When first investigating the possibilities of using a vaporizer to make “smoke” with an electronic system it is a bit confusing. The terminology is new and the equipment choices are complex. This happened because the choices in equipment and thousands of e-liquid flavors available came into being to provide the most variety in vaping as possible. The idea is for each person to find a system that gives the most pleasure for him or her, when vaporizing e-liquids.Some people are trying to reduce or eliminate smoking tobacco, by using a vaporizer instead. Others simply enjoy “vaping” as a way to relax and get a boost from nicotine, or not, depending on their preference. There are three basic types of vaporizers, which are, atomizers, atomizer/cartomizers, and atomizer/clearomizers. In the Atomizer vs. Cartomizer vs. Clearomizer challenge there is no clear winner. It all depends on each individual person, her or his preferences, and the kind of taste wanted while vaping.
Every vaporizing system has to have an atomizer. The atomizer is the device that converts the heated e-liquid to a vapor for “vaping.” A cartomizer and a clearomizer are extra components added to the electronic system on top of the atomizer to achieve special purposes.
Atomizer Alone *
Atomizers work by a process called “dripping.” For dripping, the wick absorbs the e-liquid slowly. Just a tiny drop hits the coil of the atomizer, one drop at a time. The coil gets its heat from the battery attached to it. When the heat is high enough, the e-liquid turns to vapor. The atomizer heats up the e-liquid when it drops on the coil and this causes the vapor to flow.
The slow rate that the wick absorbs the e-liquid and the small drops falling on the heated atomizer coil is why the vapor stays consistent and flows for a long time. This style keeps the vapor from getting excessively hot, since the vapor passes through the system immediately. Other systems that hold the vapor longer may cause the e-liquid to get too hot and possibly burn. Burnt e-liquid may have a bad taste and/or an unpleasant odor.
Those who prefer a vaporizer system that only has an atomizer like it because the system is efficient. The e-liquid drops directly on the heated atomizer coil, making pure vapor immediately. This method of dripping, using an atomizer alone, creates a strong flavorful vapor. There is no other filtration of the vapor, before inhaling it. This produces the strongest amount of vapor and depending on the e-liquid used, creates the strongest “throat hit,” which mimics tobacco smoke.
There are two disadvantages for having a vaporizer system that relies only on an atomizer. The first is that it requires more frequent cleaning because there is gunk buildup with an atomizer-only system that develops quickly. The second disadvantage is that an inexperienced person using an e-cigarette or vaporizer system for the first time may hold it incorrectly. This allows the e-liquid to flow in the wrong direction and creates quite a mess.
One additional challenge is that the amount of the remaining e-liquid in the system is unknown. Most users refill the e-liquid each time before using an atomizer-only system to make sure not to run out of e-liquid during a vaping session. Otherwise, when the e-liquid runs low, the possibility of having a burnt taste from heating the last remnants of the e-liquid is likely.
Atomizer Combined with a Cartomizer *
Cartomizer systems do not have a refillable tank for the e-liquid. This style uses disposable cartridges instead. There is a work-around to allow refilling the cartridges with e-liquid using a syringe, but the true purpose of the original cartomizer design was to make a disposable cartridge of e-liquid convenient for use in a vaporizer/e-cigarette system.
Refilling cartomizer cartridges with e-liquid is problematic. It is a messy process, similar to refilling used printer ink cartridges. It has a serious disadvantage for those that like to change the flavors of the e-liquid, in that, some portion of the previously used e-liquid remains in the refilled cartridge. If the flavor is the same, as before, there is no problem. However, when the flavor changes from one vaping session to another, a mixed flavor happens when a tiny amount of the previous flavor in a cartridge contaminates the new flavor.
Those who want the convenience of having the e-cigarette ready immediately enjoy vaporizer systems with a cartomizer style. By changing out the used cartridges, it is easy to keep a consistent flavor when using the same e-liquid for vaping. With cartomizers, there is no fuss, no mess, and ease of use. There is however, the possibility of a messy operation if trying to do the work-around in order to refill cartridges, not originally designed for such purposes.
Atomizer Combined with a Clearomizer *
The advantage of having a clearomizer is, the tank that holds the e-liquid has a transparent window. This allows easy verification of the level of e-liquid remaining for vaporization. When the liquid is running low, it is easy to see this and stop vaping to take time to refill the e-liquid. In this way, one avoids the unpleasant taste of burning the last amount of e-liquid remaining in the tank.
Clearomizer systems are available with different sizes of tanks. It is possible to get a big tank that allows longer vaping sessions without having to refill the tank with e-liquid as often. Clearomizers allow adjustment of the wick to increase or decrease the flow of e-liquid hitting the atomizer part of the system. It is easy to see the placement of the wick in the tank of e-liquid with a clearomizer and then to adjust the wick manually to place it correctly.
Clearomizers come with their own atomizers attached, which are easy to replace when they burn out. Many clearomizers are customizable. It is possible with some of them to add an additional atomizer coil in order to make more vapor. Clearomizers come in a variety of styles.
Here are some of the popular choices for special designs of clearomizers:
- Coil at the top – A clearomizer with a top coil creates a nice, warmer vapor, because the heating coil is next to the atomizer. This type is easy to refill because the access is from the top. Extra care is necessary to make sure the wick stays in contact with the e-liquid and does not dry out. If the wick does dry out, this causes the taste of the vapor to change, the amount of the vapor to reduce, or the vapor to stop.
- Coil at the bottom – Having the coil at the bottom means the wick always stays in contact with the e-liquid to provide a consistent quality of the vapor. The vapor from this type of clearomizer is smooth and will not burn the throat. However, leaks of the tank may become a problem and the tanks may make a bubbling or hissing sound when leaking. The tanks are more difficult to fill and the wick adjustments are more challenging that the top coil design.
- More than One Coil – With more than one coil the vapor is thicker, stronger, and has more impact as a “throat hit.” More than one coil also means the vapor is cooler because the e-liquid is not concentrated for heating in a single area. Naturally, more than one coil needs more battery power to heat the coils. That means more frequent battery replacement is required with these systems. Multiple coils are for those wanting more vapor and a stronger hit, who do not mind replacing the batteries more often.
Cleaning and maintenance issues are slightly different between the three styles and the different placement of the heating coil.
Cartomizers are some of the older designs and plain atomizers do not have the advanced features that clearomizers have. If convenience is a high priority then a cartomizer is the way to go with easy to replace cartridges. The flavors available for the e-liquid in cartridges are fewer than the flavors available for e-liquid to put in a refillable tank. This is a limitation, unless one goes to the added trouble of refilling the cartomizer cartridges with a syringe, which defeats the convenience of a cartomizer style.
The most popular choice is a clearomizer. The reason why clearomizers got so popular is that it is easy to see how much e-liquid remains for the vaping session. When an atomizer tank runs out, it requires stopping for the time necessary to clean and refill the device. Connecting larger tanks to a clearomizer design allows vaping sessions to go on for as long as desired.
Whether one prefers a simple atomizer style, the convenience of easy to change cartridges of the cartomizer style, or the flexibility and ease of use of the clearomizer style is really a personal choice. All of these systems have dedicated users who prefer one style to the other. Many people have more than one vaping system, so they have an alternative for a vaping session, depending on their mood.