What’s the Difference Between MTL and DTL Vaping?
Jun 21, 2022
When you first learn about vaping, you’ll come across the names of two vaping techniques: Mouth-To-Lung vaping and Direct-To-Lung vaping. At first glance, these two similar-sounding terms can be pretty confusing.
What’s the difference between the MTL and DTL, and why does there seem to be a huge divide between the types of vaping?
To help you learn the differences and find out which vaping style is best for you, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide, covering the differences in vaping experience, the differences in the type of hardware and e-liquids necessary and which option is better for new vapers.
What is Mouth-To-Lung vaping?
Mouth-To-Lung vaping is the vaping style which is most similar to smoking a cigarette. With MTL, a vaper draws the vapour into their mouth, holding it there before inhaling it into the lungs. Unlike cigarette smoking which involves short drags, MTL vaping requires smooth long draws for the best vaping experience.
Vapes designed for MTL vaping such as starter kits, pod kits, and vape pens tend to have a tight, restricted airflow that is similar to the sensation of drawing on a cigarette.
Why choose MTL vaping?
MTL was the original type of vaping that early e-cigs and cig-a-likes used. Today, MTL vaping is still popular among former smokers and new vapers. If you’re using a vape with coils above one ohm, for example a pod kit or a disposable vape, MTL is the style for you.
MTL vaping is preferred by those who prefer a more intense mouth feel and a stronger throat hit. This is a popular sensation amongst former smokers in particular. Mouth-To-Lung vaping also doesn’t produce a lot of vapour, making it perfect for discreet vaping in public.
Finally, Mouth-To-Lung is considered a more cost-effective way to vape because the smaller amount of vapour inhaled means that you get through your e-liquid at a slower pace and require fewer refill purchases.
What is Direct-To-Lung vaping?
Direct-To-Lung vaping, sometimes referred to as Direct-Lung vaping or Straight-To-Lung vaping, is where you inhale the vapour directly into your lungs without holding it in the mouth first. This inhale style is similar to that of a shisha.
By taking a smooth, long draw of around 3-5 seconds, vapers can enjoy large amounts of vapour that is released when they exhale. DTL draws are very airy as the large airflow openings allow air to pass through the drip tip as the user inhales.
Why choose Direct-To-Lung vaping?
Direct-To-Lung vaping enthusiasts often choose this style because of the larger vapour production, the pleasurable flavours on the inhale and exhale, and the smooth throat hit. It’s the preferred choice of sub-ohm vapers, including those who use RBAs (Rebuildable Atomisers) such as Rebuildable Dripping Atomisers or Rebuildable Tank Atomisers.
As Direct-to-Lung inhalation isn’t as familiar a sensation as Mouth-to-Lung inhalation, and because it often uses e-liquid with a low nicotine content, DTL vaping is less popular among new vapers. However, many vapers start with MTL vaping and move to DTL over time.
Which vaping style is best for me?
If you’re new to the world of vaping, you might be wondering: ‘which vaping style is best for me?’
The truth is, many vapers start with MTL and continue with this style of vaping, graduating to more powerful and feature-rich MTL kits such as the Aspire Zelos X Kit. Meanwhile, others move on to DTL vaping and sub-ohm kits. Which one you use depends on your personal preferences, the type of vape device you use, and the e-liquids you enjoy.
To help you figure out, let’s compare some of the key aspects of Mouth-To-Lung and Direct-To-Lung.
Vaping device and coils
The type of vaping you do depends on your hardware – lower-powered vape pens, disposables, and pod kits are ideal for MTL vaping. These are often smaller and usually feature coils above 1 ohm. (Side note: there are now some sub-ohm coils designed for Mouth-To-Lung inhalation, such as the Aspire PockeX Kit’s coils which are 0.6 ohm).
Mods with sub-ohm tanks (and occasionally pods) and coils below 1 ohm are better suited to DTL vaping.
There are many features that make a vape device better for one type of vaping. For example, MTL vapes have smaller coils, less space for airflow, and smaller mouthpieces, creating that distinctive tight draw. DTL devices have bigger coils, often using mesh coils for a larger surface area for heating and airflow, and more space for air to pass through in the mouthpiece.
Overall, if you want to use cheaper, pocket-friendly and discreet pod kits or vape pens, MTL vaping will likely be the best choice for you. On the other hand, if you want to use powerful mods with big batteries and sub-ohm coils, DTL is a better choice.
