Sub-Ohm & Mouth-to-Lung: What's the Difference?

Not many people outside (and even inside) the industry know this, but there are two completely separate types of vaping. In the beginning there was only one, but as this market has progressed it has opened the door for tons of companies to try their hand at innovating the way we use these devices. The result was the birth of an entirely different way of vaping that some loved, and others hated. We identify these two types as Mouth To Lung (MTL) and Sub-Ohm (sometimes referred to as Direct to Lung or DTL). These two are different in a lot of ways, but we’ll be covering the big differences. Hopefully this helps you decide what direction to go in.

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Aspire Nautilus MTL Tank


Now, what is mouth to lung? Well to be honest its exactly what the name entails. This one is a little easier to grasp than sub-ohm. Mouth to lung tanks are tanks that are designed and meant to replicate a cigarette in the most authentic way possible. Airflow is usually quite small, causing a restricted pull (like a cigarette), the tank is usually quite compact, as well as the mouthpiece usually being slim to even replicate the physical feeling of a cigarette when you go to take a draw. These tanks also usually use a low power level, anywhere from 9W-28W depending on the coil. The coil resistance is usually above 1.0 ohms and is typically referred to as Pro-Ohm. When using a mouth to lung tank, the vapor is taken into the mouth first, then inhaled. Again, just like a cigarette. For most who are just switching over from smoking, we do our best to push them towards mouth to lung. Although, not all smokers start on mouth to lung. Some never even venture into it. What a shame.

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Freemax Mesh Pro Sub Ohm Tank



Sub-Ohm is always a fun one to explain. Sub-Ohm tanks are usually quite large and use a high power level (anywhere from 40W to 300W on some tanks depending on the coil). The coils usually range anywhere from 0.15 Ohm – 0.3 Ohm. Some will say anything below 1.0 Ohm (Pro-Ohm) is considered Sub-Ohm, but that’s not entirely true. There are MTL coils out there that dip down to about 0.7 Ohm. Now these Sub-Ohm tanks are the vapes that produce large amounts of vapor when being used. When using a sub-ohm tank, the vapor is not taken into the mouth first. It is taken directly down to the lungs and then exhaled. That’s where the term Direct to Lung (DTL) comes from. We prefer to just call them Sub Tanks. Keep it simple. These tanks have now become more popular than the traditional MTL. This could be due to a lot of things, but most attribute it to the stronger flavour and larger vapor production. Yeah, some people like looking like a human fog machine. For instance, if you were to see 10 people on the street with vapes, its safe to say at least 7 of them would be using sub tanks. The high power tends to satisfy some people more than the MTL tanks, but not in all cases.

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Aspire PockeX AIO Starter Kit


In most cases, an all-in-one or starter kit device is Mouth-to-Lung. This is because those who use these starter kits are just making the switch over from smoking. Like I said, for those just switching over we always try our best to push them towards mouth to lung. With it being a more “cigarette like” feeling, the success rate tends to be much higher. Although most starter kits are MTL, not all of them are. For example the Geek Vape Aegis Mini Kit is classified as a starter kit, but is completely Direct to Lung/Sub-Ohm. That being said, you could easily make it a mouth to lung by simple purchasing a mouth to lung tank for it. All in all, starter kits tend to be mouth to lung, and we encourage you to follow that route when you’re just starting out.


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MTL (Used with Mouth to lung tanks) vs DTL (Used with Sub Ohm Tanks)


Well, the major difference is obviously in the way we use the tank. We also usually see a large difference in coil size, with the sub tank coils being much larger but not much more expensive. Now, this does not necessarily mean they last longer, they actually burn out a little quicker than MTL tanks due to the power level they are being used at. Vapor production is a big difference with the sub tanks putting out large amounts while MTL usually puts out very little. Finally, we see a difference in the actual physical size, with the sub tanks being larger.


Everyone is different. We’ve seen smokers quit without ever touching a MTL tank, and we’ve seen smokers quit without ever touching a Sub tank. It simply comes down to personal preference. We always recommend starting on MTL and moving to Sub-Ohm if you feel you need to. That’s the part that makes vaping so successful. You do things the way you want to. Not the way you’re told to.


The Vapours Canada blog is meant to provide education and  information for those looking to transition from smoking cigarettes to vaping e-liquid. These thoughts and opinions are entirely our own, and have been gathered through working in this industry extensively, as well as using these products ourselves for a prolonged period of time. In no way are we claiming vaping to be healthy for the user. If you have any doubts, please consult your doctor to see if vaping is right for you. You must be of legal age in your state/province  to vape.