Dripping 101

Vape_April_2016_WEB159When many beginning vapers first hear about “dripping,” some rather interesting images often come to mind. The terminology seems to imply a process of placing tiny drops of e-liquid directly onto the wick or coil instead of filling a tank. While this process sounds simple enough, why would anyone want to do this in the first place? Vaping is already fun and easy. Just fill the tank, and vape away until the battery needs recharging, right? Well, not so fast. Dripping opens the door to a whole new world.

Dripping and Donuts

As newbies transition into more experienced vaping enthusiasts, many quickly turn into a kind of e-liquid connoisseur. They love experimenting with different flavors, blends, and brands, and may even begin creating their own. While this is all part of the fun of vaping, buying ten bottles of e-liquid every week can quickly wreak havoc on the wallet.

  • So what happens when the e-liquid doesn’t live up to its marketing hype?
  • Is the manufacturer simply trying to pull a fast one?
  • Why doesn’t the e-liquid taste as great as the Vlogger or Facebook post suggests?
  • What if the bottle lists the perfect combination of impossibleto- find flavors, but the e-liquid still tastes bland?
  • What is the buyer supposed to do next? Should she simply pour the e-liquid down the drain?

E-liquid doesn’t grow on trees. It costs money. Dripping might be a better alternative to tossing that bottle of e-liquid in the trash. Luckily, dripping also tends to produce bolder, richer flavors. It’s like heating a Krispy Kreme in the microwave before eating it. The donut still has the same combination of tasty ingredients, but the chocolate-covered delight always seems to taste even better with a good zap of high heat.

Now, the donut-lover can heat the circular pastry in the microwave, roast it over an open flame, or place it in a convection oven. Different heating methods tend to produce slightly different overall tastes. Dripping works in very much the same way.

Dripping Defined

Dripping, in its purest form, requires nothing more than applying e-liquid directly onto the coil/wick. Beginners might start by pulling out the polyfill material in a simple 510 cartomizer before hitting the firing button for a few seconds to burn off the residue, but most choose to purchase something called a dripping atomizer, which can cost as little as $20. An RDA (Rebuildable Dripping Atomizer) component uses a “deck and posts” to achieve the drip effect. There are hundreds of different options on the market, allowing the ability to build single, dual, or even quad coils, depending on the brand.

All RDAs involve heating the juice directly from the coil and wick located on the deck and posts. However, every RDA alters the overall dripping experience in a slightly different way, depending on the model, its individual features, the selected wicking materials, the type of coil wire, and the personal dripping techniques of the vaper. The unlimited number of possible combinations is what makes dripping so much fun.

Dripping Pros and Cons

Once vapers learn that dripping tends to boost the flavor of their favorite e-liquids, the next likely question becomes, “Why isn’t everyone doing it?” The simple answer is that dripping is not for everyone. It comes with its share of interesting advantages while offering some rather compelling disadvantages at the same time. Some people drip all the time. Others drip only certain brands of e-liquid. And some vapers use the drip method to taste-test lots of different flavors in a single sitting. Before newbies consider dripping as an alternative style of vaping, they first need to learn some of the pros and cons.

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  • Bolder, Richer Flavor: A more direct heat applied to the e-liquid only enhances the flavor.
  • More Massive Cloud Production: Dripping tends to produce bigger clouds, making this style of vaping very popular among competitive cloudchasers.
  • Economical: As long as the vaper is careful when dripping the e-liquid onto the coil, then dripping can be very cost-effective. Instead of constantly losing tiny amounts of e-liquid during every tank change, vapers only vape what they drip.
  • “Lung Hit:” Dripping allows the user to inhale the vapor directly into the lungs without the temporary delay of holding it in the mouth. This slightly different inhaling technique is popular among dripping advocates because it provides a more robust experience, commonly called the “lung hit.”
  • Taste-testing: When checking out your local vape shop, dripping is a quick and easy way to taste-test a variety of interesting new blends.


