A Guide to Vape Atomizers

Posted by Richard Broke on Apr 21st 2020

If you're new to vaping, you might have heard the term atomizer. This complex-sounding word simply refers to the vaporizer's heating element. This connects with the battery to heat e-liquid and create vapor that can be inhaled. Here's what you need to know about various types of vape atomizers and how they function.

What Is a Vape Atomizer?

Image via Flickr by jonnwilliams The main components of a vape atomizer include:

  • Atomizer tank, which is the chamber to which e-liquid can be added.
  • "Drip tip" through which e-liquid can be added if you have an atomizer that doesn't have a tank.
  • Either a silica wick or metal mesh that regulates the flow of e-liquid from the chamber to the atomizer.
  • Heating coil, which heats the liquid to vaporizing temperature. These are made from resistance wire that interacts with the power delivered from the battery.
  • Base of the unit where the battery attaches.
  • Mouthpiece that connects to the atomizer so the vapor can be inhaled into your lungs.

These are all combined into the device assembly or casing to create a portable vaporizer. Depending on the battery power, the type of coil, and other factors, most atomizers can heat up to between 180 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Types of Vape Atomizers

The three main types of atomizers are disposable, replaceable, and rebuildable atomizers. Other types of atomizer include a cartomizer, which is sometimes called an extended atomizer, and a clearomizer, which is one of the most advanced atomizers currently on the market.

Disposable Atomizers

These atomizers are, as the name says, disposable. They are available at most convenience stores at an affordable price but aren't meant to last beyond a few uses. You may notice that it becomes difficult to draw air through the mouthpiece, which is often a sign that it's time to replace this type of atomizer. Although this is a good choice for the vaping newbie, after time goes on you might find that you're spending more money on disposable atomizers than you would on one long-lasting replaceable or rebuildable version. Many vape enthusiasts also report that disposable atomizers are not able to provide the flavor intensity or volume of vapor they prefer. Unlike other types of vapes, disposable versions cannot be customized. One of the best atomizers in this category is the Authentic Pilot Vape 550 mAh Disposable E-Cigarette. It's available in a range of fruit flavors and has a 2-ohm resistance. This specific model is designed to last for between 700 and 800 puffs, which makes it ideal for the casual user.

Replaceable Atomizers

Atomizers with a replaceable coil head are among the most popular because the coil easily screws and unscrews for quick replacement when necessary. You may notice a burnt flavor or reduced performance, which indicates that the coil needs to be replaced. These models often have upgraded features over disposable atomizers, including glass tubes and airflow control valves designed to enhance vapor production and flavor. You can also quickly and easily change flavors since these vapes have a washable chamber. If you're a regular vaper, this type of atomizer will be more cost-effective than a disposable atomizer even when you consider the cost of coil changes. In this category, we like the DAZZVAPE Melter Concentrate Vaporizer, which features four replaceable heating elements and an integrated 1400 mAh battery. This vape features single-button operation and an LED battery life indicator. Each removable coil features a 0.2 to 2.0 ohm resistance and 3.0 to 4.2V voltage output. The storage compartment is hidden within the device and has two separate sections. This vape is available in cool finishes, including stainless steel, rainbow, black, blue, and pink.

Rebuildable Atomizers

Rebuildable atomizers are the perfect choice for vapers who like to work with their hands and customize their devices. In addition to offering complete control over your vaping experience, these models bring you optimal vapor production and intense flavor. Although the initial financial output is the highest with this type of atomizer, you will save money over time since you won't need to replace the parts. If you have a bit of electrical knowledge, these models are relatively easy to build and customize. You'll need to consider types of resistance coils, wire and coil, sizes, and wicking material. These choices will all affect your vaping experience, so if you're new to e-juices you may want to spend some time using other types of atomizers so you can learn more about your preferences. One type of rebuildable atomizer is the rebuildable dripping atomizer (RDA). This device is used for a style of vaping known as dripping, in which e-liquid is placed directly onto the cotton or silica wick within the heating element. RDAs are increasingly popular for their combination of power and simplicity, although some users find dripping the liquid onto the coil to be messy or inconvenient. This is especially true if you prefer to vape on the go. You'll need to add three to four drops of liquid to your atomizer every time you want to take three or four puffs on your vape. If you're shopping for an RDA, we like the Profile 24mm BF RDA, the result of a collaboration between Wotofo and Mr.JustRight1. This bottom-fed dripper-style vape boasts top-cap beehive-style airflow, a build deck compatible with mesh coils, and a spring-loaded ceramic support platform designed to provide seamless hits. This setup has an atomizer resistance of 0.18 ohm and recommended wattage of 40 to 60. Rebuildable tank atomizers (RTAs) expand the e-liquid capacity of your device while providing the ability to build your own coils. The Vandy Vape Kylin is consistently one of the highest-rated RTAs on the market. This modified deck-style device offers adjustable e-juice flow and increased air flow over its previous model for the perfect hit every time. This brand gets high marks for creating high-quality products with simple designs that produce unmatched flavor. An RDTA combines the RDA and RTA into a vaporizer that offers the potent flavor and giant clouds of the drip method with the hands-off operation of a tank atomizer. The Vapefly Galaxies MTL BF 22mm RDTA is a great choice for a rig that's ready to go where you are. It features two wicking ports, a convenient spring-loaded juice fill, and the ability to hold up to 2 milliliters of e-liquid. The bottom feed spout is fitted with two ports to prevent overflow, and the airflow is easily adjustable with the removal of hex screws. This RDTA is designed for an easy build experience and consistent high performance even with heavy use. Atomizers with sub-ohm tanks have a resistance lower than one ohm, which is the standard for vaporizers, along with a larger wicking system. If you want to do smoke tricks with large, fluffy vape clouds and enjoy intense flavor from your e-liquid of choice, give this type of atomizer a try. This is also a good setup for advanced vapers who want to experiment with controlling the temperature and pushing the battery limits of their devices. When it comes to sub-ohm tank atomizers, we recommend the HorizonTech Falcon Resin Edition. This 7-millileter capacity tank features attractive bubble glass, a resin drip tip, and an all-new coil system, along with adjustable airflow. It promises outstanding performance and intuitive building and use. Using an ohm meter is an essential safety step if you want to build or modify a vape. Keep in mind that sub-ohm tanks are designed for use with e-juices that contain vegetable glycerin (VG) rather than those with propylene glycol (PG).


