E-Cig Review: Head to head

This post is a bit of an informative review on some of the most common items you may find atop your ecig battery. These are some of what many intermediate vapers use and I hope to follow this post up with some more advanced items at a later date. This review has been made possible by the generosity of 2 great vendors:


KingPin Ecigs



Vapor Phoenix



The first item in this list is here because, if you are coming from beginner or “stick style” ecigs, you should be intimately familiar with this. It is a cartomizer. A cartomizer is basically an atomizer head, wrapped with a filler material enclosed in tube of some sort. These are designed to imitate, mostly, the look of the filter end of a traditional cigarette. Although with many stick style ecig vendors the cartomizers come in many interesting colors, for the most part, the blank ones most vendors sell come in silver/stainless/unwrapped and wrapped in an adhesive black paper. Cartomizers can give a nice even vape for even the most hardened chain vaper as long as they are kept full/wet. Using these is very easy and natural to prior smokers. You can pop that little top off and either drip your e-juice down the sides of the filler material to fill or, my preferred method, use a blunt tip needle. Slide the needle tip between the filler and casing and push in e-juice until the filler is saturated. Although cartomizers are available in different sizes, the most common size will hold approximately 1ml of e-juice.


Once filled, pop your top back on, screw this onto your battery and you are ready to vape! Life expectancy from these devices is quite good and depending upon your e-juice ingredients, you can successfully refill these several times and many times they can be cleaned (by boiling for a few minutes) drying and reusing again 3 or more times. If you want to jazz things up a little bit or you don’t like the feel, you can always add a drip tip to the end instead of replacing that cap. This, to me, makes things much more pleasant and comfortable. Drip tips are available from many vendors in a variety of interesting shapes, colors and materials to suit your fancy.

This next setup is a 2 piece setup and seems to have fallen into some disuse, although it is still widely available on some older model e-cig kits.

cartridge atomizerAtomizer and Cartridge

This is the cartridge system. As I said, this is a 2 piece system consisting of an atomizer, which is a small bit of wire coil enclosed in a metal tube which heats up when current is applied, and the cartridge itself, which is generally a plastic tip filled with a liquid absorbent material. The cartridge is filled with the same methods as used for a cartomizer, however, it doesn’t hold nearly as much e-juice. This may be why it is falling from popularity a bit. Much like a cartomizer, these really need to be kept full for a good vape, but it’s a little harder here, because of the smaller capacity. To use this system, the cartridge is filled and then for best results you can “prime” the atomizer by dripping one drop of your e-juice into the metal wick inside the atomizer and then push the 2 pieces together. Although the plastic cartridge will probably never really wear out, the filler will eventually stiffen up and need to be replaced. Many people have tried using a bit of cotton, or more successfully, a bit of folded up teabag. The atomizers can also be cleaned by simply rinsing out with water and allowing to dry and, for the more encrusted atomizers, people have even used denture cleaner to get their coils sparkling again. Chances are good that you will tire of this because of the number of refills you will have and start looking for something that holds a bit more e-juice. If you do, do not throw out your working atomizer! You will need it for dripping, which is something I’ll cover in another post.

CE4 and CE5 Clearomizers

CE4 and CE5 Clearomizers

Clearomizers are where things really start getting interesting for most folks. These devices hold considerably more e-juice than cartomizers or cartridges. Many will hold 2 to 2.5 ml or more! Clearomizers come in a variety of different styles, but they mostly consist of a see-through tube containing an atomizer toward the top of the tube, with several long wicks that extend down the inside length of the tube. Some variations you might encounter are rebuildable clearomizers, which usually allow the base to unscrew so you can more easily clean and replace the atomizer heads, and bottom coil clearomizers, which have the atomizer and wicks at the bottom of the clearomizer instead of the top. Filling these is pretty straight forward. In most models, the top mouthpiece unscrews and allows you to drip your juice directly down the inside of the clearomizer until it reaches full, which is usually up to the bottom of the atomizer head. These can be refilled, cleaned and reused many times, and with the rebuildable kind, you can even purchase new atomizers with wicks to extend the life indefinitely. While these work very well, it’s best to use a thinner e-juice with them to help aid in the wicking process. Thicker e-juices may take longer to wick and produce the occasional dry or burnt hit. My preference is a 70pg/30vg ratio for e-juices in them and that seems to work pretty well. Also of note, some more caustic e-juices have been reported to crack the plastic in these. Be wary of e-juices with heavy cinnamon or citrus content. It is best to check with your clearomizer vendor about cracking issues before using those kinds of e-juices. This being said, I vape heavy cinnamon all the time and have yet to have an issue.
** More good clearomizer info.

