The Art of the Drip for 2015
Read Jason Little’s Companion Piece to The Art of the Drip!
A couple of years ago I wrote what I considered to be a no-nonsense piece on the art of “dripping”. The hardware that was available back then, along with the limited high-performance eliquid, the wicking that was available, and so on, showed its age in the piece and late this year it became apparent that the piece needed to be completely rewritten.Words or phrases used in this article: Dripping and Drippers – When you use a Dripping Atomizer you are “dripping”. Atomizers – All encompassing word today that can apply to a clearomizer, glassomizer, tank, cartomizer, and of course, the actual coils in those devices. Glassomizers – A clearomizer or tank that utilizing Pyrex glass and sophisticated coils heads to provide a better vape. Coils and Coil Heads – Coils are the result of wrapped wire and wicks, coil heads are usually the self-contained atomizer/coil used in glassomizers and certain clearomizers. Wicking and Wicks – Material that is heated by the wire coils that help vaporize the eliquid and create vapor. Can be made of silica, cotton, and a few other materials. Standard and Low Resistance Coils – Coils and coil heads are rated in “ohms”. Standard resistance is 1.8-3-ohms, Low resistance is 1.6-0.1-ohm. Don’t vape at 0.1-ohm if you’re reading this article to learn how to drip effectively. Sub-Ohm Coils – See above Mechanical Mods – Battery power encased in metal with a firing pin and contact for the clearomizer, glassomizer, tank, and cartomizer. Basic devices, varied materials, a headless flashlight (almost) Advanced Personal Vaporizer: A device with a circuit board and processor that control voltage, wattage, length of firing (in seconds), and other intelligent features and safety precautions.
Today, Dripping has become a much larger segment of the vape community than it was in years past. Evidence of that can be seen everywhere but most apparent is the huge number of new, advanced, dripping atomizers, Japanese organic cotton wicking is all the rage, and better and more varied wire for wrapping coils. Prepackaged coil building kits are also being sold in bigger numbers, including the one I use from Longhorn Vapor. All the tools I need bundled together in a small metal box that you see used in many of Innokin’s iTaste devices, the Longhorn Vapor Kit is near me at all times. For those vapers that want to use a rebuildable atomizer can even buy prewrapped coils in packs of 10 from places like MyVaporStore.
What is ‘Dripping’ in 2015?
Simply put, dripping is vaping the hard way. For ‘vaping’ to be considered ‘the dripping method’ a vaper must apply (mostly) low-nicotine eliquid (I’ll explain why below) directly to the wicking material, today that usually means organic cotton, in small amounts, fire it up with the fire button then immediately breathed in by way of a ‘lung hit’. A ‘lung hit’ occurs when you breathe in the vapor directly to the lungs, in a single step, allowing you to fill your lungs with vapor without a layover in your mouth.
For smokers and vapers alike the two methods of breathing in smoke or vapor is; the two-step process of breathing in vapor or smoke to fill your mouth and then another inhalation to take the smoke or vapor into the lungs. Most people smoke or vape using this method. The other method, the ‘lung hit’, bypasses the first step. I’ve used the ‘lung hit‘ method exclusively when I drip, but never when I was a smoker.
I’m going to be overly cautious here while talking about today’s atomizers because in another two years things might look completely different and I’d prefer this piece to remain relevant for as long as possible.
While you can still “drip” with a simple 510 cartomizer by pulling out the polyfill material and burning off the remnants inside by attaching it to a vaporizers and squeezing off the firing button for a couple of seconds, there are many more advanced drippers that require complex coils and precise measurements of the ohms ratings, as well as the most accurate mechanical mod or advanced vaporizer to provide the precise amount of power (wattage) to the atomizer. That said, ‘dripping’ in the purest sense requires nothing more than applying eliquid directly onto the coils/wicks, furnishing power to the coils/wicks and breathing in the vapor. The “art” of dripping is much more complicated, as we will see. But first let’s discuss the explosion of sub-ohm atomizers that hit big in 2014 and what confusion it can bring to the art of dripping.
Sub-Ohm Vaping in 2015
The biggest phenomenon of 2014, in our community, has to be the sudden popularity of ‘sub-ohm’ vaping. ‘Sub-ohm’ means any coil rated at less than 1.1. -1.0ohms.
Getting down to resistances of 1-ohm and lower provide warmer, thicker vapor, but not necessarily more flavor, when used correctly. In fact the whole idea of dripping was to increase both vapor AND flavor, and building coils that rate between 1.2-1.6-ohm is primed for both flavor and vapor. However, you can also get extremely good flavor as low as 0.5ohms using the right eliquid and the right atomizer.
There are plenty of arguments out in the vape community that support the position that ‘lower than half an ohm’ of resistance can still provide great flavor, but I’ve been in that territory and I can attest to the fact that while the flavor is certainly ‘good’ down in the 0.3-ohm territory it not as good as 0.5-ohm and up, no matter what modern day eliquid you use. It’s just not. (A personal opinion to be sure.)
Sub-Ohm coils used to live only in the world of RBA’s and Drippers, but are now common in several glassomizers. A glassomizer is an eliquid delivery device made of Pyrex glass or metal, or both, and contains a prebuilt, self-contained atomizer, or coil head, and provide ample capacity for eliquid. It began with Kanger in mid-2014 when they introduced 0.8-ohm coil head replacements for most of their clearomizer/glassomizer line, including the ProTanks and Aerotanks.
