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Thread: Wires explained !

  1. #1
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    Yes.... and no. Short answer - Most people are using Kanthal or 316L Stainless Steel these days. Buy that and be happy.


    Here's a quick rundown on some of the material types you'll find kicking around these days. A lot of this has to do with temp control, as that's a big part of why people started moving away from Kanthal in the first place :

    Kanthal : Bog standard been around for years FeCrAl. Specifically made as a heating wire, and made so the resistance stays as stable as possible at all temperatures - so it can't do temperature control. Pretty much serves as the benchmark for other wires.

    Ni200 : *For use with temperature control ONLY* The first of the "temp control wires". Has the biggest resistance changes as it heats, so it's the easiest and most reliable to do temp control with. Most early TC mods (and really cheap mods) support doing TC with Ni200 only. Ni200 is a bit softer than Kanthal, and much more springy - some people really don't like working with it (coils can bend and snap legs easily - Ni200 requires a delicate hand, particularly in thinner gauges. Does not do well in Kuro style coilers). Some people also think it tastes weird. You cannot dry-burn Ni200. Ni200 wire is best suited for spaced coils only.

    Ni200 is temp control only for two reasons. Firstly, when overheated (glowing red) it breaks down and becomes toxic. Secondly, the resistance for a given length is CRAZY LOW compared to any of the other types of wire we use. For example, the average Subtank RBA head coil I knock up in Ni200 is a whopping 0.08 ohms. That's not a typo. Were I to make a coil of the same specs in Kanthal, it'd come out closer to 0.5 or 0.6 ohm. As you can imagine, most regulated mods will refuse to fire such a coil in VW mode as it would exceed the amp limitations of the mod. Being a near hard short, you sure as hell don't want to mistakenly put a Ni200 build on a mech!

    Titanium (mostly Ti1) : *For use with temperature control ONLY* The second of the temp control wires, titanium got popular because it addressed some of the problems with Ni200. It is easier to build with, being not as springy as Ni200, most people report that it tastes significantly better than Ni200, and doesn't have a crazy low resistance. Resistance changes a fair bit when heated, but the variance isn't as much as Ni200 - but it's enough to do TC with quite well. However - it's not without issues of it's own.

    Titanium is HIGHLY TOXIC when overheated - maybe even more so than Ni200 (but that is unconfirmed and debatable). Many spools from Chinese suppliers came covered in graphite residue (from the manufacturing process), which is extremely difficult and time consuming to clean off. Titanium can catch fire when overheated - which is VERY bad, as titanium fires cannot be extinguished with water (but luckily - as far as I know - that isn't something that happened to anyone while Ti wire was popular).

    Although the resistance of titanium wire is high enough to turn off TC and fire titanium coils in VW mode for dry-burning, for obvious reasons this is a really bad idea. Never attempt to dry-burn titanium.

    Stainless Steel (mostly SS316 and SS316L these days, but SS304 has also been used. SS430 may be popular in the future) : *Can be used in both VW and TC modes safely! * Stainless steel is one of the most popular wires these days (mostly SS316 and SS316L, as these are what most pre-built SS heads are and what most "temp control with SS" supporting mods have pre-programmed curves for), and for good reasons. People report that it's giving flavour that is as good as - and often better than Kanthal. Building with it is similar to Kanthal - the resistances are similar (both sane! ), only it's a little stiffer. It's still very easy to build with, can be used with Kuro style coilers, and can be made into both spaced and contact coils - though temp control works far better with spaced coils.

    Stainless steel is safe to be run outside of temperature control, as it's not known to give off anything nasty. Some think that it may even be safer than Kanthal in that regard. SS can be dry burnt, but may turn blue or black. If you remember the brief fad of "flame colouring" stainless steel mods and drip tips - yeah, like that.

    The resistance of stainless steel does change a TINY bit as the wire is heated, so it can do temp control. However - the resistance does not change anywhere near as much as with Ni200 or Ti, so those changes can be more difficult to detect. The mod needs internals fine enough to detect SS resistance changes - which meant that some of the early and cheap "TC with SS" implementations were a bit flakey. All the big name manufacturers have it all sorted now though - my VTC Mini for example does SS TC surprisingly well, I have a SS clapton in a Wotofo Serpent on it right now.

