Image demonstrating the difference between MTL and DL.

Mouth-to-Lung (MTL) Vs Direct-Lung (DL) Inhale Explained

Updated February 2020

Plus the mods, tanks and coils you need

I just wanted to buy a vape kit, but when I landed on a site I was immediately confused. Mouth-to-Lung, Sub-Ohm, Direct-Lung…what on earth do they all mean?

Browse through a vaping website and you’ll often come across the terms Mouth-to-Lung (MTL) and Direct-Lung (DL or DTL).

These terms are often used to describe vape hardware such as tanks and kits. They are very useful to experienced vapers, as they help them to decide if a tank or a kit meets their needs.

However, terms like these can be confusing to someone new to vaping.

So we put this guide together to:

  • explain what these terms mean
  • help you choose the inhaling technique that is likely to be right for you
  • help you choose the equipment you need to suit your style of vaping.

If you’re confused by other terms, do check out our vaping glossary.


Man confused

What is Mouth-to-Lung inhale?

Mouth-to-Lung refers to a type of inhaling. When you MTL inhale, you take the vapour into your mouth. You then hold it in your mouth before inhaling it into your lungs.

With it’s tighter, more restricted draw, the MTL experience is much closer to that of a cigarette.

What’s more, the combination of less air drawn over the coil, the higher PG levels used and the inhaling technique mean you’ll experience more of a throat hit. 

What is Direct-Lung inhale?

Direct-Lung inhale is when you inhale the vapour directly into your lungs, without holding it in your mouth first. It’s almost like taking a deep breath of air, only while pursing your lips. 

Direct-Lung vaping requires greater airflow to cool the vape down. As a result, DL devices are designed to draw more air over the coil.  

Direct-Lung inhale can also be known as Straight-to-Lung inhale.

A mixture of both?

Although most sites use the terms Mouth-to-Lung or Direct-Lung, in reality there can be a blur between the two. However you vape, the vapour has to pass through your mouth on its way to your lungs.

Still, the terms are widely used, and it’s worth learning what they mean before choosing the right device for you.

What is restricted Direct-Lung vaping?

Since we first wrote this post, a new term has entered vaping lingo.

Restricted Direct-Lung (abbreviated as RDL). 

This acknowledges the blur between MTL and DL and refers to a vape which is still airy, but not as airy as a full-on DL inhale.

With restricted Direct-Lung vaping, you inhale in the same way, but you don’t require as much airflow over the coil. The flavour experience is similar to DL, but the throat hit is more similar to MTL. 

Which is right for you?

For new vapers

Most people prefer Mouth-to-Lung inhaling when they start vaping. This is ideal for vape devices with a tighter draw, higher nicotine levels, and which deliver a better throat hit.

Some people also find it more closely resembles the way they smoked. Direct-Lung can be quite intense, and new vapers may find it makes them cough.

Man vaping and coughing

For flavour

It’s not just new vapers who prefer mouth to lung vaping. Some vapers believe that they get more flavour from their vape when they use a Mouth-to-Lung vaping technique.

There are several possible reasons for this.

  • You add less air to your vape when you MTL vape.
  • VG doesn’t mix as well as PG with flavours. 
  • When you MTL vape, the vapour spends more time in your mouth where you have more taste buds.

On the other hand, you take in more vapour with DL, which means the flavour is more concentrated.

What’s more, e-liquid mixologists are well aware that flavours taste different with high VG e-liquids. In the early days of vaping, they might have used the same recipe for all VG:PG ratios. Now recipes are more adapted so they work well with higher VG ratios.

If flavour is important to you, check out these 10 tips for maximising flavour from your vape.

For clouds/intense vape experience

Direct-Lung inhaling is more suitable for people who like blowing big clouds of vapour and for those who like a more intense vaping experience.

If an intense vape and lots of vapour is important to you, check out this article on how to cloud vape like a pro.

Mouth to lung vs Direct to lung diagram

How do you Mouth-to-Lung vape?

If you have a device which is capable of both MTL and DL vaping, ensure the airflow is at least partially restricted. Take a smooth, steady drag straight into the mouth. This is a much longer drag than you would use with a cigarette. Hold the vapour in your mouth, then inhale into the lungs before exhaling.

How do you Direct-Lung vape?

Ensure the airflow controls on your device are open wide. This allows for a more airy vape. Then take a long, smooth steady vape straight into the lungs, just as if you were breathing.

What e-liquid is best for mouth to lung vaping?

