Clearomizer vs Cartomizer vs Atomizer: The Real Difference

Sharing Is Caring...Share on Facebook63Tweet about this on Twitter9Share on Google+46Share on Reddit0Share on StumbleUpon1Pin on Pinterest1Email this to someone

Clearomizer vs Cartomizer vs Atomizer Breakdown

One of the biggest challenges a new vaper encounters is trying to learn what the differences are between an atomizer, clearomizer and cartomizer. Slang and lingo is tossed around so much in the vaping community that it is sometimes hard wrap your head around it all and build a solid understanding. Clearomizer, cartomizer, atomizer, vaping mod, ect! It really is a lot to wrap your head around when starting out.

To help those who are trying to understand these essential components of vaping, we have put together the definitive guide to learning the differences. Let’s discover the the real differences between clearomizers, cartomizers and atomizers!

Overview

There are two main components that every e cig or Advanced Personal Vaporizer (APV for short) have, the battery and the atomizer. In the simplest terms, the atomizer draws power from the battery which it uses to turn the e liquid into vapor. The differences, and the reason for this article, is that there are multiple different ways to deliver the e liquid to the atomizer. Direct dripping on the atomizer, clearomizers and cartomizers all achieve the same goal of delivering e liquid to the atomizer, but each have their own set of pros and cons. Let’s dive right in!

What is an Atomizer

There many different kinds of atomizers, but in general they consist of a small heating coil and a wicking material that soaks up the e liquid and funnels it into a coil. The coil is generally a short piece of resistance wire that is coiled or wrapped around the small wick or wicking material. The atomizer is then connected to the negative and positive poles of the APV battery, which the coil uses to create the vapor once the e juice from the wicking material reaches it. On top of the coil/wick is a mesh bridge, which helps regulate the amount of e liquid that reaches the wick, and subsequently the coil.

Direct Dripping

vape atty headAs I mentioned earlier, every e cig or APV uses an atomizer of some sort to vaporize the e liquid, but they can differ on how they deliver the e liquid to the coil. RBA’s, or rebuildable atomizers, are often used for the first method we will cover, which is dripping.

While cartomizers and clearomizers hold several milliliters of e juice at a time, the direct dripping method workings by dripping just 3-5 drops of e liquid directly onto the atomizer at a time. It is a more traditional method that has been used for years, and many experience vapers will swear by it. But as with anything else, there are a set of pros and cons related to direct dripping, so let’s take a look:

Top 4 Pros Of the Dripping Method:

  • A strong vapor production
  • A stronger throat hit
  • Not much burnt taste if vaped correctly
  • Solid, consistent hit and flavor

Top 4 Cons Of the Dripping Method:

  • Can get messy
  • You have to refill it more often
  • Must always carry e liquid on you
  • If you fill it with too much e liquid the atomizer can get flooded

Direct Atomizer Dripping Thoughts

As you can see, there are definitely benefits and drawbacks to dripping. The biggest pro for dripping is that it has some of then cleanest, smoothest vapor production of any vaping method.  It also has good vapor cloud production as well. Vapers who enjoy great tasting vape, with good vapor production and a strong throat hit should definitely try out dripping. Most of the cons can be avoided with a little bit of practice and patience.

atomizer head

Diagram of an Atomizer Head

Make sure you find out how many drops you should use for your particular atomizer (it can range from 3-12), and only use that many when refilling. When vaping, keep a mental count of how many hits you have taken so you know when it’s time to refill to avoid any burning taste. If you follow these tips, dripping is a very enjoyable vape.

If you are interested in trying direct dripping for yourself, I recommend you check out the IGO-W Dual Coil Atty from Mount Baker Vapor. It’s a great atomizer at an affordable price.

If you want to learn more about dripping, check out this great direct dripping guide. It offers great info and some more atomizer recommendations.

Even with all the great benefits of dripping, it is often difficult to do if you are out of the house. You always have to a bottle of e juice on you, and trying to refill your atty while driving is never a fun time. The solution: tank systems!

There are two main types of tank systems, clearomizers and cartomizers. Both of them use atomizers to vaporizer the e liquid, both have different methods of containing and delivering the juice. We’ll cover the important differences between the two types.

What is a Cartomizer

There are a lot of different aspects to consider when choosing a clearomizer vs cartomizer for your APV. While clearomizers are similar to cartomizers on a fundamental level, these small contrasts can make a big difference in your vaping experience. Let’s start by covering what a cartomizer is.

A portmanteau is a word whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two other words. Cartomizer is a portmanteau of the words cartridge and atomizer, and for good reason. A cartomizer works by using a tank system that is filled with a polyfill material.

