The Vape UK Guide to Vaping Styles

A guide to vaping stylesA guide to vaping styles

In this guide we’ll outline everything you need to know about MTL, DTL, and RDL vaping.

 The way you vape is one of the first things to establish when you first try to switch from smoking to vaping.

For your quit attempt to be successful, use this guide to help you identify your particular vaping style, and ensure you select the correct vaping equipment.

If you’ve tried vaping before, but weren’t successful, this guide may help you to see if you were using the wrong kit for your vaping style.


MTL, DTL, and RDL refer to inhalation methods and are the terms used to describe the three most common vaping styles.

Mouth-To-Lung vaping style MTL
Image of woman MTL vaping
Direct-To-Lung vaping style DTL
Image of man DTL vaping
Restricted-Direct-Lung vaping style RDL
Image of man RDL vaping

Each method has its advantages, which are outlined below. Remember, there’s no right or wrong - only personal preference.

MTL - Mouth-to-Lung

Mouth-to-Lung (MTL) is the vaping style that most closely replicates smoking. Most people switching from smoking will start by MTL vaping as it feels the most natural way for smokers to inhale.

Step 1 MTL
Image of woman demonstrating MTL vapingImage of woman demonstrating MTL vaping

Take a long, smooth, steady draw into the mouth.

Step 2 MTL
Image of woman demonstrating MTL vapingImage of woman demonstrating MTL vaping

Inhale the vapour into the lungs, allowing some air to be drawn in. 

Step 3 MTL
Image of woman demonstrating MTL vapingImage of woman demonstrating MTL vaping

Exhale the remaining vapour. 

Tips MTL
Image of woman showing tips on flavour for MTL vaping

The longer you let the vapour linger in your mouth, the more satisfaction you’ll get from the ‘hit’ and the flavour.  

The longer you leave it before you exhale, the less vapour there will be.  

Vaping equipment MTL
Image of MTL vaping disposable devices

Disposables are the most popular starting point for first time vapers.

Image of MTL vaping starter kits

Starter kits, and pod kits are the next step: they offer great value and less waste than disposables.

Image of advanced MTL vaping devices

MTL vapers can use advanced equipment if the mod is set to a low wattage (circa 15W).

Coil options MTL
Image of MTL vaping coils and podsImage of MTL vaping coils and pods

MTL coils have a resistance of 0.8Ω or higher. They contain more wicking material for a tighter draw.

The element is commonly made from mesh for a fast and even heat.

Drip tips MTL
Image of MTL vaping style mouthpieces

Single-use vape bars (disposables) and MTL pod kits have an ergonomic mouthpiece (duckbill), and MTL tanks have a 510 drip tip. The openings are narrow like a cigarette, so a tighter draw can be achieved.

Airflow MTL
Image of MTL vaping adjustable airflow

If the device has an adjustable airflow, this should be kept to a minimum.

Image of MTL vaping e-liquid ingredientsImage of MTL vaping e-liquid ingredients

MTL vape juice contains either 50PG / 50VG or 40PG / 60VG, which delivers a sharper throat hit like cigarette smoking.

Flavour MTL
Image of woman tasting MTL e-liquid

PG carries flavour better than VG, allowing you to fully taste the vape juice.

Nicotine MTL
Image of MTL e-liquid nicotine content

New vapers need more nicotine to keep the cravings under control, and stop them going back to smoking.

MTL e-liquids can contain a high nicotine content, up to 20mg (2%). This includes nic salts, which are more popular than freebase nicotine as the throat hit is smoother.

Example e-liquids and devices MTL
Image of common MTL vaping e-liquids and devicesImage of common MTL vaping e-liquids and devices

MTL in summary

  • Common with transitioning smokers/new vapers
  • More discreet as there is less vapour and smell
  • Cheap to get started with disposables or more ‘basic’ vape kits
  • Ability to vape higher nicotine content/nic salts to control cravings
  • MTL tanks use less e-liquid 
  • Option if you would struggle to take a direct to lung hit due to smoking related lung damage

DTL - Direct-to-Lung

Direct-to-lung ( DTL) is most commonly employed by experienced vapers. For transitioning smokers it can feel like a strange way to inhale. 

Step 1 DTL
Image of man demonstrating DTL vapingImage of man demonstrating DTL vaping

Slowly and steadily draw the vapour directly into your lungs, bypassing the mouth (it's essentially the same as taking a deep breath, except you breathe through the vape device).

Step 2 DTL
Image of man demonstrating DTL vapingImage of man demonstrating DTL vaping

Take the kit out of your mouth and exhale.

