How to Maximize Vapor Production from Your E-Cig: A Guide to Cloud-Chasing
With the rising trends of “cloud competitions” and selfies taken from behind a dense fog of vapor, one of the main things you might be interested in when you’re just getting into vaping is blowing huge clouds.
While some – myself included – consider themselves more flavor-chasers than cloud-chasers, there is something inherently satisfying about blowing out billowing, thick cloud of crisp, white vapor.
Cloud-chasing has an unavoidable appeal. So, how do you get the most vapor from your e-cig? And how do you do it while staying safe?
Here’s a guide to chasing clouds like a pro.
Before We Start: Cloud-Chasing Safety
Before we get onto offering tips on cloud-chasing, there’s the important matter of safety to discuss. One huge factor in determining the vapor production of your e-cig is the power going to your coil, but in pursuit of clouds, many try to fire low-resistance coils with excessively high voltage, and this could potentially lead to disaster. Regulated mods paired with a capable battery will usually keep you safe, but understanding the details is important, none-the-less.
The biggest thing to remember is that each battery has an “amp limit,” which tells you the largest amount of current you can pull from it safely. Finding this out isn’t always easy, but there are tables and useful web-pages listing the amp limits for the most common batteries. The upshot is, on unregulated devices (like mechanical mods), you need to use Ohm’s law (current = voltage/resistance) and ensure that you’re not asking for too big a current from your battery.
If you have a regulated device (VV/VW mods, for example), it will come with its own current limitation and won’t let you exceed it, so it’s much easier to stay safe: just make sure you have a reliable and high amp limit battery. If you mod takes two batteries, buy them, charge them and discharge them together. If one is at a lower state of charge than the other (or they use different chemistries), it can lead to problems.
Don’t worry too much about staying safe – issues really are quite rare – but it’s important not be complacent when it comes to safety. Being too careful is way better than not being careful enough.
Tips for Cloud Chasing
1. Use Capable Atomizers
Of the many factors influencing the amount of vapor you get from your e-cig, the atomizer setup you use is among the most important. The vapor production from a clearomizer (particularly if it’s a top-coil one) will be lower than if you’re using a rebuildable dripping atomizer (RDA), a rebuildable tank atomizer (RTA) or a sub-ohm tank.
For established vapers, rebuildables are a fantastic option because they strike the perfect balance between low cost and vapor production – as well as allowing you to experiment with different builds to boost performance even more. For newer vapers, the ultimate choice for cloud-chasing – without getting into the more technical aspects of building coils – is a sub-ohm tank, offering solid performance while still maintaining the simplicity of more basic beginner clearomizers.
2. Low Resistance and Sub-Ohming
One of the simplest pieces of advice for boosting your vapor production is to lower the resistance of your coil. Resistance is measured in ohms (after Georg Ohm, who discovered the eponymous law), and the lower your resistance at a given voltage, the more current (and more power) going through your coil. The biggest impact this has is that a lower-resistance coil will heat up more quickly and efficiently and start producing vapor sooner than a lower-resistance one. Sub-ohming (using coils with a resistance lower than 1 ohm) really took off when mechanical mods were the devices-of-choice for cloud chasers, which don’t allow you to boost the voltage beyond that offered by the battery (a maximum of 4.2 V for one battery).
If you have a VV/VW device, you can manually boost the power to get good vapor production from a higher-resistance coil, but as a general rule building lower-resistance coils still helps. Again, sub-ohm tanks are a great solution for newer vapers, as long as they’re paired with a suitable device.
3. Build for Clouds
If you’re a rebuilder, the type of coil you build can affect the vapor production you get from your device. The easiest way to boost your vapor production is to build dual coils (or, for that matter, triple or quad-coils), because this means more liquid is in contact with a coil and it lowers the overall resistance of the build. There is more to it than this, and plenty of different builds to improve your vapor production, but the best overall advice is to build so you have as much liquid touching the coil as possible (while still keeping the resistance low), with higher surface area coils (like twisted kanthal or Clapton coils) being particularly good for this, and to ensure you have good wicking (so juice can easily reach your coil).
4. Use a Capable Mod and Push the Power
This is a fairly basic point, but it’s crucial enough to be worth mentioning regardless: get a mod that can deliver a lot of power to your coils. VV/VW box mods are becoming increasingly common, and many will allow you to fire sub-ohm coils (down to 0.2 ohms or lower in some cases) with high powers – 50 W, 100 W or even more. This is the modern cloud-chaser’s dream, allowing plenty of power to get to your coil and having in-built protection against things like short circuits and high currents, as well as being suited to almost any atomizer on the market. Mechanical mods still have a lot to offer – if you’re keeping your resistance low and know your battery safety rules – but with the current state of the market, high-power regulated devices are arguably a better choice.