Clearomizer vs Cartomizer

Diagram of a Cartomizer

There are a couple of different types. Some cartos use horizontal coils, which internally are the most similar to direct dripping. The horizontal coil runs across a center air path in the middle of the cartomizer. The coil is wrapped around a wick (wicks are made with several different types of material).

The wick funnels juices from the filler material, so the coil doesn’t have to touch the filler material in the tank directly like it does inside a vertical coil cartomizer. This helps reduce the chance you will have a burnt taste when your juice starts running low.

The most common type of cartomizer is a vertical coil. Vertical coils uses a coil that runs up and down, instead of side to side like on the horizontal coil cartomizers or atomizer dripping heads. There isn’t a wick, instead the filler material surrounds the the coil and directly supplies juice without the use of a wick. When you take a hit, the airflow will be drawn through the middle of the coil, instead along the outside of the coil as it does with horizontal cartos. Since the filler material touches the coil directly, you are prone to tasting a burnt flavor when the e juice starts to run out.

Some cartomizers come as both refillable and non refillable, although most non refillable cartos can still be refilled with a little bit of effort. You must ensure you clean out your cartomizer and filling occasionally if you want to extend the life of it. If you don’t, you may start to experience flavor ghosting, which is when you taste the previous flavor you vaped after switching e juices. Ghosting makes it difficult to enjoy the pure, clean flavor of your e juice.

They both have their pros and cons. Some people feel they get better flavor from horizontal coil cartomizers, however sometimes horizontal coils do not work as well as vertical coil cartos when using higher voltages since they have thinner wicks. Thinner wicks have a hard time supplying enough juice to the coil, and vaping at higher voltages will burn through e liquid faster.

Boge is a well known cartomizer maker, and offer a few good options to choose from.

Next, let’s take a look at what a clearomizer is and how it is different from a cartomizer.

What is a Clearomizer

As you may have guessed, one of the features of a clearomizer is that it is in fact clear. They have tanks that hold e juice, which feed a wick into the atomizer head on the device. Unlike cartomizers, they do not have any poly-fil material inside the tank. This makes it a little easier to get the clean, natural flavors of your e liquids. It also reduces the chances you will get that burnt flavor when your e liquid runs low, since you won’t start burning the filler material.

top single coil

Top Coil Clearomizer Diagram

Clearomizers are generally easy to refill, and can have a larger capacity. Some clearos can hold up to 6.0 mL of e juice! It’s awesome to have the large capacity for the times when you’re busy, but still want to vape a lot with out refilling often.

Many clearomizers also come with replaceable atomizer heads, which can greatly extend it’s life. As you vape your clearomizer, the atomizer coil will start to corrode which increases its  resistance. This increased resistance and corrosion will eventually lead to decreased vapor production and flavor.

With replaceable heads, you can just pop out the old one and slap in a new atomizer head. Just like that your clearomizer is as good as new! New atomizer heads are pretty cheap, so it makes clearomizers an efficient way to vape.

You can even go one step further and rebuild the actual coil and wick system on the atomizer. This is even cheaper than replacing the whole atomizer heads.

It requires a bit of patience and practice to learn, but once mastered you’ll be happy you did. It is insanely cheap, and you can build your coils and wicks exactly the way you want, optimizing your vaping experience.

For example, you can easily have many coils with different resistances, giving you more options when vaping. It also adds a level of convenience in that if you even run out of atty heads, you don’t have to worry about buying new ones online and wait for them to ship. You can just bust out your supply of coil and wick and wrapped yourself one right away.

Want to Rebuild Your Own Atomizer Coils?

Learning how to rebuild coils has tons of benefits (plus it’s pretty fun!), so we have put together a Free Resource Guide: The Top 6 Tools to Rebuild Your First Atomizer Coil. Here’s a hint about the guide: 4 of these tools can be found around your house!







We will never, EVER spam you.

Put in your favorite email in form to the right and you’ll have the guide sent to you right away! We are very serious about privacy, and will never sell your email or spam you in any way.

Of course, many people are completely content just buying the replaceable atomizer heads and don’t both with making their own coils. It’s still really cheap and a great way to vape.

