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The Ultimate Guide to Vape Wires

zoomed in vape coilVapers are always on the lookout for ways to get more vapor and flavor from their tanks. If you vape for long enough, sooner or later you will come to a point of trying to build your own coils. Of course, this is not going to be an easy step. But with the right knowledge about the different kinds of vape coils, you’re good to go. It is very important to be aware of all of this information because every wire behaves differently. This will give you information about how vapes taste separately depending on the wire used.

Even if you are not the one actually changing the coils, it can be extremely dangerous to use coils in the wrong way as the wrong type of wire could cause your e-cigarette to explode. Knowing how each wire gauge behaves is not just a matter of aesthetic, but also a matter of safety.

There are five common types of wires in the vaping industry. These five materials have distinct differences from one another. These differences are based on temperature control mode and wattage mode. One certain wire can even be used in both modes. Throughout this article, I will be discussing in detail how each one functions. But first, let’s get a quick rundown on wire gauge and resistance.

Wire gauge: a brief rundown

Gauge, in its definition, is the actual diameter of the wire. Vapers usually use 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, and 32 gauge wire. The bigger the number of the gauge increases, the thinner the wire gets. For instance, a 24 gauge wire at about 0.02 inches, that is 0.51 mm in diameter, while a 30 gauge wire falls at 0.01 inches, 0.25 mm in diameter. To summarize, while a 24 gauge wire will be thicker than 30, it will be thinner than 28.

You might think that just because a wire is thicker, it is more durable. That assumption does not happen in the vaping universe at all. Thicker wires have lower resistance while the thinner ones have longer durability. That’s because thicker wires take more time to heat up. In the vaping dictionary, we have something called “ramp-up time”. This the time it takes for vaping temperatures to stimulate the heat for the wires. Thus, a 30 gauge wire can have a very fast ramp-up time, while a 22 gauge wire can have a slower one.

As I have mentioned, every wire behaves differently from one another. Some wires are extremely difficult to coil and handle. When a wire has more ‘spring’ in them, you need a thicker wire but never go for 32 gauge because it’s just not going to work and you might end up damaging your newly bought tank.

What does Wattage and Temperature Control Mode have to do with vaping wires?

There are actually two different approaches to vaping — the wattage mode and the temperature control mode. Both differ in a lot of ways; not every wire can be used in these modes! Never manipulate your tank if you don’t know the difference between these two because you’re only risking the battery, or worse, poisoning yourself. Be careful!

Wattage vaping, or VW (which stands for variable wattage) is the standard mode of vaping. This allows you to independently set the wattage at which you want your vape to operate. You should be looking for a wire that doesn’t change resistance when heated up if you choose to go with variable wattage mode.

Temperature Control, or TC vaping, on the other hand, has its own distinct function. This mode lets you freely set the temperature of your choice at which you want your vape to heat up. Mods that support TC use TCR or Temp Coefficient Resistance that effectively distributes the current that streams in a coil once you turn it on. I personally prefer this mode as this reduces the amount of current that gets into the coil whenever it gets too hot, which makes it safer for me, making sure that the temperature never overtakes its limit.

Everything that I’ve mentioned so far is very important when it comes to choosing your coils. As vapers, we obviously want good flavor and smooth vapor production. On top of that, we don’t wanna damage something and blow up or newly bought mod!

Five types of vaping wires

As I’ve mentioned earlier, there are five varieties of vape wires. These wires are basically used to make vape coils. We need to be responsible and learn the uses of and differences between these five because most of them can only be used under specific circumstances.  The wrong usage of any of these wires can result in potentially hazardous situations.

Scroll down if you want to learn more about these types and their definite attributes.

Kanthal Wire

Kanthal is the OG and the first wire that started it all. This is the most commonly used wire for vaping, and it has been recognized for more than a decade now for producing high quality vape coils, both by amateurs and industry professionals. Kanthal may be the oldest in the books but it still has the reputation of holding its own for the main reason that it is the easiest one to work with.

Other factors that make this the most used wire is its very affordable price, wide availability, and durability. Kanthal is also resistant to oxidation, which means it stays the shape you bend it in, no matter how twisted you make it. This wire can also tolerate very high temperatures of up to a astonishing 1,500 °C before it actually starts melting. This wire is preferable for beginner rebuilders because not only is it easy to use, but it is also good for beginner-friendly single coils that are not difficult to build.

The only downside to this component is that it doesn’t produce that great of a flavor — something that vapers take into consideration a lot. So if taste is the biggest factor for you, this might make you think twice.

Kanthal is only preferrable in wattage mode.

Nichrome Wire

Nichrome is a more advanced wire compared to kanthal.

While this material is slightly harder to find than kanthal, nichrome is just as unyielding to oxidation and also functions just as well in higher temperatures without harming the insides. Although the components of this wire are something important that you need to consider.

