Mouth To Lung (MTL) VS Direct To Lung (DTL) VapingMTL VS DTL Vaping – What Does It Mean?

By the time you’ve finished this guide, you’ll know everything you need to know about MTL vs DTL Vaping Styles!

With the number of smokers somewhere in the realm of 1 billion, worldwide. Me, and every gorgeous cherry pie scented vaper, actively hell-bent on converting these lost souls to the bright world of atty and mod! I think it’s safe to say that refreshing our ‘guides for newbies’ is still very much a necessity.

Where picking up a cancer stick, back in the day, wasn’t exactly rocket science, one can’t really say the same about vaping. From Ohm’s Law to the French Inhale. One of these days the Merriam Websters ‘Dictionary of Vaping Terms’ will be hitting the shelves. And for newbs who don’t have a clique of cloud chasers at home to learn from, the internet is salvation and it’s up to yours truly to try and lead the way! 

So, it’s back to basics today with a rehash of terms that, no doubt, you as a newbie have seen thrown back and forth, relentlessly, only to be left wondering WTF!? I’m talking about MTL and DTL or DL (Mouth To Lung and Direct To Lung), the two basic vaping inhale or hit styles that separate the men from the boys, the wheat from the chaff…just kidding. There is a time and place for each, there are devices and juices for each and as you’ll soon see, there’s much to be said about each. So…read on, my soon-to-be-experts, to find out just exactly WTF is up with DL and MTL vaping!

Mouth To Lung Vaping or MTL

mtl coils aspire nautilus miniNow, before you go ahead and start trying to MTL your 0.15 Ohm Smok coil with a full open airflow at 120 W, know this. Some devices accommodate Mouth To Lung Vaping and some devices don’t. I’ll start by explaining the ins and outs of either inhale style. Once you understand that we can go on to understand what sort of devices accommodate which!

Mouth to lung is the shorter of the two inhale styles. It involves the vaper drawing the vapor into his/her mouth, until the mouth is full. Then removing the device from the lips and drawing the vapor into the lungs, along with some extra air, before exhaling. If you know how a smoker inhales then you pretty much know what an MTL hit entails. It’s a short hit that takes only as long as it takes to fill the mouth with vapor, a quick intake of air and then an exhale.

So, Who Are The MTL Vapers?

Is this the hit style adopted by the majority of vapers? The answer is, no. If I had to guess, I’d say that less than 25% of vapers employ this style. It’s reserved for old-school tokers, recent quitters, plus-ohm and MTL device owners, stealth vapers, e-juice conservationists and eccentric but lovable folk such as our own Editor, Adam: who proudly MTL’s half of the time.

To be fair… I recommend MTL devices, with a high nicotine liquid to anyone who’s trying to break a hardcore tobacco habit. It’s the vaping style that’s most akin to the smoking ritual. The idea of drawing directly into the lungs, along with the intense cumulonimbus action and spectator attraction factor involved in DL vaping…well, it may just be too much for most beginners.

So if the following sounds like you, MTL is the perfect choice!

You don’t want to turn heads when vaping in the shopping mall, the MTL hit is for you.

To simulate smoking as close as possible, the MTL hit is for you.

If you’ll only be able to afford a new bottle of e-liquid 30 days from now, the MTL hit is for you.

You’re vaping on an 18mg e-liquid, the MTL hit is for you.

If Clouds frighten you, the MTL hit is for you.

woman mtl vapingMTL Devices

There are a number of factors that go into making a device suitable for MTL, including airflow, resistance, mouthpiece, and wattage.

First up, restricted airflow:

Excessive airflow during a short MTL draw will mean little or no vapor, a lot of coughing and a coil that’s not getting a chance to heat up to the temp required to atomize. MTL depends on a tight, very restricted airflow to work. Think of how much airflow you get through a cigarette, close to none: that is the idea, of course without the life-threatening side effects!

A tight airflow means a warmer vape. A coil that’s properly heated and a mouthful of deliciousness or nicotine joy or both, depending on what you’re in it for, of course.

Second up, higher resistance:

Now, higher resistance coils are generally smaller, require less wattage and less time to heat up. That’s what makes them ideal for the short draws associated with the MTL vaping style.

You may have heard of the terms Plus Ohm or Sub Ohm …referring to coil resistances above or below 1 Ohm. Now, as a rule (though there are many exceptions, especially with more recent products) I’d say that your MTL devices or tanks tend to have plus Ohm coils available, with resistances between 1 and 2 Ohms. If a tank comes with 2 coil options, one being 0.15 Ohm and one being 1.5 Ohm. And the package advertises the device as a DL and MTL device, you can basically bet your bottom dollar that the 1.5 Ohm option is the MTL coil.

