Best Vape Cartridge..... A Shell Game
In my feverish search for the best big tank systems I had somewhat neglected finding the best vape cartridge for THC e-juice, as that is not my personal preference for use. So I have met with makers of pen style cartridges in an effort to learn more about the designs and find the best for the needs of Wax Liquidizer’s customers. I came to find that the evolution has included many visible and not so visible variations in material types and designs.
The original pen style cartridge was housed in a metallic case, usually aluminum, and had a piece of cotton or some other type of wicking material with THC oil applied that was then wrapped around a wire.
These were very unhealthy as they often used glues and poor materials for the metal wire. Next came plastic housings and rayon wicks. These too carried similar issues to the first in health-risks. However, the durability and usability was a giant improvement over its predecessor. The next formation with metal tips was even better but still..
The evolution has continued into glass cases and the metal rods with ceramic heating elements of today. However, there are many kinds of each. Some ceramics have cotton wicks and some none. Some have silicone gaskets and some glue..or cotton. The ceramics themselves have varying hardness's and are more or less porous than one another. The coils have wires embedded or wrapped around. There are top flow and bottom flow and side flow and flow through the 510. Mouthpieces have different materials and thicknesses. Larger and smaller apertures. With and without cotton. All of these things dictate the cartridges best use as far as viscosity and liquid type for filling, as well as usage. Therefore, testing would need to be done in order to find the best for our use.
When I set out to find the "best" cartridge I had to keep in mind that some people would want to have a more restricted MTL (mouth to lung) puff and some, especially Happy Vaper, would want to ride the cartridge like Pegasus himself into the cloudy heavens of Olympus. This would require finding not only a cartridge that wouldn't leak if in a hot car but a sweet spot of voltage that would give the best taste and cloud ratio without burning the wick and/or mix.
I fell on black days
Given the evolution of the prefilled cartridges and my problems with cotton wicks when testing big systems I was sure that ceramic was the best material option. Enter the triple ceramic (1.87ohm) holy grail! It had no cotton whatsoever. It was, supposedly, leak proof due to O rings on the top and bottom caps. However, I noted the bottom airflow vent.
In my experience, bottom flow is an undesirable and likely path for your mix to exit. It felt like good quality and was heavy in hand due to a thicker glass tank. I found that to make it very heavy, in fact. I broke a couple when they inevitably dropped/fell/rolled..whatever. There are no threads, just the blue O rings which are placed at a slight angle, so you need to give a slight twist and push to install the top cap/mouthpiece after filling. This is what caused it to leak on me, the first time.
When pushing in one must do it ever so slowly as the pressure can force the mix through the bottom flow. Still, I thought for sure this cartridge was “it”. I mean, it was an all ceramic cartridge...
I whipped up a normal ratio of 2ml Wax Liquidizer to 1g sugar and got to “work”. The flavor was great! Far better than the cartridges I had tested thus far that had cotton. I was elated at first but then I saw it. Ooozing from the aperture came the unwanted site of darkened mix.
I knew immediately that I was at the wrong voltage for my usage. Long story short I could not find a setting that would give decent vapor and good taste with our mix. At lower settings and with a very slow draw you could get decent flavor but it sometimes flooded the airway. Higher settings produced better clouds but taste was harsh and then it blackened.
I tried other “all ceramic” cartridges and even though they were often tastier than their partially metal counterparts, they continuously darkened or flooded. Perhaps further ratio testing is needed but If I can’t make it work with ease...it isn’t good enough for me to recommend as "the one". Personally, I think they are too delicate to handle very much heat, which users of THC e-juice are likely to create:) Having said that, I'm sure they have their use as they are a quality product..even if not the best choice for our specific needs.
I have found several cartridges which are decent enough and some that are great for their respective style i.e. MTL/DTL. Some just don’t have a good enough setting for all user-styles, which was the point of my search. I would run into the black oooze again and again during testing due to the wrong voltage and cartridge designs in my attempts to produce large and tasty clouds. Too much would give a harsh taste and not enough produced little vapor and often flooded mix into the airway. Admittedly, I am more demanding of the cartridges due to my goal of finding one that can fit every style of inhalation...and not leak or blacken.
Let me clarify, for everyone, that a Wax Liquidizer mix will work in almost any vape cartridge, with very few exceptions. You simply have to find the right cartridge for your style, use with the proper voltage, be sure to allow wicking and don’t overheat the coil. Your local shop should be knowledgeable about the best settings and operation for their particular cartridges but I have another method for my search for the "best".
The "magic" number
When seeking out the best vape cartridge for THC e juice and your style, find the ohms of the cartridge and add 1.4 to give you the estimated voltage for its use. For example, your cartridge reads 1.39ohms so you add 1.4 = 2.79Volts. Now subtract .3 = 2.5Volts. Test it. If taste is good but clouds are poor then increase by .1 = 2.6. Test. If you increase beyond the initial rating of 2.79 you will increase the likelihood of burning your wick/coil/mix. However, some pen style cartridges operate with a little more heat and some with a little less. The Winner of my “Cart-search” actually is a bit better with .1-.2 more volts. Though it requires extra caution when using at above the initial rating. The Runner up tastes a bit better at lower voltage than its initial rating. This is why we test.
