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Mouth To Lung And Direct To Lung - Vaping Styles Explained

MTL vs DTL - Vaping Styles Explained

If you’re a newcomer to vaping, then congratulations. You’re on the first step to becoming a none smoker! High Five!

And now the fun starts. Or at least it is fun once you get to grips with all that ‘vape speak’ out there! For example 'Vaping Styles', 'MTL', 'DTL', whaaa?

Trust me, when I began vaping all those years ago, the slang, the strange words and that seemingly endless list of acronyms. Had me scratching my head wondering what strange new language I’d stumbled upon!

So grab whatever it is you’re vaping. Get comfy and let’s try and explain two of the most common acronyms you’re likely to come across as a vaper.

Vaping Styles - Let's get started!

You’ll see the letters MTL and DTL pretty much everywhere on vaping websites, online vape stores and even in your local vape shop. So what do they stand for?

Here ya go:
  • MTL: Mouth To Lung
  • DTL: Direct To Lung - aka sub ohm vaping [more on that later]


In a nutshell, the MTL style of vaping is mimicking the way you used to smoke a nasty cigarette. Whilst DTL is inhaling the vapour directly into your lungs before exhaling.

OK, now that’s about as simple as I can explain it. However, and as you might expect there are a few bits 'n' bobs you need to know about the two very different vaping styles.

Well, I say very different. The end result is, of course, you’re off the stinkies and getting your nicotine fix in. And it has to be said – in a far healthier way.

Before we get started. Its fair to say, the vast majority of vapers began as mouth to lungers, I know I did.

It’s very rare for someone to go straight from cigarettes to those big, shiny, cloud chucking DTL set-ups you see everywhere. I’ll explain why in a moment.

And hey, some of us still enjoy a decent MTL vape. I tend to mix the two, especially in public, where I really don’t want to attract attention to myself doing an impersonation of a steam train!

So if you’re considering quitting smoking. Have recently bought yourself a vape pen starter kit or a sub-ohm tank / mod. Or just want to know the ins and outs of MTL and DTL vaping, let’s take a closer look.

And when I say ‘closer look’. I mean we’ll look at everything from the devices used in the different styles. The coils. The wattage and even how the e-liquid you choose can affect your vape!

Don’t worry though. It’s really not rocket science and once you get the basics, trust me, your vaping experience can only get better.

And of course, when your vape gets better, there’s less chance of you going back to the cancer sticks!

OK let’s get going.

The Difference Between MTL & DTL Devices

MTL and DTL Devices

Now, this is probably the most important aspect of vaping. Choosing the right kit for your style of vaping!

Might sound silly but trust me, get this bit right and your vaping journey will be so much more enjoyable and most importantly, more effective in keeping you smoke-free.

In most cases, you can buy the complete kit. The device and the tank. This is probably the best way to get into vaping as a beginner. Both the 'Innokin Endura' series and the 'Aspire K' series kits are great devices to get started with!

The difference between a kit designed for MTL vs DTL vaping boils down to a couple of key things.

  1. The Coils
  2. The Power



OK, in an MTL set-up, the coils are noticeably smaller in both height and diameter. Whereas coils for DTL vaping can be huge!

The clue is in the diameter of the coils. The less air getting through the coil to your mouthpiece, means you’re getting a tighter draw, mimicking smoking.

Obviously, those big, old sub ohm coils have larger diameters giving plenty of air. Meaning you create those big clouds. The drip tips are usually bigger too.

Now here’s where we pop back to science class for a moment.




If you look at any coil you’ll see some writing etched on the side.

This shows the resistance and the suggested wattage.

On an MTL coil the resistance is usually above 1.0ohms and the wattage usually below 25watts – and even lower.

On a DTL coil, it’s the reverse – lower resistance and much higher wattage

Choosing The Right E-Liquid for MTL Vaping

Getting Your E-liquid Choice Right!

