The intent of this article is simple: to introduce you to some of the most common types of vaping wire and discuss their main uses and characteristics. Some wire is used for vaping with wattage, some with temperature control, and one main type we’ll talk about can be used for both.
None of the information should overwhelm you or burden you in technical data. It’s a high-level overview. The focus will be on single strand wire, and only on wires that are commonly used for vaping. Wires like NiFe or Tungsten can be used for vaping purposes, but you’ll be hard pressed to source them, and they don’t actually offer advantages over the wires that are being presented here.
Wire gauge, resistance, ramp time and TCR
There are some basic characteristics that apply to all wire, regardless of the composition of it. These are the diameter or gauge of the wire, its resistance, and the ramp time of different materials.
The first basic characteristic of any wire is the actual diameter of the wire. It is commonly called the wire “gauge” and expressed as a numerical value. The actual diameter for each wire isn’t really important. What matters is that as the wire gauge number increases, the wire diameter gets smaller.
For example: 26 gauge is thinner than 24 gauge but thicker than 28 gauge. Common gauges of vaping wire from smallest to largest diameter are: 32, 30, 28, 26, 24, and 22. There are others of course, even odd number sizes.
As the wire diameter increases, the wire resistance decreases. And generally, it’ll take longer for the wire to heat due to the larger mass. Thin gauge wires like 32 and 30 will be higher in resistance but will heat faster than 26 or 24 gauge.
Take note that for every given wire, the more wire you use the higher the resistance will be. This is important when wrapping coils, as more wraps will raise the resistance of your build.
Ramp up time
You may have heard the term “ramp up time”. Ramp up time is the time your coil takes to reach the temp needed for vaporizing e-juice. Ramp time is generally more noticeable with exotic multi-strand wire coils like Claptons, but, as wire size increases, ramp time can also become more apparent with simple single wire coils.
Different coil materials that come with different internal resistances will also have very different ramp up time. For power mode wires, stainless steel is the faster to ramp, closely followed by nichrome, with Kanthal being significantly slower.
In basic terms, temperature control mods rely on a characteristic of your vaping wire to detect when to regulate the current and wattage delivered to the coil. Wires suitable for TC are chosen because of their Temperature Coefficient of Resistance (TCR).
The TCR of the vaping wire is the increase in resistance of the wire as temperature increases. The mod knows the cold resistance of your coil, and the material you are using. The mod is also smart enough to know that when your coil rises to a certain resistance (as temperature rises) that the coil is too hot, and it reduces the current to your coil as required to prevent burning.
All wire types have a TCR, but the increase can only be measured reliably in TC-compatible wires (check the chart above for more information).
Kanthal Wire is ferritic iron-chromium-aluminium alloy with good resistance to oxidation, and commonly used for vaping in straight wattage mode. Kanthal is a great place to start if you are just getting into rebuilding, dripping, etc. It is easy to work with, yet stiff enough to hold its shape when formed into coils, which comes into play during the wicking process. It is extremely popular as a primary wire when building single-wire coils.
Kanthal is inexpensive but not widely available in South Africa. Some Clapton spools and most commercial replacement coils for sub-ohm tanks are made using Kanthal Wire.
- Variable wattage
- Easy to work with
- Holds shape
- Wide availability
- Not compatible with TC
Another type of wire well suited for wattage vaping is Nichrome. Nichrome wire is an alloy composed of nickel and chromium, and may also contain other metals such as iron. Fun fact: nichrome has been used in dental work, such as fillings.
Nichrome comes in a variety of “grades”, with ni80 (80% nickel and 20% chromium) being the most popular.
Nichrome behaves very much like Kanthal, but has a lower resistance and heats faster. It is easy to coil and holds its shape well when wicking. Nichrome has a lower melting temperature than Kanthal, so you need to be careful when dry burning your coils — they will burn open if you aren’t careful. Start low and pulse the coils. Don’t rush into it and hit them with max wattage while dry.
One other possible downside of nichrome wire is the nickel content. Folks with nickel allergies may want to avoid using nichrome for obvious reasons.
Nichrome used to be less common than Kanthal, but has risen in popularity and is now stocked extensively here at The Vape Industry.
- Faster ramp than Kanthal
- Easy to work
- Holds shape
- Nickel content
- Lower melting point
Stainless Steel (SS316)
Stainless steel is the most unique of the common vaping wires. It can pull double duty and be used for straight wattage vaping or temp control vaping.
Stainless steel wire is an alloy composed primarily of chromium, nickel, and carbon. Nickel content is usually around 10% or so, which is not that high, but people with allergies should not take the risk. There are many variations (grades) of stainless steel, expressed numerically. For coil building, SS316L is by far the most commonly used grade, followed by SS317L. Other grades like 304 and 430 are also used sometimes, but not so often.
Stainless steel is easy to form and holds its shape well. Like nichrome, it offers a faster ramp time than Kanthal due to its lower resistance for the same gauge. Take note to not dry burn stainless steel at high wattages when checking for hotspots or cleaning your build, as this might lead to the release of unwanted chemical compounds. A good workaround is to build spaced coils that don’t need to be pulsed for hotspots.
Nichrome and stainless steel coils can be easily found in B&Ms as well as online vape shops and right here at The Vape Industry!
- Does double duty: VW or TC (with compatible mod)
- Faster ramp time than Kanthal
- Easy to work
- Holds shape
- Nickel content (low)
- Shouldn’t be dry burnt at high wattages
Kanthal vs Nichrome vs Stainless Steel (Wattage)
Most vapers prefer power mode: it is just simpler. Kanthal, stainless steel and nichrome are the three most popular power mode wires right now, and you might be wondering what would be the best one for you. Again, take note that if you have, or suspect you have, a nickel allergy, then you should not vape on nichrome coils, and maybe you should also avoid stainless steel.
Kanthal has been the choice of most vapers for a longer time, due to its ease of use and higher resistance. Mouth to lung vapers appreciate their higher builds, and a 26-26 gauge Kanthal wire is always dependable — and hard to swap for anything else. Lower ramp up time can even be a plus for MTL vapers that like to take slow and long puffs.
Nichrome however is still able to offer exceptional flavour and high resistance for your MTL builds.
Nichrome and stainless steel on the other hand are excellent power mode wires for vaping at lower resistances — that’s not to say that they can’t be used for all kinds of inhales. Vapers that like to sub ohm enjoy the fact that they can go lower in ohms and benefit from the faster ramp up time. Flavor is very subjective, but many vapers that try nichrome or stainless steel swear that they get better flavor than they did with their previous Kanthal builds.
The bottom line is that your choice in vaping wire is an important variable in finding your vaping nirvana. In fact, it’s one of the components that has the greatest impact on your vaping experience. Varying the wire type and gauge allows us precise control over ramp time, current, wattage and ultimately the pleasure we derive from vaping. By varying the number of wraps, coil diameter, and wire type, you can create a whole new experience of performance. Once you find something that works with a particular atomizer, jot down the specifics and save the specs for future reference.
We currently stock an extensive range of Ni80 and SS316L options. These have been most popular especially for delivering exception flavour. Most people regard Kanthal as “old school” and is used by a small % of vapers. Shop all Wire options with us today and find your nirvana!
This article was sourced from vaping360.com