What Is a Vape Atomizer? [Clearly Explained…]

Before you begin searching online for the best weed vaporizers, you’ll first need to understand some vaping terminology. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the various parts of a vape pen or desktop vaporizer. You don’t need the same level of knowledge as Jürgen Bickel, just a general grasp of vaping lingo.

In this article, we will answer the question, “what is a vape atomizer?” That way, you’ll be able to search for the best vaping products with a relative degree of confidence and knowledge.

We’ll also point out a few key differences between some of the best atomizers out there on the market today. Hopefully, then you can find the best vaporizer for your needs and have the best possible vaping experience.

So… What Is an Atomizer?

A vape pen atomizer is the heating element that converts the cannabis e-liquid (or other concentrates) into an inhalable vapor. To be clear, though, the atomizer is typically an umbrella term. It is used to describe the unit that holds the e-coils (heaters), as well as the wick. The wick delivers the e-liquid juice to the coils where they are heated up.

The Battery

Without a battery, you don’t have a power supply. And without a power supply, you can’t heat the coils. And of course, if you can’t heat the coils, then you can’t produce a vapor.

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The Cartridge

This is the small compartment where the e-liquid or vape juice is held. It is sealed off from the heater coils and only comes into contact with the wick. Cartridges can be either disposable or reusable. *Also please note that some vape pens do not have cartridges, but are instead “Drip Tips.” With Drip Tips, you have to add a few drops of e-liquid every few puffs.

The Wick

The wick (usually made of cotton fibers) comes into contact with both the cartridge and the electronic coils. It gets saturated with oil inside the cartridge. The oil travels along the cotton fibers until it comes into contact with the e-coils. When the e-coils are heated up and operating at the desired temperature, the vapor is produced.

The E-Coils

The coils are the heating element. They receive a direct power source from the battery and can heat up to temperatures between 180℉ and 500+℉. (Please note that the atomizer refers to the unit that contains the e-coils and the wick.)

The Mouthpiece

The mouthpiece is the part of the vaporizer that you inhale the vapor from. As you can see, vaporizers are relatively simple units.

When you understand the basic components, you have a pretty good idea of how they work. Then it’s more apparent what the specific job of each component is.

However, once you get into the technical specifications and various types of atomizers and e-coils, things become more confusing. Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular kinds of atomizers to get a better understanding.

Difference Between Atomizers in Vape Pens: The 306 vs. 401 vs. 801 vs. 510 vs. 901 (Size Threads) Atomizer

You may have heard people talking about the 306 atomizer vs. a 510 atomizer (or a 401, 801, 901, etc.). What they’re referring to is the atomizer’s thread size (note: the 306 and a 510 atomizer share the same connection). A lot of different companies will have their own proprietary thread size/style. This is to prevent customers from using or interchanging their products along with someone else’s.

source orb atomizer

A more significant difference between atomizers though is the actual type of atomizer that’s being used. These are the main differences between clearomizers, cartomizers, and dripping atomizers.


The cartomizer is more or less the cheapest type of atomizer out there. They usually come in a pack of three or five and cost anywhere between $10 and $30. Most cartomizers will attach right to a standard 510 battery, and are the universal method for entry-level vape units.

In terms of pros and cons, the significant advantage of cartomizers is that they’re very cheap and disposable. As they are disposable, you can swap a new one in for an old one when you want to. You can do this when you want to change e-liquid flavors or if your old one runs out.

The significant disadvantages, of course, are that the vapor quality is not the best. They tend to be of inferior quality than other options, which means more leaking and more mess.


This type of atomizer uses a refillable tank that attaches directly to the battery. These units are incredibly convenient and low-maintenance. You fill them up with your favorite vape oil or e-juice and are good to go. They can last for days or weeks on end (depending on how much you vape).

The disadvantage of clearomizers is that they are a more expensive option than a cartomizer. Also, you can’t change up flavors all that much, either. Once you’ve got the tank filled up, you’re pretty much stuck with it for a while.

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The DRIPPING ATOMIZER, or “Drip Tip Atomizer,”

These types of atomizers are what some would call the ‘purists’ atomizer.’ With this type of atomizer, you have to add the vape liquid drip by drip directly to the atomizing unit. The atomizing unit can be either bridged or bridgeless, and then you have to attach the tip to take your puffs.

The significant disadvantage of drip tip atomizers is that they’re pretty inconvenient. You have to add 3-4 drops of e-liquid, for example, for every 3-4 puffs that you take. If you vape continuously throughout the day, this is probably not the best option.

However, most vapers agree that drip tip atomizers have the purest and hardest-hitting taste of all the atomizer units. If you prefer taste over convenience, then a drip-tip might be the way to go.

What Is An Atomizer? Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this article sheds some light on the question “what is an atomizer?” We could have gone into a lot more detail about the various technical specifications of atomizers and vaporizers. We could have discussed ohms, mAh, batteries, wattage, etc., but we’ll save that discussion for another time.

Feel free to leave a comment on or on our Facebook page. Or you can ask any questions that you want answered. Also, head on over to our 2021 Vape Review Guide to take a look at what we think are this year’s best weed vaporizers!

Enjoy, and happy vaping!

Brand Name
Our Score
  • Da Vinci IQ
  • Vote best for 2021
  • Excellent vapor quality
  • Warm-up: 80 sec
  • Battery: 25 Min
  • Temp: 350-430°F
  • Price: $274.99
10% Coupon Code: SAVE10
  • Pax 3
  • Highly Portable
  • Reliable and Discreet
  • Warm-up: 20 sec
  • Battery: 25 Min
  • Temp: 350-430°F
  • Price: $199
  • Atmos Jump
  • Operates with one button
  • Durable & Compact
  • Warm-up: 7-10 sec
  • Battery: 30 to 40 min
  • Temp: 395°F
  • Price: $59.95
  • G Pen by Grenco Science
  • Complete temp control
  • Extremely compact and easy to carry
  • Warm-up: 30 sec
  • Battery: 1-2 hour
  • Temp: 200°F to 428°F
  • Price: $49.95
  • Apollo VTube V5.0
  • Voted one of the best Mods
  • Atomizer can fire as low as 0.2 ohms
  • Warm-up: 10 sec
  • Battery: 1 hour
  • Temp: 212°F to 572°F
  • Price: from $49.95
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