MTL VS DTL – What is the difference?

What is the difference between a direct-to-lung device and a mouth-to-lung device? Read this article where we explain the differences.

mouth to lung vaping vs direct to lung

I see a lot of people who want to start vaping to quit cigarettes asking for advice in vape groups and sometimes they are being given the wrong advice when it comes to what tanks and devices they should be using. In this article, I am going to explain the differences between a ‘mouth-to-lung’ and a ‘direct-to-lung’ device (mtl/dtl). I often see more seasoned vapers recommending direct to lung devices to people who want to quit smoking and start vaping which is often the wrong advice for a lot of people. I am hoping this article will help those who want to know the difference so they can start off on the right foot with their vaping journey.

If you don’t want to read this, please find a video at the bottom of this page that covers most of the differences between MTL & DTL.

What is MTL (Mouth to Lung):
An MTL or mouth to lung tank is one that mimics a cigarette quite closely. The vapor is taken into the mouth and then inhaled into the lungs, pretty much exactly the same way you would with a cigarette.

What is DTL (Direct to Lung):
A DTL or direct to lung tank is a totally different feeling than a cigarette, it is more like sucking on a large diameter hose and breathing directly into the lungs. For those who have ever tried it, it’s like smoking a bong or sucking on a straw where the air would go directly into your lungs and pass straight through your mouth.

As you can tell from above, they are both very different. Below, I am going to break down some of the aspects of vaping and compare the differences between an MTL tank and a DTL tank. Please keep in mind that the mod (the electronic part of a vaping system) really doesn’t have much to do with whether you vape mtl or dtl style, it is all about the tank you are using. Just as long as the mod can provide the wattage/power you need, that’s all you need to worry about.

Coils in a direct to lung tank are usually what are called sub-ohm coils, meaning that their resistance is under 1 ohm. This is not always the case though, there are also sub-ohm mtl coils that do exist but generally speaking; DTL tanks will usually have a coil with a resistance under 1 ohm and MTL tanks will usually have coils with a resistance over 1 ohm or close to it anyway. When I was vaping MTL style, my coils would usually be around the 1.5 ohm mark. In terms of the lifetime of the coils, usually the coils in an MTL device will last a lot longer than the coils in a DTL. This is because the DTL coils will have a lot more power and juice running through them and they are put under more stress.

The airflow varies massively between an MTL and DTL tank. For a DTL tank, the airflow is very free and provides a lot of air when inhaling. For an MTL tank, the airflow is usually quite restricted and feels almost just like inhaling on a cigarette.

A drip-tip is the part of the tank that you inhale on, often removable and interchangeable. Drip-tips come in all sorts of shapes and sizes but usually on an MTL tank, the drip tip is quite narrow and similar to the butt end of a cigarette. On a DTL tank, the drip-tip is usually much larger in diameter to help with that extra airflow.

A DTL tank will require more wattage or power than that of an MTL tank. This has a relation with the resistance of the coils that we talked about earlier. Quite often, an MTL tank will only need anywhere from 5 watts to 25 watts to function properly whereas a DTL tank will usually require 40w or above. Some coils require lower wattages while others will require much higher wattages. When I was using MTL tanks, I was only running them at around 12.5 watts on average. With DTL tanks, on average I usually run them at around 45w+ but this all depends on the coils you have installed.

Inhaling on an MTL tank is just like you would on a cigarette, first you inhale the vapor into your mouth and then into your lungs. With a DTL tank, you inhale the vapor directly into your lungs and bypass your mouth.

Vapor Production:
The vapor production (amount of vapor you exhale) varies massively between a DTL and MTL setup. With MTL the vapor production is usually quite low and your exhale will be pretty similar to that of a cigarette. With DTL usually the vapor production is pretty high and you will exhale a large amount of vapor. It is still possible to exhale a decent amount of vapor with an MTL tank but DTL will create more vapor almost all the time.

Nicotine Strength:
I think one of the hardest things to decide when you want to start vaping is your desired nicotine strength. Usually with a mouth to lung device, you will require a higher amount of nicotine as the vapor just isn’t as harsh. When I started vaping on my very first MTL tank, I was using 24mg nicotine ejuice. After awhile I moved down to 18mg. Choosing what mg level you start at is pretty hard so you might need to experiment. If you are a heavy smoker, perhaps try 24mg first. With a DTL setup because you are inhaling so much vapor, usually you will only need a much lower strength of nicotine. When I first moved on to DTL vaping, I started on 6mg and this was perfect for me. Trying to inhale 24mg in a DTL setup would be extremely harsh!

In summing up this article, here are some links for some great websites that have starter kits segregated by MTL & DTL:
Wick & Wire – Mouth To Lung Tanks:
Wick & Wire – Direct To Lung Tanks:
VAPR – Mouth to Lung Starter Kits (Mod & Tank):
VAPR – Direct to Lung Starter Kits (Mod & Tank):

I truly hope this article was helpful for those of you who want to start vaping or simply want to know the difference between MTL & DTL tanks. Remember, the mod which is the part that houses the batteries and has the fire button does not really matter too much. As long as it can fire at a low enough wattage for MTL and a high enough wattage for DTL, you will be fine. There are even some MTL kits that come with mods that don’t have any controls at all, it’s just a simple fire button. These are definitely good for the beginner. A good example of this kind of device is the Innokin Endura T20-S. There are plenty of other devices like this but this is one that just springs to mind.

Watch the video below to see some of these differences explained in video form:

I am the owner and operator of The Cloudy Boys and have been vaping for 7+ years. I have always wanted to turn my passion for vaping into something that would be helpful for other vapers out there and I think this is it. Creating 100% honest and unbiased reviews on vape gear is my way of giving back to the vaping community. When reviewing products, I do try to take my personal tastes out of the equation and just review things for what they are.

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