What are Closed Vs. Open System Pod Mods?
There are two types of pod mods: Closed and Open System. Closed systems have sealed pods that are pre-filled, and open systems have refillable pods.
Each has advantages and disadvantages, which we will cover in this article. And because they are in the same overall category of pod mods, many of the advantages and disadvantages are the same, so we tried to drill down even further in this article to highlight the differences.
One similarity to note is that both open and closed system pod devices generally have smaller batteries than more advanced vapor devices, which means their life between charges is shorter.
Read on to get a good overview of each kind so you can choose the right type of device for you.
Closed Pod Systems
Closed pod systems are the fastest ones to get up and running with. Pods come sealed and prefilled with e-liquid and snap directly into a battery. Toss them out when they’re empty and click in a new one. Easy peasy. One pod is generally thought of as the equivalent to one pack of cigarettes. You can often buy replacement pods in multi-pack sets of four or five.
Pre-filled pods are offered in flavors ranging from sweet to fruity to the more basic varieties of tobacco and menthol.
The choice of flavors in closed-system pods is small in comparison to those available for open-system pod mods (or the bigger, traditional open-system vape mods.) We are talking about a dozens of flavors for closed-system compared to thousands for open-system. But if you’re not a hard core flavor buff and don’t need a zillion choices, there are probably more than enough pre-filled flavors to make you happy.
Pod Nicotine Options
Like vape juice flavors, nicotine level choices are also limited in closed devices. Most pods come in a limited range of nicotine levels, and that range is limited toward very high levels of nicotine compared to other devices. Pods usually come in nicotine levels of 12, 16, 24, 36, 50, or 60, depending on the brand, with most found in the range of about 25 to 50. In contrast, refillable liquids come in those amounts in addition and more and can be mixed to create a precise level desired by the user.
Many pods use nicotine salts, which offer a much smoother, easier throat hit than a regular liquid, even at super high nicotine levels. So if you’re not looking for very highly calibrated levels of nicotine, closed system pods should offer enough choice for the beginner.
The closed pod also makes them super transportable because there is no liquid to carry around to refill them, which is required of an open-system device. It’s also easier to switch between flavors in a closed system. Just pop out one flavor pod and snap in another. No muss, no fuss, no leftover taste from the last flavor you had in there.
DrawIn general, closed systems have tighter draws, which require the vaper so pull harder and can sometimes make it difficult to get a hit.
Reasons to choose a closed system pod mod:
- Zero learning curve: about as easy to figure out as an old-fashioned combustible cigarette
- Hassle free: no muss, no fuss, no maintenance, no mess
- Packs a cigarette punch in both ‘throat hit’ and nicotine levels
- Slick: good for under-the-radar use
- Portable: throw it in your pocket and go
- Cost: Initial investment is low
Reasons not to choose a closed system pod mod:
- Limited flavor options
- Limited nicotine options
- More costly over the long run than open-systems
- Tighter draw so requires a little work to get a good hit
In summary, closed-system pod mods are a...
- Great Choice for: Simplists, those don’t want to do a lot of work; spendy people not worried about cutting costs; travelers on the go, stealthy folks, neat freaks who don’t like any messes big or small, sufferers of choice paralysis, people who don’t like when two food groups in their plate touch one another.
- Bad Choice for: Penny pinchers, choice addicts, people who want to precisely determine their nicotine uptake, hard core environmentalists (empty pods end up in landfills)
Open Pod Systems
Open pod systems have refillable pods, hence, the term “open.” They come with empty refillable pods that you refill yourself. These devices require a bit more work but they open up a world of flavor and nicotine options not offered by closed devices and will also save you money in the long run.
Because you’d be choosing your own e-liquid, you have to understand some of the basics of the stuff. The most commonly used liquid or “vape juice” for pod mods is a special kind of nicotine called “salt-based nicotine.” You don’t have to worry too much about that yet except to know they often come in higher nic levels than regular e-liquids and they’re smoother on the throat.
You also have to know a little something about the basic ingredients of e-liquid, which come in different ratios of PG and VG. Again, we won’t get too carried away with detail here. But the big thing to know is that most vape pods don’t work well with higher percentage VG juices. Check to see if the manufacturer advises what ratio of liquid to use. Also, many e-liquid brands will specify the ratios on the label or in the description on the website if you are buying online.
This is where things start to get fun. Choice reigns supreme with open devices. So many flavors, so little time. Instead of a few fruit flavors like with closed systems, you get a cornucopia-strawberry, melon, mango, berry, apple, dragonfruit, peach and so on. Same goes for the other flavor categories such as Cereal, Custard, Dessert, Sweets and so on. Instead of just a handful of options for each of those flavor profiles, you get hundreds.
One flavor-related downside of open systems is the possibility of “flavor ghosting,” sometimes referred to as “flavor creep.” That’s when you can taste the remnants of the last flavor you vaped after refilling with an entirely new flavor. While it can be quite annoying, this is one of the drawbacks of using a pod device. Since even open-system pods are designed to be refilled just a few times and then thrown away, this may not be a huge problem unless you're trying to change flavors with every single tank fill. In that case, using multiple pods, each one labeled for a different flavor profile (filling a tank that used to hold strawberry with raspberry probably won't be too bad, refilling a maple pancake tank with lemon meringue won't work so well) also helps prevent flavor ghosting.
Pod mods can use either nicotine salts or what’s called “freebase nicotine.” These means you get a much large range of options of nicotine levels than closed systems.
Also, what makes the open-system even more flexible is that different nicotine levels can be mixed and matched to your specific nicotine preferences, which is advantage for someone trying to taper use.
The open pod is easily transportable because it’s small, however, if you’re out for a while, you need to carry around liquid to refill it.
Open-systems have a tighter draw that allows for better Mouth to Lung vaping, the kind preferred by former smokers.
Reasons to choose an open-system pod mod:
- Vast selection of flavors
- More options of nicotine levels
- Cheaper in the long run than a closed-system
- Tight draw
- More vapor
- More environmentally friendly than a closed system
Reasons not to choose an open-system pod mod:
- Longer learning curve
- Pretty user-friendly but more maintenance than closed system
- Could be messy
- Replacing internal coils and wicks required??
- Flavor ghosting
- Have to carry around liquid to refill pods
In summary, open-system pod mods are a...
- Great Choice for: Flavor junkies, coupon cutters, tree-huggers, those incrementally tapering off nicotine.
- Bad Choice for: People who don’t like cleaning up after themselves; light travelers who don’t want to cart around extra liquid, spendthrifts.
If you want to read about other types of vape devices both smaller and bigger, check out these articles on smaller disposable cigalikes and vape mods.
Check out Breazy’s vast library of vaping resources here.