Nichrome is actually a mixture of nickel and chromium — two very powerful elements. And because of this, it has a very fast ramp-up time and can heat up really quickly. Because of this, we should pay attention to pulsing nichrome coils slowly at the beginning so you don’t cause a fire. However, due to this quick ramp-up time, nichrome is extremely popular among vapers who prefer advanced builds. But since nichrome has nickel, people allergic to Nickel should stay away from it. 

Nichrome is only available in wattage mode.

Nickel Wire

If you are a dedicated vaper, you’ll know that nickel was the first wire used for temperature control devices. Because of that, this wire has a nice TCR of 0.006, which means it’s easy for devices to determine the amount of current needed to maintain and when to cut it off to reduce the risks of overheating.

With that said, this wire is obviously only suitable for temperature control mode. It has a high risk of overheating when we use it in wattage mode. It can catch on fire and melt, and in the worst of circumstances, can even poison you😱.

However, none of these events will transpire if you carefully choose a device with a good TC mod. nickel is a safe vape wire, but of course, you need to use it as intended. It also has a fast ramp-up time (faster than kanthal), and while this can also be a disadvantage as I’ve mentioned above about ramp-up time, let’s just look on the brighter side and consider that this can create pretty complicated coil builds.

Nickel wires are available in most shops, but not all of them. Of course it’s not a problem if you shop online. Most online vape shops have plenty of nickel wire in stock.

Above all, nickel wires produce some of the most wonderful flavors in the vaping universe.

Stainless Steel Wire

Stainless Steel Wires, or SS, come in a variety of grades (316, 316L, 410, 413, and a lot more) and most of these grades are fortunately suitable when trying to build vape wires. However, because there’s a handful of grades to choose from, people get very confused as to how good this wire really is. Some like it, while some hate it with a vengeance. This happens because different people prefer different SS grades over another. 

Just like everything in this world, there are advantages and disadvantages to this beaut. To start the positives, the most important one is undoubtedly the fact that SS wires can be used both in wattage mode and temperature control mode. In fact, this is the only vape wire that can pull a double cross, which makes it very flexible. This component is also very durable and will last a long time so you can keep using the same coils without worrying about changing your wires.

Following this positive thread, SS wires also have a high melting point, which means you can dry burn it without having to worry about whether you’ve damaged your tank or not. This also doesn’t contain any Nickel, so nickel-allergic people can rejoice.

And for the negatives? Since Stainless Steel is slightly younger than the other elements mentioned above, it also carries quite a high price. Also, almost all shops don’t have this, so it’s going to be quite a search if you opt for SS vape wires, especially if you’re looking for a more exotic SS grade.

Titanium Wire

While this may sound like the most elegant wire out of the five, beware.

The last member to complete our quintet, Titanium releases titanium oxide whenever it reaches its maximum heat capacity. It is only advisable in temperature control mode because when you use it in wattage mode, and you pulse it above 1130F, it can catch fire that is nearly impossible to put out. But of course, if you use it the way it is intended, the ship should sail smoothly. Temperature Control has a great ability of keeping the current on its neutral capacity, and there’s just no way that the temperature of the coil will get near the dangerous limits. 

Other than the never-ending issue of the titanium oxide (which is only bound to happen if you don’t follow the rules), Titanium is, if not, the greatest out of the five wires. They are also not springy and can hold the shape you twist it to.

Titanium also produces clean and crisp flavors. This wire is also relatively more durable than the other four wires, which is a good thing because you won’t be spending too often on changing your wires.

The only catch to this is that Titanium wires are very expensive. In fact, this is far more expensive than the other four (everything Titanium is this world is). This wire is also only recommended for vapers with a lot of experience with coil building. And on top of that, the fact that this is Titanium in general, makes it really hard to find in vape stores.

There is no best vape wire

You read it right. This really depends on how each one of us like our vapes in the long run. There are pros and cons between each of the wires, and one wire might not fit our preference, while others will. I personally love Nickel, because I love the components that the Temperature Control mode bring to the table. I have tried all the other four though, but it doesn’t even get close to the safety and convenience I feel when using Nickel. I also love the flavors it produces.

I recommend actually trying all five of them. Carefully analyze how each one behaves, and experiment with each of them. There’s no harm in trying if you strictly follow the precautions. How can we know of something if we don’t try it, right? Only then will you be able to convince yourself what suits you in consideration of everything — from flavors to vapors. Once you identify what you prefer, stick with that, until you’re finally decided to switch things up again.

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About J.R. Reynoldson

J.R. Reynoldson
VaporVanity co-founder J.R. Reynoldson spends 364 days per year wishing that it was 4/20. He is easily offended by your comments. Email JR at [email protected].