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Flavor Comparisons: Clearomizers, RBAs, and Bridgeless Atomizers

There’s a lot of awesome things about vaping. You smell better, it’s fun to blow huge plumes of vapor, there’s a lot of cool gizmos and gadgets to experiment with, and best of all – there’s so much flavor! Tasting all of the different e juices out there is one of the things that I enjoy most about vaping.  I can’t actually eat anything with gluten or dairy (due to having Celiac’s and a severe dairy allergy and lactose intolerance), so I’m severely limited as far as what I can actually eat. Being able to taste things that I love via vapor has been a real god send since I can’t snarf down whatever I freaking want if I happen to be craving ice cream or a cinnamon roll.

Taste, Taste Baby

If you’re a flavor chaser, like me, chances are that you’ve encountered your fair share of e juice flavor reviews. But I’ll be honest with you, just because someone gives a juice a good review, that won’t guarantee that you’ll like the juice as much as the reviewer. There are a lot of different factors that influences how the vapor will actually taste for you. Taste is subjective, everyone has a different pallet, and everyone different flavor preferences.

Your gear one of the most important cogs of the taste machine.

One of the most important (if not THE most important factor) is the type of hardware actually used to vape the e juice, because each type of device accentuates different flavor and vapor characteristics. The same juice will taste drastically different when vaped with different set-ups because of different combinations of watts/volts/amps, coil types/positions, wicking materials, etc. So let’s take a look at a few different set ups and explore how each one effects the flavor of your vapor.

What I used for POWER

For each test between the different types of atomizers and headers, I’ve used the following batteries:

  • MVP 2
  • eGo-styled battery
  • Brass Setinel V3 clone
  • Sigelei 8w caravela clone
  • both mech mods were fired with Efest and AW batteries

How clearly can you taste with a dual-coil clearomizer? 

The iClear 16 is the clearomizer we’ll be using for this test. I have vaped with an iClear straight from the box, as well as having rebuilt it a number of times using different wicking materials (cotton, yarn, sterilized cotton, silica – you name it). Regardless of the wick and battery type, this type of clearomizer failed rather spectacularly when it comes to producing flavor. Every single flavor that I’ve tasted with the iClear 16 tasted incredibly muted, regardless of the PG and VG ratio, or even any amount of extra flavor shots.

With the iClear 16, all subtleties are lost. Cinnamon Bun from Mt Baker Vapor is simply doughy, sort of like eating cinnamon roll dough before it has been cooked and without the majority of the cinnamon and sugar. Rather unpalatable. This goes for each flavor I tested with this (over 30 flavors from 7 different companies). All were muted, all subtleties were lost, and most had no reflection left on the original ejuice flavor.

There is one definite plus for the iClear 16: Overpowering flavors work rather well. For me, Mt. Baker Vapor’s Hawk Sauce is way too sweet in a non-RBA. It’s so sweet that my teeth actually ache after vaping it. But in the iClear 16 clearomizer, Hawk Sauce actually tastes pretty darn good,  and has even become one of my favorite flavors – but only with a clearomizer.

Clearomizers get a 4 out of 10 in the flavor department and a 6 out of 10 in the maintenance department. It is easy to buy replacement heads or re-thread new wicks.

Will you be blown away by an RBA? 

Using a RBA definitely ups the ante when it comes to flavor production. Compared to the clearomizer, the flavor coming out of a RBA is so rich that the clearomizer almost tastes like vaping plain ol’ air – seriously, the difference is that huge. The RBA brings out all the subtleties within the flavor. It produces so much flavor that some juices can be way too strong and intense – but if you ask me, more flavor is ALWAYS wonderful.

I’ve re-built my RBAs with coils at o.5 Ohms, all the way up to 2.5 Ohms, double and triple coils, coiled with braided wire and even ribbon wire, using organic cotton, sterilized cotton, and silica wicks. These are some of my favorite devices to vape with, since they’re extremely customize-able and produce amazing flavor.

The RBA does have one serious down-side: It’s kind of a hassle to change flavors. Every-time you switch flavors, you have to go through the process of cleaning it out, removing the old wick, dry burning the coil to de-gunk it (or even make a new coil, which then you have to test it’s resistance), rolling up a new wick, re-wicking it, and then finally using 8-15 drops to saturate the wick. You have to go through that entire process each time you change your flavor before you can even think about vaping – unless you want to mix your flavors, which can either amaze or horrify your pallet.

RBAs get a 9 out of 10 in the flavor department and a 5 out of 10 in the maintenance department. It is a bit more of a hassle to re-build these atomizers which takes more time. 10 out of 10 in the tinkering scale. These devices let you tinker and adjust your vape to your heart’s content!

Last, But Certainly not Least – the Bridgeless Atomizer

I’ve been using the Long Barrel Atomizer from Kidney Puncher. It is a single coil bridgeless atomizer.

Remember how amazing the RBA is? Well, this atomizer blows any and every RBA completely out of the water. It’s crazy easy to use and the flavor is seriously INSANE. For example, Cinnamon Bun from Mt Baker Vaper with a 50/50 ratio, 24 mg, and 2 flavor shots tastes so strong, that it tastes a cinnamon roll fresh from the oven. In a RBA, you still taste everything, but instead of a “right out of the oven” flavor, you get more of a “cooled down for a few minutes” flavor. Sure, it’s still good, even excellent – but it’s definitely not the same.

Comparing the bridgeless atomizer to the clearomizer is like comparing the intelligence of an ant to Einstein, because  there’s just no competition (E=MC^PWN3D). Sometimes, the flavors are far too sweet or strong, such as Mt Baker Vapor’s Hawk Sauce. My teeth ache when I vape it with a bridgeless atomizer.

Even though the brigdeless atomizer is amazing, there’s still a negative: You are dripping and vaping your juice only 2-3 drops at a time. Use more than 3 drops, and it will leak – unless you use a drip-shieldYou also have to keep a bottle (or a few bottles- depending on your vaping habits) with you wherever you go since you can only drip a few drops at a time. However, changing flavors is exceedingly easy because you only have to pulse and dry burn the atomizer for a few seconds, until there’s no vapor (roughly 2-3 seconds once or twice), then add a different juice – that’s it. 

The Long Barrel Atomizer gets a 10 out of 10 in the flavor department and a 10 out of 10 in the maintenance department. Have had mine for 4 months and there are no issues. Do 2 to 3 3 second dry burns and you are ready to go.

So why even bother using different devices?

Because different flavors taste better on different devices. If the flavor is too strong or too intense, such as Hawk Sauce or a too minty Mint Julep, then I’ll go with the clearomizer. Otherwise, I go with the bridgeless atomizer 9 times out of 10.

There are a few flavors that taste better in one of my RBAs, same with the clearomizer, but for the most part I use my  bridgeless atomizer. The ease of use, ability to change flavors quickly, no maintenance requirements or costs, and all the flavor more than offsets the need to carry bottles of juice with you throughout the day. I clearly prefer the bridgeless atomizer over all others due to flavor and ease of use, but I will not be giving up on the other types because you just never know when you’ll need a clearo or an RBA.

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