Cartomizers vs Atomizers vs Clearomizers: Ultimate Guide

atomizer clearomizer cartomizer

There is a lot confusion surrounding electronic cigarettes, what their benefits are and how they work. This is partly because they are making their way into the mainstream and becoming more and more popular. But not helping the confusion is the lack of clear information regarding clearomizers, atomizers and cartomizers. These are essential parts of vaping that many people are in the dark about.

Many people have no idea what they do or what the difference between them is. But understanding these components of electronic cigarettes is the key to making smart purchasing decisions and ensuring you have the best vaping experience.

So we will break down for you exactly what these devices are, what they do exactly and how they can change your electronic cigarette use. Then, we’ll recommend what atomizer, clearomizer, and cartomizer we think is the best recommendation for you!

If you’re looking for the reviews and rankings of the best atomizers, clearomizers and atomizers — make sure to check out this page.

A Look at Atomizers

Every electronic cigarette has at least three main components inside- the battery the tank, and the atomizer. It is the atomizer that turns the liquid into a vapor, but sometimes there is another component between the liquid and the atomizer. This can be either a clearomizer or a cartomizer.

So essentially, both clearomizer and cartomizers have an atomizer included in them. In fact, every type of e-cigarette setup in existence uses an atomizer.


How Atomizers Work

The atomizer has a coil that is powered by the battery. The coil heats up and warms the e-liquid. Once this liquid becomes hot enough, it will reach its vaporization point and turn into the vapor that you see coming out of the electronic cigarette.

Now when the atomizer is by itself in the pen (i.e. without a clearomizer or cartomizer) then the liquid usually drips straight onto the atomizer. The atomizer has a soft wick on it that absorbs the liquid and helps regulate how much liquid is permitted near the coil at once. This ensures that not too much vapor is being produced and that the liquid burns at a reasonable rate to allow for lengthy vaping sessions. This is called “dripping”.


Dripping with an Atomizer

dripping atomizer

This is a dripping atomizer. You essentially drip the e-liquid right onto the coils as seen in the photo. This is very efficient but also complex and a bit inconvenient.

The best thing about using the direct dripping method and the atomizer alone is the clear and potent taste of the liquid. Nothing separates the heating unit from the flavorful liquid, which means it is not being diluted at all. You get the strongest flavor this way. This method also ensures that the vapor doesn’t become too hot. Other methods can burn the liquid and create an unpleasant taste or odor. But when the liquid drips straight onto the atomizer, you don’t usually have that problem.

On the downside, using the atomizer alone is much more inconvenient and can make a big mess. You may have to clean your pen more often, and getting the sticky residue out can be a pain. If you aren’t holding or using the pen properly when you vape, you could also flood the pen with liquid. For those inexperienced with electronic cigarettes it can be easy to make this mistake and end up with a mess on your hands.

You can still get a burnt taste from the atomizer, but that is only if you are still trying to vape with your pen once the liquid has run out. If you know how much vapor and how many hits your pen can produce from a single load of oil, then you can avoid this situation entirely. And the other negative effects of using the dripping method can all be sidestepped once you learn how to use the pen properly.


A Look at Clearomizers

Clearomizers have the excellent benefit of being completely transparent. This means you can see how much liquid you have left in your tank, and you won’t end up creating an awful burning smell by continuing to vape once your liquid has run out. If counting your draws from the atomizer seems like too much to remember, you may just want to switch to a clearomizer.

The clearomizer also comes in a few varieties of tank size. So you could opt for a large tank and get a lot more out of each vaping session without having to refill your tank.

You may still get a burnt smell when you use a clearomizer and you have liquid in the tank. This happens when your wick dries out. Just tilt your tank until the wick is wet again or put more liquid in the tank to keep on vaping.

Clearomizers also help you control the amount of liquid you are using better than you would with just an atomizer. The wick is fed into the atomizer, and you can decide how much of the wick it receives by moving it back and forth manually.

