The Difference Between Pods, Mods, and Pens
What should I choose?
So you finally made the leap to deciding to get a vape. Maybe you’re thinking of kicking a bad smoking habit, or maybe you’re just into the idea of blowing thick, voluminous clouds of vapor; either way, you’re here now, and you’re browsing for vapes.
The first thing that should hit you is how many mods, pods, kits, tanks, coils, and liquids exist on the market. Vaping isn’t exactly an obscure hobby anymore, and given the explosive growth of the vaping community over the past half-decade, it’s no surprise that manufacturers have increased both production and variety to meet the demands of consumers around the world.
While this is a cause for celebration for most vaping enthusiasts, it has made it so getting into the activity is just a little bit harder for newcomers. With greater variety comes more obscure, vaping-specific knowledge that only someone who’s been fiddling with tanks for years would have. For most others, they’re inundated with more and more choices they know absolutely nothing about, making it all the more difficult to buy that first mod or pod.
In this article, we’ll be covering the broad strokes of what matters most to your vaping experience as a beginner. We’ll discuss the different components of a typical starter kit and let you know the choices you can make at each fork, as well as what these choices entail. This will help you make that first purchase with confidence, knowing that you’ve bought the right product for you.
So without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
Mods and pods: What to pick and why
When it comes to building your first vape, the first decision has to do with why you’re starting to vape in the first place. People who’ve been smoking for a long time and need to replace that iconic throat hit from a regular cigarette, and people who’ve never smoked a day in their lives but think vaping is a fun activity to try out; both will have their own contributing factors when it comes to what makes their ideal vape, and these will vary considerably between them.
Broadly speaking, you can break down all vapes into two categories by type of tank. While we’ll discuss what makes both these types different and how this affects your experience later in the article, for now, you just need to know that in both cases, you handle the vapor differently:
With MTL or Mouth-to-lung tanks, you hit the fire button and breathe the vapor into your mouth before actually inhaling it. This is similar in technique to taking a drag off a cigarette.
With DTL or Direct-to-lung tanks, you hit the fire button and directly inhale the vapor into your lungs, breathing directly from your mod. This is similar in technique to using an inhaler or hookah pipe.
MTL tanks can be attached to mods (sometimes referred to as pod mods), but the most popular MTL devices are vape pens and pods. These are slimmer and sleeker in build than mods, and they have fewer moving parts. They also rely on a different delivery mechanism for flavor and nicotine, utilizing nicotine salts or nic salts for short.
Smaller, lighter puffs categorize the vaping experience when making use of nic salt-based liquids, and fewer puffs at a time. This is because nic salts contain much higher nicotine concentrations, and they’re not designed for the flashy, showy vapor clouds that you’re used to seeing with DTL Mods. Pods tend to have much smaller capacity tanks, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck refilling or replacing your flavor at every given turn. A pod can last you much longer than a full tank on a DTL mod, simply because of those smaller puffs we talked about earlier.
When vaping from a pod, you’re also likely to take fewer puffs than you would with a mod. Just a couple of hits, and you’re good. Nic salts also tend to prefer lower temperatures, so you’re also likely to have lower power (and higher resistance) on these than on mods.
Not only are nic salts less taxing on your lungs when you’re a vape beginner, they also tend to be more economical than DTL Mods, which tend to consume more flavor and have more customizable parts. What you get with a Pod Kit like the SMRT is consistent, low-key hits. For newer vapers who aren’t trying to go around leaving a trail behind them, they provide the most bang for your buck, letting you get your hits indiscreetly.
DTL Mods are the bulkier, brawnier cousin of the vape pen and pod. Where a pod will usually look like a single, sleek unit with a single button and maybe a couple of airflow adjustment nozzles, your average mod will look much more like a “chimera”, with different parts and multiple buttons and settings.
