Kanthal is a ferritic iron-chromium-aluminum alloy with good resistance to oxidation. It is commonly used for vaping in straight wattage mode. Kanthal is a great place to start if you are just getting into rebuilding, dripping, etc. It is easy to work with, yet stiff enough to hold its shape when formed into coils—which comes into play during the wicking process.
- Variable Wattage only
Higher resistance to other wires
NICHROME 80 (Ni80)
Nichrome comes in a variety of “grades”, with Ni80 (80% nickel and 20% chromium) being the most popular.
Nichrome behaves very much like Kanthal, but has lower resistance and heats faster. It is easy to coil and holds its shape well when wicking. Nichrome has a lower melting temperature than Kanthal, so you need to be careful when dry burning your coils—they will burn open if you aren’t careful. Start low and pulse the coils. Don’t rush into it and hit them with max wattage while dry.
One other possible downside of nichrome wire is the nickel content. Folks with nickel allergies may want to avoid using nichrome for obvious reasons.
- Faster ramp up time
Lower resistance to Kanthal wire
NICHROME 90 (Ni90)
Same as Ni80 except this wire contains 90% Nickel and has a lower resistance with a faster ramp up time.
- Faster ramp up time than Ni80
Lower resistance than Ni80
STAINLESS STEEL (SS)
Stainless Steel is an alloy composed primarily of chromium, nickel, and carbon. The nickel content is usually between 10-14%, which is not that high, but people with allergies should not take the risk. There are many variations (grades) of stainless steel, expressed numerically. For coil building, SS316L is by far the most commonly used grade, followed by SS317L. Other grades like 304 and 430 are also used sometimes, but not so often.
Like nichrome, it offers a faster ramp time than Kanthal due to its lower resistance for the same gauge. Take note to not dry burn stainless steel at high wattages when checking for hotspots or cleaning your build, as this might lead to the release of unwanted chemical compounds. A good workaround is to build spaced coils that don’t need to be pulsed for hotspots.
NOTE: Do not heat the wire past the blue/cyan spectrum as it can give off a metallic taste.
- Can be used in Temp Control as well as Variable Wattage modes
Fast ramp up time