Last Updated on April 12, 2016 by Team Spinfuel

How Do You Vape?

It’s funny really, when I began vaping more than four years ago I never considered a Direct Lung (DL) style of vaping. Learning that certain people did, in fact, vape this way sort of freaked me out. I’d never seen a smoker smoke this way, and since I believed that vaping was a replacement for smoking and nothing more, I figured that the same smoking technique would apply to vaping.

So, for the longest time I was a “Mouth to Lung”, or MTL vaper and I thought I was getting as much out of vaping this way as was necessary. It wasn’t until my first experience with a sub-ohm tank, the Aspire Atlantis, that I thought about direct lung vaping. And, the only reason why was that the Aspire Atlantis produced too much vapor, in a much lighter ‘draw’ that vaping it mouth-to-lung was nearly impossible, even with the airflow slots practically closed.

Fast forward to the present and the situation is reversed. I can’t stand to use these newer coil heads by the likes of Joyetech, no matter if they are great coil heads or not, or any of the others that are built FOR mouth-to-lung vaping. That said, these mouth-to-lung coil heads are pretty popular, so clearly there are vapers out there still vaping with a tight draw and advanced gear.

So, what type of vaper are you?

Before you answer that, let’s get some of the terminology out of the way, and discuss a little about the Why’s and Wherefores’ of these two vaping styles.

Terminology Foreword

It’s important to go over the terminology because there are a few different acronyms out there, as well as different ways to talk about it. For instance; it was only after receiving the Joyetech Cuboid Mini early last week that I had seen DL used to describe a “Lung Hit” coil head, which is the term I used for direct lung vaping.

Joyetech’s new coils for the Cuboid Mini have the two letters, DL, meaning Direct Lung, stamped on the two of the coil heads that come with the Cuboid Mini.  Seeing DL stamped on them I figured it might be a good time to write something like this because how many other vapers looked at DL and wondered what it meant.

Terminology – Types of Vaping

Vaping directly into the lungs is called any of the following…

  • Straight-to-Lung, Lung Inhale, Lung Hit, Direct Lung, Direct-to-Lung, Direct Lung Inhale, Direct Inhale, Lung Vaping.

Vaping with a stop-over in the mouth is called one of these…

  • Mouth-to-Lung, Mouth Inhale, Mouth Hit and MTL.

What do they really mean?

These terms above have different names simply because certain vapers use them to describe the same thing. There are no real accepted, universal terms to use. So, regardless of the term you decide to use, all of them describe the two vaping styles people us to vape. Here are two overly definitive explanations on the two styles.

  • Straight-to-Lung, Direct Lung, Lung Hit etc. – A Lung Hit, et al, is where the vapor from the tank or clearomizer is directly inhaled from the drip tip straight through to the throat and to the lungs, using the mouth as a simple bypass. Whether you normally breathe in air through your nose, or your mouth, the process is one where the air reaches the lungs in the shortest amount of time. When you vape this way the vapor coming from the drip tip of your tank also reaches the lungs in the fastest way possible. There are positive and negative attributes to Direct Lung vaping, and I’ll cover them below.
  • Mouth-to-Lung – A mouth-to-lung hit is one in which the vapor is first drawn and marshaled (I love that word) into the mouth, and a second or two afterwards it is quickly inhaled into the lungs. A two-step process to be sure, and the way the vast majority of smoker’s smoke.

Am I doing it right?

Naturally there is no ‘set’ way to vape. For almost 3 years I was a strident mouth-to-lung vaper and any other way was just ‘not done’.

The thing is, although I stopped smoking in 1992, I vaped liked I smoked. Most people that take up vaping as a way of getting away from tobacco start out like this because it is natural, comfortable, familiar. Smokers are conditioned this way, so it becomes second nature and it carries over to vaping.

However, the longer someone vapes, and the more they begin to explore new devices, many become Lung Hit vapers for the same reason I did, advanced vaping demands it. Using sub-ohm tanks, RDA’s and anything else that produces a lot of vapor is a waste when vaping the same way smoker’s smoke, i.e., Mouth-To-Lung. Vapers that do not advance to more sophisticated vape gear mostly stay with Mouth to Lung far longer because there is no reason to change.

For three years my prime vape gear was a clearomizer and Vision eGo-threaded battery. In this video (see below) from Smokenjoey, you can plainly see that I am enjoying my ‘vape’ with a Vision battery (variable voltage) and an X-Jet clearomizer.

Witness the amount of vapor I was getting back in 2014. It may not compare to what I get now with my sub-ohm tanks, but it isn’t bad either. I quite liked it at the time. 

Now, Hobbyists and advanced vapers overwhelmingly prefer direct-to-lung rather than mouth to lung. For some it’s due to the type of gear they use, and for the rest of us it’s because of certain benefits that can be experienced with straight-to-lung vaping that can’t be experienced with mouth-to-lung.

Pros and Cons of Lung Hitting

The primary reason to take direct lung hits is the increase in vapor production you will experience by filling your lung with vapor. Cloud chasers and others love getting enormous clouds of vapor on the exhale. In order to do that, the vaper needs the extra power and shortest possible route to the lungs. Let’s face it, the lung capacity is exponentially larger that the capacity of the average mouth. Trying to keep that much vapor in your mouth is impossible, I know from my experience with the Atlantis sub-ohm tank.

