Clearomizers, Glassomizers, Tanks, and Carto-tanks
UPDATE: This article was written before the release and subsequent reviews of the Kanger Aertoank Mega and Mini, as well as a review for the Aspire Nautilus. The author, today, recommends the products in this review AND both the Aerotank and Nautilus products. – Team Spinfuel – April 2014 —
One of the best things about writing for this industry is that there is always something to write about. If my fingers could handle it I could sit here all day and write non-stop about all the things vapers need to know or want to know, or write about the hundreds of products that are always being released to meet the demands of more than 100,000 new vapers each month, plus the veteran vapers that have been at this for a while now.
Take yesterday for instance; we received a tweet from @greaseysmom, in which the following was said:
“New vapers are frustrated and quit vaping because of crappy tanks, cartos, etc.!! What’s the best/worst, we need help”
Well, to answer this clearly frustrated (new?) vaper could take a thousand articles, but I’ve decided this morning to tackle the basic premise of this great tweet… frustration with tanks. Frustration with tanks and clearomizers is something we can address in a couple of thousand words. So, if you’re like @greaseysmom, grab yourself a cup a coffee, sit back, and read… let’s see if I can’t alleviate some of the frustration.
Crappy Tanks, Cartos, etc.
Over the past couple of years that we’ve been publishing Spinfuel eMagazine, we’ve noticed many of the frustrated vapers are of two camps; the cig-a-like vapers and the vapers that attempt to move up to more sophisticated hardware before having an understanding of the mechanics involved. This isn’t brain surgery, that’s for sure, but there is a slight learning curve .
Because @greaseysmom mentions ‘crappy tanks’ first I’m going to assume that ‘she’ has moved past the cig-a-like stage and has now graduated to more powerful hardware. I think its safe to assume that the hardware involves a 510-connector as well, since most cartomizers sold today, as well as tanks, are of the 510-threaded kind.
Cartomizer-based tanks, like the SMOK DCTank or a handful of man-made tanks like those made by companies like BigDaddy , are the most difficult tanks to deal with as new vapers. Frustration isn’t restricted to new vapers either. When it comes to these kinds of tanks even the most experienced Vapers have had issues now and then and, for instance, can wind up with e liquid all over their hands, clothes, and other places. Cartomizer tanks must be manipulated ‘just so’ in order to get the e liquid into the tank part of setup. If you’ve tried to insert a cartomizer into a tight fitting tank you know how difficult it can be.
To fill a cartomizer tank you always have to push the cartomizer down, or push up, and then push to the side, in order to create a space large enough to insert a needle-tip bottle or a syringe into the tank part and inject the juice to the fill line. If it’s a poorly made tank the chances of juice leaking out from the rubber grommet, steel end caps with O-Rings, or some other set up, is going to be quite high. And, even if you’re successful in getting enough e liquid into the tank, getting the cartomizer back up and through the cap can be exceedingly frustrating. If you’ve somehow damaged the end caps the tank is going to leak as soon as you begin to use it. Nobody wants that.
Now let’s assume that after thirty minutes of frustrating maneuvers you have a tank filled with e liquid, the end caps seem to be holding, and the cartomizer finally went up through the end cap with just enough room to attach a drip tip. Let’s even assume you’ve chosen the right 510 drip tip that actually fits the cartomizer snug enough so that you can lift the tank by the that drip tip while it’s attached to your battery. (Hint: if you can’t lift the tank and battery by the drip tip without it falling off you’re going to have trouble pretty fast. Find the right drip tip before proceeding.)
I can’t tell you how many new vapers have moved on to their first cartomizer tank, spent the time to figure it out, fill it up, and put it back together…. only to wind up forgetting one vital part of the process…saturating the cartomizer!
New vapers have a lot of steps to remember and it isn’t ‘dumb’ to think that since the cartomizer has a hole or two near the bottom of the tank that the e liquid would come through and saturate the polyfill material in the cartomizer all by itself. What happens when the cartomizer is vaped while ‘dry’ include dry hits, nasty taste, and damage to the cartomizer coils… it can ruin a new vapers taste for Vaping altogether.
I have found that when I am teaching someone how to set up a cargo-tank that if I can show them, convince them, that the tank is the least significant part of the vape, then having them remember to saturate the cartomizer comes naturally. New Vapers tend to think the tank is the important part because that’s where the biggest cost comes from, but getting them to consider the cartomizer first solves part of the problem.