    For some totally unfathomable reason, a small number of pre-built "stainless steel" coil heads - like those for the Uwell Crown - come with not-SS coil legs! (the Crown legs are nickel, for example). This throws off the temp control curve, as TC expects the entire coil to be made from the one material. To get around this, you may need to use a manual TCR setting (as the pre-programmed SS curve might be inaccurate) - something that is likely an average between the different materials, and hope you can hit a value where TC doesn't act erratically. Good luck!


    Sidenote : For a DNA 200 to detect a coil as a temperature sensing coil (and not drop back to wattage mode), it needs to jump up 150 degrees almost instantly when you hit the fire button.

    If you are running stainless steel (which does not change resistance much when heated) in some big multi-strand coils (like 3mm claptons or something) the ramp up time may be preventing that from happening. Upping your applied wattage (if you're on the go), or you pre-heat wattage and / or pre-heat punch (when you get home and have access to eScribe) may fix the issue. It is possible that other auto-detecting TC mods work on a similar principal (I had issues with my VTC mini throwing back to VW mode on some SS claptons too - upping the wattage also fixed it). This is only really a SS thing in my experience though, likely due to how tiny the resistance changes are (ie, you need to heat the coil a LOT before there is a detectable resistance change).


    Other wire materials like NiFe and Platinum exist and are used by people (though not widely), but I don't have any experience there so I can't comment on them. The bulk of my experience is with Kanthal (of course), Ni200 and SS316/SS316L, with one or two builds with Ti before I gave up cleaning the graphite off it .
    Robray, btobw, laurie9300 and 12 others like this.
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  2. #2
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    Just to add there was a very informative vplive podcast on wire this week, click bang which aired Thursday
    It's available on soundcloud and iTunes
    Went into great detail about ti wires
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianS View Post
    Went into great detail about ti wires
    Yes, and why Ni200 is a bad idea...

    Ni200 going in the bottom drawer. I didn't really like it anyway and only made about two builds with it.

    Link to the ClickBang podcast: Debate: Both Sides Of The Boutique Wire Argument Square Off
    Last edited by fabricator4; 28-05-16 at 02:36 PM.
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  4. #4
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    Great write up . Interesting re SS coils being too big and turning off TC. I think that what i was getting makes sense. If i heated up the wire, e.g. used it in VW mode for a couple of hits. Then TC would keep after that. Obviously i'd warmed up the coils. Fantastic.

    One thing, are you able to add a similar note for Nichrome80 seems to be popular and I'd love to see what you have to say about it.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Volition View Post
    Great write up . Interesting re SS coils being too big and turning off TC. I think that what i was getting makes sense. If i heated up the wire, e.g. used it in VW mode for a couple of hits. Then TC would keep after that. Obviously i'd warmed up the coils. Fantastic.
    Fractal didn't mean it turns off the TC program, he meant having non-resistant (NR) legs on the (prebuilt) coil throws the TCR curve out of whack and isn't accurate.

    The reason is a bit convoluted, so no problem if this is TLDR
    The theoretical TCR for SS 316 is 088 (which actually means 0.00088 ohms/degreeC) however there's two problems with this: the coil heats from the centre, and the legs hardly get hot, or at least not as hot as the coil. Since the coil and legs don't heat evenly the maximum temperature is higher than the overall resistance would suggest. It's a bit hard to get your head around but I think what is happening is that in a normal coil, the resistive legs are acting like an *extra* resistance that is not involved in the vaporisation process, making the real TCR values non-linear. A good TCR value to use for SS 316 is 092 or 093, 092 being quoted often on the internet but because of the non linear nature of the resistance it depends on how you like to vape and what sort of coils you are using. A lot of mod manufacturers seem to do something different so that the presets for SS 316 often seem to work like a TCR of 100 or 105. On mods that have preset for SS, if there are problems with accuracy a TCR of 092 should be tried and go from there. Lower TCR values will make the vape cooler, higher TCR values will make it hotter because the mod will try to raise the resistance higher.

    For NR-R-NR coils (they have nickel or silver non resistive legs on the coils) this throws all of these adjustments out. I'd guess that for these wires you'd need to use a lower TCR, closer to the theoretical value but I don't really know since I don't have any NR-R-NR wire to test.


    One thing, are you able to add a similar note for Nichrome80 seems to be popular and I'd love to see what you have to say about it.