You can customize your vaping experience with clearomizers as well, though this should be reserved for more advanced e-cig users. You can add more coils to produce more vapor (which may be a good idea if you have a large tank) or you can change out the kind of wicks you use. And many clearomizers come with their own atomizer heads. These tend to burn out after a while, and you may need to replace yours regularly. Thankfully, the atomizer heads are easy to snap on and off and cheap to replace.


Types of Clearomizers

types of clearomizers

Some examples of popular clearomizers

There are a few different kinds of clearomizers, and we will cover what advantages and disadvantages each of them have.

Top Coil- The top coil clearomizer creates a nice, warm vapor. That’s because it is so close to the atomizer head. These are the easiest kinds of clearomizers to refill, since you can fill them up from the top.

But their wicks are not the best, and you have to keep re-wetting the wicks to get consistent hits. This can mean that your flavor may take a hit here and there as the wicks become dry.

 Bottom Coil- A clearomizer with a bottom coil has great wicking, and the vapor quality is excellent. And it produces a very cool vapor, which is great if that is what you prefer. You won’t have to worry about the vapor burning your throat.

On the downside, the tank can make odd noises, such as hisses and gurgles. And the tanks can start to develop leaks if it isn’t secured properly or if you aren’t using the wicks like you should. They are also harder to fill than their top coil counterparts, and the wicks can be a pain to adjust at times.

Multiple Coils- With multiple coils, you receive more vapor and a stronger throat hit. And it may surprise you that two coils make for a cooler vapor. That’s because the coils are spread out, so the heat is spread out as well, making for a cooler interior temperature.

But even with the lower temperature, dual cols require greater energy from the battery, so you will have shorter battery life with the dual coil setup. Either setup will work great, and it comes down to personal preference as to which one you prefer. Do you want the cooler vapor with a larger hit? Or would you prefer the warmer vapor, longer battery life and diminished hit?

The clearomizer by we recommend is byAspire (pictured right). Click here or on this picture for more information:

A Look at Cartomizers

Note: Cartomizers are a bit outdated and tend to be found on the older, less quality styles of electronic cigarettes. But there are some benefits

Cartomizers are a lot like clearomizers. Both of them have a coil and a tank, but they work a little differently in the way they send liquid to the coil. A cartomizer can be packed with a material known as poly-fill, which is an artificial filler. This basically makes the cartomizer cartridge un-fillable. That means it is a one and done usage device. But there are still ways to refill the cartridge if you like; they are simply troublesome and not always able to provide the most pleasant of experiences.

The refillable ones use a syringe to allow you to refill them. But there are some problems with this method as well. The tank is rather difficult to clean properly, and if it is not thoroughly cleaned, you can still have some residue from the previous liquid left behind.

Now this won’t be as much of a problem if you always use the same flavor. But most people like to mix it up and have different flavors every now and then. If the residue from the last one is left behind, it can distort the taste of your liquid with the old flavor. That’s not a very pleasant scenario.

If you purchase a ceramic cartomizer, the will be no poly-fill. This makes it far easier to clean there cartridge, and it cuts down on problems like bacteria growth.

The convenience of cartomizers is that they already contain the atomizer head and they connect directly to the battery. And the cartridges may also be already filled with liquid, making using them as easy as just pulling out the old tank and putting in the cartomizer. Buying a new one isn’t very expensive, so if you want to just vape in the easiest way possible, it’s not going to cost you a lot more than if you used an atomizer or clearomizer. And the flavor experience you get from the cartomizer is basically the same as it is for either of the other methods.

Cartomizers come with two different coil configurations. The most common is a vertical coil. This coil runs the length of the cartridge, and it is surrounded by poly-fill. There is no wick involved at all, which can be a good or bad thing, depending on how you look at it.

One the bright side, the vertical coil allows the oil to drip directly on it. This means that your initial hits will be very flavorful. And you don’t have to worry about keeping the wick wet, but that doesn’t cut down on the burnt taste. You still get a burnt smell when the oil runs out and the coil starts burning the poly-fill.

