**Disclaimer: All vaping products are meant for adult consumers. Please use products responsibly**
Introduction to Mesh Coils
Mesh is a grid-like, rather flat strip of metal that can be made of different alloys, such as Kanthal or NiChrome, or Stainless Steel. Coiled wires and mesh work in similar ways, but their effects are slightly different.
Mesh is becoming more common in the industry but is mainly used in sub-ohm coils (coils with resistance lower than 1ohm). At the same time, MTL coils (mouth-to-lung) have resistances above 1ohm and usually act as a regular wire.
When you trigger a vaping device, both act as the heating element and evaporate your e-juice for you to inhale it.
You get a greater metal surface to heat your e-juice with a mesh. A mesh also offers much more consistent heating because the mesh surface distributes the current evenly across the entire surface. It translates into a cooler vape with fewer dry hits because the mesh doesn’t heat up as much in one spot. Lifespan is a significant factor, too, as mesh tends to outlive its coiled cousins. Mesh is much more robust and overall resistant.
When you buy a sub-ohm vaping device, you will most likely discover a mesh inside rather than coil wires. Mesh coils are usually a better choice for producing billowing vape clouds and delivering well-rounded, rich flavors.
How Do Mesh Coils Work?
Imagine two homes. One of the homes is heated using a couple of radiators, which we can also call heat sources. These radiators have the same heat output, and the people who live in the house can be pretty comfortable provided they are close to the heat source. As soon as they move to the opposite side of the room, farther away from the heat source, they will probably have to wear another layer of clothing. It is because there is an uneven distribution of heat. Let’s think of this scenario as the standard coil scenario. Will will talk about standard coils a bit later.
Let’s now talk about the second home. This home is heated using floor heating. So underneath the whole house floor run hundreds of feet of copper pipes that carry hot water and are evenly distributed with the same gap or distance between them. Inside the house, dwellers can be in any part of any room, and they will feel the same amount of warmth under their feet. Now, this, in short, is how mesh coils work.
Mesh coils provide a much more even heat distribution, vaporizing e-liquid much more effectively. Mesh coils consume less energy, giving your battery a bit longer till you have to charge your vaping device again.
Mesh Coils - What Are They Made Of?
Mesh coils are primarily made of three metal alloys: Kanthal, Nickel Chromium (or NiChrome), and Stainless Steel. Each of these alloys offers certain benefits over the others, but they also have some drawbacks that will affect your purchase decision.
Kanthal Mesh Coils
Freemax Kanthal Mesh Coil
Kanthal mesh coils are made of an alloy of iron, chromium, and aluminum. Kanthal is inexpensive and relatively easy to work with. Kanthal is excellent at heat conductivity and highly available in most stores around the world. Kanthal is also well known for being very good at holding its shape.
All this sounds great and makes Kanthal look like the be-all, end-all alloy for building mesh coils. However, if you have or plan to buy a vaping device with temperature control, Kanthal might not be the best option for your mesh coils as it is incompatible with these vaping devices.
Kanthal does not allow temperature control because it has more impurities than the other alloys we will discuss here. It doesn’t have good superconductivity properties in terms of the linear relationship between resistance and temperature. Without getting into the depths of physics here, the electrons in Kanthal are so scattered that the resistance remains constant when they heat the material. As a result, it makes it quite hard to regulate temperature at our will.
Regardless of this constraint, Kanthal makes an excellent alloy for vaping devices that work in wattage mode.
On a more encouraging note, Kanthal does not contain nickel, which is a plus for people who may be allergic to it.
Stainless Steel Mesh Coils
Stainless steel works similarly to Kanthal. They share some fundamental physics and shapes. However, stainless steel contains nickel, so it is something to bear in mind if you present any kind of allergies to nickel.
One advantage of stainless steel over Kanthal is that stainless steel can work in wattage and temp control options. Kanthal lacks in that department. If you like to switch between these two modes and are not allergic to nickel, stainless steel is your best bet.
Stainless steel comes in different grades, for instance, 410, 413, 316, 316L, and more. Stainless steel can be dry-burned without nocive effects. Holding its shape quite well is another feature of stainless steel, but so is of Kanthal. Kanthal and stainless steel both have almost identical ramp-up times.
