Last fact-checked 18 December 2020 | Report a factual error on this article
Cloud chasing is a fun hobby that basically involves making the biggest vape cloud you possibly can!
Gareth & I have been sub-ohm vaping for years, and we love cloud chasing. In this beginner’s guide to cloud chasing, we’ll explain the basic steps involved in creating massive clouds of e-liquid vapour. We’ll give you a few pointers on where you’re allowed to cloud chase, and we’ll explain why cloud chasing is a hobby best suited to intermediate vapers.
How To Cloud Chase: The Basic Steps
We’ve listed a few of the prerequisites for the perfect cloud chasing experience below. Don’t worry if you can’t achieve everything on this list — you’ll notice a much bigger cloud even if you just follow one or two of these steps.
Use Direct Lung Technique
With direct lung (DL) vaping, you inhale e-cigarette vapour directly into your lungs without holding it in your mouth first. Direct Lung is the technique used by all cloud chasers, because it produces a much bigger cloud than mouth-to-lung (MTL).
Direct Lung technique suits cloud chasers because it gives them more capacity on the inhale. If you normally vape MTL, then you’ll be used to drawing in one mouthful of vapour at a time. With direct-lung style vaping you fill your mouth, throat and lungs with vapour before you exhale, so you have much more of it available to create your cloud.
You can learn all about the Direct-Lung (DL) technique, and how it differs from the standard Mouth-To-Lung (MTL) technique, in our recent article.
Buy High-VG E-Liquid
If you really want to achieve a thick, creamy cloud, your e-liquid should consist of at least 70% Vegetable Glycerin (VG). Vegetable Glycerin gunks up your coils faster than Propylene Glycol, and the flavours of high-VG e-liquids tend to be sweeter and creamier, but if you want a visually impressive cloud, it’s the only way to go.
You can learn more about the different properties of Propylene Glycol (PG) and Vegetable Glycerin (VG), and how they affect your vape, in our Beginner’s Guide to VG and PG.
Open Up Your Air Flow
One way to increase the size of your cloud is to increase the amount of air you draw in while you’re vaping.
The atomiser head on your e-cigarette will always have a few air flow holes, so that you get a blend of normal air and e-liquid particles in each draw. On a mouth-to-lung head these air flow holes are tiny, so that you get a tight, cigarette-like draw. On a direct lung atomiser head, the air flow holes are much bigger. Most RDAs (Rebuildable Drip Atomisers) and Squonk heads have adjustable vents over these bigger air holes, so you can throttle or boost the amount of fresh air that mixes with your vapour.
This variable air flow control is important for cloud chasers. If you allow too much air flow, you can dilute your vapour cloud and lose the illusion of density. If you don’t allow enough air flow, the cloud can’t reach critical mass. It takes a little trial and error to get your air flow settings the way you want them, but it makes a huge difference to the end result. Our advice is to start with a wide-open air flow and slowly tighten it up until you get a cloud density that you’re happy with.
Drench Your Wick
If you want more vapour, you need to evaporate more e-liquid. That’s why RDAs are so popular among cloud chasers: they give vapers the freedom to fully soak their wick and coil before hitting that ‘fire’ button (learn more about RDAs and dripping here).
There are three basic steps you must follow if you want to keep your wick soaked while cloud chasing:
- First, prime your coil before you start cloud chasing. There should be no dry spots anywhere on your wick, especially at the points where the wick meets the coil.
- Next, continue to liberally drip (or squonk) e-liquid onto your coils for the duration of your vaping session.
- Finally, after you’ve exhaled a big cloud, pause for just a few seconds before taking another draw. This will give your atomiser’s wick time to ‘reload’ between each firing.
Plug In A Specialist Coil
Specialist coils like juggernaut, clapton and alien wire are great choices for cloud chasing, because they offer so much more surface area than a traditional single-core coil.
Just like the ridges on the end of a wooden honey dipper, the bumps and grooves on a specialist atomiser coil create more spaces where your e-liquid touches your heating element. This is ideal for cloud chasing because when you fire your vape device, all of the ‘extra’ e-liquid hiding in the corners evaporates in one hit, throwing out a lot more vapour than you could hope to get from a standard single-core wire.
We sell a range of specialist coils on our site — everything from fused claptons to super tigers! If you’d like to see what’s in stock, just visit our rebuildable coils department.
Go For Low Resistance (High Wattage)
When you vape on a sub-ohm coil, you can achieve a much higher wattage on your vape device. Higher wattage translates into a much hotter heating coil, and this forces your e-liquid to evaporate much faster than it would on a >1Ω coil.
When you increase the wattage on your vape device, the temperature of the e-liquid vapour increases, too. This is another good reason for using an atomiser with adjustable air flow — you can cool that vapour down as you inhale.
Safety Note: You need to understand Ohm’s Law before you adjust with the resistance and wattage of your vape device. The safest way to vape sub-ohm is to use a regulated box mod with a safety chip. Take a look at our beginner’s guide to Sub-Ohm Vaping for more information.
Where You Can And Can’t Cloud Chase
In 2006, the UK Government introduced a nationwide ban on smoking in enclosed public places footnote 1. There’s no similar ban on vaping indoors, but we feel it’s just good manners to avoid using an e-cigarette when you’re sharing a space with non-vapers (especially when you’re generating giant plumes of vapour).
While there’s no national ban on vaping, there might be a local one where you live. Every council has its own set of rules on vaping indoors and in public spaces, and a lot of venues, restaurants and local councils have banned vaping on their premises, too. If in doubt, ask the property owner or a member of staff before you start cloud chasing.
Don’t Cloud Chase With Nicotine
A word of warning: don’t use a nicotine-infused e-liquid when cloud chasing. Cloud chasing is a hobby, not a stop smoking treatment. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) and cloud chasing are two completely separate activities — they should not go hand-in-hand.
If you’re addicted to nicotine and you still want to try cloud chasing, then our advice is to keep two devices on the go. Your normal vape device, (maybe an MTL to more closely mimic the sensation of smoking) can contain your nicotine-loaded e-liquid, while your ‘cloud chasing’ device can just hold 0mg shortfill.
The reason you have to be so careful here is the sheer volume of e-liquid you inhale when you cloud-chase. A few days of cloud chasing can drive your nicotine consumption through the roof, and the last thing you want to do is become more dependent on nicotine when you’re trying to quit.
Nicotine is relatively safe, especially compared to smoking (see ‘How Dangerous Is Nicotine?’), and when you’re quitting cigarettes you do need a baseline level of nicotine in your system to manage cravings effectively. In fact, according to the NHS, “one of the biggest problems with NRT is that people don't use enough of it for long enough.” footnote 2 Still, there’s no good reason to give nicotine an opportunity to make you more addicted footnote 3.
We hope that we've given you a good overview of what cloud chasing is, and got you excited about how it all works. As always, if you have any questions about where to start, just get in touch. We're always happy to help our customers to get more out of their vaping experience!
Stay safe and happy vaping!
- John Boughey
Links & Citations
You can read the latest version of the Health Act 2006 in full at the link below:
The NHS website has some very interesting facts about nicotine consumption for quitters — and the efficacy of stop smoking treatments — at the link below. It’s well worth a read if you have a couple of minutes: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/quit-smoking/10-myths-about-stop-smoking-treatments/