What’s a Vape Tank?
What’s a Vape Tank?
Welcome to Breazy’s beginner's guide to vape hardware. Today we're talking tanks, the part of an advanced personal vaporizer (APV, or just "mod") that holds your e-liquid until it's ready to be vaporized.
Most of our time here is going to be spent with the device you're most likely to encounter on a modern entry-level mod: the sub-ohm clearomizer (because it's clear), or "tank." There are other types of tanks we'll name, but not discuss, later.
Knowing the pieces of your vape tank will help you understand how to troubleshoot and maintain it.
What are the different parts of a tank?
We're going to use the terms ‘tank’ and ‘clearomizer’ interchangeably here–they both refer to the entire e-liquid storage component that’s attached to your power delivery device. Let's get into the parts you'll find in a modern clearomizer.
Generally made of Pyrex glass, this piece contains the liquid between the top and bottom caps and allows the vaper to keep an eye on its level without allowing it to fall too low. Because it's glass, you can see through it.
These metal pieces are found at either end of the glass outer tube, and screw the mod together. Either the top or bottom cap will have a sliding ring to expose or cover airflow holes, allowing the vaper to select how loose or tight the inhale will be. The top cap will usually have a piece that pops off or swings sideways on a hinge to allow for easy refilling of e-liquid. The bottom cap will be threaded, nearly always in what's referred to as a "510 thread pattern," with a contact pin in the center of the threads to conduct electricity from the power source and convey it to the coil.
In tanks taller than the height of the coil, these serve as extensions through which vapor flows, preventing liquid from entering the mouthpiece.
Rubber washers that seal the top and bottom caps to the outer tube, and the drip tip to the top cap.
The drip tip the removable mouthpiece through which vapor is drawn. These can be removed and, on some devices with a standard 510 style, can be replaced with others.
What we refer to as a coil is actually comprised of several parts:
Atomizer: consisting of positive and negative poles, when electrified the opposing poles generate heat in their connecting wire, which turns liquid to vapor
Coil: a wire, usually wound in the shape of a coil, that connects the positive and negative poles and receives their electrical charge. Modern tanks will have two, three, or even as many as twelve coils packed into a single coil unit
Wicking: while materials vary, organic cotton has long been a favorite wicking material. Absorbent and porous, it draws liquid from the tank to the coils, where it's heated into vapor
Housing: all of these components are encased in a tiny metal housing that's screwed into the tank's base cap, often with a center tube threaded into the top. Holes, or "juice ports" in the sides expose the wicking material to the liquid inside the tank
Of course, no tank is complete until it's filled with e-liquid. Most tanks, when purchased new, will come with spare o-rings and outer glass to replace in case the original o-rings or original glass become damaged. Many will also include a "vape band," a silicone ring that fits around the tank glass to protect it.
How to use a tank
Modern clearomizers are designed to be as user-friendly as possible. Tanks from reputable suppliers will come sealed in factory packaging (with verifiable authenticity codes), all assembled and ready to go.
We recommend taking your tank apart when you first get it, using care to observe the order in which the pieces go together and noting how the o-rings fit so you won't crush anything on reassembly. Wash everything EXCEPT the coil head with warm water and a mild detergent, dry thoroughly, and re-assemble.
Before you install the coil, dab a drop or two of vape juice liquid into each of the juice ports and, if the wicking material is exposed at the top of the coil, add a couple drops there too. Go easy, if you use too much you'll get gurgling and spitback until the liquid inside the coil is vaporized.
From there, fill the tank up, wait another 10 minutes for the liquid to absorb into the coils ("priming" the coil with those few drops we just mentioned makes this process more efficient), and you're ready to go.
A word of caution for new vapers: while every clearomizer is a tank, not every tank is a clearomizer. Some tanks, unless you're looking to put in a fair amount of effort and tolerate a bit of a learning curve, are better to avoid. These include RTAs and RDTAs, which we'll discuss very briefly in a minute.
Why are there so many types of tanks?
First, every manufacturer wants to put its own spin on a product, and to be able to offer a starter kit with both mod and tank in one package. Whether their specialty is tanks or mods, most major Chinese manufacturers will offer a "starter kit" with both tank and mod in one. The vast majority of tanks and mods on the market today use a standard "510" thread pattern, meaning that regardless of brand they'll be interchangeable from device to device.
Some tanks are designed to appeal more to mouth-to-lung (MTL) vaping, which is similar to the way in which one draws off a cigarette: first by pulling smoke or vapor into the mouth, then inhaling. Others have a looser airflow and target direct-lung (DL) vapers, who want to inhale freely on their devices.
More tanks are designed to fill certain niches, appealing to "flavor chasers" by maximizing the tastes of complex e-liquid blends. Others are marketed to "cloud chasers," sacrificing flavor notes in favor of creating the biggest, densest vapor clouds imaginable.
That said, the technology of vaping is constantly advancing—the tanks available today offer features such as top-fill or wood-pulp wicking that were unheard of just a year or two ago, and tomorrow's tanks will likely push the boundaries even further with regard to flavor enhancements, leak prevention, coil technology, and ease of use.
Next Level Vaping
Before it went mainstream, vaping was long the domain of hobbyists, and we've got a lot to thank them for. The term "mod" to describe an advanced personal vaporizer is derived from early vapers modifying, or "modding" flashlights and other household devices, rigging them with basic electronic controls to provide the level of control over one's vape experience that today we take for granted.
Just as with power supplies, vapers have long sought to mod their atomizers and build their own coils. This has brought about the development of "rebuildable" devices, including Rebuildable Tank Atomizers (RTAs) and Rebuildable Dripping Tank Atomizers (RDTAs).
All of these require advanced knowledge when it comes to electrical current, wicking material, wire resistance, and a host of other factors. For this reason, they're best avoided by beginners.
Check out Breazy’s vast library of vaping resources here.