Mouth to Lung vs. Direct to Lung Vaping | What’s the Difference?

The vape marketplace has a lot to offer and, as a beginner, learning how to vape is as important as learning the best device to use. Most vapers make the mistake of using a specific vaping style on a device that it is not suitable for. This is not a good idea, especially for beginners who quit smoking because if they do not get the satisfaction they are looking for from vaping, they might go back to smoking. The chances are that, when you begin vaping, the device you buy first won’t even be a conscious choice and its functionality might end up frustrating you.Today, let’s look at two vaping styles, Mouth to Lung and Direct to Lung Vaping,  as well as the best devices and juices for them.

What is mouth to lung vaping?

Mouth to lung vaping (MTL) refers to inhaling vapor into your mouth and letting it linger there for a while before inhaling it into your lungs. To vape mouth to lung, take a draw on your vape device, hold it in your mouth then inhale it into your lungs before exhaling it. 

MTL is the best vaping method for most new vapers because of its similarity to smoking cigarettes. Some longtime vapers also prefer this method because the technical limitations of early e-cigarettes only allowed them to vape MTL and they got accustomed to it.  

What does MTL vaping feel like?

MTL vaping comes close to smoking a cigarette. This method produces a tingling sensation in any vaper’s throat. This sensation is known as the throat hit. Compared to direct to lung vaping, MTL produces a smoother throat hit. 

Which devices should I use for MTL vaping?

Vape devices which have tanks that use high ohms coils (1.0 and above) are the best for MTL. This is because they keep the vape at a right temperature enabling them to produce a good flavor. You can use MTL with sub-ohm devices, but the vape will get uncomfortably hot, and flavor production will be diminished.  

The devices made for MTL have small coils made of artificial fibers. Thus, they do not need manual wicking. These devices are best run on low wattages, preferably 15-20 watts. Using a coil with 1.2 ohms or higher guarantees that you enjoy MTL. 

Which e-juices are suitable for MTL?

E-juices have varieties of flavors to choose from. Aside from that, they are either made of Propylene Glycerol (PG) and Vegetable Glycerin (VG). Most e-juices mix PG and VG and it is vital to choose the best PG/VG ratio for your device and vaping style.

E-juices that have a high PG content are the best for MTL vaping. These juices give a good throat hit, similar to the one you get from smoking cigarettes. Also, they are suitable for the types of devices that are used for mouth to lung vaping. A 50:50 and above PG/VG ratio works well with this style of vaping.

Can I use any nicotine strength for mouth to lung vaping?

If you need high nicotine to feel satisfied after vaping, then MTL is the best vaping style for you. The nicotine strength to use for this vaping style depends on your needs. If you were a heavy smoker, you should go for e-juices with high nicotine and wean down gradually. This way you will avoid getting withdrawal symptoms. Generally, mouth to lung vaping requires higher nicotine levels compared to direct to lung vaping. Hence, if you do not want to vape on high nicotine juices, this method is not suitable for you.

What are the benefits of MTL?

Cooler vape: MTL is done with low battery power devices, hence the vape does not become too hot.

Helps in quitting smoking: MTL vaping devices are designed to give the feel of smoking the standard cigarette because the vape is inhaled the same way a cigarette is smoked. The throat produced by MTL is gentle but satisfying; hence it is suitable for casual vapers and beginners.

Better flavor: in MTL, you inhale the vapor and allow it to sit in the mouth for some time. While it sits in the mouth, the vapor interacts with taste buds allowing them to sense the flavor. PG based e-juices carry flavor better, hence they are ideal for this method of vaping. 

Uses less e-juice: e-liquid is vaporized at a much slower rate because of slow inhalation, which makes it last longer. 

What are the downsides of MTL?

Outdated: many vape devices have been invented, and others modified to function and look better since vaping began. MTL vaping relies heavily on traditional vaping devices which lack some essential features. Most vapers consider this method outdated.  

Weaker: compared to direct to lung, MTL gives a smoother and less satisfying hit.

How is MTL different from direct to lung vaping?

