Vaping and Inhaling: Everything You Need To Know

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Inhaling Techniques

Intro

An often overlooked aspect of vaping, is how you vape. Specifically the way your mouth interacts with the vapour when inhaling. Many don’t give this a second thought, but a little knowledge could greatly improve your experience. In this article, we’ll take a detailed look at each method, and help you decide which is best for you.

The two main ways of taking a hit when vaping are Mouth To Lung (MTL), and Direct Lung Inhale (DLI). Each technique produces very different results, with MTL regarded as most similar to smoking a cigarette, while DLI can be compared to the hit from a shisha pipe or bong. Various factors come into play, such as ohm resistance, battery strength and airflow, but it also depends on the way the user interacts with their kit. Different methods give different results, helping with anything from cloudchasing, chain-vaping or increased flavour.

Mouth To Lung (MTL)

MTL

How – Mouth to lung vaping is much as it sounds – you take the vapour into your mouth first, before inhaling to the lungs. It’s similar to sucking on a straw: you take a long draw and let your mouth fill with vapour. Then you inhale, sucking in extra air into your lungs. Smokers and ex-smokers will recognise this as similar to the way cigarettes are usually smoked. Long-time vapers will be accustomed to this technique, as the technical limitations of early commercial e-cigarettes suited this type of inhale.

Results – The sensation is more subtle compared to direct lung hits but as vapour remains in the mouth for longer the flavour is more apparent. Cigars and cigarettes are usually smoked this way, so it can be especially useful for those trying to quit. Chain-vaping is easier as the leisurely intake of vapour means a reduced throat hit, particularly when using e-juice containing nicotine.

Equipment – This technique works best with tanks that use high ohm coils (1.2 ohm and above) such as the Kayfun and Mini Nautilus, low battery strength (15w and below) and with a narrow drip-tip. E-juice will usually contain a substantial proportion of PG (anything up to 100%), with whatever nicotine strength you prefer. It is possible to use the MTL draw technique when using a sub-ohm set-up but the vape tends to get uncomfortably hot.

Pros:

  • Uses less juice– Due to the slow inhalation, the e-liquid is vaporised at a slower rate meaning your favourite juice will last longer.
  • Cooler vape– As it usually involves lower battery power, this reduces the risk of the vape becoming too hot.
  • Useful for quitting smoking – The technique is similar to way cigarette and cigar smoke is inhaled, which is useful for those trying to quit. The overall sensation is more gentle than DLI, making it more suitable for beginners and casual vapers.
  • Better flavour– The prolonged exposure to the tastebuds, along with an increased use of PG – a better flavour-carrier than VG – means the taste can be more noticeable when using this method.

Cons:

  • Weaker – In comparison to a direct lung inhale, a mouth to lung hit is less intense, and arguably less satisfying.
  • Outdated – The increased focus on sub ohm vaping in recent years has led to MTL inhalation being associated with inferior technology. Indeed, most modern tanks on the market focus on sub-ohm vaping at the expense of tanks more suited to MTL.

Direct Lung Inhale (DLI)

DLI

How – A direct lung inhale involves drawing the vapour straight down into the lungs, much like breathing in deeply or sucking the air from a balloon. This way dense vapour quickly fills the lungs, similar to the sensation of using a shisha pipe. This draw method is most commonly associated with sub-ohm vaping.

Results – DLI gives a more intense hit than MTL, which many vapers find more satisfying but can sometimes feel overwhelming. Best results require heating the e-liquid at high temperatures so you need to draw quickly to avoid a hot vape. As a result, the throat hit is more intense so levels of PG and nicotine need to be reduced appropriately. If cloudchasing is your thing, DLI is the key to producing thick billowing clouds of vapour.

Equipment – An optimum direct lung hit requires an RDA or sub-ohm tank, such as the Kanger Subtank or Smok TFV4. Subsequently, this means a juice that’s high in VG and low in PG. Nicotine levels of 6mg and below are advised, to counter the increased intake of vapour and resulting throat hit. It is possible to lung inhale with plus-ohm coils but it’s less common as the vapour production is less and the sensation more muted.

Pros:

  • Satisfying – A direct lung hit is more powerful than mouth to lung. This can feel more fulfilling, particularly for smokers and ex-smokers who want a more striking throat hit.
  • Clouds – DLI is the best method for producing thick plumes of vapour.
  • Stealth-vaping– When using a high ohm coil, taking a deep lung hit and holding it in for a few seconds makes the vapour dissipate before you exhale. Useful if you want your vaping to be low-key.

