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Vape Coils Explained | Need To Know

In this guide we are going to cover some of the key topics that you are going to have when it comes to vaping coils. If you want to know how to change a vape coil or what’s making it burn out quickly, we can help. Starting here

Table of Contents

Your vape coils are arguably one of the most important components in your device which can really enhance your vape experience. It can determine the flavour, inhale and amount of vapour.

Back in the early days of vaping you would just get a disposable tank which had a coil pre fitted. With this you got what you were given, no room to change it for massive clouds or a richer flavour. And we thank the vaping tech genius’ for giving us the option to change coils and even build our own.

In this coils guide, I’m going to take you through all the coil chat that you need to know. We will talk rebuildables and pre built coils – to suit your RTA/RDA and your regular tanks. We take you through how to clean them and how to know when they are done.

If you are new to vaping don’t feel overwhelmed by all the chat on rebuildables. As a newbie you might be able to skim that stuff and focus on the pre built coils.

Vape coils explained

Vape coil types

There are two types of vape coil at the very top of the food chain. These are pre built coils and rebuildable coils.

Prebuilt coils

Pre built coils come already packaged. They can come out of the box and go straight in your kit (providing they’re compatible of course). Some of these coils can fit in your RDA/RTAs, while others are just suited to your box mods, starter kits and so on. Premade vape coils still have different materials and resistances, but more on that later.

Rebuildable coils

Rebuildable vape coils are made by the vaper from scratch. You’d probably be doing this if you were a more advanced vaper looking to really enhance your experience. This requires a little know how when it comes to science and ohms law which we cover in our Sub Ohm Vaping guide.

Coil type materials

So, top of the food chain are the types of vape coils, which are pre built coils and rebuildables (homemade). Then under those headings you have your materials. The different materials used in the coils makes for a different vape experience.

These materials will have a different effect on flavour, cloud and lifespan of the vape coils. When you build your own coils the various metal and material options for your vape coils will have different properties.

So, what are these materials?


Ceramic can withstand very high temperatures as it doesn’t conduct heat so well as other materials. This means that the lifespan on the coil can be increased and that you won’t burn your cotton leading to that throat on fire, foul tasting, dry hit. They can also tolerate high wattages, so are an ideal choice for those using high powered devices.

Ceramic coil users say they don’t experience so much spit back. This is because any e-liquid in the coil has to move through the ceramic to get into your mouth. The tiny pores in the material help prevent juice from pooling in the coil, which can lead to spit back.

One last note on ceramic is that it has great flavour and a super smooth inhale because of the increased surface area on the porous material.

Vaporesso writes “As compared to other coils, ceramic coils are self-cleaning, meaning you are spending less time on maintenance and more time vaping.”

We like the sound of that!


Mesh coils are a strip of metal (usually stainless steel or Kanthal) with has a large surface area with holes punched in it. This material is in both prebuilt coils and you can also use it in rebuildables.

The biggest advantage of a mesh coil is the large surface area which means fast ramp up time, more vapor and richer flavour. The mesh coil is also reported to last longer as it needs less power to get the best performance.

Wicking material

The wicking material is used in a rebuildable and can be anything from cotton, silka wick, rayon wick, ceramic wick to stainless steel wick. Cotton and rayon carry e liquid well, whereas while stainless steel is durable, it doesn’t carry the juice and is better for MTL builds.

Back in the day clearomizers used to use silka wick, the advantage over cotton is that it doesn’t burn when it is dry. It is one of the most durable materials for building vape coils, that could easily last months with the right care.

Rayon is one of the fastest wicking materials, even faster than cotton! While cloud chasers might love this, the downside is that because it is a synthetic fiber some vapers say it has a slightly plastic taste.


Titanium wires are known for being soft and malleable. This means that they are nice and easy to twist, move and cut. Vapers review them as having a clean and crisp vape. However, there are some safety concerns. Titanium is a more flammable material than say, stainless steel or ceramic. After all, it is used in fireworks! This material should only be used in devices where you can control the temperature.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel is a tough old metal. It is also really versatile when it comes to building your own vape coils. They are easy to form and hold the shapes well. As a bonus, you’ll be able to use wattage mode or temperature control, giving you the best of both worlds.


You’ll find this wire used in both pre built coils and homemade vape coils. They’re known for their dense vapor and for being soft, durable and easy to mould into shapes. You can only use kanthal coils in wattage mode. However, mouth to lung vapers will enjoy the higher builds and lower ramp up time for long slow draws.


Nickel is one of the softest of the wires, which can actually make it hard to form and keep its shape. It can be frustrating when you have mounted the coil and it deforms when you’re wicking. It can only be used in temperature control mode. However, this material is easy to come by and the flavour is good – but is it worth the collapsing coil frustrations?!


Nichrome has a fast ramp up, holds its shape well and is nice and easy to work with. It has a lower resistance and melting temperature than Kanthal wires. This does mean that you need to be careful dry burning your vape coils. We suggest that you start low and pulse them, with gradual increases.

Pre built coils vs homemade coils

Guide to vape coils

Need more coils?

