At a certain point in most vapers’ lives, building coils becomes a more attractive option than continuing to use pre-built coils. For those currently enjoying the convenience of pre-made options, this might seem like a ton of work, but there are some good reasons to make the switch.
For one thing, building your own coils is much more economically efficient. It also provides you with a great deal of control over your entire vaping experience that you can never achieve with coils out of a box. Finally, a lot of people just enjoy the experience of building coils. You might too, once you know a little more about the basics and give it a shot for the first time, so let’s start with one of the most important considerations: wires.
When talking about coil wires, there are a few important terms to understand. Let’s clear these up before we go any further.
- Wire Gauge – Gauge is a numerical expression of a wire’s diameter. The higher the gauge number, the thinner the actual wire. This becomes important as we go into our next term:
Coil Wires and Important Properties
- Resistance –The lower the wire gauge, the lower the wire’s resistance. This is an important consideration when measuring the power ratings for your coils. Another factor impacting your coils’ resistance is the amount of wire you use and the number of individual wraps you use in your build. The more wire and the more intricate the coil, the greater its resistance.
- Ramp-Up Time – This is a term you’ll hear a lot when discussing vapes and it is basically a measure of how long a coil takes to reach the temperature at which e-juice is vaporized. Generally, ramp-up time is pretty quick, but it can become more noticeable in complicated coil builds or with multi-strand set-ups.
- TCR – Temperature Coefficient of Resistance is a big fancy term and it includes a bunch of electrical concepts but basically, this number refers to the rate at which a coil’s resistance increases as its temperature gets higher. Why is this important? Temperature control modes use this number to identify when to reduce power output. As a coil’s temperature reaches a certain point, TC mods can shut off power to prevent burning the coil or putting out dry hits. While all wires have a TCR, only certain materials have a reliable and easily-measured TCR which makes them compatible with temperature control settings.
There are five primary materials most commonly used in Vape Coils. Let’s go through these one at a time and talk pros and cons. We’ll begin with wires used in Wattage Mode.
Vape Coil Wires
Kanthal is the original coil wires and is still the most commonly used. Companies like SMOK release all their Sub-Ohm Tanks with Kanthal Coils, including the new TF Tank and the upcoming TFV16 Sub-Ohm. Kanthal is the most inexpensive coil wiring out there and it’s also extremely beginner-friendly. This material is very malleable, easy to work with, and can be found just about anywhere. For these reasons, basically all beginners should begin with Kanthal, until they learn more about their own preferences and gain some experience with various coil builds and shapes.
Nichrome is a more advanced option than Kanthal, and makes a great stepping stone when progressing through Wattage Mode wire options. While most people insist that they get a better flavor on Nichrome than with Kanthal, it’s also a bit more challenging to work with. Its lower heating temperature provides a nice quick ramp-up, but also make sit prone to melting and burning. It also lacks iron, which provides you with a pure and clean flavor. On the other hand, it contains a decent amount of nickel, to which some people have an allergy. For this reason, Nichrome is simply not an option for certain people. If it is, however, most intermediate to expert vapers opt for Nichrome over Kanthal.
Stainless steel is one of the most popular wire materials – and for good reason. Stainless steel is the only wire which can be used in both wattage and TC mode, making it incredibly versatile. It’s also an extremely rugged and durable material, creating coils with incredibly long lifespans. Throughout the lengthy lifespan of these coils, you’ll also enjoy a great, clean flavor. Similar to Kanthal, stainless steel is easy to work with yet retains its shape well. Its ramp-up is also better than both the other Wattage Mode options. Innokin and Joyetech have released pre-built coils with stainless steel coil options.
Nickel is a bit of a niche material and only works with TC mode. Since many vapers prefer the simplicity of Wattage Mode, nickel is not the most popular option. It’s also a bit too soft to easily hold coil shapes and it’s extremely prone to melting and deforming during the wicking process. That having been said, nickel wires have the quickest ramp-up time of any option out there and it’s been known to provide excellent flavor.
The most expensive coil wires, titanium is understandably not a common choice. It’s costly, hard to find, and is surrounded by a certain degree of controversy regarding its safety. Titanium is highly flammable and, once it ignites, can be nigh-impossible to extinguish. For this reason, certain vape stores don’t even carry the material and it’s absolutely only recommended for the most experienced vape builders out there. It is, however, an excellent temperature control option for those with nickel allergies, as it is the only TC wire without any trace of nickel.
Which Vape Coil Material is Best?
There’s no cut-and-dry answer to which coil wires are “best” for everyone, but there are definitely some overall guidelines based upon years of vapers’ experience. For instance, Kanthal is often considered the best choice for both MTL and DL vapers. It’s slower ramp-up time is less noticeable with MTL vaping and when used of nicotine salts eliquids, the flavor is out of this world. Nichrome and stainless steel are often used many sub-ohm devices, where the flavor and lower resistance can really be utilized.
When it comes to temperature control options, stainless steel is by far the most popular option. Nickel is often too difficult to work with and titanium is both challenging and dangerous. On the other hand, those with nickel allergies will of course gravitate towards titanium.