Vaping with Julia “Sub Ohm Tanks”
It’s certainly been a while since my last column so I thought I would take some time out of my busy schedule and tell you all what’s been on my mind with regards to a certain phenomenon in the ‘electronic cigarette’ business. So far 2015 has seen the biggest changes to our industry than we’ve ever seen before, and we still have three and a half months to go. I think that in early 2016 we will all look back at 2015 as being the year of the sub ohm tank.
That being the case, today I’m going to talk about two tanks that I think stand out among the 50+ sub ohm tanks currently on the market, with another 50 on the way (at least).
Before I do, I also want to mention that the two tanks I’ll talk about below are not necessarily the two tanks I use the most. I do own them, I do use them, but as everyday, all day tanks, these two tanks are expensive to use, in initial cost and the cost or replacement coils and the consumption of eliquid.
The Non-Stop Sub Ohm Tank Wars
Not everyone uses a sub ohm tank these days but it sure feels like it. We get email, Facebook posts, Skype calls, and real ‘landline’ calls just about every day from some company touting their newest sub ohm tank that they want to see reviewed in Spinfuel. It has gotten to the point that we now turn down more than half of the requests to review a new tank simply because if we did try to review them all there would be no time to review anything else. And let’s face it, most sub ohm tanks are simply ‘variations on a theme’. Sometimes though, something new comes along that does offer something ‘more’, and it is those tanks we genuinely want to review. Below are two sub ohm tanks that I think are showing us where the sub ohm tank is headed.
Aspire is a company that is very difficult for me to wrap my head around. They do some things very well, and they do other things, well, sort of half-assed. That 30w ESP box mod was a disaster from the get-go, and yet their new Triton sub ohm tank is one of the best tanks on the market. Ounce for ounce, the Aspire Triton produces more vapor and more flavor than the two Aspire Atlantis tanks could ever hope to do.
The Aspire Triton (forgive my having to use ‘Aspire Triton’ instead of just ‘Triton’. Keywords are everything on the internet) was unleashed about two months now, and it carried a whopping $49.95 MSRP. At the time it was the highest priced subohm tank. Today that tank can be purchased for about $35, which makes much more sense. That said, replacement coil heads are $3.50 a piece!
Sometimes I think many reviewers tend to forget that these products cost real money because we get them for free, and recommending a $50 tank that uses coil heads that sell for $3.50 just because it generates a lot of vapor is kind of irresponsible. I wish more of them would emphasize the true cost of vaping instead of making it seem like the product they are reviewing is a “must have”. For most people, 99% of this stuff is not ‘must haves’.
If the average take home pay for the average Vaper is $500 a week, a $50 tank is 10% of that person’s paycheck. That, my dear readers, is not nothing. Even at $35 a sub ohm tank is a serious purchase so if someone buys one it ought to be a damned good tank in the short run and long run. Thankfully, the Aspire Triton seems to be a tank that is actually worth buying if you’re looking to do some serious vaping with a high VG eliquid.
The Triton is a sophisticated sub ohm tank with many excellent features. The inner post, or tube filament, and coils are made with surgical grade stainless steel. I know many reviewers toss out ‘surgical grade Stainless Steel’ as though the whole tank is made of it, but that’s not the case. The body of the tank is a high grade stainless steel, but it is not surgical grade. Still, it’s made to last.
The Triton also features two airflow controllers, one at the base and one at the drip tip. Drip tip airflow controllers maximize vapor production by allowing in the maximum amount of air to mix with the eliquid and the hot coils, but it does diminish the flavor somewhat. This is true of all tanks with airflow control in the drip tip or top cap of the tank, and it does come in handy when used in a competitive cloud contest. The Triton’s drip tip airflow works really well in the cloud making department, though honestly I don’t use it much, I keep it closed.
Of course, if you’ve seen the Triton you know that the drip tip is actually two sections. The bottom part of the drip tip has four “fins” that help dissipate heat, so when you’re vaping at high wattage for maximum clouds the combination of the opening the airflow controller and the fins in the bottom part you needn’t worry about the drip tip getting overly hot and uncomfortable. And, its worth noting that if you want to use your own drip tip instead of the stainless steel one you can. I’ve swapped out at least a dozen and they all worked fine.
The bottom airflow controller also works well. Fine-tuning has never been this good before the arrival of the Aspire Triton and the Freemax Starre Pro, which is my other favorite sub ohm tank.
The eliquid capacity is a nicely balanced 3.5mL, so while the tank is pretty big, bigger than the early sub ohm tanks, you can vape for a while before you have to top it off. Luckily, the Triton is a top-fill tank, making the whole topping off thing easy and fast.
