If you’re an experienced vaper, it’s likely that you vape in one of two different ways. You either use a tank and buy pre-made atomizer coils for that tank, or you use a rebuildable atomizer and build your own coils. Switching from pre-made coils to coils that you make yourself represents a major paradigm shift in the vaping experience, and it’s a shift that many vapers enjoy. Thanks to a wealth of tutorials on the web and on YouTube, coil building has become more accessible than ever to those who don’t have a lot of experience tinkering with electronics.

While the volume of information available online about coil building is greater than ever, the fact that coil building is more accessible doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the right choice for everyone. Building your own coils has both benefits and drawbacks. If you’re on the fence, this article will describe the pros and cons of building your own vaping coils and will help you decide whether coil building is the right choice for you.

The Benefits of Coil Building

Great Vapor Production

More than perhaps anything else, the surface area of your atomizer coil determines the vapor production of your vaping setup. Vaping product manufacturers such as SMOK have capitalized on that fact for years by creating atomizer coil heads containing many individual heating wires. Although those coil heads do produce ample vapor clouds, they still can’t compete with coils that you build yourself. A good rebuildable dripping atomizer has a large build deck with plenty of room for building elaborate coils. If vapor production is important to you and blowing huge clouds is a vital part of having a satisfying vaping experience, building coils yourself is the fastest path to vaping bliss.

Low Cost

YouTube tutorials have helped to increase the number of vapers building their own coils, but e-liquid trends have influenced coil preferences as well. Heavily sweetened e-liquids are more popular than ever. They’re so popular and widely distributed, in fact, that many online and offline vape shops no longer stock unsweetened e-liquids. Sweet e-liquids taste great; that’s why they’re so popular. The problem with sweeteners, though, is that they leave residue on coils. Vapers call that residue coil gunk. Once your atomizer coil has a thick enough layer of gunk, every puff from your e-cigarette begins to taste like burned sugar and sting the back of your throat.

There’s no simple solution for coil gunk. You can clean the coil, but no cleaning method makes a used coil perform like a new one – and if you’re especially sensitive to the taste of a gunky coil, you may find that you need a new coil every day. If you use a sub-ohm tank, you pay around $2-3 for each coil – that’s a very costly daily expense.

If you build your own atomizer coils, you can buy a big bag of cotton and a 100-foot spool of kanthal wire for perhaps $20. When you buy coil building supplies in bulk, each new coil costs around 10-20 cents. The cost savings are massive.

The Drawbacks of Coil Building

Major Time Investment

Sub-ohm tanks may not be the best e-cigarette attachments in terms of vapor production, but they are the undisputed champions of convenience. When you use a sub-ohm tank, changing the coil requires almost no effort. You can unscrew a coil, screw in a new one and be back to vaping in minutes. Building your own coils isn’t nearly that simple. For a standard dual-coil rebuildable atomizer, the process works something like this:

  • Cut a length of wire from a spool. Divide the wire in half.
  • Wrap each wire tightly around a drill bit or coil jig to create two coils of equal diameter and length.
  • Mount the coils in the atomizer. Tighten the screws and trim the wire leads.
  • Check the resistance of the atomizer. If the coils have a short, fix the short or start over.
  • Dry fire the atomizer to check for hot spots. If the coils heat unevenly, adjust them with ceramic tweezers until the coils glow a uniform orange color.
  • Thread cotton through the coils. Trim the cotton and push the ends under the coils.
  • Wet the cotton with e-liquid and vape.

When you watch people build atomizer coils on YouTube, the process probably looks easy. However, content creators use frequent edits to keep their videos moving along – and YouTube video makers are essentially professional vapers who have built atomizer coils every day for years. You may not find the process so easy – especially at first. While building your own coil is a great way to save money, switching to a rebuildable atomizer means that you’ll be multiplying the effort required to change your vaping coil by a factor of at least 10. Only you can decide whether it’s more worthwhile to save time or money.

Possible Safety Risk

When you buy pre-made coils, you can be reasonably certain that each one is perfect. Mass-produced coils are made with machine assistance, and they’re tested before being packaged and shipped. Any atomizer coil, however, is a potential safety risk because a mistake in building it could result in a short circuit that overloads your vaping device’s battery. Although all modern power-regulated vaping devices can detect short circuits, it’s unwise to trust your safety to a vaping device. If you build your own atomizer coils, you’ll need to test the resistance of each coil with a resistance meter before connecting the coil to your vaping device. If the coil has a short – or the coil’s resistance isn’t what you expect – you’ll need to start over and build a new coil.

About the Author

Veronica James is a manager at SmokingThings.com, a new online vape shop that wants to be your one-stop shop for your favorite e-liquids. Smoking Things carries a growing selection of vape juices and offers a 10 percent discount to all new customers with the coupon code FIRST10.