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What Vape Should I Get?: Closed Pod vs Tank Systems

So you’ve decided to transition to vaping products, but you’re overwhelmed by the wide variety of device options. You just want to know, what vape should I get? The answer to that question is going to depend on certain factors like how much nicotine you are used to, what kind of throat hit you prefer, and how much vapour production you’re looking for.

One of the first things you will need to decide when looking into different types or vaping systems is if you want to use a closed pod or tank-based system. We have put together an in-depth guide detailing the benefits and drawbacks of each type of vaping system to help you find the one that is right for you.


What is a Closed Pod Vape System?

Closed pod vape systems use individual, non-refillable cartridges called pods that pair with rechargeable batteries. Most vape pods attach magnetically to the battery, which is usually rechargeable via a micro-USB or type C charger. 


Pod vapes are the more common format for nicotine-based vaping systems as they are more convenient. There are also open pod vape systems where you can refill your pods, but they are more similar to tank systems in that they require the use of e-liquid to fill the tanks and, eventually, replacement components. 


The closed pods themselves contain a coil, which heats the e-liquid, and a wick that holds the absorbed e-liquid stored in the pod. The liquid moves through the wick, towards the coil where it is heated and turned into vapour. The vapour then travels up a tube in the middle of the cartridge, called a chimney, to the mouthpiece where it is drawn out by the user. 


As for the e-liquid itself, you can get pods that come in a variety of nicotine concentrations from 0 all the way up to 20 mg/mL. Nicotine salt-based e-liquids are the most common type used in vape pods. You can learn more about the differences between the types of nicotine in An Introduction to Vape Juices: Nic Salts vs Freebase.


In a nutshell, nicotine salts have a high nicotine strength and a harsh throat hit that more closely resembles a traditional cigarette smoking experience compared to freebase nicotine-based e-liquids. Because of this, many people who transition away from smoking find it easier to start by using vape pods for the feel of the nic salts and the convenience of a closed system. 


In addition to not having to refill your vape pods, you also don’t have to worry about replacing wicks or coils either. Everything is self-contained within the pods themselves and gets replaced every time you use a new pod.


Is a Closed Pod Vape System Right for You?

Overall, closed pod vape systems are a great option if you are looking to transition to using vape products as you move away from cigarette smoking since the nicotine salt-based e-liquid most often used in pods makes for a harsher throat hit that more closely resembles cigarette smoking than freebase nicotine.


Most pod-based vaping systems are relatively small and discreet compared to tank systems, making them a better fit for on the go, daily users and those that don’t want to draw attention to themselves when vaping.  


Pods are also extremely convenient to use and replace as disposable, single-use pods avoid the hassle of having to refill them with e-liquid on your own. If the convenience sounds like a good fit but you’re worried about the environmental impact, then it might be worth finding a brand that participates in a recycling program, like STLTH. 


STLTH pods come in 23 flavours and four nicotine strengths. When you’re finished with them, you can return your empty pods to one of our many recycling stations across Canada. From there, the pods are sent to our facilities for sorting before being handed off to our recycling partner for repurposing.


Lastly, the initial cost of a pod system is generally less than a decent tank system. While the pods themselves are more expensive compared to buying bulk e-liquid, the convenience, much lower startup cost, and decreased risk of leaks tip the scales toward balance.   


Ultimately, if you haven’t tried vaping before, a pod system is probably your best bet to get started. Between the convenience, ease of use, and lower initial cost closed pod vape systems tick all the boxes for beginners.


What is a Tank Vape System?

Tank-based vape systems include a number of different vape devices like refillable vape pens, vape mods, and box mods. For more on the differences between these types of devices check out Everything You Need to Know About the 4 Most Common Types of Vapes


Similar to pod systems, tank-based vape systems consist of a battery component and a tank. Tanks are a bit more complex than pods, but the heart of the design is based on the same principle: they have a coil, a wick, a space to fill with e-liquid, and a chimney to transport the vapour up to the mouthpiece. 


Because they are a bit more intricate in their design, going with a tank system opens up a greater range of features like temperature and wattage control, greater power output, and replaceable parts like batteries, coils, and mouthpieces. 


The main difference between closed pod systems and vape tanks is that closed pods are prefilled and disposable while tanks, by default, need to be filled with e-liquid before use. 


The use of bulk e-liquids in tank systems allows for a greater level of customization of the e-liquid itself. It opens up the possibility to blend multiple flavours or nicotine strengths to get just the right balance of taste and effect. 


With tank systems, since you can use whatever e-liquid you like, you also have the ability to choose between nicotine salt and freebase nicotine e-liquids. If you aren’t a fan of the harshness of nic salts, a tank system that allows you to favour freebase liquids might be the right choice for you. 


However, those additional options come at a price.


Is a Tank Vape System Right for You?

While the options for tank-based vaping devices are more varied, so are the prices and risks. Generally speaking, any ultra-cheap vape tank device is going to leak on you eventually if not immediately. The general consensus in the community is that you’ll want to spend between $50 and $150 for a reliable tank-based system. 


The initial cost of getting set up with a tank system can certainly be a deterrent and it’s an important thing to weigh in your decision about which vape you should get, especially if you haven’t vaped much, or at all, in the past. 


Another cost to be aware of are the replacement parts. Coils need to be replaced at least once a month and up to as often as once a week for heavy vape users. While they aren’t overly expensive on their own, the cost of constant replacement does add up. 


There are a number of other potential drawbacks to a tank-based vaping system: Devices can sometimes be large, cumbersome, and delicate making them difficult to transport and use on the go; The need to refill tanks means you will either need to purchase and prefill multiple tanks or carry e-liquid with you for refills; And the added complexity means you will have to do more research and experimentation in order to get the most out of your device. 


However, if you are more interested in large amounts of vapour production, using specifically freebase nicotine e-liquids, and experimenting with customizing your device and e-liquids, then a tank system is probably the way to go. 


So to answer the question, what vape should I get, you really need to assess what is most important to you: convenience and a low initial cost, or a more complex, costly, and customizable system. There is no right or wrong answer, just the choice that works best for you.