Is Sub-ohm Vaping Safe or Dangerous?
Sub-ohm vaping is becoming more popular, especially amongst advanced vapers who want more control of their vaporizers to create greater flavor and cloud production. Although advanced vaporizers capable of handling sub-ohm resistance are now available from reputable ecig companies like VaporFi and DirectVapor, sub-ohm vaping still comes with risks, such as overheating your battery and burning out your coils, (not to mention burning your throat).
Definition of Sub-ohm Vaping
Best ECigarette Guide’s Glossary of Vaping Terms describes sub-ohm vaping as a method to create greater vapor production – where the ohms of the coils have a resistance of less than one ohm. Resistance is directly related to how hot things get.
Atomizer coils with low electrical resistance (lower ohm numbers) create more heat and a warmer vapor. Those with high resistance (or higher ohm numbers) produce a cooler vapor.
When the ohm resistance decreases, the amperage, (or the amount of electricity used on your device must increase so a higher wattage is needed.
Technically speaking, your battery’s voltage and atomizer’s ohms determine your final wattage. Voltage (volts) means electrical pressure (or the force of the electricity) while the ohms resist that pressure.
Is That Safe?
Yes and No. Increased amperage puts a strain on the battery which not only depletes your battery power quickly, it creates a lot of heat. Your atomizer coils get pretty hot too. That’s why it is imperative that you are aware of the amperage limit of your battery. If you go over that limit, your coils can set fire or worse, your battery can explode.
Sub-ohm vaping is possible (and pleasurable), but you really have to pay attention and follow the rules, even when vaping on a practically fool-proof advanced vaporizer which adjusts the voltage automatically to the wattage.
I know it’s easy to get carried away experimenting with home-made coils, sub-ohm attys and over 50 watts of power. After all, massive clouds are very cool, but they will never be bigger than an “exploding ecig” headline.
Tips for Sub-ohm Vaping
- Best E-Liquids for sub-ohm Vaping – Choose an e-liquid with a high percentage of Vegetable Glycerin (VG). Vegetable glycerin creates denser vapor production and produces voluminous clouds.
- Looking for quality Max VG ejuice? I recommend Mt. Baker Vapor, Virgin Vapor and Firebrand (which has a dedicated line of outstanding sub-ohm flavors).
Adjusting Your Throat Hit – When you vape with a low ohm resistance (down to 1ohm), expect a hotter (and harsher vape). Sub-ohm vaping gets even hotter. Some vapers enjoy the extreme throat hit, but most have to make some adjustments to their e-juice.
- Another good reason to use Maximum VG e-liquids is because they have less of a throat hit.
- Use a lower nicotine level. (typically 6mg/ml and under). Nicotine has a natural “peppery” taste which really intensifies your throat hit.
What About Flavor?
One thing to note is that higher VG ratios lessen the flavor intensity of your vape. That’s because you’re getting less (or none) of the other traditionally used e-liquid base ingredient – propylene glycol which holds the flavor well. Some ejuice companies like Mt. Baker Vapor let you add extra flavor shots to your Max VG ejuice; others like Firebrand are fully flavored.
Keep it Clean
Okay, back to more safety precautions.
A clean ecig always improves your vaping experience, but when it comes to sub-ohm vaping, keeping your tank, atomizer, threads, vent holes, and contacts clean keeps things from clogging and malfunctioning.
Give it Air
All sub-ohm experts will tell you that air supply will not only make your sub-ohm vape more pleasurable, it will keep your battery from overheating. I’m talking about getting a clearomizer (tank) that has adjustable air holes such as an Aspire Nautilus or VaporFi Hybrid Volt.
There are several such tanks on the market, but I’ve tested those two and they really perform well.
As for your battery, it needs air too, or I should say proper ventilation. The vents allow heat to escape during normal use, but they also allow gases to vent just in case of battery failure. There are some unvented MODs out there you should avoid like the plague. Stick with the commercially available models that are well vented.
Mind the Drop
Look for a MOD vaporizer that has a low voltage drop. What’s that? When the electricity travels from your battery, through your device to your coils there is a drop in voltage that is measurable. If it has to pass through several chambers, the drop increases. It’s best to avoid MODs and tubes that have several movable parts (like a telescoping tube). Choose a single piece box or tube.
Battery Selection and Safety
Many advanced MOD vaporizers that offer higher wattage capabilities (usually 7w-50w) are excellent for low ohm/high voltage vaping but they’re not ideal for sub-ohm vaping. While they may come with LED display signals that warn you when things get too hot,.. and they may advertise themselves as being suitable for sub-ohm vaping, they fall short when it comes to the ideal battery.
The safest battery for sub-ohm vaping is NOT a Li-Ion, LiPo or ICR battery. If you’re sub-ohming it, use a MOD vaporizer that comes with authentic, unprotected IMR or hybrid lithium batteries.
Whatever battery you use, remember, a wet battery is a ruined battery. Toss it. If you leave your vaporizer in the car for several hours on a summer’s day, throw it away! Ditto for a well-chilled battery. This is true for all e-cigarette batteries.
So…Is Sub-ohm Vaping Worth It?
Advanced vapers (especially those who love to rebuild their atomizers) say, yes. Cloudchasers will agree that creating the ultimate vapor cloud takes a serious knowledge of both sub-ohm technology combined with experienced DIY skills.
Vapers who prefer a more carefree vaping experience and are simply looking for an advanced way to fine-tune their vapor and flavor quality can stick with variable volt vaporizers that are designed for above 1ohm resistance. (This includes quality box MODs that offer higher wattage settings.)
At the writing of this post, the majority of vapers enjoy mid-range ohm resistance atomizers that fall between 1.8 – 2.8 ohms, but if you’re ready to venture into sub-ohm territory, follow the guidelines and above all, remember to put safety first.
Need to Know about Selecting the Perfect Ohm Resistance for your Atomizer? Here’s the guide and the chart.