If you’re searching around online for the best weed vaporizers, it’s not really going to do you much good if you don’t have a tenuous grasp on general vaping terminology. Or, for that matter, if you don’t know the various parts of the vape pen or desktop vaporizer in question.
That’s why in this article, we set out to answer the all-too-common question of “what is an atomizer vape.” While our goal isn’t to have you transform into the next Jürgen Bickel, hopefully by the end of the article you will at least be able to work your way around general weed vaping lingo, so that you can shop around for the best products with a relative degree of confidence and self-informed knowledge.
Also, we’ll point out a few key differences between some of the most popular atomizers out there on the market today, and explain why some are better than others depending on what exactly you’re looking to get out of your vaping experience.
So… What is an Atomizer?
The atomizer in a vape pen (or any kind of vaporizer, for that matter) is essentially the heating element that actually converts the cannabis e-liquid (or other concentrate) into an “inhalable” vapor.
To be clear, though, the atomizer is typically an “umbrella” term that’s used to describe the unit that holds the e-coils (heaters), as well as the wick, which delivers the e-liquid juice to the coils where they are actually heated up.
Let’s try and break it down as simply as possible. There are essentially five main parts to any weed vaporizer, vape pen, or e-cigarette. These are:
- The battery: Without a battery, you don’t have a power supply. And without a power supply you can’t heat up the coils. And of course, if you can’t heat up the coils, then you can’t produce a vapor.
- The cartridge: This is the small compartment where the actual e-liquid or vape juice is held – it is sealed off from the actual heater coils, and only comes into contact with the wick. Cartridges can be either disposable or reusable. *Also please note that some vape pens do not have cartridges, but are rather “Drip Tips” where you have to add a few drops of e-liquid every few puffs.
- The wick: The wick (usually made of cotton fibers) comes into contact with both the cartridge and the electronic coils. It essentially gets saturated with oil inside the cartridge, at which point the oil travels along the cotton fibers until it comes into contact with the e-coils. When the e-coils are heated up and operating at the desired temperature, the vapor is produced.
- The e-coils: The coils are the actual heating element – they receive a direct power source from the battery, and can heat up to temperatures between 180℉ and 500+℉. Please note that the atomizer refers to the unit that contains the e-coils and the wick.
- The mouthpiece: Pretty self-explanatory, the mouthpiece is the part of the vaporizer that allows you to transfer the vapor from the atomizer to your mouth (and ultimately your lungs)
So as you can see, vaporizers are fairly simple units; as long as you understand the few basic components, you can have a pretty good idea of how they work, and what the specific job is of each individual component.
However, once you start getting into some of the technical specifications and various types of atomizers and e-coils out there, things tend to get a little more confusing. Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular kinds of atomizers to get an idea of what we’re talking about.
Difference Between Atomizers in Vape Pens: The 306 vs. 401 vs. 801 vs 510 vs. 901 (size threads) Atomizer
When you hear people talking about a 306 atomizer vs. a 510 atomizer (or a 401, 801, 901, etc), what they’re essentially referring to is the atomizer’s thread size (though be advised that a 306 and a 510 atomizer share the same connection). A lot of different companies will have their own “proprietary” thread size/style, in order that you can’t use or interchange their products along with someone else’s.
What’s more of a significant difference between atomizers though, is the actual type of atomizer that’s being used. These are essentially the differences between clearomizers, cartomizers, and dripping atomizers.
- The CARTOMIZER is more or less the cheapest option of atomizer out there. They usually come in a pack of three or five, and cost anywhere between $10 and $30. Most cartomizers will attach right to a standard 510 battery, and are kind of the universal method for entry-level vape units.
In terms of pros and cons, the major advantage of cartomizers is that they’re dirt cheap and disposable, meaning you can simply swap a new one in for an old one if you want to change e-liquid flavors or if your old one runs out.
The major disadvantages, of course, are that the vapor quality is not the best, and the tend to be lesser quality than other options, meaning more leaking and more mess.
- The CLEAROMIZER is a type of atomizer that uses a refillable tank which attaches directly to the battery. These units are incredibly convenient and low-maintenance, as you just fill them up with your favorite vape oil or e-juice and are good to go – often for days or weeks on end (depending on how much you vape).
The disadvantage of clearomizers is that they’re fairly more expensive than a cartomizer, and you can’t really change up flavors all that much – once you’ve got the tank filled up, you’re pretty much stuck with it for awhile.
- The DRIPPING ATOMIZER, or a “Drip Tip Atomizer,” is what some would call the “purists” atomizer – with these you have to add your vape liquid drip by drip directly to the atomizing unit (which can be either bridged or bridgeless), and then attach the tip in order to take your puffs.
The major disadvantages of drip tip atomizers is that they’re pretty inconvenient – you have to add 3-4 drops of e-liquid, for example, for every 3-4 puffs that you take. If you vape constantly throughout the day, or plan on going out to a bar or something and vaping quite a lot, this is probably not the best option as you’ll have to carry your juice around all night and constantly be adding fresh drops to the atomizer.
On the flip side, most vapers would agree that drip tip atomizers have the purest and hardest-hitting taste out of all the different types of atomizer units. If you prefer taste of convenience, or if you’re just going to be taking a few hits of an ultra-potent THC oil and want to maximize your flavor, then a drip-tip might be the way to go.
“What is an Atomizer?” – Final Thoughts
Well, hopefully this article shed some light on the question ‘what is an atomizer,” and was able to provide you with some helpful and easy-to-understand information on the subject. We could get into a lot more detail about the various technical specifications of atomizers and vaporizers (especially with regard to ohms, mAh, batteries, wattage, etc), but we’ll save that discussion for another time and another place.
As always, feel free to hit us up either in the comments section below or on our Facebook page with any questions you might have! Also, head on over to our 2018 Vape Review Guide to take a look at we think are this year’s best weed vaporizers! Enjoy… and happy vaping!