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Atomisers / Clearomisers / Cartomisers: Understanding the Differences

Whether you are a new vaper or you’ve been vaping for years, you still may come across a number of terms for which you need a little clarification – such as atomiser vs clearomiser vs cartomiser. One person might refer to a given device as an atomizer, while someone else calls it a clearomizer – and yet another person deems it a sub-ohm tank. What do these terms mean, and to what exactly do they refer? Let’s take a closer look.

What is an atomizer?

In general terms, an atomiser is a device that turns liquids into a fine spray, as in perfume, for example. In vaping terms, an atomiser is any device that vapourises e-juice. Not that long ago, the word “atomiser” was used to describe the coil, the part that produces heat and vapour. Later, it evolved to cover the whole of the tank, with cartomisers, clearomisers, and rebuildables all referred to as atomisers. Nowadays, the term “atomiser” mainly denotes rebuildable vape gear (tanks that allow the user to build their own coils).

What is a clearomiser?

The most widely used vaping devices are clearomisers. Named for a blend of the words “clear” and “atomiser,” a clearomiser features a transparent glass or plastic tank, a replaceable coil, a mouthpiece, and a chimney. While any device that uses replaceable coils is indeed a clearomiser, the term is used primarily for mouth-to-lung tanks now. These tanks may include a special connection that allows them to be used with a range of vape mods.

What is a cartomiser?

The simplest of the bunch, a cartomiser attaches directly to a battery to form a cigarette-like shape (the reason that these are often called cigalikes). The term “cartomiser” is a combination of the words “cartridge” and “atomiser.” In most cases, these devices are pre-filled with vape juice and meant to be discarded and replaced when they’re spent. The wicking material inside is typically polyfill, or polyester fibrefill.

Which is right for you?

Clearomiser vs atomiser vs cartomiser… the options can seem confusing, but they needn’t be. Here’s which one to choose depending on the experience you’re after.
  • For the greatest simplicity: choose a cartomiser. A cartomiser is the easiest way to satisfy your nicotine cravings and achieve an experience that’s as close to actual smoking as possible. The trade-off? This isn’t the way to get the best flavour or performance.
  • For a combination of simplicity and performance: Try a clearomiser. A good mouth to lung clearomiser or sub-ohm will provide the quality that you want while still making it super easy and quick to change your coils. For many vapers, these devices are the perfect fit.
  • For the greatest performance: If it’s all about performance for you and you don’t mind (or would even enjoy) learning how to maintain these devices, then go for an atomiser. An atomiser will give you the best flavour and experience and can cost less in the long run.

There’s one important thing to remember, and it’s this: the best vape is the one that works for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find the one you enjoy the most.


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