What is new to the top fill method is how Aspire has built the Lock and Release system into the top cap. Inside, or rather, below the drip tip assembly there are two slots for filling the tank. Turn the Lock and Release dial clockwise and the two fill holes open up. Once filled you turn it back to the closed position and you’re ready to go. Like the Starre Pro, to avoid leaking you need to make sure you close those two slots. If you don’t the tank won’t seal properly.
When you buy the Aspire Triton you’ll get the tank and one 0.4-ohm coil head made with, get this, stainless steel wire, not Kanthal or Nickel or Titanium, and a high 1. 8-ohm coil head made with Kanthal.
The .4-ohm coil head is my favorite of the two coil heads. You can also buy 0.3-ohm SS wire coil heads, or use all the Atlantis coil heads as well. To be fair the 1. 8-ohm Kanthal coilhead is made for mouth-to-lung vapers and because I am strictly a lung hit vaper the 1.8-ohm coilhead didn’t stand a chance with me.
Bottom Line for the Aspire Triton is that this is a tank for serious cloud makers that want to the option for maximum flavor. The negatives for the Triton include the optional RBA kit that comes in a metal tin and sells for $12.99. This Rebuildable is the same size as the coilheads, so expect tight spaces when it comes time to attach a coil and thread some cotton. I was given one, used it once and put it away. Definitely not worth the extra $12.99.
The Freemax Starre Pro
The Starre Pro is a major improvement over the first Starre sub ohm tank. In fact, I like the tank more than I do the Aspire Triton. On average the Freemax Starre Pro is about $10 cheaper than the Aspire Triton, and it holds more eliquid (4mL vs 3.5mL), comes with dual coil Nickel coilheads, one at 0.15-ohm and one at 0.25-ohm. Both use organic cotton, which is expected nowadays. Coilhead replacements are $16.99 or so for a pack of 5, or $3.39 per coilhead.
The star of the Starre Pro is the top filling feature. I love how Freemax designed this feature. The top portion of the tank has three separate pieces; the removable drip tip, the top part of the top cap (the lid), and the bottom part of the top cap. Here’s the rundown on filling the tank…
The bottom portion of the drip tip is permanently attached to the lid of the top cap. The bottom piece of the drip tip turns left of right. The lid of the top cap has a slight engraving of a curved arrow, with the words ‘On’ and ‘Off’ at either end. To remove the lid from the top cap you turn the bottom part of the tip tip to the ‘off’ position and then continue turning to unscrew the lid, making sure you are not unscrewing the complete top cap. Once unscrewed you’ll be able to lift off the lid to reveal a well underneath with two fairly large slots.
Fill the tank using either of the two slots. You can fill it to the very top. Replace the lid and screw it back down. As you do this the eliquid will be forced down and into the coilhead. Once the lid of the top cap is screwed down, turn the bottom part of the drip tip back to the ‘on’ position. This allows the free flow of eliquid and once it is in the ‘on’ position you’re ready to vape.
Trust me, I understand that what I wrote above might sound complicated but it isn’t. I think the hardest part of the whole thing is to make sure you are only unscrewing the “lid” of the top cap, not the entire top cap. As long as you remember to place the bottom slotted part of the drip tip to the ‘on’ position to vape and the ‘off’ position to remove the lid and fill the tank, it won’t leak at all. Leaving it in the wrong position, which you will probably do a few times before you develop some muscle memory you’ll have huge leaking problems, like leaving the faucet on at home. Worth noting; the Starre Pro does not have a Rebuildable option.
Other notable features of the Freemax Starre Pro are:
Compatible with the previous Starre tank coilheads
Wide-bore drip tip
Two Ni200 coilheads – standard
Precise bottom airflow controller with stop gap point
Super wide wattage range
The Cost of Using Sub Ohm Tanks
Back at the top of this piece I mentioned that using either of these two tanks all day, everyday would be expensive. Too expensive for me anyway. The reason is that all sub ohm tanks require a lot of power to push the coils, and vaping at sub ohm levels vaporizers eliquid a whole lot faster than non-sub ohm coilheads. To illustrate the real cost of vaping with sub ohm tanks I’ll tell you about something that happened a couple of weeks ago.
The other day Kiera and I were rummaging through a box of used devices we no longer have a need for. In that box were several sub ohm tanks, batteries, and even several box mods. Our intention was to clean them up and donate them when we got back to Boston, which we did.