Third up, narrower mouthpiece:

A narrow mouthpiece does the job of effectively restricting the airflow further. Trying to take a MTL hit with a massive 810 drip tip the width of your thumb just feels completely wrong. So look for devices with a narrow, cigarette-like mouthpiece, a 510 drip tip or under.

Fourth up, lower wattage:

As mentioned, higher resistance requires less wattage to atomize to capacity. That’s why MTL devices will generally be low wattage devices like cig-a-likes, all in ones, pod-mods or specialized low wattage MTL tanks, along with the mod of your choice. To be fair, most of the lower wattage devices, designed for MTL vapers have been made with beginners in mind. Therefore offer only fixed wattage…that is, no controls, no settings, just press and pull and Bob’s yr uncle!!!

Recommended E-liquid PG/VG Ratios for Mouth To Lung Devices

best selling black note e-liquid







  • 50PG/50VG – Good ratio for throat hit with ok vapor production
  • 60VG/40PG – A smoother vape with a little more vapor production
  • 70VG/30PG – Better clouds and flavor. NOTE: This is fairly a high VG ratio for MTL devices. Some of the more recent MTL devices can handle it but double check first!

MTL Vaping and Nicotine Strength

I’m writing this article with the assumption that most of the beginners I’m talking to will be on a mission to kick the smellies. In that regard, there are a couple of notions you should wrap your head around or at least consider.

First up, nicotine is only one of myriad habit-forming, addictive substances in cigarette smoke. Of all those addictive chemicals, nicotine is one one of the less dangerous ones. It is not a carcinogen and when used temperately, will not kill you or damage your health. I remember the ‘head rush’ or lightheadedness I used to get from smoking, thinking this was a nicotine rush…yet in all the monumental, nicotine heavy, mondo-hits I’ve taken on my high wattage vapes over the years since I began vaping. I’ve never experienced that ‘head rush’ again. Proof, that the chemical fixes I was chasing when I smoked, went well beyond mere nicotine.

That’s one of the reasons why, when I advise tobacco quitters on a nicotine strength for their first vape. I advise them to chose a higher nicotine strength than their cigarette brand had. Up that addiction factor for the first few weeks and once you are weaned off those other nasty chems, you’ll find the nicotine can easily and effectively be cut out. It actually isn’t as addictive as you’d expect, compared to some of the other nasty stuff in smokes. I speak from experience here and would never advise such a thing if I hadn’t have seen it work many a time.

So…if you’re MTL vaping to quit the smellies, go for something like a 12-18mg e-liquid and when you’re safely off the smokes, start to cut down.

Read our guide Best Vape Tanks 2018 for MTL vaping.

Direct Lung or Direct To Lung Vaping (DL or DTL)

smok sub ohm coilNow, the DL, DTL or Direct Lung hit entails a slow and steady 2-8 second inhale of vapor directly from the device into your lungs. It’s a different kettle of fish entirely. Resulting more often than not, in intense plumes of vapor and massive, massive flavor. DL vaping is all about filling the lungs to capacity and experiencing the full range of ones hard-hitting sub-ohm or high wattage device.

A DL hit is intermingled with extra air because DL devices utilize a far more open airflow. That’s why no extra inhale of air is required here. Just a long, slow filling of the lungs to capacity, through your device, then exhale and hear the crowd go wild. Hell yes.

So, who are the DL Vapers?

Tricksters, cloud chasers, flavor junkies, pure vapers (who’ve never smoked) and experienced vapers who’ve climbed the ladder from cigalikes to massive 300W box mods…all of these use direct lung techniques.

Gadget fiends and tinkerers who like to build their own coils and mess around with new vape gear on a regular basis, are going to get a whole lot more joy in the DL game. Since DL calls for higher wattage and lower resistance, is where stuff really gets interesting on the gadget front. When you see those huddled groups of tattooed vape fanatics discussing and comparing their devices at the local vape expo. You can bet your 18650s they’re comparing DL device ins and outs and not MTL ones, just saying!

While certain vape tricks call for the MTL hit. Only the DL hit can generate the cloud factor necessary to form cray-cray vape-jelly-fish, tornados and waterfalls like the ones we see from our favorite tricksters.

