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Vape Wires and Coils Intro Part I, The Materials

Vape Wires and Coils Intro Part I, The Materials

 

Today, let's take a look at the different types of metal that go into your coils – the little round things that heat e-liquid to the point of vaporization, for the uninitiated. With the advent of temperature-controlled devices, a variety of coil wire materials have flourished in the last couple years, and some of them can be not only unpleasant but downright harmful if vaped the wrong way. Consider this a brief primer for beginning-to-intermediate vapers who are either interested in building their own coils or who simply want to know more about what makes their vape tick.

 

 

 

In the beginning, there was A-1 Kanthal. This alloy of iron, chromium, and aluminum remains popular with builders today, though it has lost market share in the disposable coil market to stainless steel in recent years. The attractiveness of Kanthal is its durability – it's heat resistant to temperatures in excess of 2700 degrees Fahrenheit, considerably higher than anyone would vape. This means Kanthal coils tend to last longer and stand up to "dry burning," a process where the wire is heated to knock off carbon buildup between re-wicking. Many Kanthal users will re-wick the same coil with fresh cotton or rayon several times between complete rebuilds.

 

For cloud chasers, Nichrome 80 enjoyed a considerable heyday and still remains the wire of choice for some, Composed of 80% nickel and 20% chromium, it has a lower heat resistance but also heats quicker, delivering hotter, fuller clouds at the cost of durability and longevity. Concern has also arose with regard to inhaling super-heated nickel wire.


Still, pure nickel coils (referenced as Ni200) took off when temperature-limiting devices (popularly known as "temperature-controlling" or TC mods) first hit the scene. Nickel has an even lower heat resistance, meaning its fundamental characteristics including resistance level change at much lower temperatures than Kanthal or Nichrome. These resistance changes are large enough to be measured by a computer chip capable of monitoring the coil and automatically cutting power to the coil when it reaches a certain resistance – this is, in essence, what temperature "control" actually does – it limits a mod's power output when a wire's resistance drops to the point that it indicates a desired maximum coil temperature has been reached. Since these coils heat so quickly, however, they can't be used with a non-TC device or a TC device in standard wattage mode, as the coil could become overheated and allow the user to inhale compounds created by the burning nickel.

 

Titanium also enjoyed a brief bout of popularity in the TC world – it's another wire with a low heat coefficient that heats up (and cools down) quickly, creating a resistance variance wide enough to be measured by TC devices. Still, the relatively high cost and fact that it was discovered by vapers after other materials had already taken hold means it saw limited release in pre-built throwaway coils and remains more of a niche for custom builders.


Finally, we have stainless steel, which has become the go-to wire for disposable-coil tanks and is catching on with builders. This wire has the quick ramp-up and cool-down properties of Ni200 and titanium, with the added benefit of durability and resistance to breakdown. This means it's suitable for both TC and wattage-powered use while having a longevity rivaling Kanthal – the best of both worlds, so to speak.


Now that we've got the basics of wire material down, we'll talk a bit soon about resistance, wire gauges, and actually building a coil of your own – it's easier than you think! Stay tuned…