With the horizontal coil, there is no poly-fill. But you don’t have to contend with the wicks. The wick can sometimes be too think and hard to keep wet. The wick has the oil wrapped around it, so the oil is still dripping directly on the coil as it drips on the wick. This can make it slightly difficult to direct the path of the oil, and it can be troublesome to try to keep a steady flow going.

We recommend the Green Smoke cartomizers. If you want to check out these cartomizers, then click here or the image to right!

Which One Works Best?

For beginners, we would definitely recommend the clearomizer. Atomizer set-ups tend to be a bit more complicated and cartomizer setups are outdated and don’t really work well anymore. 

If you’re looking for the best clearomizer, then we recommend the Aspire Nautilus Clearomizer (pictured right). Check out this review and where we recommend to buy the Aspire Nautilus Clearomizer by clicking here or clicking the image to the right!

But if you’re looking for a really convenient setup, the cartomizers work quite well. You can just switch out the cartridges once you are finished with the one you are using.

They can be finicky to vape with, and you may have to contend with a burnt smell and taste pretty often, but they are definitely the easiest to use.

If you’re looking for the best cartomizers, then we recommend Green Smoke (pictured right). If you want to check out the review we did and where we suggest to buy them, then click here OR click the image to the right!

The clearomizers are the ones preferred by almost everyone, however. They make it easy to tell how much liquid you have left, and it’s no problem to find a tank that is big enough for the kind of vaping session you want to do. With an atomizer, you are basically stuck with the initial tank size, and you will have to switch to a clearomizer or cartomizer for something larger.

There’s no need to upgrade your electronic cigarette, but if you aren’t getting consistent flavor and the kinds of vapor you want, it is worth looking into other options. We urge you to try out the available options to see what gives you the most pleasant experience. You won’t really know until you try for yourself.


  1. I have been valuing on and off for almost 3 years now and have tried numerous types of e cigs. Your website makes everything very understandable! Until reading this I haven’t understood all the terms, parts abd types of e cigs. Im about to invest in a new one and your website has made the search much easier! Thanks!

    • I used vapes. They have a “battery” and use a clearomizers. A pretty popular new battery, and clearomizer set up would be an “istick eleaf 20w” with a “kanger pro tank 2 or 3”

  2. I just bought an itaste mvp 3.0 pro with a nautalis mini tank and love it! It hits smooth and taste is incredible with these wics. You can see how many hits you have taken, charge while your still using the battery. Also, the best part is it has a usb port and external phone jack to charge a phone, camera, tablet, laptop etc. Anything that has a battery can be charged with this amazing box mod. It is cheap for the price and lasts for days. When I received it in the mail it was already charged and lasted 2 days until I had to charge it. I puff on it all day so 2 days is amazing. I was at 873 puffs by the time the battery finally died.

  3. I have always used CE4 clearomiser (The cheap ones ) I get a dozen on Ebay for £6 to £7 – I seem to get dry hits with every one I try :(. And yes, I do them soak for up to 30 minutes

    However the £4 (each) ones in a supermarket work great.

    I am beginning to wonder if the cheap ones I buy, are all faulty. I cannot afford the £4 each ones very often. I watched the movie on You tube about how to fix dry hits on clearomisers – but it’s well over my head, I’m afraid.

    I have also tried blowing some air gently into it (as it was recommended to me) to no avail 🙁

    I have stinging tongue after trying most of my cheap clearomisers, and the liquid has went from clear to gunky dark brown with trying to get s smooth hit but it’s always impossible from cheap clearomisers.

    Meanwhile some some of the cheap , clearomisers, the liquid always stays clear and still I get dry hits, and have to buy a £4.00 one anyway 🙁

    I am down to Low nicotine e-juice 🙂 Having started started at High. I always get RegBlue tobacco juice, as I don.t like flavoured (one company eve sent me a free flavoured one as a sample). Yuk – no thanks.

