-made, which heats up e-liquid that has been ‘dripped’ onto cotton.
The user installs the coil, inserts the cotton and drips e-liquid onto the cotton. Once the device is powered up, vapour is produced. As the taste begins to dissipate, it’s time to drip more juice back onto the cotton.
As the cotton deteriorates or burns, you can simply remove the old cotton, burn off the gunk and old liquid from the coils, and re-wick with new cotton, repeating the cycle. Essentially you are able to extend the life of your coils and time between rebuilding new ones, saving you more money in the long run!
The RTA: RTA’s are similar to an RDA in the sense that they can be rebuilt, but the difference is that they have a tank sitting on top of them. Rebuildable tank atomisers are a combination of the tank and the RDA. They offer the ability to use your own coils and cotton, but rather than having to drip e-liquid onto the cotton often, the tank feature means that you can simply fill the tank up with juice, leaving the cotton constantly soaked in e-liquid. The main advantage of an RTA is basically the combination of convenience of a tank, with the power and flavour of an RDA.
The RDTA: RDTA’s are similar to RDA’s in the sense that they can be rebuilt, but they are also similar to RTA’s as they have a tank as to provide convenience to the user. You’ll hear the terms RTA’s and RDTA’s being used interchangeably to describe some products, but sometimes it can be hard to classify RDTA’s, as some manufacturers that make devices that fall into this category but don’t market it as an RDTA. There aren’t many differences between the two, only that the build deck for an RDTA isn’t housed in the centre of the tank, but instead seated above the tank. Basically it’s made like an RDA, but with a tank sat underneath, so if you have to take the device apart to reach the coils, you have an RTA instead of an RDTA.
Mechanical mods – all the power, but with a safety warning
Mechanical mods are also high-powered mods, but they require their own section as they should only be used by experienced vapers. High powered box mods are regulated, which means that the power they produce is controlled. They also have safety features which can stop a device from firing if there’s a fault or short circuit. Mechanical mods, however, offer no safety features whatsoever.
A ‘mech mod’ is typically a tube shaped piece of metal, although we are seeing mechanical box mods surface in recent years. The mech mod has a firing pin that allows current from a battery to reach the attached RDA. This causes the coil to be heated and the juice to be vaporised.
Most mech mods have a built-in safety feature in the form of a locking mechanism for the firing button. Other than that there are no in-built safety mechanisms. It is ‘essentially ‘raw’ power as the mods work based on the resistance of the coil, the lower ohm the coil the more power it draws from the battery. This is beneficial because you can get a really powerful vape from the mod, which makes them an attractive option for those who are heavily involved with rebuilding RDA’s.
As mentioned in the title, however, due to potential safety concerns mechanical devices should only be used by experienced e-cig users. We strongly recommend not using a mechanical mod if you are not a seasoned vaping veteran.
Squonking – the next step in vaping?
If you listen to vapers chatting you begin to realise that vaping has its own jargon – cartos, mods and Claptons are all unique words that have their own special, vape-related meaning.
Probably the weirdest of all is ‘squonking’.
Now squonking is an unusual word, but it is in fact a very unusual, recently popular style of e-cigarette device.
The dripper dilemma:
For many vapers you just can’t beat the experience of an RDA. They let you build elaborate coils that produce huge clouds and incredible flavour.
The only problem with them is the actual dripping part. Because they don’t have a tank, they needed to be frequently re-juiced. At home it may not be a big deal but it can become a pain when you’re out and about.
Removing the cap, opening a bottle, dripping, closing the bottle, putting the cap back on…it can be an arduous task, and definitely not a great idea while you’re driving.
Squonkers are a great away around this problem. The atomiser is a dripper, but with one small difference. There’s a way to feed more liquid into it without having to mess around with top caps and bottles. This means when liquid is running low you can quickly add more without interrupting whatever you’re doing.
Anatomy of a squonker:
The principle behind a squonker is simple. Both the mod and the atomiser have to be designed specifically for squonking. This is because some special features are required, which is all based on alterations to the 510 connector.
Starting with the atomiser, the 510 connector has a hollow centre pin. This is connected to one of more holes in the centre post, which lead out onto the build deck.
Apart from that it’s a standard dripper, with all the usual features, so the vape is identical to a basic RDA and mod setup.
The mod itself also must be designed for squonking, and so will have a hollow 510 centre pin, and when you screw the atomiser onto it, the two hollow pins (plus a seal to prevent leaks) rom a tube that runs from the body of the mod up into the atomiser deck.
Inside the mod this is connected to a flexible tube that runs to a soft silicone bottle, which holds the e-liquid.
On the mod’s body there is a hole big enough for you to reach in with a finger or thumb to be able to squeeze the bottle.
How does it work then?
When your wicks start to dry out and you want to re-juice your wicks, all you have to do is squeeze the bottle. That forces liquid up the tube under pressure, into the atomiser deck, where it soaks the wicks.
