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Mouth to Lung vs Direct to Lung Vape Guide

Mouth to Lung vs Direct to Lung Vape Guide

If you’re among the millions of smokers that are trying to quit, odds are that you’ve considered vaping as a viable option. However, vaping can seem intimidating and complicated. As a beginner, it’s important to understand the basics before diving in.

It’s easy to see what the marketplace has to offer. When it comes to vaping, learning the “how should I vape?” is just as important as the “which device will work best for me?”. In other words, you should understand the two fundamental vaping styles before making that first purchase.

Today we’ll be covering the two basic vaping styles: Direct-to-lung (DTL) vaping and mouth-to-lung (MTL). Both of these inhalation methods provide their own unique set of advantages, but generally work best with specific vape juice and equipment.

Chances are, the device you end up purchasing won’t even be a conscious choice. Many vapers default to one approach or the other. But if you want to widen your horizons or don’t feel like you’re really enjoying your experience, switching styles might be just the thing.

That said, let’s take a look at the two different vape styles and see what’ll work best for you.


When MTL vaping, you suck the vapor into your mouth and let it linger for a moment before finally pulling down into your lungs. This should be easy for any former smoker to master, since it’s the most popular technique used when smoking cigarettes.


Because of its similarity to cigarette smoking, newer vapers prefer to use this method. Aside from simulating the action of smoking a cigarette, the overall sensation comes remarkably close. The burning or tingling in your throat (throat hit) is subtle, creating a smoother sensation when compared to the much harsher (and less authentic) direct-to-lung method.

Mouth-to-lung is also the best choice for people looking to experience the maximum flavor and minimum cloud creation. Since the vapor sits in your mouth for a moment, it gives your tongue a chance to really taste the nuanced undertones of your favorite flavors. The low cloud production of MTL vaping is also great when vaping in public places—or any spot that you don’t want others to be annoyed by massive vapor clouds.

Lem'nBerry E-Juice

Getting Set-Up

If the mouth-to-lung vaping technique seems like it appeals to you, there are a few things you need to consider before getting started.

Equipment: If saving money is important to you (as it is for most of us), mouth-to-lung vaporizers—such as ‘vape pens’ or ‘cig-a-likes’—are generally dirt cheap and overqualified when it comes to getting the job done.

If you decide that you can’t be bothered by a small vape pen and want to use something more advanced, be sure that you’re running your mod on a lower wattage (no higher than 15-20 watts) and use a coil that’s 1.2 ohms or higher for the best possible MTL vaping experience.

Juice: When purchasing your e-juice, you’ll want to find a flavor that’’s combined with a higher PG content than VG ratio (for example: 40/60 VG/PG) is preferred by MTL vapers for two reasons. Generally speaking, an e-liquid flavor that’s mixed with a higher PG content will provide a punchier throat hit, thus simulating a harsher throat hit that’s similar to the sensation of smoking cigarettes.

Secondly, PG tends to carry flavor better than high VG e-liquids. Simply put, mouth-to-lung vapers will enjoy e-liquids that have a higher PG content because of its flavor-enhancing properties and the satisfying throat hit that comes with it.

Nicotine Strength: Mouth-to-lung vaping is also the preferred vaping style for those that need large amounts of nicotine to get the job done. Low-wattage devices combined with high-nicotine vape juice offers a tremendously smooth and flavor-filled vaping experience. Countless people have found that higher levels of nicotine are no longer necessary with this vaping method, and have successfully lowered their nicotine consumption in the long-term.


As the name implies, direct-to-lung inhalation is all about inhaling the vapor straight into the lungs. It’s essentially the same thing we do when we take a normal breath. For the recent ex-smoker, DTL vaping might be counter-intuitive if they’re trying to simulate the sensation of smoking cigarettes. If you’re one of those people, your best bet might be to avoid direct-to-lung vaping until you become more familiar with vaping.


Unlike MTL, direct-to-lung can get pretty intense. Depending on the nicotine content in the vape juice, a throat hit could be the furthest thing from smooth. Think back to the time you smoked your first cigarette and nearly coughed up a lung. After a while, you became less sensitive to it and were able to smoke comfortably. With vaping, it’s the same situation.

But let’s say you’re ready to change. Aside from a harsher hit (that will get smoother over time), don’t expect as much from the flavor department. This doesn’t mean the flavor will be muted or bad, but just not as intense.

One final thing to consider is that direct-to-lung vaping will lead to significantly increased cloud production. Granted, this can be loads of fun if you’re into “cloud chasing” and mastering tricks; however, it’s far from discreet in public, so be polite to those around you and keep your distance from other people.

Getting Set Up

The things you need for a proper direct-to-lung experience are as different from MTL as the technique itself. It’s important to have a proper setup if you want to get the best DTL vaping experience.

Equipment: The first thing you’ll need is a sub-ohm tank and a device that can put out some decent wattage. You may have to fork over a pretty penny (upwards of $100 or more) for a solid regulated box mod setup, but there are many unregulated tube-shaped sub-ohm products (tube mods) that’ll run you $50 or less.

There will also be a noticeable difference when it comes to the coils. While MTL coils are typically small and made with artificial fibers for wicks, sub-ohms tanks are loaded with organic cotton and feature significantly larger wicking ports. This allows the wick to saturate rapidly with e-juice, thus creating an almost non-stop flow of e-liquid to your coils and creating massive clouds of vapor.

Juice: The next thing you’ll want to do is grab some e-liquid that’s high in Vegetable Glycerine. As we mentioned earlier, high VG e-liquid is thick like molasses and will be best suited for the cloud production DTL vapers are looking for. At the very least, you should be looking at scooping up vape juice that’s 70% VG or higher.

Nicotine: Here’s where things get dicey – and why direct-to-lung vaping isn’t necessarily suggested for newbies that are making the transition over from the stinky sticks. Because of the sheer amount of vapor that’s being inhaled, nicotine levels above 6mg should not be considered when focusing on DTL vaping. Anything higher than 6mg for the newbie will most likely produce a painful burning sensation in the throat and lungs, thanks to the incredible amount of vapor and it's high nicotine content. A respectable rule of thumb is to cut the nicotine content in half when switching from a MTL vaporizer to a sub-ohm direct-to-lung setup—and even half might not be enough. Better to start small and work your way up.


We’ve covered a lot, so let’s quickly lay out the differences between mouth-to-lung and direct-to-lung.

Mouth to Lung


  • Preferable for new vapers
  • Best simulates smoking a cigarette
  • Smoother throat hit
  • Better flavor
  • Lower cloud production
  • Can use high nicotine
  • Best with high PG liquids
  • Low-wattage device




  • Advanced technique
  • Doesn’t feel like an authentic cigarette
  • Harsher (but becomes smoother with experience)
  • Diminished flavor
  • Massive clouds
  • Lower nicotine content suggested
  • Works best with high VG liquids
  • Used with sub-ohm setups


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Steve Wilson - September 21, 2021

GOOD BREAKDOWN!! Probably the best I’ve read. So many ppl have this all convoluted!

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