Learning how to inhale a vape can take a minute to get used to, but it’s not overly difficult to master. The most important parts of getting a good inhale are ensuring you’re using the right type of vape for what you expect and choosing the correct inhalation method.
Mouth-to-lung (MTL) inhalation is better suited for beginners and smaller vapes with high resistance, while direct lung (DL) inhalation works better for larger vapes that have lower resistance coils.
While each method is performed exactly as it sounds, there are certain details that influence which one works better and small changes you may need to make. In this article we explain the basics that affect which inhalation method you should use and how to tweak these methods to better suit you.
What to Know Before You Inhale a Vape
Before your lips touch the mouthpiece, you need to understand the basics of vaping. The system works the same, regardless of whether you’re working with e-cigarettes, disposable, or rechargeable vapes.
In short, a vape system involves a battery (referred to as a vape mod) that powers a heating element (coil) that ultimately vaporizes the e-juice in the atomizer.
Differences in your power and vapor sources affect your experience, and they play a major role in how you inhale vapor. This section explains the nuances of each part and how to use this information to choose a suitable vape.
The Power Source
Most vapes use lithium-ion batteries in some form to power the device. This includes:
- Box mods
- Vape pens
- Tube mods
- Pod vapes
While the name “mod” is a nod back at early vapers who modified their power source using flashlight batteries, we now have a range of options that come at different price points and offer different features.
The main difference is how much power they provide. Different power levels relate to how easily you can use the device and what you can use it for.
Low power mods, like those in pods, pens, and e-cigs, are pretty straightforward and require no experience for safe handling. They may or may not be rechargeable, but most won’t offer power scaling. They’re just enough to get you a hit of nicotine.
Medium power sources are used in all-in-one devices, tube mods, and box mods. You may need some experience (or at least read the instructions) before you can use them safely, and they’re usually rechargeable. These vape systems may offer adjustable power up to 100 watts.
High power power sources are reserved for box mods and mechanical mods. You should not handle these without experience. They use more powerful rechargeable batteries (i.e. 18650, 20700, and 21700), and offer adjustable power beyond 200 watts.
The Vapor Source
Your vape device will use an atomizer or tank to hold e-liquid. This is a separate chamber that connects to the mod and houses a resistance heating element (usually a metal coil) as well as an absorbent wick and your juice.
When you take a hit, the coil heats the liquid on the wick and instantly creates the smoke-like vapor you consume. Over time, you will need to replace the coil in every vape system. It won’t burn out, but over a few days or weeks the juice will affect the flavor and lead to subpar experiences.
If you’re buying a vape system, consider how you want your vape juice contained.
- Pre-filled pods, cartridges, and cartomizers are incredibly convenient and portable. They require less maintenance as you replace all the parts of the atomizer with each pod, but you’ll spend more money and create more waste in the long run. They’re usually exclusive to a certain system.
- Refillable atomizers are good for multiple uses. More advanced systems like sub-ohm tanks use replaceable coils, while pods, carts, and some cartomizers need replacement after a few refills.
- Rebuildable tanks require more attention for installing wicks and coils, but you can reuse them as long as you’re willing. These atomizers are usually marked with an “R” at the beginning of their acronym (i.e. RDA, RTA, RDTA).
Choose an atomizer that is suitable for your vape mod. Fitting together is only half the battle. You should also make sure their coil resistance and power work well together.
The coils in your atomizers come in different resistance ranges measured in ohms. Low resistance coils (less than 1.0 ohm) create greater vapor clouds, while high resistance coils (greater than 1.0 ohm) put out more discreet clouds.
What Juice to Use
The juice you use factors into how you inhale from your vape as well as how much power you need.
The first factor to consider is nicotine content. Generally, you’re looking at:
- Higher nicotine content (12 to 60 mg) in lower power devices
- Medium nicotine content (6 to 12 mg) in low to medium power devices
- Low nicotine content (0 to 6 mg) in high power devices
If your focus is on faster effects, you’ll want a lower power device. Some of these are exclusive systems, and they may limit how much you can do with your vape beyond a simple inhale.
Recreational vaping focuses on lower nicotine concentration, but you can always use an adjustable power device to check all boxes.
Regardless of what you ultimately choose, make sure your device is suited for that juice and start small. Never use “DIY”mixes, and take your time learning how to inhale the vapor properly.
What Device to Use
Choose a decent quality device, ideally a starter kit, if you’re interested in pursuing more advanced inhalation methods and vape tricks later on. Disposable vapes, pods, and all-in-ones will get you started and satisfy any cravings, but there’s little room for improvement there.
We suggest starting with a kit that has everything you need but will allow you to make changes as needed. Make sure your kit is suitable for the juice you’ll be using (i.e. nicotine or cannabis), read all instructions, and check out review videos for more information.
Vape Inhalation Considerations
1. How to Mouth-to-Lung Inhale Vapor
Mouth-to-lung inhalation works best with smaller vapes, high resistance coils, and high nicotine content. This method is most similar to smoking from a cigarette, and it works well for those switching from smoked tobacco to vapes.
To MTL from a vape:
- Hold down on your vape button and draw the vapor into your mouth for a few seconds.
- Release the button and hold the vapor in your mouth for a couple seconds longer.
- Open your mouth and breathe (do not swallow) the vapor into your lungs.
This method produces minimal vapor and works with simpler devices. It doesn’t require much power and consumes less juice, ultimately helping your coils last a bit longer.
2. How to Direct Lung Inhale Vapor
Direct lung inhalation is better for larger vapes, lower resistance coils, and low nicotine content. This is a more involved way of inhaling vape, and most vapers cough the first time they try it.
DL inhalation feels like a looser inhale. To do this:
- Press your vape button and quickly inhale the vapor to your lungs (not holding it in your mouth at all).
- Exhale almost immediately.
Most recommend you continue drawing for a second after you release the button to ensure all vapor reaches your lungs. This method creates more vapor and works great with modern rigs.
Some may argue that DL inhalation is more harmful for your health. While there’s no direct evidence to support that claim, it does require more power and burn through juice and coils faster.
3. Cigar Puffs on a Vape
While it’s not as popular of a method, you can puff on your vape like a cigar instead of inhaling the smoke. You can do this with a high or low power device, and you will still absorb nicotine through your mucus membranes.
If you find that you prefer this method, you may be better off with an e-cigar that replicates the smokable version.
How to Fix Coughing When You Inhale Vapor
Coughing when you vape should not be normal, and it means you need to adjust something about how you inhale. It’s not uncommon when you first start, but it’s something you should grow out of.
Make sure you’re using the right inhalation method for your device. Coughing is more likely to happen if you’re trying to DL inhale off a device with reduced airflow (or vice versa) as the muscles you use won’t match the vapor the device puts out.
If you’re still having issues, consider switching to the other device/method. You want to master one of these methods before branching off into tricks like french or ghost inhales.
While inhaling from a vape itself isn’t a long process, the majority of your work goes into doing your research and matching the right device with the rich inhalation method.
- Use MTL inhalation for high nicotine and high resistance devices.
- Use DL inhalation for low nicotine and low resistance devices.
- Start with lower level nicotine and slow inhalation.
Let us know if you need more help inhaling from your vape or need suggestions on the right device for you!