This guide to vape coils and vape wires is an introduction to the most common types and discuss their uses and characteristics. After reading this guide hopefully, you can choose which wire suits you best.
Personally, I would recommend starting with pre-made coils, to help gain some confidence. The pre-made coils come in an endless choice of sizes and styles to suit all your vaping needs. Companies such as Geekvape do great multipacks. This gives you a nice selection of coils in one pack. Made from a selection of metals at a choice of resistances and sizes.
With premade coils, a lot of the hard work has already been done for you. Getting the correct number of wraps to equal the correct resistance is already done. The premade coils are manufactured with precise tolerances, so you are guaranteed to get the resistance you want.
When choosing pre-made or wrapped coils you need a basic understanding of the materials and their characteristics.
To start with, you need to gain an understanding of the variety of diameters of wire. This is commonly known as the “Gauge” of the wire. The Gauge of the wire is normally referred to as a number. As the number increases the diameter of the wire gets smaller. For example, a 26 Gauge wire is thinner than a 24 Gauge.
The most common Gauges of wires when building is; 32, 30, 28, 24 and 22. With 32 being the thinnest up to 22 being the thickest. All sizes have their own pros and cons. You will find over time, you end up with a preferred Gauge wire to work with.
As the wire Gauge decreases (as the wire gets thicker) the resistance of the wire and your end coil decreases. Just think of it like a hosepipe. The thicker the hose pipe, the easier it is for the water to travel down it. Generally, the lower the resistance the longer it takes for the wire to heat up.
So, the thinner Gauge wires like 32 will have a higher resistance and will heat up faster. The thicker wire, or the more complex coils, will take longer to heat up. This will require a more powerful mod, and use more battery power to overcome this slower ramp up speed.
Types of Wire
Coil building wires can be split into three main types. A wire that runs on Wattage, a wire that runs on Temperature or, a wire that can do both.
Without getting too technical, mods that work with temperature modes, basically rely on the characteristics of the wire itself. It regulates the actual current that is delivered to the coil. These types of wire have a Temperature Coefficient of Resistance or TCR for short. Basically, the resistance of the wire increases when it gets hot. Then decreases when it cools allowing chipset in the mod, to determine the temperature your coil is at. This can also prevent your cotton from burning.
Kanthal [ ferritic Iron-chromium-aluminium alloy ]
Kanthal is commonly used in straight Wattage mode. With qualities that resist any oxidation that may occur. It is a good wire to start building with due to its low cost. Plus, it’s also stiff enough to hold its shape and not bend out of shape when wicking.
Pros: Easy to build with, Holds its shape, Low Cost, Easy to get hold of.
Cons: Won’t work with Temperature mod.
Nichrome [Nickel & Chromium]
This type of wire is also suitable for using in Wattage mode. It also behaves like Kanthal. Apart from the fact that, due to its makeup, it heats up faster than Kanthal, even at the same Gauge. It also holds its shape well, making it easier to wick. The only downside to Nichrome is it’s lower melting point. So it’s not suitable for higher wattages, as the coil will break. Some vapors may also find that they have an allergic reaction to the Nickel.
Pro: Heats up Quickly, Holds it shape well.
Cons: Low Melting Point.
Stainless Steel [chromium, nickel & carbon.]
Stainless Steel is the only one of the Vaping wires that be used in all modes. This wire is numerically graded. Most of the wires and coils are number 316. Which is graded for medical, pharmaceutical and food. This means it has been tested and certified for all of the above and is safe to vape with. It has similar qualities to Nichrome, as it heats up quicker than Kanthal, and holds its shape well.
Pros: Uses both Wattage (W) and Temperature Modes (TC), Heats up Quickly, Holds its shape.
Cons: Can be Expensive, Contains Nickel.
This type of wire can only be used with Temperature controlled mods. Pure Nickel wire is very very soft, so can be hard to work with. It doesn’t really hold its shape, so the wraps can be easily destroyed when wicking. The only way I have managed to build coils with it is by wrapping the wire around a screw. Then once the coil is in place, you can simply unwind the screw and carefully thread your wicking material through it.
Pros: Can be used in TC Modes, Can be bought locally.
Cons: Hard to work with, Doesn’t hold its shape.
The last wire in my selection is Titanium also know as TA1, made from pure Titanium. I personally haven’t used this for building coils, after reading some bad press. With reports of it giving off titanium dioxide went heated above 1200F. Plus I remember from my Chemistry lessons, that Titanium is in the same family as Magnesium, which can be quite volatile when ignited. Due to these reasons, a lot of shops won’t even stock the wire. With all that said a lot of people still use it when building coils, so I wanted to include it.
Pros: Can do Work on TC mods. Holds it shape well.
Cons: Sometimes toxic, Can be volatile when ignited, Hard to purchase.
Although I have built coils with all the wires above, apart from Titanium, I find myself coming back to good old Kanthal. I am personally not a massive fan of TC and after all the hype I found it a bit underwhelming. If I am honest, I prefer the experience Kanthal delivers.
Having spent hours and hours wrapping coils and building some of the more complex builds. But I find that I am not actually that great at wrapping coils. Personally, I’ll leave it to the experts and would prefer to purchase the professionally made coils. There is no shame in buying pre-made coils. I find that I just get a more consistent vaping experience. Plus the fact that there aren’t enough hours in the day to wrap my own coils.
I’m a Blogger based in UK, I stopped smoking in October 2013, at which point I set up my own Vaping review blog, www.myvapingreviews.co.uk to help me record and share my Vaping journey. A real hobbiest Vapor, who not only enjoy the Vaping experience, but loves the technology and design behind it.