    The cheap clearomisers at £1.99) each from I bought from a shop, and the cleaomisers I bought on ebay (UK) – ALL have dry hits 🙁 even though the packaging was all sealed). I am guessing that is WHY they are all faulty – am I right? Ice-cube on tongue just now. .

    • U need to re wick or recoil if its going brown . .simple you tube videos can show you this be careful with putting the wrong tank on the wrong mod u may blow your hand off most will just not work in theses cases

    • Kitty
      It’s not likely that your clearomizers are faulty, I buy mine from ebay also and they work every time, In order for them to wok properly you have to fill your clearomizer with liquid then pull on it a few times without pressing the battery on, This allows for the liquid to be drawn up into the wicks before you actually press the battery on and heat the liquid and take a hit. If you don’t do this then you are just pulling on a dry wick and getting dry hits. Hope this helps,

      • Vicki,
        You are my new Hero!! As a new vaper, I had become frustrated with wicking issues/dry hits. I have spent more than a few hours researching reasons and solutions to no avail. After reading your reply, it made perfect sense and worked perfectly. Sometimes the best solution is the most logical and common sense one. Now I am enjoying my Alien mod by Smok. I appreciate your help with this!!!

    • You are probably buy very cheaply made products. I have had that problem 3 years ago. I use to run cartomizers and clearomizers i now run atomizers. If you can get the money for it I recommend getting a variable wattage maybe 100 watts at most if your new and get you a TFV8 baby beast tank by Smok. they have great vapor production excellent flavor and rarely have dry hits but remember when you fill the tank up let it set for about 5 or 10 minutes to let the e liquid soak into the cotton 🙂 and always run the wattage at the specific watt the coils tell you so you don’t burn the wick

  4. I have been using cartos for 3 years now but want to change. Have tried a clearomizer and cannot seem to get much of a throat hit, it is driving me nuts as most people use clearomizer and like it…HELP what should i be looking for.
    Any advice gratefully recieved.

  5. After trying several types over the years i have to say t g at i prefer the old school cartomizers. They tasted the best and I didnt have to deal with the leaking problems clearomizers tend to have. Its always a pain having to unscrew the battery, clean out the liquid and blow out the clearomizer of any residual. Such a royal pain. With a cartomizer, you dont have these headaches.

  6. your explanations are thorough, concise and helpful to many I’m sure. There is a problem with the use of the word “oil” because ecig juice is in no way ever oily. any oil would destroy any atomizer no matter which u use. electronic vaping juice uses vg, pg, flavorings, possibly food coloring and nicotine which do not contain oil, they are non oily liquids.. I just think that changing that word “oil” to liquid may prevent someone inexperienced thinking about making their own juice would prevent a very frustrating and possibly dangerous combo using any type of oil..

    • @greggi

      Both vg and pg are “oils” so they have correctly used the word. Vg (vegetable glycerin) is a clear oder less liquid made from plant oils like palm oil, soy oil and coconut oil. Pg (propylene glycol) is a form of oil. It’s an inorganic oil similar to mineral oil and crude that
      is petrol dervived.

  7. I have a CE4 and it with a new clearomizer and It has very long wicks and I need to know if I keep the long wicks on it when installing the new one

  8. Is there a coil I can use in my loved Melo 2 tank that you can use it with the higher 24mg e-juice at a lower watts or volts?

    I know Melo 2 is a subohm tank to use for 6mg of e-juice and do so…but miss the hit of 24mg when I really need it. Any why I am wondering if it will work with a coil you say is get if I can do what I am writing about.

    I have tried nautalis and protank the draw on both of those just too tight! The SmokAdc I have lets me open the air to where I want it and its great but the coils make my high end juices bland.

    Any suggestions?
    Many thank you and regards, ck

  9. Ideal setup would be a smok alien 220 with a tf-v12 sub ohm tank, its a regular atomizer and it has multiple coil heads and interchangeable coils. some of the different types of coils let you get more vapor, or flavor, its great.

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