Rebuildable Dripping Atomisers


Back in the 2010, “atomizers” were used to vaporize eliquid. Initially, these were small metal tubes with various kinds of threaded connectors at one end (510, 808-d, 401, etc.), but by about 2010, the 510 connector had become standard. Inside these “old school” 510 atomizers was a ceramic cup that contained a coil (usually Kanthal), with some type of wicking material through the coil (usually silicon strands). Surrounding the cup was more wicking, this time a wire mesh that extended to a “bridge,” which was like a little metal roof over the coil. Eliquid was dripped into the open end of the metal tube onto the bridge, which wicked the liquid to the coil. Resistance of the coil was typically from 1.5 to 3.0 ohms.

Today, dripping has become a much larger segment of the vape community than it was in years past. Evidence of that can be seen everywhere but most apparent is the huge number of new, advanced, dripping atomizers, Japanese organic cotton wicking is all the rage, and better and more varied wire for wrapping coils. Prepackaged coil building kits are also being sold in bigger numbers. For those vapers that want to use a rebuildable atomizer can even buy prewrapped coils in packs of 10! 

What is Dripping?

Simply put, dripping is vaping the hard way. For ‘vaping’ to be considered ‘the dripping method’ a vaper must apply (mostly) low-nicotine eliquid directly to the wicking material, today that usually means organic cotton, in small amounts, fire it up with the fire button then immediately breathed in by way of a ‘lung hit’. A ‘lung hit’ occurs when you breathe in the vapor directly to the lungs, in a single step, allowing you to fill your lungs with vapor without a layover in your mouth.

There are many vendors selling material that claims to be the next greatest wick or wire but none of these products come with a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Some believe wanting such reassurance is being over-cautious; you will have to make that decision.

Many vendors sell wire claiming to be Kanthal and silica but only a few have taken time to source high quality supplies. It is worth hunting out a supplier of genuine Kanthal and wick with high silica content over 96%. Mesh needs to be Marine-grade in order to ensure that it is of a high enough quality to vape with. 400-grade works well for most people with most juice and is a good place to start. Cotton should be organic and not be made using a bleaching process. Be careful with cotton, it is a flammable material!

 Rebuildable Dripping Atomisers (RDAs)

Probably the easiest wicks to rebuild but hardest to maintain are those of rebuildable dripping atomizers, or RDAs. These involving simply dripping e-liquid directly onto to an exposed wick where it essentially free-based into massive clouds of vapor. Dripping atomizers tend to attract the “vaping as a hobby” crowd as their wicks are endlessly customizable but require the most tinkering. Juice must be re-added to their wicks every 5-10 puffs or so. Materials used can vary from silica, ekowool and cotton, among others. Obviously, the main benefit of using a dripping atomizer is vapour production. Some of the more common RDAs include the Igo-L, Nimbus and Trident.

RDAs are used by dripping eliquid — drop by drop — directly onto the coils mounted on the deck, or onto the wicks that extend into the well. Typical RDAs hold anywhere from 10 to 30 drops of juice. The eliquid may be dripped through the drip tip or the drip tip hole, but most often the cap is removed before dripping. A “full” RDA will allow a couple minutes of vaping before the wicking dries out — exactly how long depends on the particular RDA, the coils, the wattage, and other variables. The “trick” to vaping an RDA is to add more eliquid before the wick goes dry. Otherwise, the vaper will get the dreaded “dry hit.” [This is where “temperature control” mods are most useful, since they regulate the voltage in a way that prevents dry hits. Brilliant!]

For any newer vaper considering the purchase of a first RDA, YouTube is an invaluable resource for determining what will be needed and the how to go about making a build. Any popular RDA will have numerous videos on YouTube demonstrating everything from a parts breakdown to doing various types of builds, from simple to complex.

In very real ways, RDAs are the mad scientists’ favorite laboratory for pushing the envelope in the vaping experience.