Another option to consider when buying a clearomizer is whether you want a bottom or top coil setup. A bottom coil has it’s coil placed near the battery end of the clearomizer, while a top coil is mounted near the mouthpiece. There are several pros and cons of each type which we cover below:

Top Coil Clearomizer

Pros

  • Produces warmer vapor since the coil is closer the the mouthpiece
  • Refillable from the top
  • Less likely to leak

Cons

  • Can have poor wicking
  • Frequently dry hits
  • Must be swirled and title occasionally to keep the wicks moist
  • Flavor production can suffer

Bottom Coil Clearomizer

Pros

  • Consistent wicking
  • Great vapor production
  • Cooler vapor

Cons

  • May sometimes hiss and gurgle
  • May develop leaks is it isn’t tightened together well or too little wick is used
  • Filling from the bottom requires a little more effort than top refillable clearos.
  • Wicks may need adjustments occasionally

Dual and Single Coil Clearomizers

If that wasn’t enough, clearomizers can also come with single or dual coils.

bottom dual coil

Bottom Coil Clearomizer Diagram

A dual coil clearomizer will produce more vapor than a single coil clearomizer with less of a hit and they tend have a greater throat hit due to the increased vapor production. The vapor will tend to be cooler though, since the two dual coils will heat up less than a single coil clearo.

Dual coils also tend to drain the battery faster than a single coil, and sometimes give off dry hits. Since more e liquid is being vaporize in a dual coil setup, it’s important to give the wicks time to catch up and get juice to the coils occasionally.

On the other hand,  single coils don’t drain batteries as fast and will have less of a throat hit. Both will work perfectly well, and it really comes down to the quality of clearomizer and your personal preferences.

There a lot of different options when it comes to choosing a clearomizer. A great eGo thread clearomizer I would recommend is the Kanger EVOD 2. It’s a great clearo that has made some notable improvements over the original EVOD, including a new dual coil design! We also have Kanger EVOD 2 review if you are interested in more information.

For those looking for a more advanced clearomizer, I would highly suggest you check out the Aspire Nautilus. It has everything you look for put into a well built package; replaceable (and rebuildable) atomizer coils, large capacity, dual coil design and adjustable airflow ring. Our Aspire Nautilus review covers all this and more in great detail.

And don’t forget about our clearomizer chart! It’s a great way to compare some of the top clearomizers on the market and find the one that fits your setup. If you are looking for information on a particular model, our clearomizer reviews has an archive of all of our reviews.

Hopefully this post was helpful and helped clear up some of the confusion between atomizers, clearomizers and cartomizers. If you enjoyed the post, please take a moment and share it with your friends or community. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Thanks for reading. Until next time, vape on!

34 thoughts on “Clearomizer vs Cartomizer vs Atomizer: The Real Difference

  1. E liquid

    I will say this. My personal electronic cigarette choice is Green Smoke. I started with them and I plan to continue with them. I sincerely believe that they have a better product. More importantly, they are the only electronic cigarette brand to offer a delicious chocolate flavor. I don’t know about you, but I love chocolate!!!

    Reply
    1. TJ Post author

      I love chocolate flavors too, but I can be kind of picky. I’ll be sure to try out the Green Smoke chocolate flavor though!

      Reply
    2. chris

      @ “they are the only electronic cigarette brand to offer a delicious chocolate flavor”…this is pure ignorance. I’m guessing you’re referring to a piece of junk cartomizer? Cuz…there are ALOT of different e-juice brands with any flavor you can imagine. I recommend you ditch cartomizers and move on to the real thing.

      Reply
      1. chris

        Ya..just Googled Greensmoke…ya, you can’t possibly be suggesting those horrible cartridges that perform like garbage are better than…say a Nautilus or an Airotank, let alone a mini protank or even an Evod.
        Offering advise is one thing but your experience must be extremely limited to reccomend them like they are the best thing since sliced bread. they are well, in the grand scheme of things,junk.

        Reply
    3. caligula_gandhi

      So you prefer and recommend Green Smoke by the big-T Altria group (Marlboro… etc.)?
      Who are you? An undercover agent for those no good manipulating Tobacco-Cigarette Mafia guys?
      Fuck green Smoke. Fuck the European Union tabacco law fraud.

      Reply
  2. Krissi

    Thanks so much for all the great info! I just recently quit smoking and started vaping (no cigs for a week now after almost a decade of smoking!) and I’ve been really confused about the difference between cartomizers and clearomizers. You did a great job explaining everything, very informative and easy to understand, thanks again!

    Reply
  3. Rottweiler

    Ive chosen the bottom dual coil clearo style. Im using a vv/vw mod and would like to know about the characteristics between resistance/voltage settings to get the best flavor and performance of my vaping enjoyment. Ive noticed some flavors taste nothing like the name sugests and others do. Or is it the e juice co. recipe.

