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Do You Inhale E-Cig Vapor?

Do You Inhale E-Cig Vapor?


When you’re first getting into vaping, you have more to learn than you might imagine. Cigarettes are straightforward – you just light the tobacco and just inhale through the filter – but vaping is a bit more involved. While some e-cigs work just like tobacco cigarettes, not all of them do, and there are more distinctions between how you use the two than you might expect. The question “Do you inhale e-cig vapor?” might seem very simple, but the answer leads down a path that also provides an insight into the difference between mouth and lung inhales, and the key issue of how to properly vape.

What E-Smoke is Made Of

Although the question “do you inhale e-cig vapor?” hits at a very specific issue, there are several other issues which are closely-linked. One of these is what esmoke (vapor) is actually made of.

E-smoke is composed of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, (sometimes) nicotine and flavorings. This covers everything that’s purposefully included in the e-liquid, but there are some extra chemicals present in the vapor which form as a result of the vaporization process.

One famous study looked at several early e-cigarettes and what the chemistry of vapor. The researchers found that levels of potentially harmful chemicals in e-cig vapor were 9 to 450 times lower than in tobacco smoke. However, e-cigarettes do contain very small quantities of metals, carbonyls (like formaldehyde) and tobacco-specific nitrosamines, often comparable to the amounts you’ll find in a pharmaceutical nicotine inhaler.

Do You Inhale E-Cig Vapor?

Just like cigarette smoke, you do inhale e-cig vapor. E-cigarettes have some important differences to cigarettes, but their biggest similarity is that they usually contain nicotine and are inhaled in the same way as you’d inhale smoke.

Interestingly, though, the Royal College of Physicians’ report on e-cigs suggested that most of the nicotine you absorb during vaping actually makes it way to your blood through your mouth and upper throat, rather than your lungs.

They made this suggestion on the basis of how quickly vaping gets users nicotine. Cigarettes cause a really quick spike in the amount of nicotine in your blood, because the nicotine gets there quickly from your lungs, but things like patches, gums and nicotine inhalers get you nicotine much more slowly.

For vaping, the speed of nicotine delivery is a lot more like the patches, gums and inhalers than cigarettes. Based on this, the report suggests that vapers can’t be absorbing the nicotine through their lungs in significant quantities.

This means that inhaling all the way down into your lungs might not strictly be necessary when you’re vaping. Most vapers do inhale into their lungs, though – after all, we’re vaping as an alternative to smoking. It feels a little weird to do it any other way, but if you can get used to it, it’s definitely worth considering. However, if you try this, using a higher nicotine e-juice may be advised to ensure you get enough nicotine.

Overall, the answer to “do you inhale e-cig vapor?” is yes, but based on the evidence reviewed by the Royal College of Physicians, it may not be strictly necessary. Regardless, though, almost all vapers inhale in a very similar way to smokers.

How Vaping is Different From Smoking

Despite the similarities between inhaling smoke and e-smoke, there are important differences that can impact how much you enjoy vaping.

The most important difference from a user’s perspective is how to get more vapor. When you smoke, inhaling more sharply gets you more smoke. This means that a smoker can just puff harder if he or she wants more smoke, adjusting the cigarette’s smoke production with the strength of their inhale.

Vaping doesn’t work this way. The best way to get more vapor is to keep the “fire” button of your e-cigarette pressed down for longer or switch to a higher setting. While inhaling more can help too, it has a much, much smaller effect on the amount of vapor you get than it would on the amount of smoke you get with a cigarette. When you’re inhaling from a vape pen or other e-cig, longer, slower draws are preferable to sharp, fast ones.

On many older-style models of e-cigarette (“cigalikes”), you do inhale to start the coil vaporizing, but this doesn’t vary based on how much you inhale either. You just inhale to activate the coil, and if you want more vapor, you have to take a longer, slower draw in exactly the same way.

For a smoker switching to vaping, the fact that you have to inhale differently is a bit of a hurdle to making the switch. However, once you get used to it, you’ll find vaping much more enjoyable with longer puffs. Research has also suggested that you’ll actually get more nicotine by puffing like this.