In direct to lung vaping (DL), you inhale vapor directly into your lungs without letting it stay in your mouth first. Direct to lung vaping is also known as straight to lung vaping. It is similar to taking a deep breath of air while pursing your lips. If you are using a device with adjustable airflow for this kind of vaping, it is important to open the air holes to allow for a more airy vape. 

What does direct to lung vaping feel like?

Direct lung vaping is more intense compared to MTL and some vapers might find it overwhelming. It tends to produce a harsher throat hit. Since the vape is heated at high temperatures, it is best to take quick draws to avoid hot vapes. 

Which devices are suitable for DL?

This style of vaping requires a mod or rebuildable atomizer with a sub-ohm (below 1.0homs) tank. Sub-ohm devices support good vapor production; hence this method is suitable for cloud chasers or anyone who enjoys doing vape tricks. Also, it is more powerful than MTL, and it is known to cause coughing and choking among inexperienced vapers. It is important to note that sub-ohm devices are not suitable for newbies, especially those who do not understand ohms laws.

The coils used for DL are noticeably larger compared to those used for mouth to lung. Sub-ohm tanks require large wicking ports to allow the wick to rapidly saturate e-juice and provide a non-stop flow of e-juice to the coils. Since the wicking material in these devices passes through the coils, they must be larger.

Which e-juices are suitable for DL?

Sub-ohm tanks heat e-juices at high temperatures. Thus, they work best with e-juices that have a high viscosity. That said, DL vaping is best done with e-juices that have a high VG content since they are more viscous. Also, they require much more power to heat, which sub-ohm tanks provide. VG based e-juices give smoother throat hits, and they are excellent for vapor production. In addition to this, VG based e-juices offer good cloud production which is what most DL vapers are looking for, as opposed to flavor.

Which nicotine levels should I use?

As we mentioned earlier, DL is more intense than MTL vaping. This means that when you use high nicotine e-juices for DL, you will get a harsh throat hit which will most likely give you a painful burning sensation in the throat. 

DL vaping is done with a more powerful device compared to MTL, and that is why you get more vapor. More vapor translates to a lot more nicotine hitting your throat. Hence, a concentration of 1mg/ml to 3mg/ml is preferred by most DL vapers. 

If you’re making the switch from MTL to DL, the rule of the thumb is to use half the nicotine content that you used for DL. Sometimes, even half might be too much. Instead of risking a harsh throat hit, it is better to start with low nicotine and work your way up until you hit the sweet spot.

What are the benefits of DL?

Satisfying: a direct lung hit is more intense compared to a mouth to lung hit. The DL hit feels more satiating to most ex-smokers and smokers who prefer a stronger throat hit.

Clouds: VG based liquids, which are used in direct to lung vaping, produce dense and vast amounts of clouds which are very satisfying for cloud chasers. 

What are the downsides of DL?

Less flavor: VG based e-juices, which the best for this vaping style, do not carry flavor well. If you are looking for flavor satisfaction, this method is not for you.

Limited: you cannot exercise flexibility with PG and nicotine when using this method. You have to use low levels or else you get a painful throat hit. 

Risky: as we mentioned earlier, DL vaping requires some basic knowledge, and this makes it unsuitable for beginners. You must draw quickly to avoid hot vapes. Also, you must tweak your level of PG and nicotine to prevent harsh hits. Most importantly, you must ensure that your e-juice does not run dry or else you get dry hits from burnt cotton.


This has been a discussion of mouth to lung and direct to lung vaping. From the facts presented, it is evident that both styles allow vaping enjoyment, but they use different devices, e-liquids and nicotine levels. As a beginner, it is good to understand these vaping styles as they will help you select the best vaping device for the vaping style you prefer. It is important to note that direct to lung vaping is more complex than mouth to lung vaping. Hence, if you are just starting out, begin with MTL and work your way to DL.

You may also like our article on whether or not vaping causes heart attacks!

Caroline Sparks

Writer, Vaper, Advocate Have an idea? Comment below!

  • Mitchell says:

    I’m still using my Kanger Evod to vape mouth-to-lung, and I see no reason “work my way to DL.” I quit cigarettes and continue getting the satisfaction of the taste and nicotine. That’s why I vape. It’s discreet and unobtrusive. I’m too old (mature?) for any “cloud-chasing” fetish!

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