Drippers vs Tanks – Electronic Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes are also considered to be “nicotine delivery devices,” which is what they were intended for – to help you to kick the habit. However, there are actually two ways of delivering the tasty flavoring (and nicotine, if you’re into that) into your mouth using an atomizing method; you could use a tank, or you could use a dripper. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, so read on more to find out which one is more appropriate for you.

2Tanks

Tanks are typically what you think of when you imagine electronic cigarettes – only a little bit of juice can touch the cotton at once, which is then connected to a coil. These coils typically are sold by the manufacturer of the tank, although some coils, such as the Kayfun style, can be made yourself. Making your own coils typically requires some skill before you start getting a vape, as the coils must be tight, small pieces of nickel or titanium-coated wire that will heat up the cotton. The cotton can be threaded through the coil and wicked in a variety of different ways, which can have different effects based on your type of wicking.

Tanks will hold anywhere from .5 milliliters of juice all the way up to 5 milliliters of juice, which means that you only have to refill it every now and again. As mentioned earlier, only a little bit of juice can enter into the coil at once, so you will never get the taste of a burnt vape – unless you put in a fresh new coil and try to get a vape immediately, instead of allowing the coil to soak in the juice to give it more flavor. The downside with tanks is that they are easy to fall into a trap, since you can easily just shell out $15 for 5-pack of coils instead of learning to build and maintain them yourself – that same $15 could get you the materials (wire and cotton) to make your own coils for a ridiculous amount of time.

Tanks also vary in design, and as electronic cigarette technology progresses, new units no longer require you to take the entire tank off to fill the reservoir with juice. The new technology is known as top-filling, which requires the tank to be designed in such a way that the coil will operate and accept the bottom flow of juice without compromising the safety of the entire unit. This typically involves the use of a port or juice hole, which can be revealed by removing or using a hinge to move part of the top of the tank.

Drippers

3Drippers are more for flavoring, and are when you intend to sit and vape for a long time. Drippers, also known as rebuildable dripper atomizers (RDAs), work by heating the cotton directly which then causes the vapor to generate. These are heated through coils, which ultimately allow for the user to customize and build their own coils – different types of coils heat in different ways, and there are even ways to wick your coils with cotton differently. Drippers are definitely the far more complex option than tanks, although they deliver far more flavor.

Typically, drippers will require a recessed pin and not a pronounced pin – for example, on my old Innokin iTaste MVP 2 unit, the dripper would not screw in because it required a recessed connector in order to sit flush with the connecting service of the mod. If the unit was not flush, the dripper would leak juice all over the place and be a general nuisance to transport – this can also be a drawback to a dripper, as they typically must always be held upright. While dripper units do have juice reservoirs and canals, they can also leak out into your pocket and cause some nasty stains and stickiness.

Dripping generates vapor at a far higher rate than tanks; these are typically for your “cloud-chasers” and people who want a lot of vapor. Dripping also generates far more flavor, but uses far more juice in a shorter amount of time. For new drippers, be careful not to inhale too hard and always start at a low wattage – the vapor generated is so thick that it can easily clog your throat for a few seconds until you hack out a lung trying to breathe.

Which One is Best for you?

Try to NEVER, EVER use plastic electronic cigarette parts
Try to NEVER, EVER use plastic electronic cigarette parts

As I said earlier, there are some major drawbacks and benefits to each one – essentially, tanks generate vapor at a lower rate, giving you less flavor but using far less juice, while drippers are more for flavorful experiences. Dripping also uses more battery power as well, and typically requires a more specific type of electronic cigarette mod than your average user might have. However, if you consider yourself an electronic cigarette journeyman, learning to build and wick a coil is not a terribly hard challenge.

Tanks are more portable and easier to use, and also have far lower maintenance when compared to their dripping counterparts. Dripping can also be a potential risk if you are not careful, as the coils connect directly into the pin that transfers the heat and energy from the mod – you can burn yourself pretty easily with a dripper. Dripping requires more attention and is a more wholesome experience than otherwise using a tank, while a tank is perfect for if you are just trying to get a puff on the go. You can also more easily change out your flavors with a dripper – if the cotton is starting to turn white, then it is time to re-uice up your cotton and get some amazing flavor.

Personally, I have two different setups that I use – one for dripping and one that has a tank. The dripper unit almost never leaves my house, while the tank unit will get carried around with me everywhere because I do not have to be afraid of spilling it in my pocket or dropping it and ruining the coils. I feel like this may be the smartest way to do things, although not the most financially intelligent way, but it gives me the option to vape whenever I please.

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Steven Kahn
King of the Bears, Shark Tank enthusiast, failed network engineer, sour cream enthusiast, Nanchaku instructor, Techman, Mega Man X fan, vaporizing know-how

1 COMMENT

  1. I believe this is the first detailed explanation of vape gear in a mainstream (?) publication that I’ve seen to date. While some of the information is not completely accurate (a bit out of date), it’s good to see an article that covers some technical details without getting lost in the current political and scientific debates. It’s important to have the media coverage of the political and scientific issues, especially when they identify the misinformation and junk science, but articles like this one to educate potential consumers are very important as well.

    To the author: If you can get your editor to publish another technical vape gear article, you should go into further detail about the difference between pre-made coil tanks and RTAs (rebuildable tank atomizers). You touched on the subject briefly in this article when you mentioned the Kayfun, and over the last couple of years there have been great advances in pre-made coil and RTA products. Many now produce flavor that’s pretty close to RDA (dripper) quality, and they come in all variety ranging from single coil builds to multiple coil builds. Beyond that, there’s also the advances in coil builds, such as the clapton coils, but that subject could actually be an entire article in and of itself.

    I really hope this is the start of a trend and we start to see more technical vape gear articles and reviews in mainstream publications.

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