Mouth-to-Lung vs. Direct-to-Lung Inhales Explained

If you thought the topic of inhaling from vape pens was getting complicated enough already, there is even more to consider. The good news is that if you’re just looking to replace smoking with vaping, there isn’t much you need to do, but if you’re interested in trying some high-performance tanks, mods and other more advanced hardware, you’ll need to know the difference between mouth-to-lung and direct-to-lung inhales.

A mouth-to-lung (MTL) inhale is a two-step process and just like how you inhale from a cigarette. First, you draw the vapor into your mouth, then you inhale again to take it down into your lungs. This will come naturally to you as a smoker, so you don’t really need to do anything. However, if you’re vaping on a device with a lot of airflow, MTL inhales could make you cough. You need something fairly tight draw to enjoy MTL inhales. 

Direct-to-lung (DTL) inhales are simply inhaling your e-cigarette directly into your lungs. This is a one-step process: just inhale deeply from the tip of the tank or atomizer. When you have higher-airflow atomizers, this is a much better approach. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it will help you inhale without coughing when you’re using sub ohm tanks or rebuildable atomizers.

DTL inhales are great for people looking for more vapor (bigger “clouds”), but for just-switching smokers, mouth-to-lung inhales are an important part of the replication of the smoking experience. This means that the tanks that suit a new vaper and those that suit longer-term vapers are generally different.

Tanks for Direct-to-Lung Vaping

At this point, you’ll probably have a good idea of which type of inhale you’d prefer to do. If you’re interested in vapor production or just DTL hits in general, as you get accustomed to vaping, you can switch to using more advanced devices and you’ll be more than satisfied. In fact, most modern tanks and atomizers are well set-up for DTL vaping.

Sub ohm tanks (like the Smok TFV8, Aspire Cleito and the Uwell Crown) are very common and almost all are suitable for DTL vaping, and the vapor production is consistently excellent. They’re also very easy to use – really no more complicated than a standard vape pen clearomizer – so they’re a viable option for everyone, whether new to vaping or experienced. The only downside for new vapers is that sub ohm tanks require a mod to work safely, or at least an advanced, modern vape pen like the eGo One.

If you’ve been vaping for a while, you can also get an excellent DTL vape on rebuildable atomizers. These are atomizers that allow you to build your own coil, giving you more control over the type of vape you get and saving you a lot of money. These come in the form of “dripping” atomizers or RDAs – which have a wick and coil but no tank – and rebuildable tank atomizers (RTAs) which basically work like sub ohm tanks except you build the coil yourself. Both types of rebuildable atomizer usually have some form of adjustable airflow, which can be opened up to suit DTL vaping. 

Tanks for Mouth-To-Lung Vaping

For DTL vapers, there really are tons of options. Most of the tanks on the market today suit this type of vaping, and most can put out a lot of vapor. If you want a MTL vape, though, it’s not quite so easy to find a suitable device, especially if you’re not happy with the basic beginners’ offerings.

This is because the trend in the industry has been towards more vapor and more airflow. So if you’re looking for a good MTL vape, you need to find the unusual tanks that buck the trend and suit more constricted airflows.

One of the most popular tanks among mouth-to-lung vapers is the Aspire Nautilus, and its modern incarnation, the Nautilus X, is also a fantastic option. The tank has adjustable airflow, but even on the most open option it’s well-suited to MTL vaping. The original Nautilus and the Mini version are also excellent choices.

The Endura Prism T18 comes with Innokin’s Endura T18 kit, and is another stand-out option for MTL-loving vapers. It has adjustable airflow (with a generally tight draw), a slightly larger tank than the Nautilus X and a no-spill coil swap system designed to make the process of changing coils more forgiving for beginners.

These tanks aren’t sub ohm, which means they can be used on a wider range of e-cigarettes, and they also both have a restricted airflow perfect for MTL vaping. Other options like the Joyetech Cubis and the eGo One tank are primarily sub ohm tanks, but have higher-resistance coils you can use for a MTL vaping experience.

The short version is that while finding a great MTL tank is harder than just picking up one of the abundant sub ohm tanks on the market, there are still some great options out there. You just have to look around a little more carefully before placing your order. 

