Airflow: Why It’s So Important On A Vape

Last fact-checked 12 March 2021 | Report a factual error on this article

Airflow on a vape: it's the simplest way to tailor your vaping experience! 

If you’ve recently upgraded from a pod system or vape pen to a box mod, you may not know how the airflow collar on your tank head works. Don’t worry — we’re here to help! We’ve sold (and personally tested) hundreds of box mod tanks with variable airflow collars over the years. In this beginner’s guide to airflow, you’ll learn what the airflow holes actually do. We’ll show you how opening up or narrowing your airflow can completely transform your vaping experience, and we’ll show you how to match your vaping style to your airflow! 

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Vaping & Air Flow: The Basics

Most box mod tanks come with a built-in air flow collar which, when you twist it, allows you to ‘close’ or ‘open’ your vape’s air holes. These air holes control the amount of fresh air that can ‘get in’ to your vape device when you push the fire button.

      • If your airflow is open (or ‘wide’), then you’ll get a large cloud of cool vapour. An open airflow allows lots of fresh air to dilute your e-juice cloud, so flavours tend to be harder to pick up. 
      • If your airflow is closed (‘narrow’ or ‘tight’), then your evaporated e-liquid, which is ‘hot off the coil’, won’t have a chance to mix with much room-temperature air, so you’ll get a hot, dense, tasty cloud of vapour.
      • Most vapers find a ‘happy medium’ airflow setting, where the vapour is a comfortable temperature, they can still taste the vapour and they’re happy with the size of their vape cloud. 

Closed vs Middle vs Open Air Flow:

Here’s a quick illustration to show how air flow affects the size of your cloud, the intensity of flavour and the temperature of the vapour that you breathe in. 

 

More Airflow vs Less Airflow: Which Is Better For Vaping?

The amount of airflow you need to get ‘the perfect vape’ changes depending on the VG/PG ratio of your e-liquid, the resistance of your coil and your vaping style, amongst other things. 

To get the ‘perfect airflow’ the best thing you can do is buy a tank with a really good airflow collar. Your airflow collar should give you lots of choice and control over your airflow settings, so that no matter what juice or coil you use, you can tailor your airflow to suit your needs (our vape tanks department lists a wide range of vape tanks with adjustable collars). 

Airflow For Mouth-to-Lung, Direct-Lung & Cloud Chasing Vapers:

Depending on your vaping style, there are pros and cons to having either a tight or open airflow:

      • If you vape Mouth-To-Lung (MTL), then a narrow airflow is what you want. You want a mouthful of vapour, rather than a ‘lungful’, and you may want the familiar warm sensation of cigarette smoke. Adjust your airflow collar to its smallest setting when vaping MTL style. 
      • If you Vape Direct Lung (DL), then you’ll want to set your airflow collar to somewhere just below the largest setting. If  you go too big, you’ll find that the flavour of your e-liquid will be hard to pick up, so start somewhere in the middle and work your way upwards until you find a comfortable setting. 
      • If you’re a Cloud Chaser, then you’ll want to use your full lung capacity to create the biggest possible cloud. The highest airflow setting is probably where you want to be when cloud chasing, because flavour comes second to the spectacle of a massive vape cloud.

Airflow Myths: Facts vs Fiction

Airflow is a relatively harmless setting to change on your vape. There are a few common myths about airflow which are simply untrue:

Airflow holes don’t cause your vape to leak. If a vape tank is leaking, it’s almost always because the coils and wick are swamped in e-liquid. The airflow hole itself doesn’t cause the leakage, although it may be where the e-liquid escapes. You can keep your airflow holes closed and stand your box mod upright all the time when you’re not using it, but a better solution is just to avoid overfilling your coils. Some tanks expect you to close the air flow off before refilling. Check your manufacturer’s instructions if you’re in any doubt. 
 
Airflow doesn’t affect coil life, either. The things that tend to shorten the life of a coil are poor wicking (we have some advice on wicking here), and/or flooding your coil. Over time, if you vape on a flooded coil, you will get a much faster build-up of gunk which will eventually ruin the coil. If you’re getting some spitback or gurgling, it’s worth checking your airflow holes, just to make sure that they haven’t become blocked up with gunk. A quick clean is often all you need to do to fix the problem.  
 
Airflow doesn’t affect nicotine. Sometimes, when you adjust your airflow, it can feel like you’re getting more or less nicotine because the throat hit is different (it all depends on how diluted your vape coil is). The reality is that the percentage nicotine strength of your e-liquid is the exact same when it gets evaporated on an open or closed airflow — the only thing that changes is how much fresh air you’re breathing in at the same time.
 

Think About Airflow Last

Just one final tip: when you’re trying to get the ‘perfect’ vaping experience, think about everything else first, then adjust your airflow. You should feel happy with the VG ratio of your e-liquid, the hardware you’re vaping on, the resistance of your coil, your wattage, your vaping mode and your vaping style, then tackle airflow. Airflow is the easiest setting to change mid-vape, so get all of the tricky stuff right first!


Stay safe and happy vaping!

- John Boughey

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