Last up in this review is tanks. You can find tanks in all kinds of shapes, sizes, materials and prices, but generally speaking, there are 2 kinds, clearo-tanks and carto-tanks. The common things between the two kinds are they usually hold 3.5 ml or more of e-juice with the most common sizes being 5 or 6 ml, and they are built with a tube, a top and bottom cap and take a removable drip tip for a mouthpiece.

Vivi Nova

Vivi Nova

Clearo-tanks are much like they sound. They are a tank with the same atomizer and wicking setup that a clearomizer uses. One of the most popular models/examples of these is a 3.5 ml Vivi Nova. The one you see pictured here is a newer model available with a metal tube (no issues with juice cracking that). They fill, clean up and are used similarly to a clearomizer but with more capacity. They also suffer the same shortcomings as a clearomizer in that they are best used with a thinner e-juice. You should be able to keep these going forever though as I have never seen one without a replacable atomizer head and wick. These are great, sturdy and easy to use devices that can keep you vaping all day without refills.


Carto-tanks are slightly different in that they are large capacity containers that keep your cartomizer filled. They way they do this is the tank cartomizer has holes in the outer casing for the e-juice from the tank to get through to the cartomizer’s inner filler material. Many people buy the appropriate sized cartomizer and punch holes in it themselves, and there are also prepunched tank cartomizers available. These are nice because most come with a flange at the bottom to keep the tank from sliding off the cartomizer and the holes are laser punched and cleaner. Using these is as straight forward as using a regular cartomizer. Fill the tank cartomizer just as you would any cartomizer then insert 3/4 of the way into the tank, leaving a small gap between the top of the tank and the top of the cartomizer – just enough for you to squeeze some juice into. Fill the tank to the top of the cartomizer, then push the cartomizer up to the top of the tank and insert your drip tip mouthpiece. Unlike clearo-tanks, you can get away with slightly heavier e-juices in these because you can adjust your cartomizers to allow for easier filler saturation by simply adding or enlarging the holes in the cartomizer casing. Cleaning is also straight forward. Disassemble the tanks pieces and rinse in hot water. Replace your cartomizer or you can try cleaning it by boiling as described above. This is currently my favorite delivery method and I find that it gives me a very even and always ready vape, even when I am chain vaping, and it lasts all day long. One disadvantage is that much e-juice is going to take a while to finish, so if you are into sampling lots of different flavors, you will need more tanks or a smaller delivery system 🙂

I hope this information helps some of you out. I remember when I was moving up from stick style ecigs that much of this seemed complicated and it really isn’t. I find the more I progress through these the more satisfying the vape becomes and also the easier it is on the wallet. For example with pre-filled stick style ecigs, you may purchase enough cartridges to last you a couple weeks for $25 or so. If you are using a tank and a bottle of e-juice, that price may go down to $15 or $20 for a month and with better vape and flavor. As always, if you have any questions do not hesitate to contact me or either one of the great vendors here as well.

Important Links:
Cartomizers: Kingpin VaporPhoenix
Atomizers: Kingpin VaporPhoenix
Cartridges: Kingpin
Drip Tips: Kingpin VaporPhoenix
Clearomizers: Kingpin VaporPhoenix
Clearo-Tank kits: VaporPhoenix
Carto-Tank Kits: VaporPhoenix

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