This type of testing is possible because I use a regulated mod with a tank airflow controller. The mod allows me to move throughout the whole range of voltages in .01 increments. The controller allows me to use cartridges with airflow through the 510. This prevents my being limited by preset values of a variable voltage battery.
Therefore, this is something important you must consider, beyond aperture size, when purchasing a cartridge i.e. what is the ohm-rating and what is your battery output. I also use a standard 2:1 ratio for all cartridges except larger aperture Ccells. Firstly, I do not find Wax Liquidizer to work well with those Ccells. They are made for a far higher viscosity and thus have a very porous ceramic. I do not suggest them as such. But if you are in a pinch, try a 1:1 ratio. Be sure to inhale VERY slowly, however, and use the higher end of the rating i.e. turn up the heat. Now, without further adeiu….
The winner by an air..flow
The Amigo Liberty V9 (1.19ohm) used at 2.5-3.0V is the best I have found in versatility. It doesn’t leak and has an adjustable top airflow to fit MTL or DTL. It has a wickless ceramic coil and cotton gasket. The housing is metal and glass. The weight is heavy and it feels to be even better quality than the all ceramic cartridges. Though it still feels light in comparison to the runner up. I used the cartridge in the below pic, properly, at it’s highest threshold of 3V and it never darkened. It was the 3rd such test.
Some interesting things to note. This cartridge has suddenly become VERY popular. So much so that at the time of writing there is a 1 million+ piece back order in China. I also have info that says this cartridge is being improved and, interestingly, involves one or more of the same ideas I have for improving it. Could it be that they are scanning my brain waves or maybe it’s Serendipity - Happy Vaper?
Fill to just below the 1ml line to prevent overflow during reassembly. Leave the now full cartridge upright to wick for at least 15min to ensure the coil is "juicy". I find that closing off one set (2) of the 6 holes provides good draw and decent flavor for long drags. When taking a longer puff be sure to pulse for heat.
Pulsing: When inhaling, slowly, and holding the fire button you will hear a “spray” sound, more so at higher voltages, which means it is producing your vapor. Continue inhaling but release the fire button for a second and then press again for a couple of seconds. This keeps the coil from overheating and the continuous draw helps wick and cool faster.
So in an 8-10 second inhalation you should pulse it a few times. You will develop a feel for this method quickly as the taste will be poorer when you do not pulse. Repeated failure to use best practices will result in darkening any cartridge. After a few successively looong drags let the filled cartridge rest for a few seconds to cool. Touch the cartridge to know when it has returned to ambient temperature before continuing. Close the air-vents when not in use.
All the caution may seem silly but when you put extreme demands on such a small tool it takes its toll. Your costly elixir resides inside. Treat it as such i.e. delicate and precious. Remember that we are vaping not combusting. Remember to inhale slowly on any cartridge to allow the coil time to vaporize the mix. Also, avoid drawing too hard in order to prevent any un-vaporized liquid spitting into your mouth. If you ride the heat and don’t allow it to wick or you use the wrong voltage...any cartridge will turn black and/or burn the wick/gasket/coil, as depicted with the V9 in the below pic.
You can still use it but the taste would be worlds better if you were more cautious. In some designs liquid may enter the air-path due to several problems. If this happens, put a paper towel around any air-vents. Point the 510 connector to the ceiling if the vent(s) are on the bottom and towards the floor if on top. Then blow short quick puffs into the mouthpiece until dry. Then try increasing the voltage by a max of .1 increments. If liquid continues to flood into the airway after continuing use, despite being at the proper voltage, the mix will need to be removed and coil changed or a new cartridge used, as the coil/wick/gasket has likely burnt or the apertures/atomizer are inappropriate for use.
The photo finish
The Liberty wins, marginally, because it is suited to a wider audience with the adjustable airflow. The YGreen SC1 is much better suited to MTL style draws though it is possible to simulate, albeit awkwardly, a DTL style draw.
The large mouthpiece on the YGreen SC1 (2.72ohm) acts like a heatsink, which helps keep the coil/wick area cooler for longer. In fact, the YGreen is slightly tastier than the V9. However, its higher ohm rating requires more voltage than the V9. I have had leaking from neither the V9 nor the SC1 in several environments.
Note that unlike the V9’s top airflow, the SC1 has its airflow through the 510 area. That means you must have the appropriate battery or a tank airflow controller, if you want to use it with your mod. Also note that the voltage for the SC1 and our mix is best at 4.0V. You can use it at 4.2V but the taste is better at the lower voltage and still produces enough vapor. Again, choose your battery accordingly and remember that this cartridge needs a bit more juice so get at least a 350mah. It is a simple cartridge to fill i.e. unscrew mouthpiece, fill, reassemble and allow to wick for 15min.
You can find the Amigo liberty V9 many places online.
Contact BJ Emery for questions and prices on the YGreen SC1:
(801) 949-7855 / BJ@YGreenLife.com
I will update everyone when and if I find the next best vape cartridge for THC e-juice.
Until next time, thanks for reading and be sure to check back for more soon. Articles are stacked up one after the other and are only getting more interesting!