To help create even bigger clouds eliquid brands add more vegetable glycerin (VG) to the blend. VG is a thick substance that is responsible for much of the vapor. However, using more VG also means a less powerful throat hit. Even so, the longer you spend Lung Hitting the less you’ll even think about throat hits. Bigger, thicker clouds is much more pleasant than a big throat hit.

Lastly, vaping with a Lung Hit style means the wattage of the device has to be higher and the ohms of the atomizer coils need to be lower. This combination produces temperatures that are much higher, and as such, vaporizes the nicotine in the eliquid more efficiently, meaning that the nicotine strength is about two thirds lower than eliquid for mouth-to-lung vapers.

In order to create a vape experience you can stay when Lung Hit vaping, the eliquid creator needs to increase the amount of flavoring in a High VG blend in order to maintain the same flavor experience of a higher PG blend. PG (Propylene Glycol) is known for its ability to carry flavor, while VG is good at creating vapor, but it’s a poor carrier of flavoring. Thankfully over the past 18 months eliquid brands have learned to balance the need for vapor and flavor with High VG blends by carefully adjusting the flavoring concentrate with the precise VG and PG blends. With 100% VG blends or PG-Free blends the balancing act is even harder. But, it is no longer uncommon to experience phenomenal flavor from High VG, Max VG, All VG, and PG-free formulas.

Flavor and Lung Hits

Despite the eLiquid creators finding ways to balance flavor and vapor in High VG blends, the coil heads in standard sub-ohm tanks of the recent past did not provide the same intensity of flavor that vaping mouth-to-lung provided. Again, adjustments had to be made to the hardware in order to balance the vapor and flavor equation.

In order to keep the customer happy, manufacturers began creating new tanks with new coil heads and wicking material that allowed us to recapture some of that lost flavor, but there was a gap between more flavorful High VG ejuice and ‘flavor conscious coil heads’.

A Vaping Renaissance

Right now we are going through a huge renaissance of ceramic coils made for flavor, but also providing huge vapor production. Combined with better eliquids, we’ve arrived at the best of both worlds… for now.

The reason last year’s tanks and wicking (cotton for the most part) left many vapers wanting more flavor was a simple, logical reason; with vapor whipping by the tongue and tastebuds there was precious little time for the flavor molecules to register on the tongue in order to experience these flavors. Well, not completely, but there was significant loss for a while until these new materials were put into play.

With vast improvements with High VG eliquids and new, flavor tanks and ceramic coils, not to mention Temperature Control systems in newer mods, there are only two aspects about Lung Hitting that can be seen as negatives; the amount of eliquid used with this style of vaping, and the shorter battery life. Temperature Control technology was partially invented for this reason.

For years my e-liquid consumption with mouth-to-lung, high PG eliquids was something like 5-8mL a day, now it’s closer to 30mL a day. I remember reading a post in a forum in 2013 where someone had remarked it was “impossible” to vape more than 10mL a day. Maybe it was back then, I never exceeded that amount, but today? Today I refill my 4.5mL tank 6, 7, or 8 times a day… at least. An 18650 battery used to last for hours and hours, today I change batteries every couple of hours. In addition, I keep a dozen batteries charged up around the clock and just 2 years ago I kept just one spare charged.

Temperature Control systems has allowed vapers to get back some of that eliquid consumption and save on battery life, but only about a third, if that. Ceramic coils, good ceramic coils, play a good part of increasing flavor, but the effects on eliquid consumption and battery life are negligible.

Pros and Cons of Mouth to Lung Vaping

Are there valid reasons for mouth-to-lung vaping today? Yes, absolutely, and several manufacturers know this. I think the biggest reason for this style of vaping is that it works as a great bridge between smoking and vaping. (familiar, flavor, and so on)

The only Cons to Mouth to Lung vaping is the relatively smaller vapor production you get. Other than that, the Pros far outweigh the cons. (This coming from a devout Lung Hitter too) If you can deal with less humongous clouds of vapor than the benefits from MTL is noticeable.

Vaping Mouth to Lung means vaping with higher ohm coil heads, usually 1.5 to 2.1 ohms. At this level the eliquid consumption is a lot less. Battery power lasts longer as well. And, lastly, the flavor of the eliquid is more intense because that vapor rests on the tongue far longer. Not to mention that instead of using thick High VG eliquid the MTL vaper can use 50:50 or 60:40 PG/VG blends, bringing the user more flavor and less consumption.

Back in my Mouth-to-Lung days my ejuice “blend” was often 80% PG, 20% VG. This thin eliquid was easy to use in clearomizers and cartomizers, it produced intense flavor, and had a throat hit ‘kick’ that no eliquid I use today can come close to. But, it’s not enough. Not with today’s ejuice blends and low ohm, nickel, titanium, stainless steel wires and ceramic heating elements… my personal “vape experience” is vastly superior to what it once was.

What’s it going to be?

I’ve tried several times to go back in time and enjoy Mouth-To-Vaping vaping recently and its just not satisfying to me anymore. I want to suck in as much vapor as possible, and with the newer coils heads, RTA’s and great sub-ohm tanks with and without ceramic coil options, I don’t feel I’m missing any flavor that I might have experienced years ago. Yes, I’m using more eliquid, but as a trade-off, it’s worth it.

But what about you? Eliquid blends are now far superior to what was… mixologists know more about creating new flavors and new blends that produce all the flavor we could want, and more vapor that we can ever need. New hardware takes advantage of the new eliquids to produce much better vape experiences.  Are you happy with your vaping style? Do you anticipate a change in the near future? What are you looking for with your vaping style, and more importantly, have you found it?

John Manzione