We’ve all been there, wondering if we are the last people on the planet to decipher the mystery that is the four strand braided wire, or what the heck a twisted 28 gauge quadruple vertical coil is. Or why on earth people are building coils out of ribbons, because really that doesn’t make any sense at all.
Well, here is the beginning of the Rosetta Stone on coils. It all starts with a lovely, lonely, strand of wire, and the quest that every coil builder goes through to get that wire some new friends in the form of an atomizer, some wick, and maybe a couple more coils for good measure.
I give you “Wires, and What the Heck does That Mean?”
Kanthal is a round wire. It’s the old faithful of the building community.
Its round shape makes it easy to wrap without overlapping your coils, but it can be difficult to work with because it tends to kink and is not as pliable as you might desire. You can heat the wire before wrapping it by using a torch or lighter, and that will help a bit, but it can still be a bear when you’re trying to make complicated coils, especially in the lower gauges. Kanthal A-1 is a ferritic iron-chromium-aluminum alloy (FeCrAl alloy), which basically means it can get really hot, has high resistance, and it won’t rust. All good things. You can find Kanthal in any vape shop, and it sells for about $9 for thirty feet. The Kanthal brand is a supplier of all types of wire, so if you choose to buy it online from a site that is not dedicated solely to vaping you will want to look for Kanthal A-1 resistance wire. Vapowire is the main supplier of Kanthal to the vaping community. Kanthal is measured in gauges. The smaller the gauge is the thicker the wire will be. The thicker the gauge, the lower the resistance. You can find Vapowire in sizes ranging from 20 to 34 gauges.
Ribbon Wire is a flat wire. He’s the new kid on the block.
Due to it's shape Ribbon Wire is more manageable than regular Kanthal in some ways, and much more difficult in others. Ribbon wire is more pliable than regular Kanthal, however it can be very difficult to keep your coils from overlapping. It has the same chemical makeup as regular Kanthal, but a lower resistance.
This one is a little harder to find at your local shop, so you might want to call ahead or order it online. It will run you about $4 for five feet, so it’s significantly more expensive than regular Kanthal. Vapowire also distributes ribbon wire, but they don’t dominate the market as much. No matter who the supplier is make sure that ribbon wire is A-1 resistance wire. Ribbon wire is measured in millimeters. It is generally .1 mm thick and the width is variable. It can range in size from .9 x .1 to .4 x .1 It has a lower resistance per foot than regular Kanthal, so you need to keep that in mind if you choose to build with it.
Variants include twisted and braided wire. These are the weird and insane wires. They are a little scary at first, but cool once you get to know them.
Twisted wire is when you take two lengths of Kanthal and twist them together. They can be any gauge or combination of gauges. The idea behind twisting wires is that you can lower the resistance of your coils while also increasing the surface area, which, in theory, produces more vapor.
If you’re feeling extra fancy you can twist a ribbon wire with a regular wire and get something that resembles a teeny tiny drill bit.
Braided wire is what happens when you braid three or more strands of wire together. You can make a loose braid, or a tight braid. The idea is the same as twisted wire, but with even more surface area, because if two is good then three must be great, and four will just be insane! Before you get all worked up and start on your 64 wire braid make sure that you keep in mind what all these wires are doing to your resistance. Always use and OHM reader, and always be safe.