So when it comes to choosing the right e-liquid for an MTL tank. You should, in general, opt for a balanced 50%PG - 50%VG. Max ratio for an MTL tank really is 60% VG - 40% PG. Remember VG is thicker than PG.

Using more balanced, higher PG e-liquids means the e-liquid is runnier and will get into that coil quicker and more efficiently!

I know some of the newer tanks designed for MTL vaping can accommodate thicker e-liquids. So this is a general rule of thumb!

As for the 3mg – 6mg etc you see on the bottle of e-liquid. That’s your nicotine level per bottle of juice.

Now, this is purely down to personal taste, but if you’ve just started vaping straight off the stinkies. Then it’s pretty obvious you’ll need to get a bit more nicotine into your system.

Due to the new TPD laws in Europe. The max amount of nicotine per 10ml bottle is now set at 20mg. I began all those years ago on 18mg and for a few weeks, it certainly reduced the cravings.

Nowadays when I MTL vape, I’m around 12mg and 3mg when I DTL vape. You’ll know when to drop strengths!

The reason for the difference in nicotine levels is fairly obvious. The throat hit is what most smokers miss and trust me, you get a decent hit from 18mg nicotine. But try taking that direct to your lungs and you will be coughing for days! haha – ok not funny lol.

So in a nutshell. For MTL vaping, you need a higher PG ratio. And for newcomers to vaping, you’ll need a higher nicotine level from 6mg up to 20mg. Only you can decide through trial and error on what nicotine level suits you!

But I’d advise to start high and bring it down when you’re comfortable.

Black Note E-liquid

Black Note E-liquid is perfectly balanced for MTL vaping

DTL Vaping – What’s that all About?

Sub ohm vaping – cloud chucking, call it what you will. This is the next step for most folks vaping journey.

I say most folks. I stuck as an MTL vaper for 3 years before taking the step to DTL.  It just seemed a natural progression and yeah, OK, I really liked those shiny box mods!

And yeah, I still MTL vape, I’m doing it now. I still, even after all these years, enjoy my nicotine fix and that throat hit I got from the cigs.

I have to say, if you think the phrase 'Direct To Lung' sounds a bit painful, relax it really isn’t!

Although the first time might be a bit of a strange sensation, it will soon become extremely pleasant and second nature.

Purists say this is the ‘proper way’ to vape. Ignore them,, they’re obviously elitist idiots ;). We’re all vapers and doing it for both pleasure and a way to get off those cancer sticks!

OK rant over lol. So the key here is, slow and deep [ooer missus].

Given we’re using a tank and coil designed for DTL vaping. There’s going to be a lot more air, making it much much easier to fill those lungs with vapour.

So long, slow and steady pulls until your lungs are comfortably full. Then a long slow exhale is key.

The cloud production from DTL vaping after MTL will amaze you. And trust me, it certainly still puts a smile on my face!

Vapour from e cigarette

DTL Vaping

And did I mention? The chances are, the more power going through your sub ohm coil. Means the flavour of the juice you’re using pops off your taste buds to a whole new level?

Choosing The Right E-Liquid for DTL Vaping

Once again, we’re back to putting the right e-liquid into the right tank and coil. Nothing’s ever simple is it ha!

OK, technically you can run a 50% VG 50% PG e-liquid through a tank and coil designed for sub ohm – DTL – vaping.

However, as it is much runnier, there is the possibility of leakage. Not always, but sometimes. The coil for sub-ohm vaping is generally designed to take thicker e-liquids.

So, for those sub ohm tanks with large stock coils and big juice flow holes. It’s best to use a slightly thicker ratio, such as 70% VG 30% PG and higher.

Chewberry by Cosmic Fog

The Cosmic Fog range is great for DTL/Sub-ohm vaping

Now, this not only guarantees a much better cloud production. These juices are generally made to come to life and pop the flavour at higher wattages.

However, when it comes to DTL and MTL e-liquids. One thing that will quickly become apparent, is the sheer amount of e-liquid you get through when sub ohm vaping!