Because the squonk pin is placed quite low to the deck, when you release the bottle any excess liquid is sucked back down to the bottle.
The result of this should be perfectly soaked wicks, and the whole process is very quick and easy compared to a conventional dripper.
Now the big question…is squonking for you?
That sort of depends, really. If you’re not a fan of drippers, then probably not; they’re aimed more at vapers who prefer using RDA’s.
If you do like using drippers, it’s much more likely you’ll be tempted into buying one. There are a few things to consider before rushing out to get one:
- The choice of squonkers is much more limited than that for conventional mods, due to their niche nature. Having said that there are more than there used to be, and they aren’t all that expensive, hand-made items either.
- Squonkers are available with all the latest chipsets and features, too – you’re not restricted to mechs.
- Due to the nature in which they work, there are some limits on how they can be made. For example, the best materials for 510 centre pins are brass and copper; these conduct electricity better than most other metals, which is especially important with a mech. Unfortunately, brass and copper also react badly to being in constant contact with e-liquid. If you make a squonker with a brass or copper centre they will start to corrode, which can release metal salts into the liquid, which probably something you want to avoid happening. Stick to squonkers that use stainless steel centre pins, preferably gold-plated.
- If you like small devices, either for comfort or stealth, then squonkers probably aren’t for you.
- As well as chips and batteries, the mod has to hold the liquid bottle; that means a squonker has to be larger than most conventional mods or have fewer batteries – in fact, most have a single battery, which isn’t ideal with some of the recent high-powered chips. Again, though there are some exceptions, but tend to be a little pricey. See Octopus Mods - L'Octopus 3D Squonk Box, or Ohm Boy OC’s The Rage Squonk Mod.
So, if you decide that you do want to give squonking a shot, there are a few choices out there that give you a decent budget option, such as Vaping Biker and Dovpo’s Basium Squonk mod.
Many vapers who try squonkers end up using nothing else; they love the mix of big tank convenience and dripper performance.
They’re also unique and interesting devices that can be a lot of fun to own. Next time you see somebody with one, ask if you can have a try – maybe you’ll like it enough to get one yourself.
Even if you don’t want to give it a go, at least you’ll know what squonking means the next time you hear it mentioned!
Coils, coils, coils!
Finally, we’ve come to the last part of the guide.
We touched on wires and coils in an earlier guide, but we’ve saved the more in-depth details for this guide!
Without further ado let’s jump right in!
Kanthal wire (FeCrAl)
Kanthal wire is popular for a reason and has been for nearly a decade. It’s easy to work with, has good resistance to oxidation, it’s not springy so it holds its shape, and it’s cheap and easy to find. Kanthal is especially good for single coil builds, which are not extravagant but get the job done when you’re not in the mood for something fancy and time-consuming. Add to that the fact that it holds shape well when re-wicking (which means that you can use a Kanthal coil for a long time), and you have a fan-favourite.
- Super cheap
- Easy to find in vape shops and online
- Holds shape well
- Easy to work with
- Works only in wattage mode
- Richer and more robust flavour
- Can’t ne used in TC mode
- Some vapers find the flavour a bit dull
- Ramp-up time isn’t as fast as some other wires
NiChrome wire (NiCr)
Another fan favourite for wattage vaping, NiChrome is an alloy composed of nickel and chromium. If you’re looking for a fast ramp-up time, this is the wire you should look into! Other than that, it behaves similar to Kanthal wire – it’s easy to work with (with it being slightly less springy than Kanthal) and holds its shape fairly well. If you’re interested in trying it out, we currently stock a couple different options in our range; Twisted Messes NiChrome 80 Wire, and Flatwire UK’s Flatwire
One thing to keep in mind when working with NiChrome is that it has a substantially lower melting point than Kanthal. Excessive dry burns can cause it to catch fire – NiChrome fire is not something you want burning under your nose! To avoid this the wire needs to be slowly pulsed at first. Also, some people suffer from a nickel allergy and should avoid using NiChrome wire.
NiChrome is decent vape wire that experienced vapers use with ease. It’s a bit more difficult to find in local vape shops, but most online sellers will have it in stock. One thing to note though – while NiChrome can technically be used in TC mode (and some mods boast that ability), it’s TCR is so low that even the most advanced chips struggle with it. So, if you read somewhere that you can temperature control NiChrome with a specific mode, take that with a few grains of salt, as least for the time being.
- Fast ramp-up time
- Easy to work with
- Holds shape well when rewicking
- Relatively inexpensive
- Wattage mode only
- Lower melting point than Kanthal (take care when dry burning!)
- Might cause a problem for individuals with a Nickel allergy.
- Not all vape shops stock it
Stainless steel (SS) wire
Now this is an interesting wire, as it is the most versatile out of all the rest. It’s the only vape wire that is capable of running in both wattage and TC modes. It’s perfect for those vapers who haven’t quite made up their mind between either mode or fail to check the modes they’re firing in on regular basis. Stainless steel wire comes in various grades (420, 413, 316, 316L, 430, 304, and so on), which adds to the confusion a bit and makes it seem as if various vapers are either singing praises or talking down on one and the same type of wire. Some grades of SS wire contain almost no nickel (SS is an allow composed of various parts of chromium, nickel, and carbon), which is certainly a pro for those who have a nickel allergy.