So if you’ve got a VV/VW device, what do you do? The basic rule is to push the power, but you should do so cautiously. Juices have different “sweet spots” in terms of flavor, and sometimes (if your wicking isn’t efficient enough for the task) pushing too much power can lead to unpleasant “dry hits.” The best advice is to increase your power gradually, dialing it back a little if the vapor gets too hot or the flavor starts to suffer. Go as high as you can for maximum clouds, but ensure you still get an enjoyable vape out of it.
5. Improve Your Airflow
Airflow is one of the most important things about getting huge clouds. The basic rule is: the more airflow, the bigger your clouds will be. Many atomizers have adjustable airflow systems, allowing you to tweak the airflow to your satisfaction, but if your atomizer doesn’t and you’re looking for bigger clouds, maximizing the airflow is the goal. In some cases, you might need to drill out the airflow holes in RDAs to improve the vapor production, but it’s better to choose a device with some type of adjustable airflow so you don’t have to make permanent changes.
The only problems with boosting the airflow are the impact on flavor and the effect on the draw. Some vapers like a loose, airy draw, but others prefer things a little tighter, and if you’re one of the latter type it’s hard to strike the balance between boosting vapor production and getting the right draw. Additionally, more airflow improves vapor production because it mixes the vapor with air, and this means it dilutes the flavor a little. If you don’t have an adjustable airflow device, these factors mean that the best advice is to increase your airflow gradually: if you go too far, it could ruin your vaping experience.
6. Use Lung Hits
Airflow is closely linked to your inhalation style. Smokers use “mouth-to-lung” hits, where the smoke is brought into the mouth, and then you inhale again to take it down into your lungs. If you’re vaping on a low airflow system (with a tight draw), this is often the preferred approach, but when you up the airflow – and if you’re looking for bigger clouds – a straight-up “lung hit” is the best approach. Take a deep hit of vapor in a one-step process, pulling it straight down into your lungs, and when you exhale you’ll see the benefit in vapor production. This is the best approach for high-airflow setups anyway, but if you’re looking for the biggest clouds it’s absolutely essential. You can even maximize the effect of this by taking as deep a breath as possible and stretching out your lungs as you inhale – you’ll see cloud contest participants doing this all the time.
7. Higher-VG = Thicker Clouds
A final consideration is the composition of your e-juice. If you use high PG tobacco vape juice, you’ll get a better throat hit but the vapor production will be a little weaker, whereas high-VG e-liquids boost vapor production notably at the expense of the throat hit. This trade-off is why a 50/50 mix of PG to VG is quickly becoming the standard, but if you’re looking for huge clouds, buy e-liquid with a higher VG content is recommended. You can still get excellent vapor production with 50/50 or even higher-PG juices, but if you really want to get the most vapor you can, high-VG is the way to go.
Conclusion – Chase-Clouds, but Don’t be a Vape-Hole
Cloud-chasing can be fun, and competitive cloud chasing adds a whole extra dimension to the hobby of vaping, but it’s important to remember that people in public places aren’t usually big fans of clouds. In the comfort of your own home or outside, huge clouds aren’t really an issue, but in enclosed or otherwise cramped public places, cloud-chasing is a no-no. This is vaping etiquette 101. The fear of vaping may be irrational, but there’s no sense exacerbating the issue.
With that said, these tips should help you boost the vapor production from your existing device and choose newer mods and atomizers to facilitate your search for the biggest clouds. Plus, if you really get awesome at it, you might be able to take it to the next level and compete with your local vapers to see who produces the most outlandish, obnoxious clouds. Or, like most of us, just take the occasional vaper-selfie with clouds blotting out your face.
- Ashtray Blog: How to Get Massive Clouds of Vapor from Your E-Cigarette
- Guide to Vaping: What Is The Best RDA For Cloud Chasing?
- Olympia Vapor Works: 7 Cloud Chasing Coil Builds
- Best Vapor Flavors: How to Win a Cloud Competition
- Olympia Vapor Works: Cloud Chasing 101
- Reddit, r/electronic_cigarette: PSA: Cloud Chasing is Dangerous
- ECigaretteReviewed: OhmG! Ohm’s Law Explained
- Taste Your Juice: Battery Information
- Kritical Mass: Battery Amp Limit Calculator