DRIPPING E-LIQUID: THE ULTIMATE VAPING EXPERIENCE
Have you ever gone to a gourmet restaurant for the first time, ordered your favorite dish, taken one bite, and said: “Oh my god! THAT’S the way I always DREAMED it would taste!”
That’s what it’s like the first time you try dripping e-liquid. You may have been vaping for years, with a simple two-piece e-cigarette or a tank system. You may have gotten used to the “burnt” taste when a cartridge is almost empty or may have said “I guess this is just what it’s supposed to be like” after being disappointed at the intensity of flavor of the vapor.
In short, you were “vaping your favorite dish” at home, and not at a gourmet restaurant.
Drip vaping is more intricate and exacting than just screwing a cartridge onto a battery or filling a tank with e-liquid. But it’s an experience every vaper should try at least once – and once you do, you may find yourself getting hooked on direct dripping.
Dripping Is Not For Everyone – Or For Every Situation
Before we get to the nuts and bolts of dripping e-liquid, you should understand that it’s not a simple “replacement” for electronic cigarettes or standard vaping systems.
- Dripping isn’t for nicotine addicts – if you vape simply to get a regular nicotine fix after smoking cigarettes for years, you’ll find that dripping e-liquid is a time-consuming and unwieldy way to do it.
- Dripping isn’t for the lazy – it takes time to learn and perfect the technique, and each drip will give you fewer than ten inhales before it’s time to do it again.
- Dripping is for the connoisseur – there’s no other way to get the complete flavor and power of e-liquid; if you fully appreciate the way that vapor tastes and feels, the way to get the most from the experience is to drip vape.
- Dripping is for the hobbyist – if you enjoy experimentation with vaping equipment and e-liquid as much as the actual vapor, it takes the hobby to a new level. Some would even say that it’s an art.
OK, So Exactly What Is Drip Vaping?
Photo by @vlouds on Instagram
The short answer is that it’s simply “dripping” a couple of drops of e-liquid directly onto an atomizer’s coil, and then immediately inhaling the vapor that’s produced.
But to really understand why drip vaping provides such a different experience, it helps to review the “normal way” of vaping.
Whether you usually use a two-piece cartridge-and-battery e-cigarette, or a more sophisticated Ego/tank/personal vaporizer (PV), they are both “closed” systems and work in pretty much the same way. A reservoir of e-liquid is heated by the coils inside an atomizer, producing the vapor you then inhale. Two-piece units have both the e-liquid and the atomizer inside the cartridge; with more advanced systems, the atomizer and the tank for the juice are separate components. Once you’ve screwed a cartridge onto a battery, or filled the tank and connected it to the atomizer, you vape until the liquid is used up.
E-cigs and PVs have come a long way in the last few years, and with some trial and error, you can find products on the market which produce tasty vapor that’s pretty satisfying. Even so, there are several “built-in” reasons why it isn’t as good as it could be.
- A closed system means that the vapor has to travel all the way through the device before it’s inhaled – and some of the vapor’s strength and taste dissipates during the trip.
- You sometimes get a “burnt” taste when vaping the normal way. It’s just part of the deal with simple e-cigs when the e-liquid is just about gone and some of the packing material is burning – that’s how you know when it’s time for another cartridge. But it can also occur with vaporizers if a wick gets too close to the heating element or your voltage settings aren’t right.
- You may be in the mood for a different flavor of the liquid, but you’ve just filled the tank and are going to have to wait a long time before it’s empty.
How did it all start?
(This paragraph is just a guess because there’s no way to know how the discovery of dripping actually occurred.) One day, someone apparently decided to see what would happen if they dripped a small amount of liquid directly onto a heating element, and inhaled the vapor without drawing it through any sort of device. (Or maybe it was just a fortunate accident and not done deliberately. As we said, this is all just a guess.) And presto! – it was amazing. The throat hit was powerful, the taste was delicious, and the vapor was thicker than it had ever been before. A new method of vaping was born.
At first, people who drip vaped were on their own, to figure out the best way to do it. Now there are all sorts of specialized products available for those who want to give it a shot or do it on a regular basis. Now that we’ve explained what dripping is, let’s take a look at the ways to drip vape.
Dripping For Beginners
The easiest way to get started is with a simple two-piece electronic cigarette or vape pen because the atomizer is built right into the cartridge. All you have to do is to pry off the “mouthpiece” end of an empty cartridge (that is, one with no e-liquid inside – they’re sold by some of the better e-cig companies). Then put a few drops of high-quality liquid into it, attach a “drip tip” to the mouthpiece (more on those shortly), and you’re ready to go for five to ten puffs or so.
This won’t give you the full effect of “real” dripping, but you should notice more intense vapor and a better taste than you’ve ever gotten from using pre-filled cartridges or simple tank systems. Like it? Great. It’s time to move on to the good stuff.
Drip Vaping With An Atomizer – The First Time
You will unquestionably get the most control and the best results from dripping if you are dropping e-liquid directly onto the coils of an atomizer, which means using a tank/personal vaporizer system. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you may want to modify your atomizer or purchase a special one that’s built for dripping. There’s no need to worry about that to start, though; you’ll get terrific results by just following a few simple steps.
