What are drip tips?
Drip tips are vaping accessories that go on top of atomizers. Whether they’re RDAs, RTAs, or sub-ohm tanks, the last thing between you and your vaping setup is a drip tip. You simply drip e-liquid through the hole of a drip tip and you’re good to vape. They’re available in a number of different sizes, shapes, materials, and styles. While they seem like small and inconsequential things, drip tips can greatly affect the quality of your vape.
A brief history of drip tips
Drip tips were first used with dripping atomizers (the non-rebuildable variety). In the early days of vaping, people that wanted to get maximum flavor used 510 or 808 atomizers. They resembled cartomizers, but didn’t have any filler material. Since dripping atomizers are made out of metal, vapers used drip tips to protect their lips from heat and for a better mouthfeel.
Many people credit Super-T Manufacturing for the invention of drip tips. Prior to their creation, atomizers had simple mouthpieces. They had to be removed in order to add more liquid to the atomizer. Vapers found that being able to drip through a hole without taking off the accessory was much more convenient.
The earliest drip tips were made out of relatively cheap plastic. They were simple throwaway accessories. As more people got into the hobbyist side of vaping, better materials and construction were called for. In addition to inventing drip tips, Super-T was one of the first companies to use superior materials. Super-T, which is sadly no more, was known for its precision machining and use of quality metals. These days, drip tips come in all kinds of materials, from cheap plastic to high-quality plastic to metal to glass and more.
What is a 510 drip tip?
One of the most common terms in vaping atomizers is “510 drip tip.” As mentioned above, in the earliest days of dripping, vapers used 510 or 808 atomizers. The number refers to the connection at the bottom of the atomizer, as each type had different threads. Both sizes also had different diameters, so drip tips for one wouldn’t necessarily fit on the other. As time went by, the 510 connection became the standard for the majority of vaping devices and the term 510 drip tip also became the standard.
For vapers, this means that buying a 510 drip tip ensures that it will fit on the majority of atomizers that claim compatibility. Atomizers often comes with 510 drip tip holes as standard, while some comes with an adapter that allows for their use. There are, of course, exceptions since precise standards were never established and o-rings on 510 drip tips come in different sizes. For the most part, you can feel comfortable that any 510 drip tip you buy will fit on an atomizer that says it’s compatible with 510 drip tips.
Different drip materials and what they're best for
Different drip tip materials have different characteristics. There isn’t a “best” material. It’s really a matter of preference. Here’s a look at some of the most common drip tip materials and the characteristics they provide.
For people that tend to lose small accessories, inexpensive plastic drip tips are the way to go. They’re affordable and easy to replace. There are, however, more expensive plastics aimed at vapers that enjoy sub-ohm builds. Drip tips made out of these materials are more expensive, but also much better at warding off heat. Using these plastics allow vapers to enjoy warm or hot vapes without making their lips uncomfortable. Here are some of the more expensive plastics used in vaping.
- Delrin: This is the most common brand name for the thermoplastic polyoxymethylene (POM). It’s highly heat resistant and comes in a variety of colors.
- Teflon: This is the most common brand name for the thermoplastic polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Many people are familiar with Teflon from its use on non-stick cookware. Another heat-resistant material, vapers also enjoy Teflon’s silky mouthfeel and resistance to lip gunk (a scientific term).
- Ultem: This is the most common brand name for the thermoplastic polyetherimide (PEI). Ultem drip tips have been gaining popularity in the last year. They’re highly heat resistant, solvent, and flame resistant. Most Ultem products are an opaque dark yellow, but some manufacturers are offering black Ultem products.
Following plastic, metal is the most common drip tip material. Drip tips made out of aluminum or stainless steel are affordable and durable. Vapers looking for a bit of luxury can opt for titanium or gold drip tips. While many metal drip tips look great, they also conduct heat. This can be an issue for sub-ohm vapers, as drip tips can get very hot during chain vaping sessions. Depending on the quality and finish of the drip tip, some vapers claim that metal sometimes imparts a taste on vaping e-liquids. Lastly, metal drip tips have a tendency to get crusty from dried lip skin.
The choice of many flavor aficionados, glass drip tips can be shaped into beautiful objects. They’re also heat resistant and do not affect the flavor of e-liquid. Some flavor purists compare vaping with glass drip tips to drinking wine out of a glass. They argue that fine wine should not be enjoyed in metal or plastic cups, so premium e-liquid shouldn’t be enjoyed on drip tips made from metal or plastic. The downsides to glass drip tips are that they’re fragile and can be expensive.
