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What is the difference between MTL and DTL?

Posted by Gemma Chambers on 26th Jun 2019

Mouth-to-lung vs Direct-to-lung

Aegis Mini kit with Endura T18II kit on a counter

You'll often hear the abbreviations MTL and DTL when looking at kits, tanks and e-liquids. These refer to 2 distinct styles of vaping which may seem a bit alien to a new vaper. When choosing your e-cigarette, it's important that you understand the difference between these styles of vaping so you can choose and use your kit effectively.

In this guide, we'll take a look at what the abbreviations mean, what type of kits you need for each and which might be the right style for you. The style of vaping you choose is purely down to personal preference, the right way is the way you prefer.

What is mouth-to-lung (MTL)

Mouth-to-lung is a style of vaping that is most similar to smoking. When you draw, you first pull the vapour into your mouth before then inhaling it into the lungs. This draw is more gentle than drawing on a cigarette, as the harder you draw the less vapour you get. Generally speaking this is the style most vapers use when they first switch from smoking. It has a larger kick at the back of your throat (throat-hit) when you inhale, similar to cigarettes, and produces less vapour.

Why MTL?

There are a number of reasons vapers chose a mouth-to-lung draw. First and foremost, as previously mentioned it is the style of draw that is most similar to smoking a cigarette. It offers the kick at the back of your throat as well as a similar action to smoking.

A Mouth-to-lung style of vaping is also the most economical way to vape. As you are producing less vapour and less e-liquid is vapourised with each draw, you go through much less e-liquid.

It's also the most unobtrusive way of vaping, and the easiest to subtly do in public. It doesn't produce huge clouds of vapour which means it's more polite do on a crowded street and MTL devices tend to be smaller than DTL devices.

What nicotine strength and type of e-liquid do I need for MTL?

The nicotine strength and type of e-liquid you use depends heavily on which kind vaping style you use. With MTL, as less e-liquid is vapourised in a single draw than in a DTL device, most people use a higher nicotine strength. As a general rule, if you smoke 10 cigarettes per day, start with a 12mg e-liquid. You can always adjust higher or lower if you feel it's too strong or not strong enough.

Besides nicotine strength, the e-liquid also needs to be the correct PG/VG ratio in order to work correctly in a MTL device. The e-liquid can't be too thick (VG heavy) as it won't re-saturate your coil fast enough and you may end up trying to vape a dry coil. This is known as a dry hit and is very unpleasant, it is also likely to ruin your coil. We recommend e-liquids with ratios between 70PG/30VG and 60VG/40PG for the best results in a MTL vape. You can see all of our e-liquid which is suitable for a mouth-to-lung kit here.

What kind of kit do I need for MTL?

Mouth-to-lung vaping needs a tank with restricted airflow and a coil with relatively high resistance, usually above 1Ω.

Our favourite MTL kit is the Endura T18II kit.

What is direct-to-lung (DTL)?

Direct-to-lung vaping tends to be favoured by more experienced vapers. Rather than taking the vapour into the mouth and then breathing it in, it's inhaled straight into the lungs in a similar way to a shisha or breathing through a snorkel. DTL vaping creates much more vapour than MTL vaping.

Why DTL?

There are a number of reasons vapers chose a direct-to-lung draw. The main reasons are the extra warmth and vapour it creates. Some people find it more satisfying to see larger amounts of vapour when they exhale, and the flavour tends to be more intense.

DTL tends to be more gentle on your throat than a MTL draw. Although some vapers find a harsh throat-hit satisfying, others prefer it a bit mellower. There is still a slight throat-hit with DTL but it's much less.

Finally, generally there's a greater variety of e-liquid in more interesting flavours for DTL devices. As the flavour is slightly clearer, you'll be able to appreciate it more.

What nicotine strength and type of e-liquid do I need for DTL?

For DTL, you need a much lower nicotine strength than with a MTL kit. As more e-liquid is vapourised per draw, most people use a 3mg. We wouldn't recommend using higher than a 6mg.

Beyond nicotine strength, you also need to get the correct PG/VG ratio of the e-liquid. We recommend using a ratio of between 70% and 80% VG. You can see all of our e-liquids for sub-ohm here. 

What kind of kit do I need for DTL?

A DTL kit will have a couple of key components. It needs to have a coil resistance of less than 1 ohm which is why it is also referred to as sub-ohm. As a result, It also needs to have wider airflow openings than an MTL device to cope with the extra heat produced by a sub-ohm coil. Finally, it also needs to be more powerful than an MTL device, and therefore typically also have a larger battery.