It seems like only yesterday we were working on a blog post called ‘Vape Pods, A New Way to Vape!’
In reality, that was over six years ago, and they are certainly no longer a new way to vape.
What has changed over that time has been the development of different types of pod vapes.
From a simple, easily defined system that consisted of a pod and a device, we now have everything from entry-level devices to high-powered pod mods, from prefilled to refillable pods - not to mention pods with fixed and replaceable coils.
However, I frequently see new vapers being confused by the different types of pod kits, as well as how to use them. So in this post, I am going to run through the wide variety of pod devices available, highlight which type of device will be suitable for different needs, and cover the basics of how to use them.
As always, we’ll also be recommending our current favourite models, which are chosen on the basis of reliability data, customer feedback and in-house testing.
- What are pod kits?
- Types of pod kits
- Fixed or replaceable coils?
- Pod mod kits
- Fixed or replaceable batteries?
- Other things to consider
- Essential usage tips
- Wrapping up
Whilst there are many variations now available, all pod kits will be split into two parts.
One part is the pod (obviously). This holds the e-liquid as well as a coil which heats to vaporise the e-liquid.
The second part is the device, which contains the battery. It will also contain a computer chip that acts as the device’s brain. Some devices will also have user controls, such as buttons to fire the device or adjust the wattage.
Let’s start with prefilled kits, because they are the easiest to use of all pod systems and make a great upgrade from disposables as they are so easy to use.
You simply attach a pod to the device and inhale. When the pod is finished you throw it away and replace with another one. When the battery dies, you simply recharge it with a USB charger.
While prefilled pods are cheaper to use and involve less waste than disposables, they are more expensive to run than refillable devices. We recommend upgrading to a refillable device when you are ready.
The Elfa Pro and Crystal Plus devices are a great choice for disposable users, as they closely replicate the draw and taste of disposable vapes.
The next step up from prefilled pod kits is refillable pod devices. As the name suggests, these use pods that can you fill with an e-liquid of your choice. These pods can be refilled many times before they need replacing, making them far more economical than prefilled devices, and offer you the choice of thousands of different e-liquid flavours.
It’s true that they are not quite as simple as prefilled pods - but entry-level pod systems are still pretty easy to use. We’ll cover some usage tips below, as a common mistake is not changing the pod when the performance deteriorates.
Our favourite is the Xros 3 Mini, as it’s reliable, easy to use and performs well. A second good alternative - and one that is very popular at the moment - is the Oxva Xlim Pro.
All pods contain a coil - the element which heats up and vaporises the e-liquid inside.
As you can imagine, a coil won’t last forever, and will need replacing from time to time, although in low-powered entry-level devices they will usually last at least two weeks.
A key decision to make is whether you want a replaceable coil or a fixed coil pod system. Again, there’s a trade off between convenience and cost. With a fixed-coil pod, as the coil comes to the end of its life you simply dispose of the whole pod and replace it. However, when you have a replaceable coil, you replace just the coil.
It is easier to replace the whole pod, but note that modern coils come with a push-pull design. Changing these coils is straightforward and takes only a few seconds.
Pod mod kits are essentially a halfway house between entry-level pod systems and advanced mod devices. Compared with smaller pod devices they are more powerful, and often have more functionality, but are easier to use, and not quite as powerful, as high-end mod devices.
An important thing to consider here is whether you have experience with a refillable device. You don’t need to be an expert vaper, but you do need to take a little more care with the coil when using them and ensure you set the right wattage level. However, you will find pod mods such as the Voopoo Drag E60 that feature a Smart Mode/Smart Power Selection and set the correct power output for you.
Another thing to consider is what you want out of your vape. If you simply want a no-thought inhale and nicotine hit, an entry-level device is probably right for you. However, if you’d like to vary the airiness of your vape, get more clouds of vapour or use a Direct-Lung style of vaping, pods mods are definitely worth experimenting with!
In contrast to regular pod devices, pod mods offer you the choice of a fixed internal battery or a battery that you can take out and replace.
Fixed batteries don’t require much thought - you simply plug the device into a USB device and let it charge.
On the other hand, replaceable (or external) battery devices do have several advantages. You can choose to charge them in the device, or remove them and charge them in an external battery charger. It also means that when the battery runs out, you can simply replace them with fully charged batteries and carry on vaping. (Assuming you have a spare battery, of course!)
If you do decide to go for an external battery device, do remember that these devices don’t usually come with the battery included and that you will need to buy the right battery type (typically an 18650 or 2100) to go with the device.