Summing up stainless steel’s properties, we can say it is both temp control and wattage friendly, and ramp-up times are very competitive. These are the reasons why this alloy is part of the big three in mesh coil manufacturing.
Nickel Chromium Mesh Coils
As the name implies, NiChrome contains nickel. Not the best friend of folks who are allergic to this metal. If that’s your case, you should avoid it stick to Kanthal instead.
NiChrome can heat up pretty quickly, reaching high temperatures in a matter of seconds. It is widely used in many heating devices and household appliances like toasters due to how quickly it heats up:
It is the preferred alloy of e-cigarette manufacturers in China. This quick heating ability is an actual disadvantage because the metal alloy has a shorter lifespan due to its lower melting point than Kanthal. However, this should not worry the user as it is infrequent to reach melting point temperatures in today’s devices, regardless of the metal alloy used in their manufacture.
How Many Types Of Mesh Coils Are There?
Just as with standard wire coils, which we’ll talk about a bit later, mesh coils also come in different configurations. The principles are the same. The more coils you have, the more power you get. The result is the more vapor, the more clouds, the more flavor, and so on.
On the other hand, the more mesh or coils, the sooner your battery depletes, the harder the hits you’ll get, the less recommended for newbies they get, the more cotton they consume, the sooner your e-juice will run out.
So mesh coils come in single, dual, triple, and quadruple configurations. But there is more.
3D Mesh Coils
The latest innovation in the industry of vaping and coils is the 3D mesh coil. There is no doubt that regular mesh coils increase performance compared to their predecessors, the wire coils, but 3D mesh coils take the whole experience to a whole new vaping level. As the name implies, 3D mesh covers a greater surface on the RDA inside, wrapped around in a tube-like fashion. They require less wattage without compromising in performance. Actually, performance is enhanced due to the physics involved in the development of this mesh.
Introduction to Standard Coils
Also known as regular coils, standard coils have been around for more than a handful of decades. They are the grandparents of the mesh coils, so to speak. They date back to 1963 when Herbert Gilbert filed for a patent on a revolutionary technology he coined “smokeless non-tobacco cigarette.” The technology in question was not developed in time and didn’t make it to the shelves. Unfortunately, Gilbert’s patented idea fell through the cracks, expiring to his own dismay.
Four decades went by before the whole idea sprang back out. In 2003, Hon Lik, a Chinese doctor, developed a three-piece setup similar to analog cigarettes. Dr. Lik based his design for the electronic cigarette on ultrasonic atomization. Don’t let this fancy term blow your mind because ultrasonic atomization refers to transforming liquid into gas or vapor by applying ultrasonic frequencies to certain liquids. It is the existing technology used by atomizers in general.
In 2004 the first generation of e-cigarettes went into full production, and shortly after that, they started flying off the shelves.
However, the technology used for the first-generation atomizers (aka e-cigarettes or cartomizers) became slightly old-fashioned. In the late 2000s, the first coils began to appear after inventors Umer and Tariq Sheikh developed a simple heating system that consisted of a resistance wire wrapped around some cotton fibers. The standard coils were born.
The invention of regular coils was a catalyst for the rapid development of the vaping device industry. But there were some limitations at first. The pioneering coils weren’t strong enough to output enough power required for the advanced vaping needs. The lowest resistance these early coils could offer was just 2 ohms.
Later on, in 2011, manufacturers started producing more powerful coils, which eventually gave rise to the sub-ohm tanks. Lower resistance, especially under 1ohm, gave vaping enthusiasts more decadent flavors, more giant, puffier clouds, and an overall more pleasant and satisfying vaping experience.
Standard coils are still around, despite mesh coils entering the market and drawing all the attention. They are both excellent options, and it all depends on personal preference.
How Do Standard Coils Work?
We’ll assume you know how a car works. One of the essential components of a vehicle is the battery. The physical principles of how coils work are pretty similar to that of car batteries. One end of the coil is attached to the battery’s positive end, while the other end is connected to its negative side. As you trigger the vape, the battery current runs through the coil, generating heat that heats the e-juice and produces vapor. That is how it works in layman’s terms. Without coils, whether regular or mesh coils, there are no e-vaping devices.
What Are Standard Coils Made Of?
