The Decline of Sub Ohm Vaping

Sub Ohm vaping was once the crown jewel of the e-cigarette community. But where are these ‘cloud chasers’ now? Chances are they now use nicotine salts or the now-infamous disposable vapes.

What is Sub Ohm Vaping?
Sub Ohm vaping uses a lower resistance coil and higher wattage kit, along with e-liquids that are blended at a higher VG ratio with either little or no nicotine content. The combination of these factors creates a thick and flavourful vapour when exhaled.

The little to no nicotine and high flavour aspect of Sub Ohm e-liquids created a genre of vapers that often use these products for fun instead of necessity. The rise in RTA’s / RDA’s saw a boom in people building their own coils and testing different kit builds to achieve optimum flavour.

What are Nicotine Salts?
Nicotine Salts are created when nicotine is extracted from the tobacco leaf and bonded with benzoic acid. This process results in a smoother vaping experience than freebase nicotine vaping and is typically available in higher strength. The higher strength aspect of nicotine salts is often a popular choice for those who are seeking a heavier nicotine draw when stopping smoking.

Nicotine salts are blended at either an equal VG or PG ratio, or contain a higher percentage of PG. As these e-liquids are thinner, an MTL (Mouth to Lung) low-wattage kit with a higher resistance coil is ideal.

Why has Sub Ohm Vaping Declined?
Nicotine salts weren’t completely unheard of a few years ago, they just weren’t as popular. Freebase nicotine was still the reigning champ in the 50/50 e-liquid category, coming in 3mg, 6mg, 12mg, and 18mg. Nicotine Salts were largely only available in 20mg, so the obvious choice was freebase with its slight throat hit and a wider range of strengths. The natural course of nicotine salt’s popularity started gaining pace when brands added 10mg and 5mg alternatives.

The concept of a disposable e-cigarette isn’t new, and they even offered some of the very first vaping experiences to ever hit the shelves. It was the rise of JUUL and other closed prefilled pod systems that gave us our first taste of what was to come. While a prefilled closed pod system limited users to certain flavours, they offered something we hadn’t seen before. Absolute ease of use. No mess, and no maintenance.

The gained popularity in prefilled closed pod systems took its next logical step to an open pod system with a built-in coil. It harnessed the same ease of use as there were no external coils to be changed, but it offered users the chance to experiment with flavours.

Fast forward to the introduction of Geek Bar which contains nicotine salts and the chokehold that single-use vapes now have on the general public. The idea of a single-use kit is not new, but the choice of flavours and potent taste quickly made them an incredibly popular choice.

Sub Ohm’s gradual decline came not long after, as the large kits could not compete with the small and convenient disposable vapes. This combined with the addictive nature of nicotine, vapers that had previously been using little to no nicotine are now vaping 20mg of salts.

Is the Popularity of Disposable Vapes Diminishing?
In recent months there has been a small decline in the popularity of single-use kits. This can be attributed to cost and environmental impact. Disposable vapes are incredibly costly to continue purchasing over a long period of time, with the average kit setting you back £6.99 for only 2ml of e-liquid. The single-use battery is hard to dispose of correctly, and many brands do not specify what type of plastic is used. This can make it nigh on impossible to correctly break down a kit to ensure that it has been disposed of in an environmentally conscious way.

In the November 2022 Houses of Commons report by Louise Smith and Nikki Sutherland, they included findings from the Material Focus (a not-for-profit organisation focused on the recycling of electronic products and funded by producers of electrical appliances). Material Focus commissioned research in 2022 on the number of vapes purchased and discarded in the UK.

·14 million single-use vapes bought each month
·Over 50% of single-use vapes get thrown away
·3 million single-use vapes are thrown away every week or 5.4 million per month
·10 tonnes of lithium a year, equivalent to the batteries inside 1,200 electric vehicles.

While a decline in sales of single-use vapes is a good thing, the environmental impact that they are still causing is not. Hopefully, we will see the return of Sub Ohm, or lovers of disposable vape kits investing in an MTL device in the future.