Again, all tanks and coils are different – but only slightly. So be prepared to get through more juice at a higher wattage than you ever did as an MTL vaper!

So what about the nicotine levels and DTL vaping?

Now again, this is down to personal taste. But common sense needs to prevail here, trust me, I was that vaper!

Pretty much most DTL vapers are on zero or 3mg nicotine max.

Despite vaping on 18mg nicotine on my MTL set-ups, I can’t even manage a 6mg nicotine hit when sub ohm vaping!

I have tried! But man, that nicotine rush zaps the back of my throat like an attack of angry wasps. Even my now, much much healthier lungs can’t handle the hit.

So 3mg is where I’m at and trust me it’s more than enough!

Look, I’m not telling you NOT to DTL vape high nicotine strengths. Just seriously advising you not to!

And once again, here’s a tip – do prime your coils!

This means adding a couple of drops to all the exposed cotton. Once back in your tank and filled, let it sit for a good ten minutes or more before you vape.

This gives all that tasty e-liquid time to really soak into your coil and will definitely reduce the risk of dry hits and burning out those coils.

For more tips on tanks and extending the life of your coils, read our Tank Guide HERE.

Happy cloud chasing my friends!

To Sum Up Vaping Styles

All Starting To Make Sense?

OK, hopefully, you have a better understanding of the two types of vaping.

I say two types, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you’re vaping on. You’ve made that first step away from cancer sticks, so bloody well done!

DTL vaping isn’t for everyone and don’t worry if you’ve had a go and it’s not for you. Horses for courses and all that! Vaping is about getting off the cigarettes, after all, no matter what you prefer to vape on.

Despite the vape manufacturers churning out a succession of high powered mods and super-duper sub ohm tanks. There’s still a ton of good MTL kits and tanks out there with new ones coming out all the time.

Just remember, when you’re ready to buy, you follow this simple rule. As nice as it looks, does it fit my vaping style?

To Recap:

MTL Vaping

  • Mimics smoking
  • Good flavour
  • Higher nicotine can be used
  • Lower wattage
  • Higher resistance coils - plus 1 ohm
  • Thinner e-liquids

DTL Vaping

  • Cloud Chasing
  • Intense flavour
  • Lower nicotine level e-liquid recommended!
  • Higher wattage
  • Lower resistance coils - minus 1 ohm
  • Thicker e-liquids (70% VG or above)

I hope that explained the subtle differences between the two vaping styles and helped you make that important decision on what vape set-up is best for you.

Now, might I suggest, armed with that info you pop over to our store and see if there’s something in stock that caught your eye :)

Vape On!

Top Rated MTL Tank


aspire nautilus 2 ecig tank

Top Rated MTL Starter Kit


Innokin Endura T20 Kit

Top rated DTL Tank


uwell crown 3 mini tank

2 thoughts on “Mouth To Lung And Direct To Lung - Vaping Styles Explained”

  • Rachel Sweeney

    How would you even do DTL vaping (or DTL anything)? Am I crazy? I pull on the vape/cigarette/whatever, and then I inhale... I guess the only way you could really do DTL would be if what you're smoking from holds the smoke for you, like a bong or pipe, and you just inhale it directly. Otherwise you don't really seem to have a choice other than to use your mouth as a chamber of sorts.

    • vapour

      Hey Rachel - I know the concept sounds totally weird but bear with me. When you smoke a cigarette or vape mouth to lung, which would be the same thing, you take the draw into your mouth first, then you inhale. An MTL setup has a much smaller mouthpiece so a tighter draw enabling the style of vaping. The difference with direct to lung or sub-ohm vaping is that you're drawing the vapour directly into your lungs without holding it first. Sub-ohm vaping/DTL setups generally have wider diameter mouth piece's and is a lot airier so enables the direct to lung inhale. Does that make sense? Cheers, Carla

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