What is Sub-ohm Vaping?

Sub-ohm Vaping

Continuing with our theme of inscrutable vaping terms from the previous post, we’re coming at you today with sub-ohm vaping, a term which might not even be truly qualified as English. Sub-ohm vaping tends to be conflated with the production of Yuge Cloudz, but there’s a lot that goes on between those tiny coils and the big white stuff we all know and love.

Resistance and Ohms

We can’t talk about sub-ohm vaping without talking about ohms. Ohms are units of resistance in a given material, and are represented by a little Greek letter omega: Ω. They measure how well an electrical current can move through something—for example, a coil.

The word sub-ohm vaping comes from this idea of resistance. Specifically, it refers to the use of coils with less than 1 ohm (i.e. sub 1 ohm) of resistance. How low can you go? Aspire makes a coil with a resistance of just 0.16 ohms.

Coils and garden hoses

Thin coils have a very high resistance. They can’t push a lot of electricity through them at once. Think of a garden hose: only so much water can travel down the hose at once. The hose resists having too much water pushed down it. If you try to push more water down it than it can take, your garden hose is going to burst.

Think back to your thin coil. The electricity flowing through it is like water through the garden hose. If you try to push too much electricity through the coil, your coil is going to overheat and burn your wick, your juice, and your mouth (if you’re not careful).

Now think of a waterslide. The same amount of water in the garden hose is barely going to fill the bottom of a waterslide. The waterslide doesn’t resist the water very much at all. You can feed a ton of water down the slide and it’ll go on its merry way. In the same way, big fat coils have much lower resistance.

The great thing about big fat coils is that they have a ton of surface area, which means that they can vaporise a lot more juice at once—and presto! Yuge Cloudz.

Attaching a waterslide to a garden spout

Like we said, if you try to fill a waterslide with the spout on the side of your house, it’s barely going to fill the bottom. That’s a pretty sad waterslide.

In the same way, trying to power low-resistance coils with a small battery is just not going to work. This is why you always see sub-ohm vapers with big mods: they have to haul around the big 18650 batteries that power these low-resistance coils. Anything less won’t get the coils hot enough to vaporise the juice.

Dangers of sub-ohm vaping

Sub-ohm vaping has a bit of a bad-boy reputation as being the domain of the custom builder and the fire-extinguisher aficionado. In the past, the only way to get proper low-resistance builds was to build the coils yourself—which led some people into the territory of the truly dangerous. Short circuits, overheating batteries, and burnt-out tanks were—and still are—some perils of building your own coils from scratch.

Luckily for the normies, manufacturers have made huge advances in the fields of safe sub-ohm vaping, mostly by providing pre-wound coils and mods with safety circuitry and proper ventilation to prevent batteries from overheating or coils from burning out completely.

A good rule of thumb is that if you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, you might need to back up. But manufacturers aren’t building kit to mess you up. They want you to stay safe.

And so do we.

Not danger, but still something you might want to watch out for

Another factor of sub-ohm vaping that you’re going to want to think about is the composition of the juice you use. The clouds you blow when sub-ohm vaping are huge, yes, but that means that the amount of juice you inhale is proportionally huge.

Many sub-ohm vapers prefer to use a juice with a higher concentration of VG (vegetable glycerin) since VG gives a much smoother vape, and clouds full of PG (propylene glycol) can tend to be a bit harsh.

You’ll also want to check your nicotine concentration. Vaping with a high-PG juice, you can get away with concentrations of 9 or 12mg. You’re using higher-resistance coils which vaporise less juice, after all. But sub-ohm vapers rarely use concentrations higher than 6mg, since the amount of juice they’re inhaling is so much greater.

It should go without saying as well that since you’re vaporising so much juice, you’re going to go through it much faster than you would using higher-resistance coils.

Such is the cost of the cloud-chasing life.

The world of sub-ohm vaping is a huge one, and we’ve barely dipped our toes in the little pool at the top of the waterslide. But you’re now equipped with the sub-ohm knowledge to go out and wield your kit among even the lowest of low-resistance coils.

Now grab your favourite flavour and bury your head in a cloud.

Lilian Yang

Author Lilian Yang

Lilian Yang is an every-day, every-hour vape user. With 6 years under her belt, she can bind taste-test almost any ejuice and pick out the most subtle flavour notes. She's an expert at building coils and loves to ramp high for those huge clouds. She can often be seen behind a mask of Heisenberg, advocating switching from cigarettes to electronic alternatives.

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