As for good quality cartomizer tanks, I do have a few suggestions. For myself there are only two that I will even consider anymore. One is the Texas Tuff Tank, which I used to get through Vape Dudes for $7.00. The ones I have are almost 2 years old and although they are made with rubber grommets as end caps they have yet to leak. The other is the Pyrex DCTank by SMOKTech (available at both MyVaporStore and Vapor Authority.) I recently sent a couple of these carto-tanks to a new vaper friend of mine who has promised to write a review, I’m expecting it early next week. We’ve reviewed them before, but its always nice to get another perspective from a different angle or a different person.
When all is said and done though, @greaseysmom isn’t wrong, there are many crappy tanks out there. But as far as cartomizer based tanks go, I would suggest the Pyrex DCTank as your first carto-tank. It’s well-built and can take abuse.
There are dozens of tanks on the market now that are basically clearomizers in a tank shape with a 510-threaded connector. Many of them are complete crap, and without some guidance in selecting the right one ‘for you’; it is easy to get frustrated by them.
Because 99.999999% of Clearomizer Tanks leak. Even the best of the best can, and often do, leak sooner rather than later. And I’m going to tell you why…but first…
The difference between a cartomizer tank and a clearomizer tank is obvious. A clearomizer tank doesn’t use a cartomizer, instead it’s equipped with coil head, or dual-coil head. They are much easier to work with because there is no fumbling with a 1.5-inch cartomizer snaking its way up and through the end caps, or remembering to saturate the cartomizer before using it.
With a clearomizer tank you simply unscrew an end cap, squeeze in, or drop in, some e liquid, screw the end cap back on, wait a few minutes (always wait at least 5 full minutes so the coils can absorb some e liquid), and you’re off to the races.
Depending on how often you vape, and the quality of the coils, a coil will last anywhere from 5 days to 3 weeks. When the vapor production begins to wane, and/or the taste of your juice begins to change for the worse, its time to replace the coil. Newer clearomizer tanks, like the Aspire Vivi Nova tank, allow you to change the coil head without having to dump out the e liquid and start all over. When shopping for one look for bottom coil clearomizers, or bottom dual coil clearomizers.
For an idea of just how many clearomizer tanks there are check out MyVaporStore and Vapor Authority. Both of these vendors carry a good selection but nowhere near a complete selection. Check out Mountain Oak Vapors too because they have some esoteric clearomizer tanks that look pretty cool, though I haven’t tried any of them yet.
Clearomizer tanks are so prevalent in the marketplace because like all markets, there is the need to constantly change and the need for planned obsolescence. (I know, it sucks) If clearomizer tanks were made as good as they ‘can’ be made the market would dry up and all you would ever need to do is buy replacement coils. Where’s the fun, and profit, in that? So new clearomizer tanks are always being introduced into the market to keep the market going. I mean, you can own 20 tanks, but 20 mods? Who has the money for that?
Making Clearomizer Tanks Work Well
Like I said, most clearomizer tanks are crap, and they don’t last nearly as long as you want them too. They’re designed that way. But, there are some excellent ones on the market; you just have to know where to look. (Spinfuel eMagazine reviews are a good place to start).
Kanger ProTanks were all the rage in 2013 and it seemed as though vapers were telling every new vaper that they had to have a Kanger ProTank. We here at Spinfuel never really liked the ProTank, and the reason was twofold; they had a metallic taste (still do), and they leaked excessively early in their short lifespan. So, my first advice to new vapers wanting to use a clearomizer tank is to avoid the ProTanks. All of them. (That does not include the new, and awesome, AeroTanks by Kanger)
Why Do Clearomizers Leak?
Okay, now I can tell you why ALL Clearomizer Tanks leak. Ready?
They leak because of the coils, plain and simple. If you look at clearomizer tank, any clearomizer tank, you can easily see that even the leaky ones still have good seals on the end caps, so the leaks are not coming from the tank. The leaks are coming from … science…
In order to vaporize liquid so you can vape, atomizers have to get hot, and I mean really hot. From the very first second heat begins to hit the atomizer the heads begin to change.
Sometimes slowly, sometimes not. All coils screw into the end caps and those threads get as much heat as the coils do. It is those threads that begin to allow e liquid to seep down into the 510-connector threads (the male), and then into the recessed 510-threads (the female). That’s the plain and simple truth of it. It is the constant expansion and contraction of the threads being heated and cooled, over and over.
Want to make a clearomizer tank leak fast? Buy or build a low-ohm or sub-ohm coil which will allow more ‘power’ (heat) to reach the threads and warping of those threads occur, and before you know it, hot e liquid is seeping down into the battery connector. Soon you’re taking dry hits from the tank, or you’re hearing that gurgling noise, which means air is mixing with the liquid in the coil chamber because some of the liquid is escaping into the battery and tank threads. You can lengthen the life of your clearomizer tank and/or coils by not using low-ohm coils, or by replacing the coils more often. That’s the simplest solution to leaking tanks.