When Mouth-to-Lung vaping, most vapers use an e-liquid with a high PG (propylene glycol) ratio. This gives a satisfactory throat hit and is also more suited for the devices used for MTL vaping. Halo e-liquid, with its 50-50 VG:PG ratio, is ideal.

Alternatively, you can use nicotine salts. These deliver a smoother throat hit, and many vapers find they get a stronger, faster nicotine hit. As these usually come in higher nicotine strengths, they are not suitable for the more powerful devices used for Direct-Lung vaping.

(Learn more in our article about the differences between propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine.)

What e-liquid is best for Direct-Lung vaping?

When you Direct-Lung vape, you usually use an e-liquid with a higher VG (vegetable glycerin) ratio. This gives a smoother vape with more vapour, and does not hurt the throat despite the larger clouds. Typical VG:PG ratios vary, but 70:30 VG:PG and 80:20 VG:PG ratios are common. Higher VG ratios are rare.

Double Drip is an example of high VG e-liquid, coming with a VG:PG ratio of 80:20, while Wild Roots come with a slightly lower VG:PG ratio of 70:30. Twelve Monkeys Tropika is a rare example of VG:PG 90:10 e-liquid.

Nicotine strengths for Mouth-to-Lung vaping

The nicotine you use for mouth to lung vaping will depend on your needs.

For example, if you’ve recently quit smoking and have been a heavy smoker, you’ll need stronger nicotine levels. However, in general, you’ll need stronger nicotine levels with Mouth-to-Lung vaping than with Direct-Lung vaping.

Nicotine strengths for Direct-Lung vaping

When you Direct-Lung vape, usually with a more powerful device, you can get a lot more vapour. That means you get a lot more nicotine. What’s more, nicotine can contribute to the hit you get on your throat.

As a result, you’ll usually need to use lower strength nicotine for Direct-Lung vaping. Many DL vapers use very low nicotine levels such as 0.6%. 0.3% or even 0%.

Here’s a tip which can help you when you move from MTL to DL.

Imagine how much more vapour you inhale. Then reduce the nicotine levels to counter it.

Using 1.2% and now taking in four times as much? Maybe use a 0.3% instead.

Man vaping


Inside your tank are coils. These heat up the e-liquid, turning it into vapour. Coils come with different resistances, which are measured in ohms (often shown using this symbol: Ω).

To explain simply:

Higher resistance coils: Requires less power, produces less vapour.

Lower resistance coils: Require more power and battery capacity, produces more vapour.

Which coils are right for MTL vaping?

Because mouth to lung vaping needs less vapour, you usually use a coil with a higher resistance. Typically, this used to be higher than 1 Ω.

However coils are evolving, and nowadays you will sometimes see a lower resistance coil (below 1 Ω) which has been manufactured for MTL vaping. These are often labelled MTL coils to avoid confusion.

Which coils are right for Direct-Lung vaping?

You usually want more vapour for Direct-Lung vaping. As a result, you’ll want a coil with lower resistance. Most people use coils with a resistance of less than one Ω, and coils can go as low as 0.1 Ω. A coil with 0.5 Ω is a good resistance to start with.

It’s not just the resistance that makes a difference – the design also helps. Many DL coils come with a mesh, or 3d mesh, design. One of the advantages of mesh coils is that it increases the contact area between the coil and the e-liquid, which increases the amount of vapour. 

Vaping hardware for Mouth-to-Lung vaping

MTL vape batteries and mods need less power than DL hardware, while the tank is often designed to take coils with a higher resistance.

What tanks are suitable for mouth to lung vaping?

The Innokin Zlide tank is the product of a collaboration between well-known vape reviewers Phil Busardo and Dimitris Agrifiatos with vape manufacturer Innokin. The aim was to create a tank which works for mouth to lung vaping and is easy to use.

Since the original tank was introduced, the range of coils (called Z coils) that work with the device have increased, giving you the option of experimenting with your vaping style in the future. 

What batteries are suitable for mouth to lung vaping?

The Innokin Endura comes with just three power levels. This makes it great for vapers who are looking for a simple-to-use device.

Also by Innokin, the Coolfire Z50 is a larger device. It’s not as compact but does offer a longer battery life. The variable wattage gives you more control over your vape, and means that the device could also be used for a restricted Direct-Lung vape. 

What vape kits do I need for Mouth-to-Lung vaping?