    Reply
  4. Mike

    Just wanted to say, great guide! Extremely informative. I just started vaping a couple weeks ago and needed some parts and pieces, but didn’t know what they were called, how they worked, or what exactly I needed. I should’ve just come to this website first lol.
    I really like the lists of pros and cons. It would be cool to see more of that. Makes things so much easier to understand for someone like me who is new to vaping. The diagrams are also a huge help.

    Reply
    1. TJ Post author

      Thanks a ton Mike! Glad it could be of some help. We’ll definitely try to incorporate more diagrams and pros/cons in future articles. Thanks for the feedback!

      Reply
  5. Pingback: Don’t go in Blind - Know What E-Cigarette Starter Kit Works Best For You | VaporZone

  6. Rhys

    Hi, really great page, very comprehensive explanation and I look forward to learning more about rebuilding soon.
    Ive been trying some cheaper cleros (kanger T3S and innokin iclear16) and have just ordered a carto (and an iclear 30) to see the differences between them. I will also definitely be getting an atomizer before long too.
    After smoking for more than half of my life I’ve been 5 weeks cigarette free without a hitch and wont look back, except to lament the thousands of dollars wasted.
    I just thought I’d mention that on your clearomizer comparison guide, you list the innokin range as all being dule coil bottom fed cleros when I believe the majority (definately the iclear 16 and 30) are top coil set ups. Again the only fault in an otherwise fantastic site. Keep up the good work.
    Rhys

    Reply
    1. TJ Post author

      Thanks for the comment Rhys! I appreciate your kind words, and congratulations on 5 weeks without a cig! Thank you for pointing out the Innokin mess up, we updated the chart and will make sure the reviews are corrected as well. Take care and vape on!

      Reply
  7. matt

    Hi TJ
    i’ve been at it almost 2 months now, and injoying it but am still puffing de old fagg (rollups)…..
    not trying hard enuff !. My first e apliance is a socialites, works ok but it was the first i came accross
    down at my shopping mall. since then i have been looking on the internet and have been blown away
    by the many differant types their are available.
    Your guide cleared up a few things for me.. thanks for that.
    I have been looking at the Innokin vv/vw…looks great.
    and a smoktech Magneto Mech mod.
    As i don’t now who to ask can i put a kangatech mini aerotank on the smoktech magneto ?
    I’d b gratefull if you can answer that….thaank’s :-))

    Reply
    1. TJ Post author

      Matt, thank you for the kind words. I’m happy the article was able to help you out!

      As for your Smok Magneto / Kanger Mini Aerotank situation, you will need to get an adapter for it to work. The Magneto only fits 510 connections, and the Mini Aerotank has eGo threading. This adapter will allow them to work together.

      Reply
  8. Javi

    Oh my god, thank you so much TJ! This has really helped me out a ton! (Prepare yourself, this is going to be long winded, but i feel the need to say exactly how i came upon this article, and how much it has helped)
    When i first started vaping, I had no idea what i was getting into, and everything was really confusing. I had an ego c-twist battery and a kanger protank-2 mini as my very first set up, per the recommendation of one of the guys working at a local vape shop. As you can imagine, i was very excited to have my first e-cig, and for a while i was happy. However, after about 2 months of having that thing (kept it for about 3 before i gave it away), i started becoming unhappy with a couple of things. The battery life wouldnt last as long as i wanted it to (two days tops) and as for the kanger protank 2 mini, i loved the clarity (or strength) of flavor it gave, but i didnt like the tight draw and small vapor production it had (coming from a completely inexperienced e-cig user/vapor at the time). Another huge thing i want to point out that i didnt realize until much later is that the protank 2 mini burned the juice inside of the actual tank over time, so filling it nearly to the top did me no good, since the juice would be much darker colored, and taste burnt before i was even halfway through, so i had to fill it regularly, usually 1/3 to 1/2 of the way full instead. (Im not sure if thats common or if i was maybe doing something wrong, so if that isn’t a normal occurrence, let me know please.) Anyways, I wanted to get something a bit more fitting to my taste, since its not about the nicotine so much as the flavor and (more importantly) vapor production to me. For about a month i gave up on it, too overwhelmed by life to put time into learning about vaping. Once i had free time again, I started doing research and stumbled across this guide. It completely opened my eyes, and i was nowhere near as lost as i was when had i started vaping (roughly seven months ago). After i read this article, i knew what kind of system i wanted to get next (clearo tank) and it pointed me in the right direction. I began doing tons of product research, watched all kinds of reviews, and finally purchased a new setup (about two months ago), which is what im still using at this very moment, an Innokin iTaste MVP 2.0 and an Aspire Nautilus BDC tank! I love this setup! In the next few months i plan to begin going a bit deeper, and start easing myself into the world of mechanical mods. So, i just wanted to say thank you! You really made a wonderful article. Very informative and in-depth, yet easy to understand! To be honest, i had nearly forgotten about this article and site until just now, when i suddenly had the urge to do a quick review on the differences between carto/clearomizers and stumbled across it once again. I feel the need to thank you for clarifying my confusion on all that stuff. Im sure everyone who has read this article feels more or less the same way. Anyways, thank you so much, I appreciate the desire you have shown and the work you have contributed to help those who are new to vaping begin to grasp all of this and begin to wrap their heads around whats going on. Cheers!
    ~Javi
    P.S.- I seem to have this problem with flooding the coils on my nautilus more than i used to. Does anyone that also has a nautilus have any tips to help minimize the frequency of flooding, other than keeping it upright all the time (which doesnt always prevent it from flooding either, though it does tend to help for some reason)? Or does it maybe have to do with the level (amount) of juice i have in the tank? shoot me a reply if you have any suggestions! Thanks!

