Over the last couple of years, pod vapes have really gained a foothold in the vaping industry. In fact, it’s fair to say they’ve exploded onto the scene. Their popularity has increased 1000 fold and they’ve found a perfect niche in-between vape pens (starter kits) and full-blown high-power box mods.
As recently as 2 or so years ago, there were only a handful of pod vapes you could buy. These tended to be pretty simple devices with limited (fixed) power, small/low-capacity batteries, and a small e-liquid capacity.
Nowadays, there is a range of pod vapes available. More often than not, you’ll find there are more pod vapes on offer than there are box mods.
The whole pod vape scene is becoming a bit of a grey area now as some of the latest releases are very reminiscent of advanced box mods BUT with one big difference.
Mods and tanks are interchangeable, they can be bought separately. You can fit most tanks on most mods due to the connection between them, this being a 510-threaded connector.
Pod vapes on the other hand are limited to the pod only fitting with the corresponding housing. They are not interchangeable. The pod is designed specifically for the pod mod it’s sold with, hence they are sold as kits.
As you can see from the photos above, the tank screws into the top of the mod by means of their 510 threaded connectors. Alternatively, the pod is magnetically secured into the recessed part of the pod housing, therefore one design won’t fit another.
Read on and find out just what it’s all about.
- What is a Pod Vape?
- Draw Activated Vs Fire Button Activated
- Open and Closed Pods
- MTL and DTL
- Variable Wattage
- Nicotine Salts Vs Freebase
- Plug and Play (PnP) Coils
- Who Would Use A Pod Vape
- What Type Of E-Liquid Should We Use
What is a Pod Vape?
This is actually quite difficult to explain as the evolution of the pod vape, even over a very short period of time, has evolved beyond recognition from the earlier or basic forms of pod systems. Both are still very commonly used and it all depends on how you wish to vape.
Some people simply want to pick up a pod vape and not have to worry about wattage or even worry about filling the pod with e-juice. Other folks like to fiddle and adjust their settings to achieve that ultimate vape. Either way, there’s a pod vape that caters to your exact needs.
Before we go into the detail and specifics of the pod vape kits, to stop any confusion, it’s best to explain the terminology of the individual components. The pod vape kit can be broken down into two parts.
The battery is the power that supplies the energy, in our terms the voltage, to the coil that’s located in the pod. This voltage that’s applied to the coil will heat up the resistance wire in the coil and vaporizes the e-liquid in the pod.
Batteries are either internal nonreplaceable batteries, sealed in the housing part of the pod vape, or external replaceable batteries. Both have their pros and cons and it really boils down to user preference.
The battery is located in the main body together with any control function it may have. In our direct comparison to a mod and tank, this part of the pod vape is what we would commonly call a mod.
The pod is the detachable part that fits and is secured into the main body by magnets. This pod incorporates a coil, a wick of some nature that surrounds the coil, a reservoir to hold e-liquid, and a mouthpiece.
When the main body i.e. the battery, applies voltage to the pod, the coil energizes and vaporizes the e-liquid. In our direct comparison to a mod and tank, this part of the pod vape is what we would commonly call a tank.
Although when most people talk about pods or pod vapes, they’re referring to the whole device – the battery/main body and the pod itself.
The Pod Vape
The earlier pod vapes or I should say the more basic pod vapes, consist of the battery housing (typically a 500mAh internal battery) and a sealed pod cartridge that slots into the housing. This forms the pod vape kit.
This to me is the main limitation of the earlier pod vape kits. The battery was small, anywhere between 500mAh to 1000mAh, and would only last a few hours before it needed charging.
Secondly, the sealed pod which contains the coil and a small reservoir of flavored e-juice didn’t last long at all! Once you’ve vaped the e-juice and it was finished, you throw the pod away and replace it with a new one.
There is no functionality, no control, and no variation, you simply draw on the pod and vape. These really were just one step up from a disposable or pen-style device. The main difference with a disposable was you could charge the battery.
As vape pods became more popular, their design and functionality advanced.
The internal battery started to increase in terms of a higher capacity, meaning it would last longer between charges. Typically we now see pods with 1500mAh capacity or more. In line with the traditional mods, pod vapes are now incorporating external 18650 batteries, improving the capacity and longevity of the device even more.