A cartomizer has an extended casing that contains a polyfill-wrapped heating coil. The polyfill absorbs e-liquid so it can be slowly distributed and consistently heated for a smoother, more intense flavor and increased vapor production. The larger body of this device also has a larger e-liquid chamber so you won't need to refill as often. This is especially convenient when you're vaping on the go. Many vapers prefer the discreet pen shape of this device. Some cartomizers have just one heating coil, but most are equipped with two. This dual-coil setup produces more vapor but can also be taxing on the device's battery. Some users report that the polyfill material affects the flavor of the e-juice. Most cartomizers connect with a standard 510 battery. They are quite affordable, which makes them a popular choice for novice vapers. One downside is that because of the large chamber size, you can't switch flavors as often. Make sure you fill your tank with a liquid you really like if you opt for this atomizer style. Also, because vape technology is moving so quickly, cartomizers are sometimes harder to find because they are becoming phased out by newer, more advanced atomizer styles.


These innovative vaping devices combine either a disposable or a replaceable atomizer with a clear glass tank made from polycarbonate or Pyrex. This tank has a capacity of 2 to 5 milliliters, much larger than the 1-milliliter capacity offered by most other atomizers, and is available in a diverse range of shapes and sizes for ultimate customization. You can also see how much e-liquid is left in the tank with a simple glance, thanks to the transparent construction. Clearomizers are the ideal choice for long vape sessions and for those who want to vape for a full day without carrying bottles of e-liquid for necessary tank refills. They often come with high-tech features such as the ability to optimize resistance, control temperature, and regulate the flow of liquid from the tank to the atomizer. Although clearomizers tend to last longer than other types of atomizers, they have a higher upfront cost as a result. The glass construction also makes these models more delicate than other atomizers.

Caring For Your Atomizer

Before using a new atomizer, you'll need to prime the wick to prevent a burnt flavor on your first inhale. Open the atomizer and saturate the wick with e-liquid. Allow the liquid to absorb into the wick material, and then replace the atomizer and fill your tank. Take a few puffs without pressing the fire button, followed by a few puffs without inhaling. By following this procedure, you'll get the best flavor and performance from your new atomizer. Atomizers that are not disposable need to be cleaned to maintain performance. To do this, disassemble the atomizer and rinse each component with running water. Do not use soap, alcohol, or other cleaning solutions, which can damage your atomizer. Gently dry the components, replace your coil if necessary, and put the atomizer back together.

Choosing an Atomizer

Ask yourself these questions when selecting a new atomizer for the first time:

  • How often do I plan to vape? Regular use might require larger e-liquid and battery capacity.
  • Do I want a small, portable device that's easy to carry? Larger devices can be cumbersome, but they also include additional features, such as temperature control.
  • Do I want a simple vaping experience, or do I want to control elements such as airflow and voltage?
  • Do I have the technological knowledge to build my own setup? If not, you should choose a starter kit that includes all the components you need to get started with vaping.

You should also understand atomizer sizes. Some of the most common numbers you'll hear include 306, 510, 401, 801, and 901. These numbers refers to the thread size used to connect the battery to the atomizer. Some thread sizes, such as 510, are industry standards and can be used interchangeably on many different types of vapes. Others are proprietary and can be used only with the products of one brand. If you aren't sure where to start, visit a reputable vape shop in your area. The people there will be happy to help you find the best atomizer for your lifestyle and needs. Many people who are new to vaping can be overwhelmed by the sheer variety of atomizer choices on the market. Chatting with an expert and doing your research will help you create the ideal set-up for your exploration of this new hobby. Like what you just read? Consider clicking one of the affiliate links in this post or using the Vape Deals page on the site to make your next purchase. You get the chance to buy products (at a discount) from great companies, and we get a small commission when you use these links -- which helps keep the lights on and pay for more great content. It's a win-win!