- Open your atomizer. You’ll see the atomizer coils inside and there will usually be a piece of steel mesh (known as a bridge, commonly shaped like an inverted “V”) on top of them.
- Attach a drip tip to the mouthpiece of your unit (stay patient, we will be getting to these momentarily).
- Drip 3-4 drops of e-liquid onto the coils if they’re accessible, or onto the bridge if they’re not. Activate the vaporizer and inhale.
- Marvel at the throat hit, and the purity and flavor of the vapor.
- Decide that you want to do it again.
Now that you’ve experienced the difference between regular vaping and direct dripping – and you’re hooked – it’s time to take a closer look at some of the equipment which makes the process easier and more enjoyable.
We’ve mentioned drip tips several times already, and it’s finally time to explain what they are and how they’re used.
Obviously, there’s no way you’re going to put your lips right onto a red-hot atomizer to inhale the vapor created when you drip. But you also don’t want the vapor to get “lost” inside your portable vaporizer before you get the complete benefit of inhaling it. That’s what the drip tip is for; it’s a mouthpiece that fits right over the atomizer to funnel the vapor directly into your mouth. Many also have small holes for you to drip the e-liquid through, although you’ll get better results if you’re able to drip onto the atomizer itself.
There are literally hundreds of styles of drip tips available. They’re made from a variety of materials, from aluminum and plastic to ceramic and glass, even wood and copper. Some people choose their tips based on ease of use or feel in their mouth. Others want to make a lifestyle or fashion statement and choose a drip tip that fits their “style.” Some tips are plain and utilitarian, others are designed in bright colors or patterns, some are shaped like cute cartoon character heads or glowering skeletons – the selection is enormous and getting the right look is part of the fun for many people. They can be cheap or expensive, depending on your preferences. In any event, you’ll probably want to make sure your drip tips have O-rings on the bottom, to ensure a tight seal with the atomizer.
Some people like to use drip shields, which are simple tubes that slide over the atomizer and drip tip. They’re not necessary, but sometimes are helpful in catching any e-liquid which might leak out.
Earlier, we mentioned the bridge that spans the coils in an atomizer. It’s meant to make sure the e-liquid from a tank is spread evenly across all of the coils. But after you’ve been dripping for a bit you will probably find the bridge to be more annoying than helpful, since what you’re trying to do is drip the liquid right onto a coil rather than having it spread out.
For that reason, a lot of vapers end up removing the bridge completely. It’s not hard to do if you’re at all coordinated and can work with small tools; in fact, you can usually just pull it off with a set of tweezers. You’ll find that taking the bridge off improves the experience of drip vaping considerably. Vapers call changes to their units “mods” (which is short for modifications) this is one of the most common mods you’ll see.
Once you have made the commitment to drip vaping, the best investment you can make is in an atomizer that’s specifically designed for the activity. There are two basic types: a bridge-less dripping atomizer, and a rebuildable dripping atomizer (RDA).
The bridgeless atomizer is pretty much what you’d get if you took your regular system and removed the bridge above the coils. The good ones will have a threaded connector that can be used with most batteries and a solid seal that improves airflow and prevents liquid from leaking onto the connector. Low-resistance atomizers are also the best bet, because they’ll perform better without requiring more voltage, and they’re less likely to leak because the liquid is vaporized more quickly. This atomizer shouldn’t set you back more than $10-$15 – but remember, it can’t be used with a tank. It’s made just for dripping.
Rebuildable dripping atomizers take things a step further. The “problem” with bridgeless atomizers is that eventually the coil has to be replaced, and for most people that means buying a new atomizer. The “R” in “RDA” means they’re designed so you can easily rebuild them by wrapping your own new coils, another aspect of vaping which appeals to many hobbyists(You’ll also hear the term “RBA” used as well, which is the same thing). Some rebuildable atomizers have enough room in them that you can add more than one coil, play around with the resistance in the system, and so on. You can spend anywhere from $10-$100 on an RDA, or even more depending on the unit’s specifications and features.
There are a few RDAs which can screw onto a tank when desired, so they can be used either from dripping or standard vaping. These aren’t the norm but can be convenient for people who like to switch between drip vaping and using a regular PV.
Drip Vaping Hints
The most important tip for someone who’s just getting into drip vaping: be patient. Remember when we talked about your favorite recipe? You didn’t perfect that dish the first time you tried making it, and you probably won’t get dripping “exactly right” the first time, either.
Start slowly, with just a few drops of e-liquid, until you get the idea and want to try using a little more. Two or three drops should give you at least five or seven good inhales. If you start with too much liquid, it can flood through the atomizer onto the battery, or into your mouth.
Start with thicker (rather than thinner) e-juice that has a VG base instead of a PG base; you’ll get better results and can play around with other liquids as you gain more confidence.
Don’t forget to clean out the tips and atomizer regularly. Not can you get an unpleasant taste if you mix two e-liquids that don’t go together, but the residue can build up over time. Just blowing through the tips and atomizer or rinsing them in warm water will usually do the trick, although some like to soak them in vodka before rinsing and drying them.
Before you know it, you won’t be settling for a “pretty good” experience. You’ll have your own gourmet vape right at your fingertips.