Our current favourite fixed battery pod mod device is the Luxe XR Max for its compact but long-lasting battery which can produce up to 80 watts of power, while our favourite replaceable battery device is the Smok RPM5 Pro, both for its stunning design and for its superb flavour and vapour production.
Inhale or button activation (or both)?
Some pod devices fire when you use a button, while others fire when you inhale. (Some do both.)
In the past, I personally preferred button-fired designs, as some inhale-to-fire devices required you to inhale a bit too hard for my liking. However, devices have improved so much now that there are no real pros or cons to either option, really, it simply depends on your personal preference. If you’re not sure which to get, try a device which comes with both options.
Airflow controls allow you to vary how much air flows through your vape. You can open this wide to get an airy vape or close it off to get a tighter, more restricted inhale.
The trend to simplicity we have seen over the years means that these are now mostly found on higher-end devices. That might sound like a negative thing, but the best pod systems have got the draw so spot on that I don’t think it really matters. However, if you like to experiment with your vape, or if you like to use different types of e-liquid and variable wattage, airflow control becomes more important.
Variable wattage refers to the ability to increase or decrease the power flowing from your device to your coil. Increase the power to get more vapour/hit and vice versa.
Again, these tend to be used on higher-end devices, and that's no bad thing as variable wattage does require a little more know-how. You need to match the power level to the coil you are using (this is usually displayed on the coil, as well as on the coil pages of our website), as if you use too high a wattage you can burn out the coil.
However, they are (again) a great option for vapers who like more control over their vape. One of the great things about using variable wattage devices is that you can use them with different coils for a totally different vape experience.
For example, you might choose a coil which is suited to a VG:PG 50:50 e-liquid, turn down the wattage and enjoy a Mouth-to-Lung (restricted) vape. Or you might change to a different coil suited to high VG e-liquid, crank up the wattage and enjoy a Direct-Lung vape and clouds that can block out the sun. (But not, ideally, under a fire alarm!)
Without writing a complete guide to vaping I wanted to share a few essential tips for using pod vapes.
First, let’s talk about changing coils. I’ve seen plenty of new vapers, as well as those who are trying to switch from disposables, complaining that their vape is scratchy after a couple of weeks.
That’s simply because their coil has come to the end of its life. This might also be signified by a deterioration in flavour produced or a decrease in the amount of vapour produced.
The answer is simple. If you have a fixed-coil pod, change the pod. If you have a replaceable coil pod, replace the coil. Broadly speaking, you’ll want to do this every couple of weeks.
While we’re on coils, it’s well worth mentioning priming the coil. This is to avoid dry hits when using a new coil or pod. For entry-level devices, all you need to do is allow the e-liquid to soak into the device the first time you use it. There’s more you can do with more advanced devices, so check out our guide to priming a coil for more information.
Finally, there’s the e-liquid you use. These can be divided into three types: nicotine salts which have a smooth throat hit, regular (freebase) e-liquid with a balanced VG:PG ratio such as 50:50, and VG heavy e-liquids.
Nicotine salts and 50:50 e-liquid work well with entry-level starter kits. That’s for two reasons - the power output is lower and the coils are designed for these e-liquids.
VG-heavy e-liquids are best used with higher-end pod systems. That’s because these systems have the higher wattage needed, and work with low-resistance coils which are designed for use with high VG e-liquids.
However, if you swap the coil over and reduce the power, many of these more advanced pod systems will also work perfectly well with nicotine salts and regular e-liquids.
If you’re used to disposable vapes, switching to a rechargeable device may seem daunting. However, a huge amount of effort has gone into making these devices ever easier to use.
If you want to take it slow, try using a prefilled pod system first, as these really are just as easy to use as a disposable device. Then, when you are ready, you can switch to a refillable system for improved flavour selection, reduced cost and reduced waste.
What’s the difference between a vape pen and pod vape?
The term vape pen is often used interchangeably with vape devices. However, strictly speaking, a vape pen is any vape device which is thin and cylindrical, often resembling the pens which gave them their name.
A device can be both a vape pen and a pod device. For example, the Elfa Pro is a pen system in that it is long and cylindrical, but is also a prefilled pod system.
How long does a coil in a pod last?
The length of time a coil lasts depends on many factors. This includes the type of coil you use, how hard and how often you inhale and the e-liquid you use. Very generally, though, a coil used at low wattages will last around two weeks while a coil used at high wattages will last 2-3 days.