So, as far as clearomizer tanks go, for new vapers they are the better of two types of tanks, but just like anything else, it pays to know something about the products you’re using. There are high quality tanks and coils, and not so high quality tanks and coils. I can’t tell you about every single one because I haven’t used them all, but I have used good ones and bad ones. Recommendations I can make…
But before I do, as you become more comfortable with your hardware you might want to pay attention to the details concerning tanks. Some cheaply made tanks and coils are made with metal that have lower melting thresholds. I don’t mean that they will actually melt down, but if they can’t take the extreme temperatures caused by the coils they will warp faster than metals that can handle higher temperatures. Stainless steel can take more heat than base metal, and so on.
As a new vaper, it would serve you well to vape with a clearomizer tank running 2.2-2.4ohm coils. They are standard resistance coils, and 99% of the tanks out there are designed to work “best” with 2.4ohm coils. Lower numbers mean hotter coils, meaning hotter juice, meaning faster leaking. I use 1.8ohm coils and I replace them faster than when I was use 2.4ohms. But I don’t go below 1.8ohms.
Note* New vapers might also want to stay away from high citrus and/or cinnamon-based e liquids until they know their tanks/coils/cartos. These liquids burn hotter and the acid in them eats away at some plastics. Best to avoid them for a while.
Just one more thing before I recommend some clearomizer tanks. I believe it will serve you well to keep in mind that the only way you are going minimize leaking is to change the coil heads sooner than you might want to. The coils will last longer than the base of the coil, so while it may still pump out vapor the threads underneath are taking a beating. Unless you change your coil heads every day (impractical to the extreme), you’ll always get some leaking, the idea is to minimize it and change the coil head as soon as you detect some leaking.
Recommendations are based on what I use during my personal vaping. I use many different tanks, most of them I would not use during my own vaping time.
My ‘favorite’ clearomizer tank right now is the Aspire BDC Vivi Nova tanks I picked up recently. I have two of them, and after almost 6 weeks they’ve worked perfectly. The new, wireless coils (actually just hidden coils) seem to hold up well, so I change them on a weekly basis. On Sunday. Whether it needs it or not.
Vapor Authority sells the Aspire BDC Vivi Nova as well, but only in stainless steel. I don’t own any of those, though I’d like to at some point. Mine are black, rubberized black paint, over stainless steel. Nice to the touch, and they stay cool to the touch as well.
Vapor Authority also sells a new clearomizer tank from Aspire, using similar wireless coil heads, called the Nautilus. We will be reviewing that tank soon, and for $33.99, it best be a good one. I can’t recommend the Nautilus right now because I haven’t seen it or used it. For my money I go with AeroTanks and Aspire BDC Vivi’s.
MyVaporStore, on the other hand, sells an almost identical clearo-tank by X.Jet/Vision. It’s called the X.Jet Nova, and the biggest difference is the plastic tank. The Aspire Vivi Nova-S is a Pyrex tank, sometimes referred to as a glassomizer tank because Pyrex is a kind of glass.
Also in the running is the brand new iClear X.I, another Pyrex ‘glassomizer’ tank by Innokin, with a very decent coil assembly. Faithful flavor rendition, plenty of vapor, and easy to fill and refill. The coils last a good while, but again, it too will begin to leak when the coils degrade to a certain point.
Lastly, for new vapers I’m going to recommend that, for now, you stay with these new wireless coils. They are super easy to use, they work wonderfully well, and they are a lot less frustrating than working with Kanger coils or long wicks. There are only so many hours in a day for vaping, and with the advent of these new coils I haven’t touched a Kanger coil or long wick coil in a good long while. There is no reason to.
To @greaseysmom, this is only the beginning of addressing your concerns and the concerns of many new vapers. I will continue this series as time permits. If you have any specific topics you’d like us to address then let us know and we’ll address them.
Tanks, both cartomizer and clearomizer based, can indeed be frustrating as all get-out, but with the recommendations I’ve made above, and keeping in mind where the problem areas are, you can alleviate much of the frustration by staying with the products that work for us. The above-mentioned products are widely available, and the prices are decent enough to merit a try. Using the right products, correctly, will allow you enjoy the act of vaping and minimize the act of “preparing to vape.”
I hope this helps, feel free to leave comments, questions, or anything else. And don’t worry, we got you. J