How to Properly Vape

The original question of “do you inhale e-cig vapor?” may have been answered, and you’ve also learned about MTL and DTL vaping, but how exactly should you vape? Making sure you have the technique right ensures you get the most out of your e-cig.

Here, we’ll assume you’ve connected your coil, filled your tank with e-liquid (leaving it 5 to 10 minutes to “prime” a fresh coil by letting the wicks soak) and your e-cig is powered up and ready to go. This section will be split according to your inhalation style, but all of the preparation is the same regardless of how you vape.

How to Vape Mouth-to-Lung

For MTL vaping, you need a suitable, restricted airflow tank. Ordinarily, the coils for tanks like this are over 1 ohm of resistance and don’t require too high a power. This means you can use a vape pen when vaping mouth to lung, but mods are suitable too. If you have a mod, the recommended settings are usually shown on the side of your coil, but for a modern MTL tank (like the Nautilus X), around 10 to 15 W is a good guideline.

To vape mouth to lung:

  1. Press and hold the “fire” button on your e-cigarette (which is either the only button or usually the central one – it’s usually blank, but may have a power symbol).
  2. Raise the e-cigarette to your lips and inhale softly and slowly.
  3. Keep the vapor in your mouth while inhaling from your vape pen, and when you release the fire button (after around four seconds is a good guideline, but adjust this to suit your preferences), inhale again to take the vapor down into your lungs.
  4. Exhale your vapor.

How to Vape Direct-To-Lung

For DTL vaping, the process is very similar, but the equipment you’ll need and how you inhale changes a little.

To vape DTL, you need an atomizer with adjustable airflow (like a sub ohm tank) set so the draw is loose. You’ll need a mod or a device like the eGo One, which supports sub ohm vaping but works just like a vape pen. The recommended settings for variable wattage mods vary a lot for different atomizers and coils, but between 30 and 70 W or higher is a good guideline. Start with a low setting and work your way up until you’re satisfied.

The process for inhaling goes like this:

  • Press and hold your fire button.
  • Inhale from the drip tip in one continuous breath down into your lungs, releasing the button when you’re satisfied. Four seconds is still a good guideline, but this reduces as your settings get higher.
  • If you’re struggling with the technique, focus on inhaling deeply and on your chest expanding as you do. You can also experiment with how quickly you inhale. Inhaling too quickly might make you cough, but you do need to get the most you can out of the wider airflow, so don’t be too gentle.
  • Hold the vapor for a second or two before exhaling.

Conclusion – Inhaling is Simple, But Important

“Do you inhale e-cig vapor?” is a simple, straightforward issue, but the question of how you inhale e-cig vapor is crucial to your enjoyment of vaping. Not only can inhaling from a vape pen in the right way get you more nicotine, it can also make the difference when it comes to replicating the draw of a cigarette and helping you make the transition. But now you know about the difference between mouth to lung and direct to lung vaping, how you inhale from different types of e-cig and how inhaling an e-cig differs from smoking, you can put it into practice and make vaping work for you

Michael Grey
Find Me Here

Michael Grey

With a passion to educate through my writings and a passion to help others, I found my place here at Black Note. Being that I am a former smoker who quit smoking because of vaping, I knew I could help others do the same. Working for Black Note is a true blessing. Not only do I help educate vapers on a daily basis through my writings, but I am also enjoying the benefits of working with an amazing team and sharing an authentic tobacco solution with the vaping community.
Michael Grey
Find Me Here

Written by Michael Grey

With a passion to educate through my writings and a passion to help others, I found my place here at Black Note. Being that I am a former smoker who quit smoking because of vaping, I knew I could help others do the same. Working for Black Note is a true blessing. Not only do I help educate vapers on a daily basis through my writings, but I am also enjoying the benefits of working with an amazing team and sharing an authentic tobacco solution with the vaping community.



WARNING: Black Note products are not smoking cessation products and have not been tested as such. Black Note products are intended for use by adults of legal smoking age (21 or older in California), and not by children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Black Note products contain nicotine, a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. Ingestion of the non-vaporized concentrated ingredients can be poisonous. Keep out of reach of children and pets. For immediate advice, contact poison control center: (800) 222-1222