Atomizer Vs Cartomizer Vs Clearomizer

Alrighty Vapors, it is Throwback Thursday and if you are an expert who knows their stuff, then this blog might not be for you. The point of these Thursday blogs, is to bring back some basic information for those who need reminding about certain hardware. Todays blog entails the main differences between atomizers, cartomizers, and clearomizers. All three devices either are, or house, your heating element.

First we’ll talk about atomizers. Atomizer is a very general term and is used very loosely in the e-cig world, but let me try and define it for you. An atomizer is the metal wire, or coil, that is wrapped around a wicking device (ie. silica, cotton, pollyfill, etc.) that is attached to a battery to heat up your e-juice. When most people hear atomizer, they think of the small replaceable/ disposable piece in their e-cig tank, and while this is not wrong, an atomizer can also be a single stand alone device (ie. 306 atomizer), can be built from scratch (ie. rebuildable dripping atomizer, or just rebuildable atomizers) and atomizers are also found inside of cartomizers.

Every single electronic cigarette has an atomizer in some form.

Now its hard to talk about pros and cons of atomizers, since they show up in so many different forms, and really if you are using an e-cig, you are using an atomizer. So we can talk about some of the pros and cons of using a cartomizer, a 306 atomizer, using a tank with an atomizer (clearomizer) and using a rebuildable dripping atomizer (RDA) or rebuildable atomizer (RBA) system.

Do keep in mind though, that a lot of this comes down to personal preference, and will take some experimentation with different devices to discover which one will work best for you.

So, a cartomizer is a very basic atomizer device. It consists of a metal tube with an opening on the top and 510 threading on the bottom, so you can screw it into your battery. Inside the tube there is a single metal wire in the very center that is surrounded by a pollyfill wicking material. This pollyfill ensures that the coil is always surrounded by e-juice, so that when you fire your battery the e-juice surrounding the metal wire heats up enough to be vaporized. Unpunched cartomizers have the ability to be stand alone devices (devices that you can twist on to your battery, fill, prime and start vaping) but you can also purchase cartomizers that have one or two holes punched on the outside of the tube so that you can place them in a tank, so you don’t have to keep dripping to re-soak that polyfill.


  • ~ Holds more juice than your basic atomizer.
  • ~ Easy to refill.
  • ~ Low cost.


  • It is almost certain the cartomizer will retain old flavors when refilling with something different.
  • If not primed properly(making sure you give the pollyfill time to soak up the e-juice and become saturated), the probability of getting a burnt taste is pretty high.

A 306 atomizer is very similar to a cartomizer in function, but a bit more limited in what you can do with it. So a 306 atomizer looks like a cartomizer right off the bat when you open it. There is a tube, which in this case is plastic, with an opening on one end, and 510 threading on the other. But with a 306 atty the tube part can be pulled away from the bottom 510 end to expose a small metal coil wrapped around a small silica wick. 306 atomizers can only be used as stand alone devices, meaning you have to drip e-juice on the coil every 10 or so puffs off of it to make sure it stays saturated.


  • These devices are really good for testing flavors. After a couple of puff on one flavor you can dry burn the remainder off (to fire your battery but not pull on it), and drip another flavor right on top.
  • Easy to fill.
  • Low cost.


  • You can’t place these atomizers in a tank, so you’re stuck dripping.
  • These atomizers give some pretty intense dry burns in you forget to drip and fire on a dry wick.

A clearomizer is a tank that houses your replaceable/disposable prebuilt atomizer, that is either made out of plastic or glass, with either a window, or a fully clear tank that you can see your e-juice in. There are 4* main parts on the clearomizer that make it a working unit. You have the mouthpiece or drip tip, where you place your lips to pull the vapor into your mouth. The drip tip screws into the tank itself, which is either completely clear or with a window, where you store your juice. The base is what screws onto the bottom of your tank, keeping it from leaking and where the replaceable/disposable atomizer is screwed into the unit.

*There are many different types of clearomizers out there. Some clearomizer tanks only have three main parts, with the drip tip and tank being one piece.


  • Able to store from 1.6 ml to 5 ml of juice
  • That clear aspect allows you to see how much juice you actually have left to use
  • Easy to learn for beginners


  • Pricier than building coils for atomizers and just getting the cartomizers
  • If not put together correctly, the probability of leaking is high
  • The wicks will retain flavor if reused unless cleaned properly

Rebuildable atomizers (RBA) and rebuildable dripping atomizers (RDA) are a bit more advanced than any of the other atomizers we’ve discussed so far. With a rebuildable atomizer you are taking the raw materials (the wire and wicking material) and building a coil from scratch. Users of RBAs build their coils on a device or deck, and because they are able to wrap their own coils, they can control the resistance or ohms of the coils they build. Because of this extra control, RBA and RDA builders need to have a good understanding of electricity and the relationship between ohms, volts, watts and amps.


  • Dripping allows you to ring the best taste out of your flavors.
  • Able to create any coil build for optimal vape clouds.
  • After the initial purchase of a RDA or RBA device, low cost of raw coil building materials.


  • Just having to keep dripping onto the wick, not something you bring with you on the go.
  • You need to know how to build the coils, and what is needed to build coils.
  • You need to have a working knowledge of electricity and Ohm’s Law.

All of these devices have their pros and their cons, but it really comes down to you to decide which one is the best for you. Experimenting with different devices can help you if you want something specific or you are wanting a certain taste out of your e-cig. My suggestion would be to dry each one at least once, then you can get the best experience out of your vape.

Something to think about:

Please leave your comments if you have at least tried one of the above and what your experience was, especially if you have a certain taste preference.

Tim Mechling

Tim is Mt Baker Vapor's resident creative weirdo. He writes, composes music, draws, designs, produces podcasts, investigates, and blows the trumpet for the Common Man.

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