Sub-Ohm Premade Coils
While vaping with glassomizers with coil heads rated at less than 1-ohm came into existence in 2014, it was the glassomizers introduced towards the end of 2014; the two very popular devices by both Aspire (the Aspire Atlantis) and by Kanger (the Sub Tank). Neither of these two glassomizers are dripping devices, of course, showing clearly that sub-ohm coils and coil heads do not automatically lead to dripping.
Modern Tanks As Drippers
As we went to press with this article the Joyetech Delta 2 and the eLeaf MELO have joined the swelling ranks for sub-ohm glassomizers and tanks. The Kanger Subtank, the regular and mini versions of it, and the Joyetech Delta 2, provide an internal and removable component that is, essentially, a small RBA tucked inside the tank. Using the RBA component you absolutely can use either tank as a dripping atomizer. As an eliquid reviewer (a member of the Spinfuel eLiquid Review Team), I now often use the RBA component in my Subtank for dripping new flavors.
Using the RBA component as a dripper goes like this: The RBA component “deck” is smaller than most RDA decks, but the full size Subtank has a deck that can use dual coils, the Delta 2 RBA component uses a single, larger coil. By stringing strands of organic cotton through the coils, then applying several drops of eliquid directly to the cotton, and of course attaching the glass tank and top cap/drip tip it becomes an “enclosed” dripper. Sure, you can fill the tank up with eliquid for a long lasting RBA, but you can also drip with it by leaving the tank empty and just soaking the cotton. If you have some premade cotton strips handy you can go through several flavors of eliquid to find the ones you want to vape in larger capacity. It saves a lot of time and money by trying out these flavors first with the RBA component. Keep in mind that the coils that come attached to the RBA component, in both cases, are 1-ohm set ups.
Coil heads for these glassomizers mentioned above get as low as 0.5-ohms. At this resistance, certainly in the middle of sub-ohm territory, the Vaper (not vapor) could fill a tank with up to 6ML of eliquid, which provides a few hours of heavy vapor and incredible flavor without the need to build a coil. (Keep in mind that low-ohm, high wattage vaping uses up eliquid much faster than standard resistance coils vaped at 3.8-4.2v) I would go so far as to say that these glassomizers performed as well as many very good RBA’s when it came to flavor, and about 95% as well in vapor production over the best of RBA’s.
These new glassomizers are best used with advanced vaporizers instead of mechanical mods because with an advanced vaporizer you can adjust the amount of power (wattage) or voltage reaching the coils. Mechanical mods output a steady amount of power that does not change (in a perfect world), and building coils for mech mods requires knowing a little about that, as well as a lot about “ohms law”. Lastly, while you can use an advanced vaporizer with a dripping atomizer, as mentioned above with the new tanks, the performance varies greatly from device to device.
When it comes to going lower than 0.5-ohms you come out of the glassomizer (in 2014 anyway) and head back into the RBA and RDA world, and often enough, a mechanical mod.
Since this is about the art of dripping, I’ll end my discussion of glassomizers, and glassomizer as drippers, for now.
Cloud Chasing And Dripping
I have vaping friends that compete in cloud-chasing competitions all the time in Florida and Massachusetts. Cloud Chasing is the new sport in which vapers try to see how much vapor they can produce with a single lung hit. The more vapor that is produced, called “clouds”, the better.
Vapers who are ‘into’ this sport are continually chasing that vapor ‘dragon’ by attempting to build coils at lower and lower resistances, which will provide more and more vapor…in combination with the ‘right’ eliquid of course. This competition level vaping can’t happen with today’s glassomizers, though it get’s awfully close with the Kanger Sub Tank RBA component, and the Delta 2’s RBA component. Still, the rebuildable component coils in these tanks are just shy of RBA and RDA performance in dedicated rebuildable devices, so they are not usually accepted in cloud chasing competitions.
“The lower the resistance the more power you’ll need to send to the coils. Keep that in mind.”
The Art of Dripping Defined
“Combining the right atomizer, the right coil gauge and material, the right wicking, the right eliquid, the right mod, the right nicotine strength, and the right lung hit is where the art of dripping comes in”. Lets discuss each part of that system.
The Right Atomizer
There are probably in excess of a hundred rebuildable dripping atomizers (RDA) on the market today. They range from $20 to more than $200. They differ with RBA’s, or rebuildable atomizers, only in the sense that an RBA atomizer has a tank capacity that will hold larger amounts of eliquid and a true dripping atomizer does not.
Without wanting to get complicated for the sake of being complicated I’ll just say that the more money you spend on an RDA doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get better performance. There as plenty of dripping atomizers that sell for less than $40 that do a great job, while there are more expensive ones that perform at the same level, or worse, than the $40 devices. There are also some very expensive RDA’s that outperform all the rest. In my dripping history I started with a stripped out 510 Boge cartomizer, moved to the HH357’s, (a cartomizer made for dripping), and then onto dedicated dripping atomizers.
When it comes time to choose the right RDA for you, here are some questions you should ask yourself before buying:
- What is my budget? (Don’t overspend and don’t underspend. Know your budget.)
- How often do I plan to drip? Is my dripper my primary device for vaping, or is it my sport, or hobby?
- Will I want to build single coil, double, or quad coils now or in the future?
- How much access do I need the deck and posts? Are your fingers bigger than normal, do you have arthritis, or can you easily reach even the most difficult, or tightest places on the deck to thread the posts properly?