There’s four reasons that I don’t tend to use stock coils these days, although I started out on a PockeX, then Nautilus 2, and after that an original Nautilus (because I loved the mesh tank and the larger, non TPD compliant capacity). Since then I haven’t actually bought a tank that uses stock coils, with the exception of the Cleito 120… and then I bought the RTA deck for it later. I now own 5 RTA’s and 3 RDA’s, with plans to expand my dripper lineup soon.
So what have I got against stock coils? Well, the short answer is that I don’t have any problem with them, and indeed, the Nautilus gives absolutely amazing flavour and I was perfectly happy with it. So it’s not that I’m trying to get the absolute best flavour or cloud production. So what is it?
I can see the huge variety of tanks out there, I can see how frequently new ones are coming to market, and whilst it will be a long way off for something like the Nautilus, I know that eventually you won’t just be able to walk in to almost any vape shop and buy coils, they’ll get harder and harder to find, until it becomes almost impossible. Now I know me, and I know there’s a fair chance that I’ll get a new atomiser, try out a few tanks of liquid in it, and then put it on the side for a few months, or even potentially years. What I don’t want, is to get to a point where I think “Oh yeah, I’d really like to put tank X on this mod, I think it’ll look great!” and then realise I can’t get the coils anymore. I hate obsolescence, when there’s an option for things not to become obsolete, because you can’t get the parts anymore. Indeed, short of me breaking one of my tanks years from now, I doubt I’m ever going to really struggle to get cotton, wire, and in a worst case scenario (due to rubber perishing) o-rings.
So that’s one aspect of it, I really don’t like the thought of a tank I love, potentially becoming useless years from now because I can’t get the coils. Now I know I could try rebuilding the stock coils if that ever happened, but suffice it to say I’m not nearly dexterous enough for that, or really know what I’m doing. So having an option of something where I can create a coil myself, and wick it, I’m always going to choose this.
Cost is another factor, wire and cotton is SO cheap. I mean seriously, it’s incredibly cheap, even buying pre-built coils is a lot cheaper than buying stock coils all the time. As an example. A 5 pack of Nautilus coils will set you back about a tenner. For the same amount of money, I could easily get 50 pieces of cotton and 10 metres of wire (you could get more if you buy in bulk). Conservatively I probably get about 5 wicks out of 1 piece of cotton, so that’s 250 wicks, with 10 metres of wire, estimating I use 25cm (I don’t, nothing like that much) then I have 40 lengths of wire for making coils. You can play around with those numbers a bit, and things get a little more expensive if you’re buying Clapton wire, etc.
But quite simply, it is MUCH cheaper to build your own coils. In fact, I wasn’t just being conservative with the measurements, but with the cost of supplies as well. Taking my preferred wire and cotton, Kanthal A1 at 28 gauge and Muji Cotton, the first results on Amazon are 100ft of wire (30 metres) at £5.99 and 140 pads of Muji cotton for £4.88. By that point you’re starting to get in to a 10:1 territory. And yes, you will waste some of that cotton, and some of that wire, but the lovely thing is that you can afford to! The moment you start getting a bit of an off taste, no longer do you have to go “Oh, I’m probably imagining it, I can get some more life out of this coil”, just cut your losses and put in a new one.
So, cost and avoiding obsolescence are two of my most concrete reasons. But do I have anything that’s a little harder to pin down?
Of course I do!
The great thing about building your own coils, or even buying pre-built ones, is that it opens up huge scope for experimenting. From almost the moment you start vaping, you realise how it’s an incredibly personal thing. E-liquid that I love and would vape all-day every-day, you might hate. Similarly how you set the airflow on your atty might just not do it for me. Personal preference is huge, and one of the reasons that I’m thankful there is such an amazing amount of choice out there for people in terms of mods, attys, e-liquid, etc.
Building your own coils then takes this up a notch, suddenly you have different wire types, cotton types, thickness of wire, number of wraps, space or contact, and a huge variety of other variables you can start to play with. Now don’t get me wrong, this can seem crazy intimidating when you start out! So my advice is to get a recommendation from someone that’s been doing this a while (I’m sure your local vape shop can help) and build like that for a bit. Get a feel for what that combination feels like, and then start branching out. Been using a 6 wrap Kanthal at 26g? Why not try a 9 wrap SS316 at 28g? Play around, and take plenty of advice from people.
The one thing I cannot emphasise enough is to do your homework! As a bare minimum, you should know what wires you can use in which modes, and how the gauge of the wire/number of wraps affects resistance. After that, provided you’re on a regulated mod, there’s not too much to really mess up.
Now for my wildcard! What exactly do I mean by meditation? That slow, careful process of building a coil, putting it in place on a deck, testing it, wicking it, it can all be a very thoughtful methodical process. In this day and age of being connected to everything, a button push away from the latest films, or books, deliveries seeming to arrive sometimes before you’ve even ordered them, the act of sitting down and taking a bit of time to work on something like creating a coil is a rarity. Now I can definitely understand people who don’t have the patience for this sort of thing, and it can be incredibly irritating if you’re trying to do it quickly and something goes wrong. It’s for this reason that I keep a stock of coils I’ve prebuilt, sitting in a box and ready to go. I also tend to only do coil building when I don’t have any other demands on my time, I can sit down and work peacefully on it, knowing that it doesn’t matter if it takes a while.
So working with your hands and creating something, the craft of it all, is definitely one of the most satisfying and yet hardest to describe things about creating your own coils. Being able to enjoy the fruits of your labours make the eliquid taste all the sweeter!
So let me know your thoughts in the comments. Am I being too airy fairy with my meditation? Do you prefer the consistency of being able to buy a 5 pack of coils and knowing you’re going to get a certain uniformity? As I said, having the flexibility of choice is one of the best things about vaping, and hopefully I have shed a little more light today on why I enjoy the more manual side of building my own coils, as compared to buying stock coils.