    Ni80
    is Nichrome, 80% nickel 20% chromium. I think the main reasons it is so popular is it's cheap, highly available, and very easy to work with. A lot of pre-built factory coils that use an unspecified wire are Ni80, so vapers have been using since day 1. It's probably one of the first wires that was used though other variations of Ni60 etc are common too. We don't have data yet on whether or not Ni80 decomposes at vaping temperatures. It seems likely that it decomposes slightly at dry burn temperatures which is why Kanthal A1 is so popular for commercial heating applications - its an alloy of iron, chromium and aluminium and is much more stable at higher temperatures. Nichrome has a useful resistance for vaping: 10cm of 26g wire has a resistance of around 0.85 ohms - slightly lower than the same size Kanthal.

    The TCR value for Nichrome is higher than Kanthal, but at 0.00011 (theoretical) it's a bit low to give good results on current technology devices, which means it's useful only for a VW/VV replacement for Kanthal A1. Personally, I have some reservations about Ni80 and would prefer to use Kanthal A1 or SS 316 for VW/VV/mech.

    We just don't have hard data on wire decomposition or safety as it relates to vaping temperatures but from what we do know, I'd recommend wires based on *safety*only* in the following order:

    1. Titanium (Ti1)
    Yep, much maligned but one of the safest wires since it is known to not decompose a vaping temperatures, and has no known allergy or other biological reactions. The problems with Ti1 are more to do with how you use it:
    * If you dry burn it, it get's hot enough to form titatanium oxide, a known toxic substance for the lungs (but it's safe to ingest - it's used as white food dye).
    * It's really stiff and springy, a PITA to coil
    * It's difficult to draw so carbon is used as a lubricant for the die. This embeds carbon in the surface of wire requiring it to be cleaned before use. I've found non-ammonia glass cleaners the best thing for cleaning, alcohol based cleaners don't even touch it.
    Premium Ti1 wire for vaping should be cleaned and annealed which would make it much easier to use, but that also makes it quite expensive. Ti1 is mostly used for temperature control devices as it has a TCR value between SS316 and Ni200. It can be used for VW however the very low resistance makes it problematic for most regulated devices, and probably inadvisable on a mech mod.

    Kanthal A1
    There's no hard data for vapers to look at, but as far as we can tell Kanthal is extremely stable and does not decompose to any appreciable amount. Dry burning should be fine with Kanthal and it hardly even discolours under normal use and dry burning.

    316 Stainless Steel (SS316)
    SS316 is generally considered to be safe by vapers. There's not been any relevant tests done on it to my knowledge but as far as we know it does not decompose. Discolouration after dry burning is caused by a chromium oxide layer. The oxide layer is stable at welding temperatures and as far as we know it's perfectly safe at vaping temperatures - but this is the reason I have to rate it below Kanthal for safety. It's fairly easy to work with but is a little springy. It doesn't anneal by dry burning, but dry burning will stress relieve a coil that is already made. 316L is a low carbon welding grade, but it's more or less interchangeable with 316. In fact most modern 316 wires are low carbon.

    Nichrome (Ni80)
    Comes in other variants like Ni60 etc but the most common is Ni80 because it's softer. There's concern that it may decompose at dry-burn temperatures, so single use coils are probably recommended. It's generally not recommended for people with a nickel allergy so there's a possibility that decomposition occurs at vaping tempratures too. It's soft and very easy to work with in thicker gauges.

    Nickel (Ni200)
    A very soft wire which was the first TC wire because it has a very high TCR value. It's thought to decompose at vaping temperatures and most vapers probably avoid it now due to this concern. Definitely not recommended for those with a nickel allergy or for dry burning. It's a very soft wire that is easy to coil, but it is difficult to wick because it deforms so easily.

    Nickel/Ferrous alloys and Platinum wires I have heard about, but have no experience with. As far as I can tell they have a high safety factor as I've heard of no specific problems.
    Last edited by fabricator4; 19-01-17 at 08:13 PM.
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  6. #6
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    I Genarly only use kanthal because i stick to what i know. Ive tried ss claptons which were ehh but i might try straight 24g ss wire. I dont use titanium or especially nickel because i have zero trust in them. Ni80 gave me a weird taste kinda metalic plus its to soft,
    Im a kanthal guy but may switch to 316L

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  7. #7
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    SS 26 Gauge spaced works for me, never looked back ....
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  8. #8
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    From my understanding.. we can use nichrome in power as well as temp control both is it? Recently i bought nichrome 22g not sure if it is ni80 or ni60 or anything else..

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  9. #9
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    No, NiCr is used power only ... SS can be used for both
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  10. #10
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    But there are devices which does nichrome temp control like the kangertech topbox.. or its something else?

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