    Reply
      1. TJ Post author

        Javi, thank you so much for your comment and sharing your story. It’s encouragement like this that makes me want to write and help as many people as I can. I can’t thank you enough for the time you took to share your thoughts!

        Now, as for that Nautilus problem. When you start to hear gurgling/juice floods the coils, try to open up the air flow valve all the way and take a few draws. This extra air can help vaporize excess juice so your coils aren’t so flooded.

        Thanks again for your comment Javi!

        Reply
      2. chris

        Not normal at all. I never had any issue with my Mini Protank. If it tastes burnt you’re using too high a voltage and/or need to clean/dryburn your coil.

        Reply
  9. KayKay

    I’ve been vaping for 18mths (no analogs at all!) and love it. but still feel like a “newbie”. Great info here! I’ve been getting a burnt taste and i thought it was the battery power being too high, but i think it’s the OHMS i’m using???? I have a T3S and also iClear duol coil – this is the one giving me a burnt taste, even on a brand new coil.

    Reply
  10. Dan

    Great article! I just wanted to say thanks for being informative and helpful, you have cleared up a few things for me. I recently started dripping, and making my own coils and I absolutely love it! Rather than paying 3 or 4 dollars for a new wick, I can make one for pennies on the dollar.

    Reply
    1. TJ Post author

      Thank you for the kind words Dan, and glad you found it helpful. And it is insane how cheap you can replace coils when you can build them yourself!

      Reply
  11. Deb

    Help, please-
    I can’t use the propylene glycol, and want to just use vg. (Mucus producing issues, drying effect; singer)

    I don’t want green smoke, and am looking for a good non-leaking bottom coil tank which is fine with 100% vg, and where the heads/coils last ages and can be re-built. Not a Nautilus- all those bad reviews on coil performance-
    Your clearomizer comparison chart is great, but doesn’t indicate vg compatibility.

    Waaah.
    Thanks

    Reply
  12. Craig

    We’re in our early 60s, having smoked since high school. With all the crap coming down on tobacco, we’ve been pushed from quality cigarette tobacco down to smoking pipe tobacco. Sucks! Back around 2010 we tried an e-cig and it wasn’t very good. This past week, Aug 2014 we ran across the eGo CE-5 (I think that’s Joyetech?), and were astonished. The clearomizer is way better technology, but all the different names, terms, brands, clones, and incompatibilities are making us crazy.

    Your article has been a tremendous help, explaining the basics and some of what we’re seeing online and in stores. We’re very happy with the clearomizer technology, and given our smoking habits (2 packs/day), 1.6ml capacity seems to be lasting about 3 days. That said, we also still smoke tobacco. The e-cig looks like it’ll cut off about 50% of our rolled cigs, with no loss in satisfaction. In fact, the nicotine in the vapor is much better than in the pipe tobacco. We started with 1.8% solution and thought we might need 2.4%, but the 1.8% is just fine. And for any other newbies, if you multiply the percentage by ten, you generally get the milligrams-per-milliliter. 1.8% is 18milligrams, 2.4% is 24milligrams. Seems like.

    Great article, and very helpful site. Thank you :-)

    Reply
  13. Kenny Millar

    Thanks for your latest posting. on clearomizers,vapourizers. I am new to vaping across the water here in Bonny Scotland and there isn’t a lot of info here on vaping so guys like you are providing all the info. Keep up the good work and happy vaping.
    Regards

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>