Atomizer

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Two atomizers. A 510 (top) and 306 (bottom).

NB: This article adopts the common US English spelling, using a 'z' instead of the British English 's'.


An Atomizer, or atty, is the heating element that atomizes (vaporizes) the e-liquid into an inhalable vapor. It is powered by a battery and used with a cartridge or drip tip to deliver the e-liquid to the heating coil.

Atomizers come in various types and resistances and need to periodically be replaced. The atomizer and cartridge may be combined into a one piece unit called a cartomizer.

Contents

Parts

Diagram of a RN4081 atomizer.
Battery Connector
Made of a conductive material and located at the base of the atomizer, the battery connector is made with a specific thread. This threading determines which types of batteries the atomizer will be compatible with.
Outer Casing
Most atomizers have an outer casing that extends from the top of the battery connector to above the bridge. Atomizers like the 306 do not have the outer casing and are said to have an “exposed bridge”.
Bridge
Located at the top of the atomizer and covered in a steel/nickel mesh. The purpose of the bridge is to make contact with the filler material in the e-cigarette cartridge, and "leech" the liquid into the atomizer coil[1]
Wick
Sometimes found between the bridge and the coil, the wick that soaks up the e-liquid and provides it to the coil.
Coil
The coil resides below the wick. When powered, the coil heats up enough to vaporize the e-liquid around it.

Resistance

Atomizers are available in various resistances. The resistance of an atomizer is measured in ohms (Ω) and refers to the amount of electric current it opposes. High resistance atomizers resist more current and thus output less power. Low resistance atomizers allow for more current and output thus more power (see Ohm’s law). Atomizers with lower or higher resistance than normal are often labeled “Low Resistance” (LR) and “High Resistance” (HR), respectively. LR atomizers are typically between 1.5 and 2.0 ohms. LR and HR atomizers are made to be used at specific voltages. LR atties are usually used with batteries operating at 3.7v or less. HR atties may be used at voltages greater than 7 depending on the type.

How it works

Before using an atomizer for the first time the coil should be saturated in e-liquid. Using an atomizer without e-liquid on the coil is called “dry burning” and is hardly ever recommended (see below on Cleaning). There are several ways to apply juice to the coil. Often the juice is held in a cartridge containing a sponge like batting and by force of gravity and through the help of the atomizer’s bridge and wick gets applied to the coil. It is also possible to apply juice to the coil by simply dripping the e-liquid directly on to it. This is called “direct dripping” or “dripping” for short.

Cleaning

Users clean their atomizers to rid it of a previous flavor or to try and prolong its lifespan. There are several ways to clean an atomizer some of which are listed below.

  • Rinsing it out with hot water
  • Soaking it in Ever Clear/ Pure Grain Spirits (190 Proof)
  • Putting it in a ultrasonic denture vibration cleaner/jewelery cleaner
  • Blowing air through it every night, catching the juice with a paper towel and allowing time to dry.
  • Draining it each night. This can simply be done by placing it upright with the mouthpiece down to drain. A piece of paper towel to absorb the juice in a coffee cup helps.
  • Dry burning it. Not recommended.
  • Some have suggested that soaking overnight to a day or more in Coke would resolve the deposits on the heating coil. The acid in Coke is said to be the reason this works. Rinse well and dry afterwards.

Is is often suggested by many suppliers to only clean an atomizer with hot tap water, but many users look for an improved cleaning using techniques like those listed above and many more.

See Also

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