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Ways to vape: mouth-to-lung and direct-to-lung – which to choose?

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Those new to vaping are usually intrigued by it because it’s an activity that enables them to experience the all-important nicotine ‘hit’ delivered by conventional smoking, but without all the toxic, nay carcinogenic ingredients that tobacco smoke so hazardously contains. For that reason then, would-be ex-smokers may be surprised, at first, to learn there’s a great deal of variation and choice when it comes to the vaping experience – not least in how exactly you can vape. Speaking of which, there are two quite different ways to vape. The following explains them in detail.

Mouth-to-lung vaping

Mouth-to-lung vaping (MTL or M2L) is all about inhaling vapour and allowing it to collect and congregate in your mouth before allowing it to slip down into your lungs. Those who have come to vaping from smoking – that is, they’re maybe looking for a far healthier alternative to smoking tobacco but one that’ll still deliver a nicotine ‘hit’ – will be familiar with it. After all, it’s a similar action to smoking, where one draws in smoke from a conventional cigarette and holds it in the mouth before releasing it down into the lungs.

Traditionally, mouth-to-lung vaping was the default vaping style, as the earliest e-cigarettes tended to be designed not just to visually resemble conventional ciggies but also mimic the way in which you ‘smoked’ them. Nowadays, though, mouth-lung-vaping’s adopted more out of choice than necessity, what with the great evolution e-cig technology’s undergone in the last decade or so.

So, why would a vaper make this choice in favour of direct-to-lung? Well, should an e cig liquid you’re wanting to vape possess a high propylene glycol (PG) content, mouth-to-lung is likely to aid getting as much as the delicious flavour out of the e-liquid – and that’s irrespective of the nicotine level of the particular e-fluid, ensuring that should you be looking to decrease the nicotine content you’re consuming with each hit, mouth-to-lung vaping will comfortably accommodate this too.

Direct-to-lung vaping

So, as you may have now guessed, direct-to-lung vaping (DL) is simply the act of drawing vapour from an e-cig device straight into the lungs, without it lingering in the mouth; meaning, of course, it resembles natural breathing. For many vapers then, direct-to-lung vaping is usually considered more enjoyable and satisfying than mouth-to-lung vaping – and these vapers tend to be the sort who’ve been vaping a while and for which it’s become a hobby (either they’re used to building their own devices or they enjoy ‘cloud chasing’, for instance).

Direct-to-lung might then be described as a more connoisseur vaper’s choice of vaping than mouth-to-lung. Such vapers for whom, having successfully moved on from smoking, receiving an adequate nicotine hit to substitute for the hit they received from tobacco smoke is no longer the biggest draw of vaping; for direct-to-lung requires either low-nicotine or nicotine-free e-fluid (nicotine-free being classed as between 0mg and 3mg of the e-liquid’s content). Why so? Because direct-to-lung results in a more direct hit to mouth-to-lung, an inevitable result of which with higher nicotine levels is bound to bring on a spout of coughing or an unpleasant experience.

To this end, an e-liquid that contains a higher ratio of vegetable glycerine (VG) than PG (thus, less of a lung hit, but pleasingly much more vapour cloud) is advisable with direct-to-lung, as is a vaping kit that offers air flow control because it enables you to adjust the air flow as and how you see fit to control how satisfying the vaping the experience is. So, direct-to-lung is all about enhancing the vaping itself, rather than it being a means to an end; or merely an alternate nicotine delivery system.

Mouth-to-lung versus direct-to-lung

So, just to reiterate, the salient points to take away here are:

  • Mouth-to-lung is better for a throat hit, as it’s effectively designed to stimulate smoking
  • Direct-to-lung is often the choice of vapers wishing to ‘cloud chase’ and control and get the most out of the flavour of the e-liquids they’re sampling and enjoying
  • Mouth-to-lung is better if you wish your e-liquid to last; direct-to-lung uses it up faster.


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