Mods rely on heat and higher liquid consumption to give you longer, more flavorful hits. This makes them unsuitable for use with nic salts, which contain high concentrations of nicotine that would likely give even the most seasoned vaper a blistering headache. For this reason, mods tend to make use of freebase nicotine e-liquids. They’re made up of a combination of propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, and you can experiment with mixtures containing different quantities of both. High VG mixtures will tend to give off thicker, sweeter tasting clouds, while high PG mixtures will tend to give you more of a throat hit, making them less viable for use with DTL devices.
For people who’re interested in vaping for the mouthfeel, taste, and hit, low-PG mixtures are usually the way to go. While PG is the substance responsible for most of your flavor’s “kick” and its unique tastes, a sweet-tasting fluid can still rely upon VG for flavor delivery. On the other hand, high-VG formulas will not have very high concentrations of nicotine in each hit, meaning you’ll be taking a lot more hits and using up a lot more liquid to get your buzz on.
When you’re using a mod like the Wotofo Manik, you’re much more likely to find multiple ways to disassemble and reassemble your vape to suit your needs. You can find different options for tanks, coils, liquids, even casings in some cases. These options will often tie directly into the quality and consistency of your hits, meaning you can fine-tune your machine to give you thicker clouds or more of a throat feel.
More often than not, all those options aren’t clear to a newbie, so you might not find the customizability of these vapes all that enticing. However, as you begin to get into the vaping culture, and learn about the different kinds of Mod Kits, tanks, and coils available, and you learn how these affect you, the vaper, you might appreciate the option to play around with your vape more.
Every Component Matters
A good example of how much a single component can alter the experience of your vape is through the use of Mesh Coils versus regular coils.
Your coil is responsible for heating your e-liquid to the point where it becomes a vapor and can be inhaled by you. When you press the fire button on your pod or mod, your battery forms a closed circuit with your coil, allowing current to pass through it and heat it up. This heat transfers to your liquid when you inhale, allowing you to inhale vapor along with each breath.
The most prominent difference between mesh and regular coils is their shape. A regular coil looks like a spiral wire akin to the filament in a light bulb, while a Mesh Coil looks like a tiny metal net or a honeycomb pattern. Since the Mesh Coil is flat and has a greater surface area, it heats up evenly and quickly and delivers meatier hits that give you more vapor. Meanwhile, regular coils can take a second to heat up, and your hits might start to taste burnt if you leave your finger on the fire button for too long or take too many hits in a row.
That’s not to say Mesh Coils are objectively just better in every imaginable way. They use up much more fluid than regular coils, can’t be made by an end-user (all you need to make a regular coil is some wire to wind up and some cotton), and they release much more vapor to your lungs, which could carry health risks, especially for people who vape actively.
When you’re making use of a Mesh Coil, like Voopoo’s PnP Coil series or Smok’s RPM Coil series, replacing or rebuilding your coils and tanks can become quite the hassle, and this tends to be one of the reasons people stick to simple coils. Wotofo’s SMRT Coils solve this problem for consumers, and they’re compatible with both Voopoo and Smok Mods, so long as you buy the right ones.
So which should I pick?
There’s plenty of options out there for new vapers, and just knowing the difference between Pod Kits and Mod Kits might not be enough to help you make a final decision. Especially when it comes to people who’ve never tried out a vape before, figuring out whether they’d prefer an MTL or DTL device can be difficult.
These days there’s an abundance of devices (like the Smok Nord series or the Voopoo VSuit Mod) that can double as both an MTL and DTL device. These devices offer new vapers the opportunity to try out both ends of the vaping spectrum, and once they’ve decided on one or the other, they can then invest in a more specialized device. Such devices will often come bundled with both a sub-ohm, low-resistance coil (for DTL vaping), and a high resistance coil (for MTL vaping).
Generally speaking, newer vapers will prefer Pod Kits to Box kits since they come with less of an associated learning curve and they come with a more hassle-free experience. A lot of these kits will not feature refillable pods, though, so they might make for a rather costly addition to your daily routine. Either way, given the many great options available (like the nexMESH pod), and the fact that pods tend to be lighter on the pocket, you might as well start out with one now and make the switch to Mod Kits later if you feel like doing so.