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Vaping Basics: The Different Types of Vape Tanks

Vaping Basics: The Different Types of Vape Tanks

So you've decided to take up vaping?

Welcome to the club.

If you're doing it to give up cigarettes, you've made the right choice. After all, the average smoker will die ten years earlier than a non-smoker. That equates to about 480,000 premature deaths in the US each year.

Studies are still ongoing, but an expert review published by Public Health England recently concluded vaping to be 95% less harmful than tobacco.

So we all know it's safer, but one big hurdle remains for the novice vaper. It's all so darned confusing.

Atomizers, sub ohm tanks, VG/PG ratios and clearomizers: what the hell does it all mean?

I feel you. I was there myself not so long ago.

Rather than overwhelming you with information overload, this article will focus solely on the different types of vape tanks.

Here are the basics to keep you up to speed.

What is a vape tank/atomizer?

Confusingly, the term "tank" and "atomizer" are often used interchangeably.

Essentially, the atomizer is a key component of an e-cig which is composed of a heating coil, a wick, and a reservoir to hold your e-juice.

The juice soaks into the wick, which is typically made of cotton (although other materials exist). Upon firing up your device, the coil heats up the wick and subsequently turns your e-liquid into an inhalable vapor which can be sucked through a hole at the top.

Stacks of different types of atomizers are available on the market. But ultimately, they all work the same way.


Cartomizers are the most basic e-cigarette tank type on the market. Years ago, these groundbreaking devices revolutionized the vaping game by combining the coil and the reservoir together, effectively reducing the e-cig from three to two parts.

They were hot stuff back then. These days, not so much.

Nevertheless, cartomizers are still the preferred type of atomizer for cig-alike devices. These are designed to mimic the shape of a cigarette to help former smokers overcome the psychological aspect of their habit.

Appearance wise, the cylindrical shape of the cartomizer resembles a cigarette butt. Inside is a heating coil which is surrounded by a big wick. This design allows the cartomizer to hold as much e-juice as possible, although that still only amounts to around 1 mg or so.

Cartomizers are intended to be disposable, which means they are neither cost-effective nor environmentally friendly.

It is possible to refill a cartomizer, although rather tiresome. Pry off the top lid with a nail or a pin, then pour a bunch of e-juice into the wick. Allow at least 20 minutes for it to soak in.

The good:

  • cheap to purchase
  • easy to use

The bad:

  • expensive in the long-run
  • cannot change the coils
  • hard to refill
  • low power



Think of the clearomizer as your next-gen cartomizer. The most noticeable difference is its transparency, hence the name. However, the clearomizer is highly superior in terms of performance.

Also cylindrical, the clearomizer is a long narrow tube which contains a wick and coil at the top or bottom of a liquid filled tank. A distinct advantage of the clear reservoir is the ability to see how much liquid remains.

Depending on the model, either the top or the bottom can be easily unscrewed. This allows the vaper to refill the tank and even replace the coil once it has burnt out. Replacing coils costs money, but is much cheaper than purchasing a new disposable cartomizer each time.

The big improvement concerning performance is that its wick threads through the coil and sticks out into the tank. This method draws extra liquid towards the coil which results in a better vape.

Clearomizers have e-Go threads, which makes them ideal for the affordable type of vape device known as the vape pen.

The good:

  • Vape pen plus clearomizer combo is easy to use for beginners and cheap
  • refillable liquid and replaceable coils
  • reasonable power

The bad:

  • not as powerful as other atomizers
  • not compatible with mods
  • only holds about 2 mg of juice

Vape Tanks

Tanks are kind of like the bigger, badder brother of the clearomizer.

Although still cylindrical in shape, they are notably stockier, holding anywhere between 2ml and 5ml of juice which allows for a long and uninterrupted vaping session.

Much like clearomizers, tanks can be easily screwed apart to replace the coil and the e-juice. Almost all tanks feature the superior bottom coil design.

These days, most tanks are made out of glass instead of plastic, which allows them to resist certain citrusy e-juice flavors that may damage a plastic tank. Of course, you'll want to be careful not to drop it.

As an industry standard, tanks contain 510 threads which allow them to be attached on to almost any mod out there. A mod is a more powerful vape device that permits users to control the wattage.

Another cool feature is the airflow control. Vapers can choose between a tighter and more flavorsome draw like a cigarette, or a more loose draw for massive clouds of vapor.