Some other positives include the fact that it can be easily dry burned (thanks to its high melting point), it’s relatively easy to work with and holds its shape well. That being said, some SS wire grades are springier than others. SS 304, 430, 316 and 316L grades are usually the most recommend, as they do TC very well even though they have a comparatively low TCR (temp/resistance change that can make it harder for mods to regulate). Stainless steel offers a faster ramp-up time, similar to that of Kanthal, and it produces a crisper and cleaner flavour than other wire materials. Unfortunately though one of the bigger downsides to using SS is that certain grades of wire aren’t readily available in certain gauges.
- Easy to work with
- Holds its shape
- Fast ramp-up time
- Cleaner flavour compared to other wires
- Relatively inexpensive
- TC and wattage compatible
- Usable gauges can be difficult to find for some SS grades
- Higher nickel content in certain grades
- Some grades are a bit more difficult to work with than others
Nickel wire (Ni200)
Nickel, also referred to as Ni200 (pure nickel), is the first wire used for temperature control. It has a TCR rating of 0.006, making it fairly easy for most chips to read and regulate. Ni200 should only ever be used in TC mode because of concerns of overheating and melting. Namely, nickel wire can leach and, at high temperatures (above 315°C), can produce graphite, which is why some vapers are concerned about getting graphite lungs (a debilitating condition sometimes seen in people overexposed to graphite, usually pencil factory workers).
That said, most of the bad reputation the nickel wire is getting is blown out of proportion. When used in TC vaping, nickel is a perfectly safe to work with. Its biggest downsides are that it’s rather soft and doesn’t hold its shape very well, so it’s difficult to work with during building and rewicking. Also, with it being pure nickel people with a nickel allergy should avoid it.
On the plus side, nickel is fairly easy to find locally and it’s inexpensive. Its ramp-up time is faster than that of Kanthal and, these days, it’s easy to find tempered nickel wire which is a lot easier to work with (similar to Kanthal A1) and holds its shape well.
- Fast ramp-up time
- Easy to find
- Decent flavour
- Nickel content not suitable for allergy sufferers
- Very soft material which makes it hard to work with
- Doesn’t hold its shape
Titanium wire (Ti)
The most controversial vape wire on the market right now and on this list is definitely the titanium wire. It’s a scary one because it does, in fact, release titanium dioxide, a toxic gas, when heated over 610°C. However, it has a stable TCR rating and if you have a functioning TC mod, titanium dioxide poisoning is not something you should ever be concerned about. One piece of advice that’s often given to people using Ti wire is to heat it until it becomes shiny and has a thin oxide layer that simply sticks to the wire.
Most vapers using Ti wire report to having no problems using them, so the panic surrounding them is definitely blown out of proportion.
Now that we’ve dispelled the fears clouding this wire, it’s time to move onto the pros. Titanium is very easy to work with, holds shape really well, and works exquisitely in TC mode. Also, most vapers using it note that it produces great flavour. Another upside to Ti wire is that it’s a lot stronger than Ni200, which allows you to use it longer without breaking or bending the wire out of shape.
- Easy to work with
- Holds shape well
- Stronger than Ni200
- Clean, crisp flavour
- Works great in TC mode
- Can’t be used in wattage
- Toxicity concerns
- Titanium fires are difficult to extinguish
- Can be hard to get a hold of
Types of coil builds:
Clapton coil: Round wire wrapped with a higher gauge wire to resemble a guitar string.
Fused Clapton coil: A Clapton with more than one core
Staggered Fused Clapton coil: Spaced Claptons fused together by filling ‘empty’ spaces with the secondary wrap.
Helix coil: Twisted round wire with higher gauge wire in the grooves.
Staple coil: 10 pieces of ribbon wire stacked together, then Clapton’d with high gauge wire.
Framed Staple coil: A variation on the staple coil. The key difference is the core having a section of round wire on each side, or the ‘Frame’.
Tiger coil: A round wire build twisted with ribbon wire.
Juggernaut coil: A multi-cored wire that have been wrapped in ribbon wire.
Zipper coil: Two strands of opposingly twisted wire in parallel. The twisted wire can also be replaced with micro-claptons, or flattened and polished for effect. Each pair can also be separated with another strand of plain or Clapton’d wire.
Alien wire: Very similar to the Fused Clapton, but the outer wrap is comprised of wire removed from the outer wrap of a previously made Clapton, stretched and then re-wrapped creating an interleaved effect.
And that’s all she wrote! From all three of our guides you should be all clued up and ready to take on anything that comes your way. Experiment, get creative, enjoy your experiences! Be safe, and above all; Vape On!