An atomizer is the heating element in a vaporizer that converts dry herbs, oils, extracts, and waxes into an inhalable vapor. Every vaping device has one - you can’t vape without it!

The term “atomizer” is only used to refer to the unit that contains the coil and the wick, which is what turns your substance into vapor. But since there are so many types of vapes and atomizers nowadays, “atomizer” became an umbrella term for any heating element in a vape that functions in the same way. For example, with dry herb vapes, the conduction or convection oven acts as the “atomizer”.

The parts of an atomizer differ depending on the type of atomizer, as well as the type of vape. Generally, though, vapes that use liquid extracts contain:

Battery - the atomizer’s power source

Coil - the heating element that can reach between 180°F to 500°F

Cartridge - a container that holds the extracts

Wick - a cotton fiber that gets saturated by the substance and comes into contact with the coil to create vapor

Mouthpiece - where the vaper inhales the vapor

Meanwhile, dry herb vaporizers use ovens as their atomizers. These can either be:

Conduction - uses direct heat contact to heat cannabis (i.e., the herb coming into direct contact with the walls of the compartment, turning them into vapor)

Convection - uses heat transfer through moving liquids such as steam or warm air

Both types also contain a heating element and a chamber that stores ground cannabis. The difference is that conduction ovens often have the heating element and chamber in contact with each other, while convection ovens keep them separate.

For vapes that use liquid extracts, the atomizer works when the battery powers up the coil. The coil heats the wick, which is saturated by the substance in the cartridge. When it gets to the right temperature, the saturated liquid turns into vapor due to the heat. The vapor travels through the device, ending in the mouthpiece where you can inhale it.

For dry herb vaporizers, the atomizer works after it preheats, when the device is turned on. For vapes running on conduction ovens, a coil or a heating plate heats the chamber that holds the ground cannabis. The direct contact of the chamber to the heating element produces the vapor, which travels to the mouthpiece.

For vapes running on convection ovens, the chamber and the coil or heating plate are separate. The heating element produces warm air that circulates in the device (usually through a fan). This brings the ground cannabis to a temperature that releases cannabinoids as vapor, which the user inhales through the mouthpiece. Learn more about the smell of vaping weed.

Some vaporizers have atomizers that need to be cleaned occasionally. If you have one of these, make sure you properly follow care instructions or visit an authorized support center to have it checked. Some vapes need to have their heating elements changed regularly, which you can do at home with care and research.

Across the board, the most basic thing you can do to take care of your atomizer is to make sure you don’t drop it. Don’t place your vaporizer in a compromising position and make sure that it’s always kept safe. Interested in getting the reclaim from your rig, read on.