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Vaping 101: Temperature Control

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We've all been there: we set our vape down for but a minute—mentally noting that it tastes a little dry—but when we return for a quick hit after immediately tossing our mental Post-it note, it's a one-way ticket to dry hit city. If only there were some way to simply prevent such nasty mishaps and unfortunate occurrences. While you're at it, how about something that will stop wicks from charring and maybe even give a cleaner taste as well as a cleaner bill of health. But such wishes will never be realized...pre-2015, that is. Nowadays, however, we have temperature control! What was once a gimmicky add-on is now the golden standard and an essential addition to your vaping arsenal. Read on to find out just how out of control vaping under control has become!

*Warning*
  • Never pulse or dry-fire Ni200/Ti.
  • Only use TC-dependent materials such as Ni200 and Ti with the corresponding TC mode on a TC-equipped device.
  • Do not use TC-dependent materials with mechanical, unregulated, or non-TC devices.

Wait...What?

So, for all that you’ve seen and heard, you’re still wondering, what does TC even really do? Well, all temperature control does is just that: control temperature—specifically, the temperature of your coils. By designating a temperature in the settings of your device, you’ve selected the maximum temperature your coils can reach before the power supplied to it is stopped. This is done in repetition for as long as the firing button is held. The range of benefits that arise from such throttled vaping is wide and extensive, including such helpful features as:

Preventing Dry Hits TC-enabled devices will automatically detect a rapid increase in temperature resulting from a lack of juice in the wick and will subsequently cut power, preventing unwanted burnt wicks.

Throttling Juice Consumption

Lowered peak temperatures mean slowed juice consumption, a welcome facet for juice-guzzling flavor-fiends.

Extending Battery Life

By only using small burst of power for the majority of the time spent vaping, TC-equipped devices can expect as much as 1.5x battery life as compared to VW mods.

Preserving Coil Life

Lowered peak temperatures mean less degradation of juice and far less coil gunk, allowing coils to be used for far longer.
Cleaner Taste
Many vapers state that TC coils, especially Ti, give very clean flavor. Not to mention, no more underlying burnt tastes from previously charred cotton.
Cooler Vape
TC isn’t simply more awesome (though it kind of is)! TC builds run cooler than Kanthal builds and for much longer—very different from VW builds that continuously increase in temperature—but can also be adjusted to give a very warm yet controlled vape.

Increased Safety

Lowered power usage means lower amperage draw and less risk in case it’s left firing.

Greatly Reduces Possibility of Volatile Organic Compounds

Studies that have looked into e-vapor and found the presence of combustion-resultant aldehydes and carbonyls—such as formaldehyde and acrolein—can almost always attribute the formation of such volatile organic compounds to an overly heated and subsequently combusting wick—otherwise known as a dry hit.


But...How?

But how does a device even know when your coil has reached the selected limit? Are there little elves living in your device that wield thermometers measuring the temperatures coming from your atomizer? No, our devices aren’t powered by anything quite so far-fetched or magical (quite yet). All that’s needed is a little science, a little math, and what already comes in our devices.

When some metals are heated and change temperature, the resistance of that material changes in a proportionate and predictable manner. This proportion is given in terms of TCR and/or TFR:

  • Temperature Coefficient of Resistance (TCR) – A single numerical value that describes the relationship between change in temperature and change in resistance for a specific material.
  • Temperature Factor of Resistivity (TFR) – A group of values that each describe the relationship between change in temperature and change in resistance for a specific material while within a specific temperature range.

Using a preset or user-input TCR/TFR, TC-enabled devices will read the resistance of your atomizer at rest, then when the temperature rises as you fire your device, it reads it repeatedly in rapid succession until your coils have reached the limited resistance. Then, your device cuts power until your coil has cooled to a hardcoded minimum, then resupplies power. It will continue doing this as the fire button is held, ensuring that the set temperature cannot be exceeded. 

This method works well for materials with a relatively high TCR, but for other materials with very low TCR values such as Kanthal and nichrome, controlling the temperature this way will never work as the resistance changes too little when heat is applied for it to be detected by today’s devices. There are some devices, however, such as the Hohm Slice, that allow for the use of TC with just about any type of heating element material—and does so very well—but such technologies are few and far between.

So...Which?

Though there are many different types of heating elements compatible with temperature control, there are only three that have become standard and are as ubiquitous as temperature control itself:

Type of Material

Details

Nickel (Ni200)
  • Very Soft
    • Prone to snapping leads in posthole
    • Difficult to rewick
    • Twisting single or multiple strands can help sturdiness
    • Also available tempered
  • Springy
    • Difficult to wrap neatly
  • Very low resistance
    • Needs lots of wraps
  • Quick ramp-up times
  • Build spaced coils
    • Contact coils will have inconsistent readings
  • Don’t dry-fire!
Titanium (Ti)
  • Higher resistance than Ni200
    • Needs fewer wraps
  • More sturdy/durable
    • Easier to work with
  • Don’t heat past 1100°F
    • Produces titanium dioxide—a toxic, white-ish, powdery compound
Stainless Steel (SS)
  • Compatible with both VW & TC
  • Cheaper than other materials
  • Very durable
    • Relatively easy to wrap


And...Where?