Just as mesh coils, standard coils are made of the same alloys: stainless steel, nickel-chromium, and kanthal. But titanium is also another popular material, not just for standard coils but also for mesh coils manufacturing.
Let’s talk a bit about titanium. The characteristics of this metal, as we said above, also apply to mesh coils.
Titanium is the ninth most abundant element in the earth’s crust and one of the least toxic and most environmentally friendly metals. No wonder e-cigarette and vaping device manufacturers have set eyes on this “hot” metal. For more experienced vapers who want to make their own coils, you can find titanium wires fairly easily on the market. Titanium wires are strong, resistant, easy to work with, hold their shape quite well.
On the other hand, some people report concerns over titanium wires’ potential health hazards due to titanium dioxide gas production when overheated. But, do not worry because for titanium to produce titanium dioxide gas, you’d have to burn it at temperatures of over 1200 degrees Fahrenheit (600 Celsius). Remember that these days vaping device technology is quite advanced, and most mods and vapes come with very reliable state-of-the-art temperature control capabilities. The truth is, most metals can and will become toxic if you inhale the gas they produce when you burn them up to and past their boiling point. Always read the safety instructions and manufacturer’s documentation.
How Many Types of Standard Coils Are There?
By “types” of standard coils we mean whether the vaping device has one, or more coils. Coil configuration varies depending on the device. There are single-coil, dual-coil, triple-coil, and even quadruple-coil (commonly known as quad-coil) devices.
As you would expect, the more coils, the more heat. We can’t deny that. The more coils, the more vapor clouds you can produce. But the more e-juice you’ll burn too.
Take the following analogy to produce a better picture of how the whole thing works. Let’s compare a 4-cylinder car to a V8 car. A V8 car has more cylinders, therefore more power, serotonin and dopamine production in the driver, speed and overall muscle. The total opposite happens with a 4-cylinder car. But a V8 will burn more fuel faster, and it can become an expensive hobby. Just like fuel comes in different prices, octanes and varieties such as diesel, 95, 98 octanes, and so on, so do e-juices, but in different flavors, nicotine content, and other ingredients and sizes. All these variables affect price. You get the picture.
Why Coil Surface Area Matters?
Regardless of whether we talk about standard coils or mesh coils, surface area will determine many of the output variables in a vaping device. It’s simple physics. The larger area you heat, the more e-juice you’ll vaporize, and the bigger the clouds you’ll blow out.
There is also heat distribution on the surface. If the heat is not evenly distributed across the surface, you may not achieve the same efficiency if it were otherwise.
Main Similarities and Differences - Summary
Mesh and regular coils feature the same general working principles. But they present slightly varied effects. Even though mesh coils are pretty popular in the industry and there is no sign of them slowing down, they are mainly preferred for sub-ohm vaping tanks (resistance under 1ohm). On the other hand, regular coils are more prevalent in MTL (mouth-to-lung) vaping.
MTL vaping refers to the process of inhaling the vapor (or smoke if you’re a smoker) into your mouth first and then taking it all the way down into your lungs. As opposed to DLT (Direct to lung) which is when you inhale directly into your lungs, bypassing the mouth rest altogether.
Another similarity between the two coil types is they both heat up upon pressing the firing button. As they heat up, they atomize the e-juice, converting it to vapor that the user inhales through their mouth.
We can now establish one clear difference: that mesh coils are more suitable for sub-ohm, MTL vaping, whereas regular (standard) coils are more suitable for DTL vaping.
Mesh coils come with a larger surface area than standard coils, so they heat up much faster and more intensely, producing more flavor and vapor. On the other hand, standard coils offer a smaller surface area, requiring more grunt to level up to the mesh coils’ physics.
Mesh coils distribute heat much more evenly than standard coils, reducing the chances of getting dry hits (or burned hits). The same cannot be said about standard coils.
Standard coils do not get extremely hot as mesh coils do, producing a much “cooler” vaping experience.
It might seem that mesh coils are the way to go. However, don’t just go and get yourself a mesh coil tank just yet, unless you have some vaping experience.
If you’re a newbie, you should consider one of many standard coil configurations. After a while, when you’ve got the hang of vaping and can go on to the next stage of your vaping hobby, you can consider upgrading to a mesh tank.