Last fact-checked 20 November 2020 | Report a factual error on this article
If you’re a new vaper, you might still be confused about the term ‘Sub Ohm’. Don’t worry — it sounds more complicated than it really is!
Here at Gourmet E-Liquid, we’ve been selling sub-ohm e-liquid and equipment to vaping connoisseurs and hobbyists since the very beginning, so we like to think that we know a thing or two about this style of vaping.
In this guide, we’ll explain what sub-ohm vaping is, how it works and what you need to be aware of when starting out.
What is Sub Ohm Vaping?
Sub-Ohm vaping is an advanced style of vaping that delivers bigger clouds, richer flavours and — depending on your e-liquid — a more powerful throat hit.
Whenever your vape device uses a coil with an electrical resistance of less than 1 Ohm (<1Ω), you are ‘sub ohm vaping’. On a sub-ohm coil, the electrical current running through your vape device goes up (because of Ohm’s Law - learn more here). This means that your coil gets much hotter much faster, and can evaporate a larger volume of e-liquid in one hit. In other words, a sub-ohm coil uses more battery and makes more vapour.
Sub-ohm isn’t necessarily better than ‘standard’ vaping — it all depends on how you like to vape. As a rule of thumb, if you don’t want too much vapour (for instance if your e-liquid contains a lot of nicotine, or if you vape mouth-to-lung style), you should stick to a standard coil with a resistance of 1Ω or higher.
How do I Vape Sub-Ohm?
In theory, all you have to do to Sub-Ohm vape is to install a coil with a resistance of less than 1 Ohm. In practice, there’s more to it than that.
First, You need to check that your device can operate safely with a sub-ohm coil. Every e-cigarette battery is designed to handle a specific amount of electrical current. When you play with the resistance of your coil, the electrical current within your e-cigarette changes, so you have to be 100% sure that your battery can handle this change.
Most sub-ohm vapers own a regulated box mod, which has a built-in safety chip that literally stops your vape pen from working if the coil’s resistance risks pushing your e-cigarette’s battery beyond its safe limits. As an added precaution, we advise all of our customers to get to grips with Ohm’s Law. Ohm’s Law is a basic formula that lets you figure out what will happen to the voltage, resistance and current within your battery when you install a Sub-Ohm coil. We have the Ohm’s Law conversion tables here if you need them.
Second, you need to check that your atomiser is suitable for Sub-Ohm vaping. Sub-ohm vaping produces a lot more vapour, so you ideally want your sub-ohm coil to sit in a large atomiser head with lots of airflow and a broad mouthpiece. Any direct-lung (DL) atomiser will be perfect.
Direct-lung vaping is the best style for sub-ohm tanks. You can try mouth-to-lung vaping on a Sub Ohm tank, but in our experience it just doesn’t feel right. For a really good mouth-to-lung vaping experience, the vapour has to feel tight when you draw it into your mouth, just like cigarette smoke. Mouth-to-lung tanks are specifically designed to give you this tight airflow. You can buy sub-ohm tanks with adjustable vents (allowing you to ‘tighten’ up the airflow if you want to vape mouth-to-lung), but if MTL is your style, our advice is to just buy a good MTL atomiser. For more information, read our guide on MTL and DL vaping styles.
The third thing you should always try to do is pick e-liquids that work with Sub-Ohm. There’s no special chemical formula for sub-ohm vape juice — you can sub-ohm vape any e-liquid you like — but the flavour and throat hit will be different than it would be if you were vaping mouth-to-lung on a standard coil.
Sub-ohm intensifies both the flavour and the throat hit of most e-liquids, purely because it delivers much more vapour than ‘standard’ vaping. The flavour part is subjective — you’ve got to find a flavour that you really enjoy — but to reduce the throat hit, there are two steps you can take:
- Choose a high-VG e-liquid. It’s possible that you have a mild sensitivity to PG which went unnoticed on a standard mouth-to-lung coil. Try a 100% VG e-liquid for a while and see how it feels.
- Cut out the nicotine. We suggest you avoid nicotine altogether when you’re sub-ohm vaping … and not just because of how it makes your throat feel. When you sub-ohm vape, the sheer volume of vapour entering your lungs increases. It’s too easy to lose control of your ‘portions’ and give yourself a higher-than-necessary dose of nicotine. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug — anything that puts you at risk of increasing your nicotine intake (and your subsequent dependence on it) just shouldn’t be done. You can learn more about nicotine boosters here.
What resistance is right for me?
The lower-resistance your coil, the more vapour you’ll get … but the faster you’ll gobble through your battery and e-liquid. Our advice to new sub-ohm vapers is to dip your toe in the water with something between 0.5Ω and 0.9Ω and see how it feels. Eventually you can go as low as 0.1Ω, which gives a whopper of a cloud and a fantastic amount of flavour. Take your time with it and enjoy the experience!
If you enjoy a large vapour cloud packed with flavour, or if you vape direct-lung (DL) from a box mod, then a sub-ohm coil is the perfect choice for you.
If, on the other hand, you are using e-liquids with a high nicotine concentration, or if you’re still getting to grips with a mouth-to-lung (MTL) vape pen, then you’ll probably want to stick to coils with a resistance of 1Ω or higher. The same goes for vaping with nicotine (especially salt nicotine)— a standard coil will suit you best for the time being.
Whatever vaping style you decide to stick with, just remember that there are literally thousands of flavours to choose from. Take a look at our guide to picking the perfect e-liquid flavour.
If you have any questions whatsoever, please get in touch!
Stay safe and happy vaping!
- John Boughey