At first glance, the settings of your TC-enabled device can be disconcerting. Where’d your wattage go? How in tarnation are you supposed to know what temperature to use? Oh, wait, there are your watts...but why are they down there? And joules...you feel like you should know what those are, but for some reason, it escapes you at the moment? Great questions—like so, so good—just keep reading and you’ll find out all you need to know to get you well on your way to happy vaping!

Temperature

Temperature is given in terms of either Fahrenheit or Celsius (sorry, no Kelvin yet!). Clearomizer and sub-ohm tank atomizer heads will usually have a suitable temperature range to use printed clearly on the side of the chassis—if you’re building your own coils or the atomizer head doesn’t say, however, it’s a good idea to select a low temperature and work your way up until you find a suitable level. Provided below is a table of popular ingredients of e-liquid and their boiling points—this will give you some idea of what temperature to aim for when using certain juices:

Ingredient (Flavor)

Boiling Temp. in °C (°F)

Water 100°C (212°F)
Propylene Glycol (PG) 188°C (371°F)
Vegetable Glycerin (VG) 290°C (554°F)
Ethanol 78°C (173°F)
Nicotine 247°C (477 °F)
Diacetyl (Butter) 88°C (190°F)
Acetoin (Butter) 148°C (298°F)
Isoamyl Acetate (Banana) 142°C (288°F)
Benzaldehyde (Cherry) 178°C (352°F)
Cinnamaldehyde (Cinnamon) 248°C (478°F)
Ethyl Propionate (Fruit) 99°C (210°F)
Methyl Anthranilate (Grape) 256°C (493°F)
Limonene (Orange) 176°C (349°F)
Allyl Hexanoate (Pineapple) 190°C (374°F)
Ethyl Maltol (Cotton Candy) 161°C (322°F)
Menthol (Mint) 212°C (414°F)
Vanilline (Vanilla) 295°C (563°F)
Saccharose (Sweetener) 186°C (367°F)
Glutamic Acid (Sweetener) 199°C (390°F)


Wattage/Joules

The amount of power being sent to your coils is described in terms of either ‘watts’ (in DNA boards) or ‘Joules’ (everywhere else). This value serves a different purpose than your temperature setting: while temperature sets a limit on how hot your coil can get, your power setting sets how fast it will get there. Either way, power sent to your coil will be cut when it reaches the designated level, but you get to decide how fast or slow you would like your ramp-up time to be. While two terms—watts and Joules—can be found in use, they’re essentially interchangeable in this application.

Resistance

When using TC-friendly heating elements, it’s important to allow your atomizer to cool completely before attaching it to your TC device in order to get an accurate initial resistance reading. Otherwise, if your coils are still hot and read at a higher ohm than they really are, your TC performance will be severely impacted for the worse.

TCR/TFR

TC devices will come with one or more TC modes equipped with a preset TCR/TFR value for the popular materials—such as Ni200 and Ti—but some will allow users to input the TCR/TFR values of other user-selected materials, allowing them to use that heating element material in TC mode.

Material

Recommended Ω

TCR Value

Ni200 0.05Ω 0620
Tungsten 0.07Ω 0450
Platinum N/A 0392
Silver N/A 0380
Ti02 0.5Ω 0353
Ti01 0.1Ω 0350
Gold N/A 0340
NiFe30 0.1Ω 0320
SS430 0.25Ω 0138
SS304 0.5Ω 0105
SS316 0.5Ω 0092
SS316L 0.5Ω 0092
SS317 0.5Ω 0088
SS317L 0.5Ω 0087
Nichrome 0.95Ω 0011
Kanthal N/A 0002

TC Build Tips

  • Clean wire with alcohol before use
    • Removes machine oil
  • Wrap spaced Ni200 coils
    • Contact coils will have inconsistent resistances
  • Don’t dryburn/pulse Ni200 or Titanium
    • Doing so will release noxiously toxic fumes and gases
  • Rewick Ni200 very carefully—if anything, consider simply rebuilding instead of rewicking
  • Ensure leads are tightened fully for accurate resistance readings

Easy Spaced Coils

  1. Wrap a parallel coil.
  2. Separate the wrapped strands.
  3. Voilà! Two perfectly spaced coils.
Burn Test

To ensure your TC module is working and calibrated correctly:

  1. Wick a fresh build
    1. Don't wet it with juice
  2. Set temperature to about 300°F (150°C)
  3. Fire your device.
  4. Set temperature progressively to 400°F (200°C) as you fire at each step.
  5. The more evenly progressive the brown marks are, the better.
  6. Cotton burns at 420°F – If it bursts into flames before then, your TC isn’t calibrated correctly.
    1. If that happens, try letting your build cool before relocking your resistance.
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