Vaping equipment DTL
Image of common DTL vaping equipmentImage of common DTL vaping equipment

You’ll need a sub-ohm pod kit or box mod with a variable wattage.

DTL vapers typically run their devices above 40W, with some going as high as 300W!

Drip tips DTL
Image of DTL vaping kit mouthpieces

DTL pods and tanks have a wide mouthpiece to accommodate large plumes of vapour production.

Coil options DTL
Image of DTL device coil options

Coils are sub-ohm (low resistance) to allow for the higher wattage required, and maintain a high output for long inhales.

Airflow DTL
Image of DTL vaping kits showing maximum airflow selected

Adjustable airflow is a must; opening up the airflow allows more air to flow through the tank and into your lungs.

The more open the airflow, the bigger the clouds.

E-liquids (Shortfills) DTL
Image of DTL shortfill e-liquids with nic shots

DTL shortfill e-liquids are:

1. Far more economical for the amount of vape juice used by a sub-ohm tank/coil combo

2. Nicotine free and allow control over the level of nicotine added 

3. Compatible with multiple types of nic shots, including nic salt for a less harsh throat hit

Nicotine content should be 6mg or less. Any higher and you’ll experience a really harsh throat hit and too great a hit of nicotine.

Image of DTL shortfill e-liquid PG/VG ratiosImage of DTL shortfill e-liquid PG/VG ratios

Common ratios for DTL vape juice are:

60VG / 40PG - good flavour, sharp throat hit, and decent clouds

70VG 30PG - optimum balance of flavour, clouds, and throat hit

80VG / 20PG - massive clouds with less intense flavour

High VG coils DTL
Image of DTL high VG e-liquids with coil compatibility

The higher the VG, the larger the coil’s wicking holes need to be to handle the viscosity. Too small and it won't pull through quickly enough, resulting in a dry hit.

Example e-liquids and devices DTL
Image of common DTL vaping e-liquids and devicesImage of common DTL vaping e-liquids and devices

DTL in summary

  • Designed for advanced vapers
  • Feels less like smoking a cigarette
  • Epic cloud production
  • More advanced kit required
  • High e-liquid consumption

RDL - Restricted-Direct-Lung

Restricted-direct-lung is becoming increasingly popular amongst vapers who’ve been vaping for a while.

It’s the midpoint between MTL and DTL, but the actual inhalation technique is closer to DTL.

Step 1 RDL
Image of man demonstrating RDL vapingImage of man demonstrating RDL vaping

Follow the steps for DTL, but close off most (or all) of the airflow.

Step 2 RDL
Image of man demonstrating RDL vapingImage of man demonstrating RDL vaping

This offers DTL vapers better flavour delivery, and MTL vapers more cloud production.

Vaping equipment RDL
Image of common RDL vaping equipmentImage of common RDL vaping equipment

You'll need a kit with a wide power output range that can handle all coil resistances, as well as adjustable airflow.

Coil options RDL
Image of RDL vaping coil options

RDL coils should have a resistance of between 0.5Ω and 0.8Ω, to get the right balance between vapour and flavour.

Airflow RDL
Image of RDL vaping kits with adjustable airflows

Play around with the airflow until you achieve the level of restriction on your draw that is right for you.

E-liquids RDL

Restricting the airflow to a DTL hit, and using a higher resistance coil, means that you can use e-liquids with more PG content (such as nic salts), that would normally only be suitable for MTL vaping. 

Image of RDL e-liquids suitable to RDL vapingImage of RDL e-liquids suitable to RDL vaping

Perfect for a higher level of vapour production and flavour delivery, without taking in too much nicotine.

Example e-liquids and devices RDL
Image of common RDL vaping e-liquids and devicesImage of common RDL vaping e-liquids and devices

RDL in summary

  • Looser than an MTL draw, so more vapour
  • Tighter than a DTL draw, so more flavour
  • More of a throat hit than DTL vaping
  • Warmer flavour production than MTL vaping
  • MTL and DTL e-liquids can be used within the same device
  • Less wattage required, meaning your battery lasts longer than DTL
  • Less e-liquid consumption than DTL vaping
  • Higher nicotine content can be vaped without being too harsh 

MTL vs DTL vs RDL - what’s your vaping style?

Your vaping style depends on your own preferences and what you want to achieve from vaping. 

Your style today doesn’t have to be your style forever. Many vapers evolve over time; others find that they enjoy both MTL and DTL vaping styles, so opt for an RDL style as a happy medium.

Just remember though, that any style of vaping is the right one if it helps you stay off the ciggies!