Anyway, while we were rummaging around Kiera picked up a sub ohm tank that still contained about half a tank of a certain eliquid that she absolutely adores. We didn’t know what eliquid was in it until she brought the tank up to his nose. She recognized the aroma right away and in an instant she was twisting off the tank she had on her current mod and put the new found used tank on it. Kiera smiled from ear to ear like she had just gotten a great birthday present or something. But then the realization hit her…
The eliquid that Kiera loves like no other is expensive as hell. $24 dollars a bottle for this High VG eliquid in a 30mL bottle. Several weeks ago, after first discovering this eliquid by accident Kiera decided to splurge and bought a couple of bottles. With taxes and shipping the cost came to nearly $60 for two bottles of eliquid. For a heavy Vaper using a sub ohm tank that 60mL of eliquid will be gone in under 4 days. Kiera told me the reason the tank was in our “previously owned” box was that she filled the tank with the last remaining milliliters of this eliquid and was about to buy 3 more bottles when she realized just how much it would cost on an ongoing basis. With a $102 total on the Checkout page she balked and decided not to go down that road. So she took the tank off her mod and tossed it into the box, “no use torturing myself” she said.
And Kiera was right. Spending $100 a week on eliquid is ridiculous. So she went back to the other eliquids he also loves and costs about a third the price of this expensive stuff.
Now, had this eliquid cost the same as the eliquids we usually buy there wouldn’t be a problem with vaping in excess of 90mL a week. We’re talking about the difference of spending $40 a week and $100+ a week. Plus the cost of replacement coils. It is true that we buy our hardware at wholesale through Spinfuel so coils don’t cost much, but if you consider the hundreds of thousands of vapers that do not buy at wholesale prices the cost of vaping can be too high to sustain for very long when using sub ohm tanks, coils, and expensive eliquid.
Using a sub ohm tank can be exhilarating. The intense flavor of your favorite eliquids, and the enormous amount of vapor clouds can be a huge amount of fun and very satisfying. But if you’re buying every new sub ohm tank that comes out, plus replacement coils for them, and buying even moderately priced eliquid you’ll wind up spending a lot more than you did when you were smoking. Switching from a non-sub ohm tank to a sub ohm tanks also means doubling the cost of eliquid. So what can you do?
First, you make sure the sub ohm tank you buy is the one that is right for you. You have to decide what the parameters are for your “right” vape. At the same time, you have to know exactly what your vaporizer can handle. Is it a Temperature Control device? If it isn’t, then you don’t want to buy a tank that was designed for the temperature control mods, like the Starre Pro. What is the maximum wattage output? How low will your vaporizer fire coils? No use in buying a sub ohm tank that comes with 0.2-ohm coilheads if your mod can only fire down to 0.5-ohm.
Second, how much do you spend currently for eliquid? Before you jump into a sub ohm tank understand that your eliquid budget will double, at least. Do you vape expensive eliquid? If you do, can you afford to spend twice as much? If you have budgeted for $22 bottles can you swing $44 bottles? With a sub ohm tank and the extra eliquid consumption you’re going to vape the same amount of time, but consume twice as much. (Remember to cut your nicotine level in half as well).
Sub ohm tanks are great, they bought new life into the hobby of vaping this year and I don’t know about you but I don’t regret buying into the sub ohm environment at all. But I’m in a whole different world than you are. I rarely buy this stuff at all, and the eliquid I buy I get at wholesale.
So don’t take my word on it, or my recommendations, unless you can afford it. Many of you can, and for that I am very happy that you can explore your options. For those of you that can’t afford to explore every whim and desire in this hobby, make sure that every penny you spend is well spent. If Kiera and I had to pay full boat for vape gear and eliquid I can guarantee you that we would still vape with my collection of ZMAX’s and our eLiquid would come from budget vendors. Kiera and I truly appreciate the position we are in, and we recognize that not everyone is in the same boat.
These two sub ohm tanks, the Freemax Starre Pro and the Aspire Triton are fantastic tanks. They will provide hundreds of hours of delicious and satisfying vaping. But they come at a cost. Know that going in and choose wisely.
What Are Julia and Kiera Vaping With These Days?
Before publishing this new Vaping with Julia column I reached out to our favorite couple to ask them what vape gear and eliquids they are using right now. Below is what they told me.
- Joyetech eVic-VTC Mini w/ a Kanger Subtank Mini – 0.5-ohm ‘new’ coilheads
- Sigelei 150w TC w/ Freemax Starre Pro or Aspire Triton
- eLeaf iStick 40w TC w/ iJust 2 tank or Joyetech eGo ONE Mega tank
Eliquids – 3mg nicotine – St Augustine 100% VG Organic eLiquid ‘Jumper’ + Teleos REMIXED ‘Pound Cake’ – Rocket Fuel Vapes ‘Reaper’
- Pioneer4you IPV D2 w/ Kanger Subtank Mini 0.5-ohm coilheads
- Vaporshark DNA200 w/ SMOK TFV4
- Vaporshark rDNA40 w/ Kanger Subtank Mini – 0.5-ohm coilheads
Eliquids – 3mg nicotine – Teleos REMIXED Pound Cake – I Love Donuts – Sarcastic Fringehead Vapery ‘Mutiny’ and ‘Mermaids Milk’