More advanced chip sets were added, enabling variable wattage control and OLED displays indicating the status of the battery, vape time, coil resistance, and power levels.
Re-fillable pods with increased e-juice capacity and replaceable plug-and-play (PnP) coils were introduced offering different vaping styles. These two styles are known as mouth-to-lung (MTL) and direct-to-lung (DTL) vaping. Even variable airflow control is now becoming commonplace on a pod vape. Interestingly, we’re even seeing re-buildable pod options to cater to those wishing to make their own coils.
These functions were commonplace on the majority of mods on the market but have since been added to the pod vape systems. The less advanced pod vapes tend to be referred to as a pod, whereas the more advanced pod vapes are referred to as pod mods.
Draw Activated Vs Button Activated
Some of the earlier or more basic pod vape systems were draw-activated. This meant there was no fire button to press to start vaping. You simply put the pod in your mouth and when you draw on the pod it activates and vaporizes the e-juice.
Unfortunately, not all the pod vapes worked as well as others using this method of vaping. Depending on your vaping style, some required quite a hard draw to activate. Also, the intensity of the vape was not always constant.
Certainly in my experience, I found I would have to change my style of vaping from mouth-to-lung to direct-to-lung to get a decent draw off the pod.
Some pod vape systems include both draw and button activation leaving it down to the user to choose how they wish to vape.
Open and Closed Pods
Closed Pod Systems
This is a sealed pod that you buy with pre-filled e-juice. You’re limited to the flavors and strength of e-juice that are available for that particular pod device.
Once you’ve vaped it and the pod is empty, you throw it away and fit another pre-filled pod. They are NOT re-fillable. You’re also throwing the coil that’s in the pod away too. Most closed pod systems will only hold 1-2ml of e-juice so they won’t last long. Definitely a pretty expensive way to vape.
Open Pod Systems
The same design of pod for that particular device BUT they’re refillable. A small removable silicone bung allows you to fill the pod with your e-juice. Normally bought as a pack of 3 but instead of being pre-filled come empty. You then fill these pods up when required with the flavor of your choice.
You’re NOT limited to the flavors that particular manufacturer is selling. Each pod is normally good for approximately 8 fills before the coil in that pod becomes degraded and not usable, i.e. the flavor or vapor performance falls off.
Again, when the pod became unusable, the pod is thrown away. What we are seeing in the more advanced and latest pod vape devices are open pod type systems even though they don’t always state this in the specifications.
The latest line of pod vapes are all re-fillable, all have replacement plug-and-play coils so the pod itself is very similar to the vape tank, with the exclusion of a 510 thread.
Definitely a more cost-effective way to vape!
Mouth-To-Lung (MTL) / Direct-To-Lung (DTL)
Most pod vapes, because of the higher resistance coils and lower wattage, were designed to simulate a Mouth-To-Lung (MTL) style draw. This closely mimics the style we all used when smoking a cigarette. A typical MTL set-up uses a coil resistance of 1 ohm or higher with a wattage of around 10W.
This style of vaping is when you draw on your vape device, you take the vapor into your mouth first, then inhale that vapor into your lungs.
Alternatively, Direct-To-Lung (DTL) vaping will be achieved with a lower resistance coil and using higher wattage. Coil resistance would be around 0.8 ohms or lower with a variable wattage of 15W or higher.
This style of vaping is when you draw on your vape device and inhale the vapor directly into your lungs.
While the majority of pod vapes are MTL, some manufacturers are now including a range of different coils to cater to both styles of vaping. Obviously to vape DTL, your vape pod kit will need to have variable wattage and accept coils designed for DTL.
Some of the more basic pod vape systems have a fixed wattage output. The power derived from the battery and the resistance of the coil they’re using determines the wattage output and is not adjustable.
Typically, these fixed-wattage pod vape systems will provide around 10 watts of power and give a pretty reasonable vape and nice flavor from the integrated coil in the pod.
As the pod vapes increased in design and functionality, variable wattage was included on the medium to more advanced pod systems. Some of the more basic pod vape systems would include 3 fixed output settings, selectable by the fire button.