MTL vaping is best done with 50/50 e-liquids which contain an equal balance of VG (Vegetable Glycerine) and PG (Propylene Glycol). VG is responsible for vapour clouds while PG carries the e-liquid flavour, making vape juice with an even balance of the two. Nicotine salts are also a great choice for MTL vapers as these 50/50 e-liquids deliver rapid nicotine absorption and a smooth throat hit, allowing you to vape more without discomfort.
50/50 e liquid is preferable for MTL devices because opting for an e-liquid with high levels of VG (a thick, viscous liquid) in an MTL device will likely clog the small wicking holes. E liquids do not tend to be available in PG ratios higher than 50% as this can provide a harsh throat hit that can be uncomfortable for vapers.
DTL devices with larger battery power and an increased amount of vapour inhalation requires the use of an e-liquid that is high in VG – 70% VG and above is usually suitable. Because VG is responsible for vapour production, a vape juice containing a higher proportion of it allows vapers to enjoy bigger clouds.
In summary: if you love 50/50 e-liquids and the smooth nicotine rush of nic salts, MTL is for you. If you want to try chasing big clouds with high VG e-liquid, try DTL.
Another thing that differs between Mouth-To-Lung and Direct-To-Lung is the level of the nicotine in the liquids. E-liquids with a higher nicotine strength such as 12mg or above are suitable for MTL vaping, making this a great choice for anyone trying to quit smoking and keep the nicotine cravings away.
However, because DTL vaping gets through vape juice faster, it’s important to use a lower-nicotine e-liquid for this vaping style. Many vapers opt for 3mg, while 6mg is considered the maximum for this style. Too high a nicotine percentage in a DTL device can lead to uncomfortable throat hits and may cause slight dizziness due to the volume of e liquid which DTL devices use.
Overall, if getting your nicotine fix is an important part of vaping for you, we recommend MTL. If nicotine is less important, DTL can be a great choice.
Cloud-chasing versus flavour-chasing
While some vapers love blowing huge clouds of vapour and doing vape tricks, others are content trying to achieve the best flavours from their e-liquid. These are colloquially termed cloud-chasers and flavour-chasers, although there’s no need to be one or the other!
Both MTL and DTL vaping styles provide a flavoursome experience for consumers. However, some vapers argue that Mouth-To-Lung vaping provides the best flavours from their vape because holding the vapour in your mouth allows the taste to be appreciated more. As with most vaping ‘this-or-that’ debates, many vapers argue the opposite, due to the high VG concentration in DTL vaping. If impressive dense clouds appeal to you, DTL vaping is the way to achieve it.
In summary, flavour chasers can enjoy both MTL and DTL vaping, whereas cloud chasers are more drawn to DTL vaping.
Can I use an MTL device for DTL vaping and vice versa?
It’s hard (although not impossible) to do the other vaping style with your device. For example, a sub-ohm vape kit designed for DTL vaping will produce a huge amount of vapour. It’s very hard to do MTL vaping with this amount of vapour because it will make you cough.
On the other hand, vapes designed for MTL tend to have smaller batteries and coils above one ohm, meaning that they produce far less vapour. Trying to inhale this vapour directly into your lungs would be disappointing because there will not be enough to enjoy.
So, trying to do one style of vaping with a device designed for the other tends to be a bad idea.
Is there a middle ground between MTL and DTL?
Although some vapers sit firmly in the MTL or DTL camps, the truth is that these two vape styles are not as distinct as they may seem. In recent years, we’ve seen a rise in popularity of Restricted-Direct-Lung (RDL) vaping, an inhalation style that is somewhere in between MTL and DTL. Airier than MTL, this style also has a stronger throat hit than DTL. It’s a nice middle ground for vapers who enjoy both inhalation styles.
If you’re looking for a vape kit that allows you to adjust the airflow to adapt the vaping style to your preferences, try the Voopoo SEAL Kit which provides a more variable coil and airflow range than most MTL devices.
Overall, the choice of vaping style is up to you and nobody can make the decision for you. Don’t forget that there’s no need to stick to only one type of vaping – many vapers have multiple kits for different styles, depending on whether they want a flavourful, discreet, or massive cloud-producing vape.
If you want to experiment with the two styles, we recommend trying one of our intermediate kits such as the Innokin Sceptre Tube Kit which offers adjustable airflow for both types of vaping.
Need more help finding your perfect vape? Get in touch today and we’ll be happy to share our advice and recommendations.