A great option for MTL vaping is the Innokin Go S. This is super simple to use and comes with a silicone seal for fuss-free refilling. The only drawback is that it doesn’t come with replaceable coils (although that can be a plus for people with mobility problems)

The Aspire Tigon is another example of a product which is designed to suit both Mouth-to-Lung and Direct-to-Lung vaping. With the 1.20 Ω resistance coil the device is best used for MTL, but swap to the included 0.4 Ω resistance coil and you instantly get to enjoy a DL experience.

If you’re looking for something which is very easy to use and looks and feels like a cigarette, the Halo Cigalike Bundle may be more appropriate for you. Alternatively, if you need a stronger nicotine hit check out the Hexa Pro and Hexa Mini kits, which come with pre-filled pods and a combination of nicotine salts and regular e-liquid.

There are also pod mods to consider. Some pods mods are designed only for DL or RDL vaping. However, an increasing number can also be used for MTL vaping. At the time of writing, the Innokin Kroma Z is the best option for vapers who mostly MTL inhale.

Halo Cigalike Bundle

Halo Cigalike

View Product

Vaping hardware for Direct-Lung vaping

For Direct-Lung vaping, you need:

  • a device with more power.
  • a tank with lots of airflow to give an airier vape
  • a coil with a low resistance and a larger surface area.

Remember: lower resistance coils + higher power + more airflow = more vapour.

I also find a wide drip tip helps with Direct-Lung vaping.

Let’s take a look at some examples.

What mods do you need for Direct-Lung vaping?

With a power output of up to 120 watts, the Innokin MVP 5 can handle most tanks. The device comes with optional advanced features for when you want to get deeper into the intricacies of vaping.

Even more powerful is the Smok Morph 219 mod, which, as the name suggests, comes with 219 watts of power.

Direct-Lung tanks

One of the best current options if you want a DL tank which can produce serious vapour is the HorizonTech Falcon II tank.

The Falcon II ticks every box when it comes to producing clouds. It has low resistance coils (0.14 Ω) made from fan woven mesh. A fan-shaped design funnels air up through the coil for thicker, denser clouds of vapour.

Blue Falcon II Tank Falcon II Tank

What kits are suitable for Direct-Lung vaping?

The Smok Morph 2 combines up to 230 watts of power with low resistance coils, making it ideal for serious clouds of vapour. It also comes with two 18650 batteries, which provides enough battery life to handle all that power!

It’s also well worth checking out pod mod kits. More powerful than pods, but less difficult to use than mods, these devices can be a great option for Direct-Lung vapers. Our current favourite is the Oxva Velocity 21700, but you can find more options in our Best Pod Mods round-up.

Another interesting potential device is the Innokin Go-Max. This device will feature the first fixed coil Direct-Lung device, and should be great for vapers who want to enjoy larger clouds of vapour but who struggle to change coils.

Do you prefer Mouth-to-Lung or Direct-Lung vaping? Let us know in the comments!

6 thoughts on “Mouth-to-Lung (MTL) Vs Direct-Lung (DL) Inhale Explained”

  1. Annette Buffington

    James, I am a new e-cig user. I bought the Logic Pro within the last 2 weeks. After I charge the battery, the green light stays on and the e-cig does not work. I’ve only used it maybe 4 times. Any help would be appreciated!

  2. I started with a pen style MOD and mtl. Last year I bought a new MOD and switched over to dtl. I find this better. I have since switched to an rta tank and I haven’t looked back!

  3. Hi, very informative article for a beginner.
    I was a pack a day smoker and decided to switch over to vaping nicotine. I was not sure what to buy so my local vape shop suggested the SMOK novo4 which isn’t bad. But then I bought a 6mg/ml nicotine juice. I find it is a little light and I still smoke the odd cigarette for satisfaction. Would you recommend I go up to 12mg/ml or higher and what is nicotine salts and are they best suited for a smoker? Many thanks

    1. Absolutely. Research (and my own experience) suggests that the biggest single reason people fail to switch to vaping is because they use too low a nicotine strength. The key is to remember that the harm from smoking comes from the smoke, not the nicotine, so the first priority should be to eliminate smoking.

      What’s more, while Public Health Evidence estimate that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, any residual danger is likely to come from the flavourings used in the e-liquid. When you use lower nicotine levels, you vape more to try and get enough nicotine to assuage your cravings. When you increase nicotine levels, you satisfy your cravings more quickly, and inhale less vapour.

      For more information, plus advice on selecting the right nicotine level, see our blog post on the topic here:

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