The good:

  • 510 threads can fit most mods
  • refillable liquid and replaceable coils
  • large capacity, 2 to 6 ml
  • easy to use
  • Adjustable airflow

The bad:

  • more expensive (but not that expensive)

Sub-Ohm Tanks

These puppies are like a standard tank with the power turned up to 11. This is due to the fact they're capable of supporting lower resistance coils, typically under one Ohm.

Such a low resistance allows users to crank up the wattage to the extreme, resulting in massive clouds and a more flavorsome vape. Given the tank is burning juice so fast, it comes with a larger wick to keep pace.

All that extra wattage requires a high power device. Most modern mods are capable of running sub-ohms, but be sure to check the minimum resistance if purchasing the tank and mod separately.

Battery safety is also an important consideration here. Modern mods are good at inhibiting wattage depending on the strength of your battery.

However, accidents can happen. And you definitely do not want a battery exploding in your face.

For any sub-ohm set-up, look for an original brand name battery with at least 20 amps. Battery expert Mooch has become a vape scene legend for his in-depth technical reviews.

Sub-Ohm tanks are also better at handling higher VG ratio juices, which is important to some vapers.

Another cool thing is their ability to work with temperature control coils, which are made out of stainless steel, titanium or nickel.

As the name suggests, they permit the user to control the temperature rather than the wattage, which results in a smoother and more consistent vape. They'll also avoid unwanted dry hits which are caused when coils burn hot without being adequately saturated by e-juice.

The good:

  • 510 threads are compatible with most mods
  • refillable liquid and replaceable coils
  • large capacity, 2 to 6 ml
  • easy to use
  • huge clouds and awesome flavor
  • the possibility of temperature control
  • Adjustable airflow

The bad:

  • more expensive
  • use liquid faster due to the extra power
  • battery safety is an issue
  • requires a high power mod

Rebuildable Atomizers (RBAs)

We're getting a bit technical now, so newbie vapers may want to give these types of atomizers a miss. Nevertheless, it doesn't hurt to have a basic understanding of what these are all about, not least to wax lyrical with your mates.

The deal with Rebuildable Atomizers is that instead of replacing a stock standard factory made coil, vapers can insert their own custom-made coils and wicks.

Sound like a lot of hassle? It kind of is. But the two main benefits make it worthwhile for many enthusiasts.

  1. Increased performance in terms of more flavor and better clouds.
  2. A lower cost in replacing the coils.

Let's check out the two main types of RBAs.

Rebuildable Dripping Atomizers (RDA)

In theory, RDAs are more simple than standard atomizers. Rather than having a reservoir, these devices see the vaper dripping e-juice directly onto the coil.

The result? Huge clouds and a massive flavor hit.

So what's so complicated?

The vaper needs to manually wrap a special coil with around the edge of two tiny posts, before delicately inserting a wick into the center of the coil.

Once that's done, they'll have to drip e-juice onto the coil every 10 draws or so, being careful not to spill the notoriously sticky liquid everywhere.

The whole process is finicky, to say the least. For this reason, only serious vape enthusiasts and cloud chasers tend to bother.

The good:

  • crazy big clouds
  • more flavor
  • cheaper to replace coils

The bad:

  • necessary to top up e-juice
  • installing custom coils is tricky

Rebuildable Tank Atomizers (RTA)

RTAs are pretty similar to RDAs. The main difference is they come with the convenience of a refillable tank.

Consequently, the user isn't obliged to continually drip e-juice onto the coil, yet can enjoy the extra power and customization that only a rebuildable atomizer can afford.

Appearance wise, they are not unlike the standard Sub-Ohm tank. It's only on the inside where the difference is notable.

Long-term vapors who value extra power and love tinkering around are more than happy to install their own custom coils and wicks.

For many, however, the process is too much hassle.

The good:

  • extra power and customization
  • no need to drip juice
  • cheaper to replace coils

The bad:

  • installing custom coils is tricky

So Which Atomizer is Right for Me?

As a newbie vaper, it's pretty hard to go past either a tank or a Sub-Ohm tank. When combined with a decent mod, these offer an excellent combination of convenience, value for money, and a deliciously strong vapor hit.

For a cheaper option, a clearomizer will work in a pinch.

To work out which mod and tank are right for you, get in touch with the pros at Blazed Vapes.

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  • Blazed Vapes Staff