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What Is An Atomizer On A Vape?

December 19, 2023

Vape devices are complex. In order to get the e-liquid to vapourize properly and the flavours to be just right, a lot goes on in the background. In fact, you might be surprised by just how many working parts there are in most vape devices.

One of those parts is called an atomizer. Without this component, vape devices wouldn’t be able to function as they do. So, to help you learn more about atomizers, we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide. Read on to see exactly what it does and which atomizer to go for.

What Is an Atomizer?

It can be argued that the atomizer is the most important part of a vape device. Without it, you wouldn’t get that perfect mix of flavour and vapour. But what is an atomizer? The term is an umbrella phrase used to describe the device component containing the coil heating element and the wick.

The purpose of the atomizer is to hold the e-liquid, transport the e-liquid to the area where it will be heated, and then heat - and thus vapourize - the e-liquid. This component is central to the device and works with almost every other part.

A Brief History of Vape Atomizers

Despite the fact that the first concept of vape devices goes back to the 1930s, the first known concept of the atomizer didn’t come around until about 2010. The initial concept had the atomizer, battery, and e-liquid container as separate entities. This soon evolved into two components, combining the atomizer and the e-liquid container. And finally, the version where all three are one component.

This final version is what we now know as disposable vape devices. Other non-disposable vaping devices will use different versions.

What Are the Different Types of Atomizers?


The cartomizer is seen as an entry-level atomizer. It’s the cheapest on this list and also tends to be disposable. As you would imagine, the quality of this type of atomizer is relatively low due to its cheapness. That means you can expect lower-quality vapour and more maintenance issues like leaks.

You will also need to replace this type of atomizer more often. This is an excellent choice if you are just starting out with using vape devices and want to get a feel for how atomizers work before you commit.


The clearomizer is an upgrade from the cartomizer. In this variation of the atomizer, the e-liquid tank is linked to the battery of the vape device. That makes it one of the second-edition atomizers mentioned in the previous section.

The good thing about the clearomizer is that it’s relatively simple to use, and the tank will last for days or even weeks, depending on how much you use it.

As you would imagine, the benefits of this variation make for a higher price point. It also has the downside that you need to use the entirety of the e-liquid before you can change the flavour.

Dripping Atomizer

Also known as the drip-tip atomizer, this option is great if you’re looking for intense flavour and high satisfaction levels from your e-liquid. This atomizer works slightly differently from the others, which means you add the vape juice directly to the drip-tips. You’ll find this elevates your experience significantly.

The drawback is in the design. It's logistically inconvenient because you need to add vape juice often. You’ll probably find you need to add more e-liquid every three or four puffs.

While the advantages of this type of atomizer are great, so are the disadvantages. Hence, it’s all about working out whether the flavour or the convenience is more important to you.

Pre-Built Atomizer

There are many types of vape devices, and that’s also partly why there are different types of atomizers - but there’s only one type that works when it comes to disposable vapes. Disposable vapes come with pre-built atomizers. Regarding the history section above, this type of atomizer falls into the third version.

The great thing about pre-built atomizers is that they are essentially problem-free. They require no maintenance or cleaning, so all you have to do is puff away. If you’re looking for convenience, the pre-built atomizers in disposable vapes are the ones to go for.

How To Clean a Vape Atomizer

It’s essential to clean your vape atomizer; otherwise residue could build up and prevent your device from working as well. There are three main methods for cleaning your vape atomizer:

  1. Use a cotton bud - take a cotton bud (or more than one if needed) and dip it into a cleaning alcohol solution. Then, gently wipe the atomizer on all surfaces to remove any residue or dirt. Be careful not to press too hard and cause damage.
  2. Soak the atomizer - you’ll use a cleaning alcohol solution in this method as well, but rather than wiping the component, you’ll soak it thoroughly. This is a good idea for those atomizers that are particularly dirty. Leave it to soak for about 30 to 60 seconds, and then wipe away any remaining dirt. Leave to dry before using it again.
  3. Use a paper clip - for those hard-to-reach areas, and if the previous methods have yet to work, use a paper clip to get into the nooks and crannies of your atomizer. This will help to dislodge any stubborn residue.

These methods are ideal for cleaning re-usable vape devices, but remember that if you have a disposable vape, the atomizer does not need cleaning and can be left.

When Should You Replace Your Vape Atomizer?

Whether or not you need to replace your vape atomizer depends on the type of vape device you have. For example, disposable vapes will not need replacing because you simply purchase a new unit when you are done.

However, if you have a device with a removable atomizer, you’ll notice signs such as a burnt or black-looking wick, the e-liquid looking dark or dirty, or the flavour not being quite right. If this is true for you, you should consider replacing your atomizer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do All Vapes Have an Atomizer?

All vape devices must have atomizers because this component is what heats and, therefore, vapourises the e-liquid in the tank. The atomizer is a central element of the vape device and was a game-changer in the history and evolution of vapes.

Is an Atomizer the Same as a Coil?

This is a common misconception, but the coil is a component of the larger atomizer. Generally, atomizers are made up of a coil and a wick. The atomizer is the heating element of the vape device, so it's reasonable to think they are one and the same.

Final Thoughts

An atomizer is the component within a vape device that holds the coil and the wick. It's the heating element and is one of the most important parts of the device. While different atomizers are available, if you'd like to skip the hassle of cleaning and maintaining it, opt for a disposable vape. Disposable vapes have pre-built atomizers and require no upkeep.

To select your next disposable vape, check out WAKA's collection today!

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