What is Dripping?
If you're new to the world of vaping you may have heard about this "dripping" style, though it's likely unfamiliar. While common in the early days of vaping (think back to the late 2000s or early 2010s), dripping today falls strictly in the realm of hobbyist vapers.
The act itself is pretty simple - instead of a clearomizer tank or vape pod, drippers use a rebuildable dripping atomizer (RDA). While a tank system feeds liquid to a wick and coil automatically, with a dripper the user is responsible for keeping the wicks wet, dripping a few drops of e-liquid onto them every few draws.
An RDA, unlike a traditional tank or pod, doesn't come ready to vape from the manufacturer. The end user is instead responsible for building and installing a coil and wicking system appropriate for the vaping style they intend to employ. For this reason, these are considered advanced user devices.
If you're interested in dripping, we’re here to review how to do it and also add a few tips and important safety precautions before you dive in.
How To Drip
Before you start to drip, you’re going to need to develop a basic understanding of Ohm's Law and electrical theory. From there, you'll need to build a safe coil to install in your RDA - we cover that in a three-part series that can be found here, here, and here.
Okay, have you got your RDA set up and ready to go? Have you enlisted the help of an experienced friend to ensure you've completed your first build safely? Good, let's get down to brass tacks.
First, you're going to remove your drip tip (mouthpiece) or the entire top cap covering your atomizer. This will allow you to drip some liquid onto your coil, saturating the wicks in the process. Be careful: if you don’t fully wet your wick, there’s a chance it'll burn and require replacement as soon as you get done coughing from the harsh "dry hit" you'll induce. Too much liquid and you'll find that it leaks out of your airflow holes and creates gurgling or "spitback," when lava-hot droplets of not-quite-vaporized liquid are launched into your mouth and throat.
The goal here is to shoot for nice, glistening wick tails that are visibly moist without a pool of excess liquid left on your build deck. While there's definitely a sweet spot that needs to be hit, finding it is actually easier than it sounds.
Replace the top cap or drip tip and take a pull off your mod. Is that the sweetest, most flavorful, densest, fluffiest cloud you've ever witnesses? If it's not, try tweaking your power and airflow settings up and down - vaping is a personal endeavor, so finding your own sweet spot may take a bit of experimentation, and dripping offers the easiest way to make adjustments and dial in what works for you. As a bonus, once you find your ideal setting it'll be easier to replicate if you move back to a tank-based system later.
Suggestions and Tips
The biggest risks from dripping are ones we've already covered: dry hits and spitback. If you try to stretch too far between drips, you’ll get a nasty dry hit. This happens when your wick runs dry and, instead of vaporizing e-liquid, your coil burns the wick, creating smoke instead of vapor.
On the flip side, if you apply too much e-liquid, as we mentioned earlier, this can result in the coils flooding and extra liquid “spitting back” when you take a pull. If you've dripped a bit too much liquid but haven't flooded your deck to the point where it's leaking, turn down the power for a few pulls to dry things up.
Squonking is a hybrid style of vaping that offers the unparalleled experience of dripping without the hassle and mess of carrying around a separate liquid bottle you need to pull out every few minutes.
Squonk mods, also called bottom feeders, are topped by an RDA with a hole in the connection pin that's connected to a bottle of e-liquid housed in the mod. Squeeze, or "squonk" the bottle with your finger, and liquid is forced up and into the bottom of the atomizer, wetting the tails of your wick. Release the bottle and excess liquid is drawn back in, eliminating both the mess potential and the hassle of dripping on your coils from the top.
Once relatively obscure, a number of popular manufacturers now offer squonk mods designed to deliver a dripping experience in a compact and convenient package.
Dripping, like any other style of vaping, has its advantages and disadvantages. The upside is that the flavor and vapor drippers offer is widely agreed to be superior to even the best available tank systems on the market. On the downside, building and maintaining an RDA, regardless of whether it's a top-fill or squonk style, is more laborious than using a traditional clearomizer with disposable coil heads.
Dripping can be fun and rewarding, or it can be a pain - that all depends on your perspective. If you want convenience and expediency, it’s probably not for you. It's likewise probably not the best choice for new vapers who'd be better served focusing on their transition from smoking and vaping basics. But if you've already got the vapor basics down cold and you're ready to see what else vaping has to offer, dripping might just be an experiment worth undertaking.
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