Mechanical Mod Vaping – A Beginner's Guide to Advanced Vaping
With the FDA finally dropping its deeming regulations that threaten to bomb the vape world back to the comparative Stone Age of the late 2000s, now is as timely as ever an opportunity to look at the oft-overlooked mechanical mods.
First – what is it? Pretty simply put, a mechanical mod has no fuses, electronic control board, or other safety features – it's a shiny metal tube or box that holds a battery. Push a button, and the mod delivers as much power as your battery is capable of delivering to your coil. Connect your battery to a coil that's demanding more power than the battery can provide, and you'll be seeing fireworks of a most unwelcome sort in short order.
For this reason, mechanical mods, or 'mechs' aren't recommended as a first mod, though as recently as 2014 they were the only way to deliver more than 15-20 watts of power – an upper limit that must seem almost unthinkable to newer vapers who may have never used even a throwaway coil clearomizer that could operate under such low power conditions.
In recent years, with the advent of 100+ watt regulated devices, mechs have largely fallen by the wayside in all but the most dedicated communities of hobbyist vapers, many of whom will insist that the cleanest, most satisfying vape comes from a properly hand-built coil connected to a fresh set of batterries with no computer interference.
If federal regulators have their way, however, most popular consumer products used for vaping today will be banned within the next two years. If you plan on continuing to vape indefinitely as a long-term alternative to tobacco use, or if you're just interested in taking the next step into becoming a hobbyist, a mech setup may be for you.
First, clearomizers, or factory-built tanks with disposable coils, aren't ideal for mechanical mods. They're particularly dangerous with "hybrid" mechs, where the atomizer makes direct contact with a battery – if the center pin on the atomizer doesn't protrude sufficiently from the threading surrounding it (at least 1-1.5 mm), the threads are at risk of contacting the battery's positive pin, creating a "hard short" that will immediately send a battery into overload condition, causing venting or explosion.
Mech users are generally builders, working with RTAs and, more often, RDAs. Building one's own coils allows for a custom-tailored experience, which is more important when considering that the characteristics of the vape changes dramatically as a battery's charge wanes from a full 4.2 volts down to the 3.7 range at which it's ready for a recharge.
Instructions on building to the specifications of a mech could (and probably should) fill a book, but a few things to keep in mind – always build to your battery's continuous amperage rating. A 20 amp battery is generally safe for builds above 0.2 ohm, a 30 amp battery for builds above 0.15 ohm – below this range and you're testing limits, meaning you should do a lot more reading at any of a handful of forums for vape enthusiasts before proceeding further. Remember, if a battery claims to deliver more than 30 amp, it's likely overstating its capabilities – Google any battery you're considering using to make sure it's safe.
Make sure to use only wire that's not dependent on temperature control to work – namely A1 Kanthal and stainless steel – nickel and titanium wire can't stand the unrelenting solid power delivery of a mech and may overheat, releasing toxins or even sending crackling bits of metal into your mouth – certainly no picnic!
Given the current state of affairs politically, mechanical vaping may be poised for a big comeback in the US over the next year or two – now's the time to start reading and learning to prepare yourself for a vaping future in which the DIY ethic shines as much as it did in the pioneering days.