The most obvious plus for a prebuilt coil is the ease. There is no need to worry about fiddling around shaping and cutting vape coils. They also require very little knowledge, other than the compatible coil to your tank and your chosen resistance.

  • Out of the box and ready to go
  • Ideal for those looking for simplicity
  • You can even get pre made coils for your RTA/RDA
  • Have been safety checked
  • Less control
  • Less choices of materials
Rebuildable coils ask for a little more knowledge. You really need to understand ohms law and know your way around your device. However, building your own coils is like the final frontier for vapers. It’s the next phase after you have nailed pre-built sub ohm vaping, however, it isn’t a phase you have to venture into as it’s not for everyone. Pros
  • More control over resistance and materials
  • Richer flavour and denser vapor
  • Requires understanding of ohms law and physics
  • Can be fiddly, requiring good focus and a steady hand!
  • Safety elements to think about
  • Can be cheaper
  • You will need an ohmmeter to test your coils which adds a little expense


We’ve mentioned ohms and ohms law, but what is it? We go into huge detail ohm sub ohm vaping on our guide, but if you can’t bare to tear yourself away from this blog, here’s a brief intro to them

Sub ohm

This relates to vape coils below 1 ohm. They have dense vapour and a smooth, direct lung inhale. You’d want to pair these with high VG juices.

Plus ohm

This is coils above 1ohm. They have less vapor, decent throat hit and are best suited to mouth lung vapers. Top up a plus ohm tank with beginner juices and nicotine salt liquid.

How to know when to change a coil

Coils don’t last forever. How long it will last depends on a few factors. These factors include:
  • Temperature
  • Wattage you vape at
  • Eliquid you are using
  • How often you vape
If you use very high temperatures or wattages, then it will burn out much faster than the lower end. There’s also thought that using sweeter juices with a high VG base will get through your coils much faster too. So how will you know you need to change your coils? Well it will taste burnt. If it is really on the turn it will smell burnt too. If you’ve noticed that the flavour of your juice has gone, or there is a burning smell that even other people are starting to notice, then it is time to change your coils.

How long does a coil last?

How long does a vape coil last is kind of like asking how long is a piece of string… it varies. For some who are chaining it at a high temperature and max wattage, a coil could last a day, or with proper care and low wattages it could last a few weeks to a month or even years with rebuildables.
  • Advanced vapers
If you are an advanced vaper using rebuildables, and use long lasting materials, such as stainless steel, you will only need to change the cotton/wicking material and the metal coil could see you through as long as a year! You won’t want to be vaping on a coil that’s on its last legs though, the vapor and flavour from a coil on the turn isn’t going to impress anyone!
  • Intermediate vapers
As an intermediate vaper you might be using prebuilt coil for your RDA/RTA or an out the box coil for sub ohm vaping. These can last you anywhere from a few days to two weeks. It will depend on how often you are vaping, the care you are taking at the wattages you are vaping it at. If you vape at high wattages and temperatures you’ll be putting that coil through the ringer, so don’t expect it to go the distance.
  • Beginner mouth lung vapers
Beginner vapers would probably be looking at mouth to lung vape coils and kits. These coils are used at much lower wattages, with most starter kits being non adjustable. Keeping your tank topped up, allowing the coil to prime and keeping the coils clean will help to preserve the life of the beginner coil.

How to clean your vape coils

This is probably your next question. How do you keep a coil clean? Over time, particularly when you use high VG juices, coils can become ‘gunky’. Keeping your coil ship shape and shiny can get you a couple more days out of it, saving you money in the long run. Here’s how to deep clean your coil. You’ll need:
  • Ceramic bowl
  • Your dirty coil head
  • Grain alcohol
  • Paper towels
  • Cold water
  • Hot tap
  • Cleaning coil tool or even an old toothbrush works

How to clean your prebuilt coils

  1. Firstly, rinse the coil head in cold water
  2. Brush the grime with an old toothbrush or coil cleaning tool
  3. Put the coil in a bowl and cover with alcohol, leave it to soak for around 12 hours
  4. Rinse your coil under a hot tap for a few minutes to get off any excess alcohol
  5. Wrap the coil in a paper towel to get off the excess water. Blow through the coil head to give it a little blow dry too!
  6. Allow the coil to air dry fully, which will probably be all night. You want it to be 100% dry before installing it into your electronics!
  7. Reassemble your kit and top up with eliquid. Allow the juice to fully saturate the coil before taking a hit

How to change a vape coil

Most devices have a simple push and pull coil fit system when it comes to pre built coils. Make sure you check the manufacturer’s instructions on how to change the coil in your device. If the kit won’t fire or says ‘no atomiser’ then you might have installed it incorrectly. Changing a rebuildable coil will be different. Make sure you are following instructions from a pro or a good youtube tutorial.

Summary of our vape coils guide

I hope that you’ve found the vape coils guide extensive enough with talk about rebuildables, pre built and out the box coils. As a rule, make sure you are using the correct coil for your kit. If you are building your own from scratch, always test it with an ohmmeter before you do the install.  This helps to keep everything safe!
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