Saturday, May 11, 2013

Letters to Virginia Vapor: Attys

Dearest Virginia:

When last we met, you expressed a degree of concern about the myriad type of Attys available and their array of configurations and functions. This is quite understandable considering there are nearly as many types of atomizer as there are stars in the sky! It can all be overwhelming and, truth be told, mind numbing.

As it often is, the whole conundrum is much more mundane and simple. Too often we over complicate things, creating complexity where simplicity will do, and over analyzing as you, my Dear, are so oft inclined to do.  So in today's letter, I will endeavor to set any apprehension you may hold aside, and explain the purpose of the common atty (or atomizer), and some general guidelines on selecting a device that will please the virgin vaper.

An atomizer itself is a simple device. An artist I am not, however in the diagram below we see the atty in it's most simple form.

Electrical current is supplied from the battery, through the connector, and then to the atomizer coil, a tightly wound bit of conductive material. The resistance of the wound conductive material causes the coil to heat up rapidly. Nicotine liquid (the juice) is applied to the coil in some fashion (which we'll explore in a moment). The heat generated by the electrified coil vaporizes the liquid, turning it into steam, which is then inhaled.

Heat + liquid = vapor. Simple and elegant.

A simple atomizer works exactly as pictured above. Juice is dropped directly onto the atomizer from the bottle; a process called "dripping."  Many argue that this is the purest and best way to vape for the perfect experience. I would agree. However, it is an advanced technique that requires considerable amount of practice and patience. There are better, and completely satisfactory, options for the neophyte vaper.

Much as you continue to do with my affections, my dearest, resistance is the key. It is, after all, what generates the heat. Atomizers are measured by this property in a unit called Ohms. When combined in different measures with the voltage from the battery, you can get differing level of heat that can greatly affect the experience of vaping. The higher the ohm rating the more resistance, the lower the heat at a given voltage. The less resistance, the more the heat. Too much voltage, combined with too little resistance, can cause the atomizer to pop. It is a delicate balance, as you know, to keep the right amount of resistance, to get the desired heat, while maintaining control so that the whole thing doesn't overload.

In the early days of vaping, many people would utilize a cartridge that mounted on top of the atty. The cartridge contained an absorbent wicking material, much like what you would find in a Zippo lighter. The material would deliver the juice to the atty as it heated up and the vaper drew on the tip. Later, this was combined into a single, one piece unit called a "cartomizer."

Cartomizers are still in use today, though they continue to fall out of fashion for more effective juice delivery systems. The problem with the "carto" is that they are spotty in consistency, at best, and they wear out fairly quickly. With no replaceable parts, eventually they start to taste like your feet after a long day and must be disposed of promptly. I simply can't recommend these any longer, as they tend to not deliver an acceptable vaping experience compared to other methods. Unless, of course, you enjoy the taste of sweaty feet. Then by all means.

Skipping past the rest of the PV atty history lesson, we'll go straight to the most common and more effective means of delivering juice to the atty.  The rage these days are juice tanks that are either disposable or contain replaceable atomizers and parts. Generally speaking, disposable is less to worry about, but replaceable tends to be better.

Most vaporizers now utilize a tank based system to deliver the juice to the atty. In this configuration, a small vial is filled with juice, which is then wicked to the atomizer. Many of these "tank" systems now have replaceable atomizers, as well, making them quite efficient and cost effective to maintain. The are quick and easy to refill. When the vape loses its punch, simple unscrew the atomizer, toss it, and screw in a new one.

In the kit I presented you with, you have a ViVi Nova, a wick based system with the atomizer at the top and long wicks that lay inside the tank to bring the juice to the head. I also put a Kanger T3 tank in the kit, as this my prefered system. The atomizer is at the bottom of the tank with a small wick feeding directly into the coil. I find this to be a cleaner vaping experience, but I leave it to you to decide which you prefer. Life is all about choices, after all.

The key thing to remember, when selecting an atomizer is voltage + resistance = heat, and by changing the variables in this formula you can change how much vapor is produced, how harsh or smooth the hit is, and even how the juice tastes. One of the easiest way to accomplish this variety is to change the resistance of the atty. As in all things, Virginia, I encourage you to experiment. The pleasures you will discover will bring considerable delight.

I remain humbly and always yours,


The above is a transcript of the second in a series of letters to a new and curious vaper, Virginia, and her diligent vaping suitor, Vaporous. The letters were found in an old shoebox in the attic of a recently renovated house and given into my possession by a friend. While they were in tattered shape, I have endeavored to reproduce the letters accurately and in their entirety. Any misrepresentations or errors are entirely my own. -Capt.