If you have a vaping device with a 510 connection then you have a number of ways to experience delicious e-cigarette juices. Three of the most common delivery mechanisms are cartomizers, clearomizers, and tanks. They deliver and handle juices in different ways. One of these isn’t necessarily better than the others, but there’s probably one that’s best for you. It all depends on your personal preference.
Here’s a basic guide to cartomizers, clearomizers, and tanks. Please note that the vendors linked to in this article are places where I’ve purchased gear in the past. This site is not part of an affiliate program with companies that sell vaping goods.
Cartomizers: These are the most common products on the market. They’re simple screw-on cartridges that go on top of your battery. Cartomizers are cylindrical metal housings that contain polyfill to hold your liquids and an atomizer to turn those liquids into vapor. Companies like Safe Cig and V2 sell them prefilled, while V2 also sells blank cartridges that you can fill with juice of your choice.
The advantage of cartomizers is that they’re super-simple to use. You screw one on top of your battery and vape away. Some people dispose of them after they’re empty, but they’re pretty easy to refill, allowing you to get more for your money and enjoy a variety of juices.
There are a few disadvantages to using cartomizers, but not all of them will matter to you. Firstly, they don’t hold much juice — typically 1ml or less. Heavy vapers will go through several cartidges a day and would be better served using clearomizers or tanks. Some people feel that the filling in cartomizers mutes the taste of juices. Others are sensitive to the polyfill material used in most cartomizers and find that it ruins the whole vaping experience.
Personally, I’m over these types of products because of capacity issues, but there are some days when I miss the ease of use.
Clearomizers: This category is a fairly broad one, encompassing products that look like cartomizers and those that look like tanks. Clearos consist of a clear tube, the atomizing devices, and wicks that deliver the juice to the atomizers. Some of them have atomizer coils and wicks housed at the top (warmer vapor), while others have them on the bottom (better wicking).
One reason people love clearomizers is that they’re clear (duh), making it easy to monitor juice levels. If you know you’re going to be away from home for a while then you can add more juice or swap out a half-empty clearo for a full one. The juice capacity is superior to what a cartomizer holds, with different models holding anywhere from 1.5ml to 3ml. Many of these products are reusable and last much longer than a typical cartomizer. Some of them are rebuildable, allowing you to keep the tank and replace the atomizer/wick housing; these types of clearos are especially cost effective. Lastly, some vapers feel that clearos offer a purer taste than polyfill cartos.
Many people have experienced juice leaking and inconsistent quality with clearomizers. Remember, we’re talking about small, mass-produced parts made by the thousands; quality control can be an issue. I’ve had clearos from the same manufacturer perform well, some perform poorly, and some perform very differently from each other. The plastic tank enclosures are problematic for some vapers. They can retain flavor that can stick around when changing juices. Some flavors, like cinnamon and citrus varieties, can cause the plastic to crack.
My current clearomizer of choice is the Kanger T3. It offers great taste and good vapor, while being easy to refill and maintain. I have two in rotation at the moment and one pulls tighter than the other.
Tanks: These products are relatively big enclosures with a cartomizer slotted through the middle. They come in a variety of sizes and materials (plastic, glass, metal). Tanks pair the performance of a cartomizer with large capacity, making them the preferred choice of many heavy vapers.
The obvious advantage to tanks is that they hold a lot of juice. I’ve seen capacities range from 3ml to 10ml. Many vapers choose a tank that will last them a whole day or more. Tanks made from certain materials are also impervious to the erosive properties of cinnamon and citrus juices. Many vapers proudly show off their beautiful glass tanks and slick stainless-steel models. Once you learn how to handle them properly, tanks are simple to maintain — wash, slot in a new cartomizer, and replace the grommets as needed.
Due to their large size, tanks look funny on slimmer vaping devices and often make them un-pocketable. Maintaining a tank can be tricky for newcomers; slotting in a new carto and refilling can be messy. If proper seals aren’t maintained, tanks will leak. Since tanks house a cartomizer, those sensitive to polyfill will want to avoid them.
I currently have two tanks in rotation: a glass one from Cirrus Vapes and a polypropylene model from Valley View Vapes. The former is a gorgeous product made from Pyrex glass and aircraft aluminum, while the latter features a clever design that makes refills a snap.
What’s Best For You: All three designs have their strong points and weak points. Those looking for no fuss and no muss will dig cartomizers. Those that want capacity that’s a little higher in a relatively low-maintenance package will like clearomizers. Those that want higher capacities and some sweet-looking products will opt for tanks. Remember, there isn’t a “best” solution here. It’s all about what best fits your vaping needs.
If you have any questions about cartomizers, clearomizers, and tanks (oh my!) then drop me a question in the comments section.