It’s common now to see pod vapes that include variable wattage adjustment, anywhere from 5 watts through to 80 watts, controlled via onboard chip sets and visible by the OLED screen display. Those pod vape systems that include variable wattage adjustment do tend to be the more advanced systems, especially the ones that include PnP coils. This means you can tailor your vape experience to whatever coil you have in the pod.
Nicotine Salts Vs Freebase
Freebase nicotine is the type of nicotine we all used in our mods to give us that nicotine hit we craved for. Vaping with low resistance coils and higher wattage using 6mg/9mg/12mg strength or higher gave us that perfect hit.
Now because pod vapes traditionally use lower wattage and higher resistance coils, using this freebase nicotine at these strengths was found to not give us that satisfying nicotine hit.
The way around this, especially for new vapers, was to use nicotine salts (Nic Salts). This allowed vapers to use higher mg strength nicotine, 18mg or higher to satisfy their craving without getting that harshness in their throat.
Plug and Play (PnP) Coils
Unlike the earlier types, or entry-level pod vapes that come with fixed coils in the pod, the evolution to more advanced pod mods saw the introduction of replaceable PnP coils being used.
Similar to replacing a coil in a clearomizer or tank, the same principle applies to the pods. When the coil starts to drop off in performance and flavor or the coil burns giving that dry hit/burnt taste, the coil is replaced in the pod.
The pod is simply detached from the battery housing giving access to the coil. This coil is then pulled from the pod, discarded and a new coil fitted.
PnP coils are slightly different from the standard clearomizer/tank coils in that they are not screwed into the tank. The PnP coils are a push fit type, relying on the O-ring seals to hold the coil in place.
Who Would Use A Pod Vape?
Because of their simplicity, pod vapes are ideally suited for the novice/new vaper, or someone switching from smoking to vaping. They’re relatively cheap to buy and don’t really require any prior knowledge to set up and vape. Pod vape kits are often small, discreet devices and closely mimic the style of smoking.
As the development of pod vapes has advanced, their functionality, capacity, and power have increased. Because of this, more and more existing vapers are including pod vapes as part of their daily vaping kit.
I have around 20 different pod vape systems and the flavor and vapor I get from some of these really do exceed that of some of my mods and tanks.
To this end, it’s fair to say that pod vapes, although originally targeted at novice vapers, are used by beginners and experienced vapers alike.
I’ve certainly observed now when browsing through a website to treat myself to a new device, there seem to be far more pod vape options than there are mod kits. The popularity of pod vape kits really has exploded.
What Type Of E-Liquid Should You Use?
As we’ve already mentioned, nic salts are preferable when using the lower-powered pod vapes to give us that nicotine hit. This is simply because vaping at a lower wattage on a pod vape using nic salts of 18mg strength or higher would give us a similar hit as vaping 6mg freebase nicotine in a sub ohm tank on a mod.
Equally the ratio of PG to VG in our e-liquid is also important when considering what’s required when using either a clearomizer/tank or a pod vape.
It’s common to use a ratio of 30% PG and 70% VG in the majority of clearomizers/tanks, whereas a ratio of 50% PG and 50% VG would be used in a pod.
This is simply due to the viscosity of VG. In basic terms, PG is a runnier liquid and will carry the flavor easier and provides that throat hit we like. VG is a thicker liquid and will produce thick dense clouds of vapor. A combination of the two base liquids provides that perfect vape.
Because pod vapes have smaller wicking ports, a runnier e-liquid is needed to saturate the wick and avoid dry hits. Anything higher than 50% VG could make your e-liquid too thick and not saturate the wick quickly enough during vaping.
As coils in pods are improving in design, this ratio of PG/VG is widening. It’s always best to stick with a ratio of 50/50 to start with and tweak it to suit your requirements. Just take into account, if you start to get dry hits, look at the ratio of the e-liquid you’re using.
As you can see, the evolution of the pod vape has greatly increased since its introduction. These earlier or more basic types are still commonly used and are likely to be ideal for the novice or new vaper. The more advanced pod vapes are so in line with the mod/tank setup now, they have something to offer every vaper.