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An atomizer is typically composed of a wicking material which draws e-Liquid into the device and a heating element which vaporizes the liquid. Wrapped around the wicking is a resistance wire which if activated heats up and turns the liquid into a vapor. The quality of the vapor that an atomizer produces is largely reliant on it's voltage output. Typically the voltage will run anywhere from 1.5 ohms to 3.0 ohms. Some home made coils can go down to 0.2 ohms and produce thick clouds of vapor but they may also pose a safety risk if used improperly.
With the standard three part design that was originally standard for electronic cigarettes the e-liquid container and the atomizer were two separate components. These days the two part electronic cigarette which combines these two pieces are more common. However, there is a range of different designs that users need to know about.
The cartomizer is the most common type of e-Juice delivery system for your standard electronic cigarette. A cartomizer is composed of a heating element and a poly-foam which holds the e-Liquid. At the end of the cartomizer is a "drip tip" which is another name for the mouth piece.
If you want to extend the capacity of a atomizer you can use a cartotank. When the cartomizer is used it needs to have some way for the liquid from the tank to reach the coil. To achieve this holes or slots will be made in the side of the cartomizer. One of the advantages of using a cartotank is that juice levels can be easily monitored.
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A clearomizer is made up of a clear tank into which the atomizer is placed. The major difference between a cartomizer and a clearomizer is that the poly foam is not used with a clearomizer. Instead a clearomizer uses string like wicks. There are two different types of clearomizer - top coil and bottom coil. With a top coil clearomizer the device needs to be agitated horizontally in order to feed e-Liquid to the wick. With a bottom coil clearomizer you can simply allow gravity to work it's magic to feed the device.
So which is best? Well, there is no one answer to that question. As with any passionate group of hobbyists, hardcore electronic cigarette users often debate the merits of cartotanks vs. clearomizers vs. cartomizers. The fact is that the right choice is the one that you suits your lifestyle and needs best.