  • Time-consuming: While vaping with a traditional tank tends to last for the length of the device’s battery charge, dripping generally requires a re-dousing of the wick after every few hits (there are certain exceptions though).
  • Messy: Direct dripping requires a steady hand. Otherwise, the vaper is at risk of wasting premium e-liquid. When it comes to dripping, less is more. Only three or four drops does the trick in most cases, especially for beginners.
  • Inconvenient: Dripping requires the vaper to be constantly carrying at least one bottle of e-juice at all times. Therefore, dripping while on a cross country road trip is probably not the best idea.
  • Takes Practice: Perfecting the Art of the Drip takes a bit of practice. Newbies to dripping can easily become frustrated before ultimately finding their groove.
  • Can be costly…at first: Until the vaper perfects his or her dripping technique, expect to go through e-liquid at a much faster rate.

Direct Dripping: Step-by-Step

Dripping is not a new invention. Long before the invention of the RDA, vaping enthusiasts were using dripping as a way to enhance the overall vaping experience. The basic method, also known as direct dripping, is not an overly complicated process to learn. The most challenging part of the entire process is keeping the hand steady to avoid wasting valuable and pricey e-liquid.

  1. Open the atomizer of the personal vaping device.
  2. Look inside for the coils and the “bridge,” which is usually a small piece of V-shaped wire mesh sitting directly above the coil.
  3. Place three or four drops of e-liquid directly onto the coil. If the coil is not visible, perhaps due to the manufacturer’s design of the vaping device, place the drops onto the bridge instead.
  4. Attach the drip tip.
  5. Inhale, enjoy and repeat. Remember, direct dripping usually only provides a few hits at a time.

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RDAs, RBAs, RTAs, and RDTAs

One of the primary reasons that newbies often get so confused is the strange terminology that the vaping community tends to use. Learning the lingo is an important and essential step in the learning process. While each term refers to a type of vaping equipment, the most important thing for newbies to remember is that all of these acronyms can be used for dripping.

• RDA or Rebuildable Dripping Atomizer: Sometimes called a dripper, an RDA lacks the standard tank that holds the extra e-liquid. There is a system of deck and posts that offers the ability to build customized coils that the vaper eventually uses to catch and burn the dripping e-liquid. The number of posts will vary, depending on the model and the maximum number of coils that is possible to build. But all RDAs work on the same concept regardless of the number of posts.

All RDAs have one “positive” post (usually located in the center of the deck) and one or more “negative” posts (located on the sides). Most posts contain a tiny hole near the top. The user threads the wire through these holes before screwing down the bolt on top of the post to hold it in place. If the posts have no holes, then the wire remains in place by sandwiching it between the post and the bolt.

If the device has more than one negative post, this means that the unit has the capacity to house multiple coils. In some of these cases, the middle positive post might even have multiple holes to allow for easier manipulation of the wire.

• RBA or Rebuildable Atomizer: The RBA has a deck and posts just like an RDA, but the RBA also comes with a tank. This device offers the best of both worlds: dripping and standard vaping. Users still build individual coils, but the inclusion of a tank allows the vaper to transition the device instantly from a dripping atomizer to an everyday vaping device.

• RTA or Rebuildable Tank Atomizer: RTA and an RBA have exactly the same meaning. The two terms are interchangeable.

• RDTA or Rebuildable Dripping Tank Atomizer: Sometimes called an auto dripper, an RTDA offers the unique ability to self-drip the e-liquid onto the coils, reducing much of the muss and fuss of traditional dripping practices. In general, the user achieves the dripping effect by pressing down on the drip tip, which initiates the device to drip the e-liquid onto the wick.

Vaping technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and new equipment is consistently flooding the market. When entering into the world of dripping, newbies should remember that just because an RBA costs more doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the better choice. Veteran vapers usually recommend purchasing a simple, inexpensive RDA or RBA with only two or three posts in the early stages of learning to drip vape.

Take the time to experiment with different dripping techniques and e-liquids. Do you like the harsher lung hit? Does dripping give you too much cloud production? How much do the tastes of your favorite e-liquids improve with dripping? Before going on a shopping spree and purchasing hundreds of dollars in different coil wires, wicking materials, and dripping attys, take a little time to learn if dripping is something that you really like. Dripping can be a great deal of fun, but remember, perfecting the Art of Dripping takes patience, practice, and more than a little creative experimentation.


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