Cons

  • Risk – This form of inhale brings added risks. You need to draw quickly to keep the vape cool, and tweak your level of PG and nicotine to avoid harsh throat hits. Make sure your e-juice doesn’t run dry as a lung hit of burnt cotton is the stuff of vaping nightmares. DLI requires some basic knowledge of vaping, so isn’t recommended for beginners.
  • Overwhelming – A direct lung hit can sometimes feel overpowering as you’re taking in more vapour in one hit, along with nicotine. It’s less relaxed and casual than MTL.
  • Limitations – This method reduces your flexibility when it comes to PG and nicotine. Reduced levels of each are required to avoid a harsh throat hit.

Other Techniques

French Inahle
  • Hybrid Hit– This is a good method for tasting the juice as well as getting a substantial hit. It involves drawing vapour into the mouth then partway through, with your mod still firing, allow some air in through your lips and inhale deep into the lungs. It’s basically MTL followed by a DLI.
  • Snap Inhale– This method goes by a number of names, such as Ghost or Mushroom Cloud. You let vapour build in the mouth, exhale it a little bit and then quickly suck the ball of vapour back into your lungs. You essentially get two hits from one draw, the first direct hit and another from inhaling the cloud back in. It’s not easy to master but looks impressive.
  • French Inhale– This involves drawing vapour into the mouth and slowly releasing a dense cloud up to be inhaled through the nose. Also known as the Irish Waterfall, this is more of a trick than a common style of vaping.

Other Factors

Other Factors
  • Exhaling – Exhaling through the nose takes advantage of your sense of smell, making it a good way of experiencing more flavour. It’s commonly accepted that nicotine is more easily absorbed through the membranes in the nose than the lungs so this can be a useful method of increasing nicotine intake without adjusting your e-juice.
  • Air Holes – The airflow of your tank is an important factor when inhaling. Small closed air holes restrict airflow and makes for a tight draw similar to a cigarette. This pressure makes it easier to keep the vapour in your mouth before inhaling. Large open air holes are better for direct lung hits as they allow vapour and air to travel with less resistance. Recent sub-ohm tanks such as the Atlantis 2, come with two sets of air holes – one on the base and another set on the drip tip. This helps finetune the airflow to your preferred level.
  • Drip Tips– These are another key element for the inhalation method. A wide-bore drip tip allows more air in and works best for direct lung hits. The narrow long drip tips found on tanks such as the Aspire Nautilus make for a tighter draw and are more suited for mouth to lung.
  • Juice – Certain e-liquids, such as strong cinnamon-based flavours, have a heavy throat hit, regardless of PG or nicotine level. These are often better used with a mouth style vape.

Conclusion

While one draw technique isn’t necessarily better than the other, there are certain aspects to be aware of. Newcomers to vaping may find DLI overpowering, so it’s often best to start with the more subtle MTL vape. For those trying to quit smoking, the MTL draw method is most similar to the way a cigarette is smoked, but some people prefer the more powerful sensation of a DLI. As ever, different draw techniques work best with different situations. You may find a casual after-dinner vape best suits mouth to lung, while unwinding after a stressful day requires the satisfying feel of a direct lung hit. Part of the pleasure of vaping is finding your own unique preference. Be sure to comment below and tell us about your own experiences.

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Ian Jones
Ian is a UK-based journalist, with 10+ years writing for media outlets such as Vice, MSN and the Daily Mirror. He specialises in pop culture and lifestyle journalism, focusing on vaping, food, fashion and technology. He takes frivolous things seriously so you don't have to.
  • Ryan

    i smoked cigarettes for 17 years from the age of 16. I tried everything over the last 4-5 years to quit: the patch; lozenges; nicotine spray; gum (yuck!), but the most I ever lasted was 6 or 8 weeks and I would cave and buy a pack of smokes again. 6 months ago I purchased a vape pen (the eGo AIO) and I have not had a smoke since… not even a puff, in fact the thought of it now physically turns my stomach. I know it probably wont work for everyone, but it worked wonders for me. I can smell and taste everything again, i don’t have a smokers cough in the morning any loger, from what i have read and studied there are at least some health bebefits in choosing vapour over smoke, and best of all I have cut my “smoking” related expenses more than in half. I strongly recommend anyone attempting to quit to try it..