There are many artisan drip tips made from stone composites and stone resins. They have a unique look that helps any vaping setup stand out. They’re also great at resisting heat. Stone drip tips tend to be more expensive than metal and plastic models, but some believe that their unique looks are well worth the price.
Drip tips made out of wood can look beautiful and are very good at resisting heat, but special attention must be paid to the finish. A low-quality finish will lead to the wood being exposed to heat and moisture. As you know, you can’t vape without heat or moisture. Exposed wood can warp and lose shape. If not cared for properly, would can also splinter. A splinter of wood stuck on your lips is…not the best.
In addition to the materials mentioned above, some companies mix and match materials in order to provide characteristics of both. For example, it’s common to see a plastic drip tip with a metal outer sleeve. This offers the heat resistance of plastic, combined with the looks and durability of metal. Just like there isn’t a “best” drip material, there isn’t a beast combination either. It comes down to personal preference.
Different styles of vaping drip tips
Drip tips come in a number of different styles. It comes down to what you’re looking for in a vape. Here are the most common styles to help you find the one that suits you best.
Standard or narrow bore
These drip tips have a relatively small hole in the center. If flavor is your priority, this is the way to go. You’ll get higher vapor concentration with these drip tips. You won’t, however, be able to churn out voluminous clouds.
For cloud chasers, it’s wide bore or bust. These drip tips have a large hole in the center, with some models having additional holes on the side. It’s all about maximizing airflow in order to achieve the biggest clouds. Naturally, the price for tremendous clouds is a loss of flavors.
The first chuff caps were after-market accessories that replaced the top cap of an RDA and the drip tip. Chuff Enuff Vapes is often credited with the first designs. The definition of chuff caps has broadened since than, covering tanks as well. In short, they’re super-wide bore drip tips that also serve as an atomizer cap. In many cases, the bore is so large that many vapers can stick a pinky finger through it.
With a super-wide bore, chuff caps are obviously best for cloud chasers and those that prefer an extremely airy vape. The vapor potential is impossible to beat. Naturally, flavor is sacrificed to get massive airflow. Since less of the coil is covered, spit-back can be an issue as well. For vapers that want to replicate the effect of a cloud machine from a rock concert, chuff caps are the way to go.
Novelty drip tips
Just like how you can have cups or mugs shaped into any silly thing you can imagine, drip tips can be shaped in a similar fashion. There are long gooseneck models that put several inches or centimeters between your mouth and atomizer. There are glass models that are shaped like tea kettles. There are even some that resemble totem poles. If you want to stand out or have your vape serve as a conversation piece, this is an easy way to do it.
Seven great vaping drip tips
Aimed at cloud chasers, this wide-bore hybrid features a large center hole accompanied by two side holes. It has a Delrin core for heat resistance and a metal outer shell for sharp looks.
Trinity Glass Tanks Pyrex Shorty
A great low-profile hybrid, the Pyrex Shorty from Trinity Glass Tanks has a metal base and a glass center. The metal serves as a heat sink, while glass helps ensure flavor purity.
Modish Metal Works Stainless Steel
Modish Metal Works is known for its topnotch craftsmanship and it shows in its stainless steel drip tips. These models have a classy and understated look that looks great on most any vaping setup.
Major League Vapors Salt Shaker
A unique metal accessory, the Salt Shaker features a solid sheet of metal with perforations towards the top. This helps prevent spitback in problematic atomizers. It also helps create a denser vape, making it a compelling choice for flavor chasers.
Nolli Designs Hybrid Wood
Featuring a metal core covered by a stabilized wood shell, these models are absolutely gorgeous. They’re perfect for sprucing up vanilla vaping setups and also provide nice contrast on stabilized wood box mods.
Vaponaute Teflon Drip Tips
Available in a number of different shapes, Vaponaute’s Teflon models are prized for their silky-smooth mouthfeel. In addition to feeling and looking great, they’re highly heat resistant and fantastic at preventing lip gunk.
Another hybrid from 2Puffs, the Obrero has a Delrin core with a wide-bore hole. The outer shell is rubberized plastic with perforations. The texture combined with the material for an interesting mouthfeel that many vapers find satisfying.