The same applies to flavor and cloud chasers. A high wattage 10 second DL hit will not only see you winning cloud comps at the vape fair. It’ll also allow you to experience the full flavor profile and mouthfeel of that expensive juice you’re rocking. Plus, it’ll allow you to utilize your sub-ohm tank and high powered box mod to its full capacity (or, at least, to a larger extent than those MTL hits will).

DL vaping is what separated vaping from that nasty old smoking habit that inspired its creation, turning it into the hobby, the culture, the way of life it is today.

So again, if the following sounds like you, DTL is the perfect vaping choice!

Wanting to turn heads with massive, cumulonimbus cloud action, DL vaping is for you.

Experiencing the full flavor profile of your high VG e-juice, DL vaping is for you.

If you want to tinker with high wattage gadgets, build your own coils and generally be a bad-ass, DL vaping is for you.

You have never smoked and just like the look of a shiny big shiny box mod and sub-ohm tank, DL vaping is for you.

man sub ohm vapingTaking Your First DL / DTL Hit

If your lungs have been affected by smoking (ie: if they’re full of tar) or you’ve never taken a DL hit before. Don’t enter into things too lightly. Since first DL hits are known to HURT!!!

My personal theory is that the VG and PG in e-liquid both dehydrate you. Binding to the liquid water in your lungs, which is then released during exhale or, shaking up and loosening whatever nasty gloopy tar is hanging around in your lungs. Resulting in an epic coughing fit.

Of all the people I’ve offered ‘first DL hits’ to (and there have been MANY ). It’s the smokers, with tarry lungs, who’ve displayed the most discomfort after that initial DL hit. Even though you’d think smokers lungs would be de-sensitized to such things.

My advice for first time DLing is this: a slow and steady inhale, to absolute lung capacity. Don’t half fill your lungs, don’t a quarter fill them. Breathe in that tasty vapor as if you’re filling your lungs with fresh air after a minute under water…then exhale, fast! If it’s uncomfortable at first, hang in there, after 5 hits or so, your lungs will get the picture and soon you’ll be toking at 180W and blowing dragons like Gandalf! PS: open a savings account for e-juice while you still can.

Direct Lung Devices

Since Direct Lung vaping is basically the polar opposite of MTL vaping, you can probably guess at the requirements of a DL vaping device…you got it:

First up, fuller airflow:

While restricted airflow, DL vaping is most definitely a thing, a certain amount of air-through is required for DL to work. Airflow on a DL device will be at least 2 times fuller or more open than on an MTL device.

Second up, lower resistance:

DL is where sub-ohm, cloud chucking, high wattage vaping comes into play. Since lower resistance means beefier coils that require more time and higher wattage to heat up. It’s to be expected that of the two hit types, the long, deep DL hit would be better suited to low resistance coils! So, over the space of that 7 second DL inhale, the coils have the time to heat up to capacity and atomize everything that needs atomizing…the result? Major flavor and Mondo Cloud!!!!!Dragons, people, dragonzzzz.

Third up, a wider mouthpiece:

While many DL vapers, like myself, enjoy the feel of a narrow mouthpiece on occasion. You’ll generally find that sub-ohm, DTL devices and tanks will utilize or at least give the option of a wider drip tip like an 810, for example.

Fourth up, higher wattage:

Yup, DL hitters are the reason box mods and devices are getting bigger and meaner, with more power and crazier specs than ever before. A long DL draw, on a low resistance coil, will require a good deal more power, to heat up those beefy coils to capacity, than a tiny cig-a-llike, vape pen or plus ohm coil ever will. Sub-ohm means high wattage, DL means higher wattage. Think 18650s, think box mods, think power and you’ve got the general idea!

Read our guide Best Vape Tanks 2018 for DTL vaping.

Recommended PG/VG Ratios for Direct To Lung Devices

The below is a general guideline.

  • 60VG/40PG – Great flavor, will give you a decent vapor production and a hint of throat hit.
  • 70VG/30PG – This ratio is one of the most popular for sub ohm/DTL devices. Great flavor, lot’s of clouds and nice smooth throat hit.
  • 80VG/20PG – Awesome flavor, big thick clouds, and silky smooth throat hit.
  • 90VG/10PG –Awesome flavor, even thicker clouds, think stream train and smooth on the throat.
  • 100% VG – Pure big clouds and a super smooth vape. 100% VG is also a good choice for those who are sensitive to PG.

Read our guide Best Eliquid Brands 2018.

DL Vaping and Nicotine Strength

While nicotine might not be a carcinogen, that’s not to say that you can’t overdose on it. Symptoms of overdose include, but aren’t limited to nausea, headaches, insomnia, lack of appetite, tremors, and dehydration. The amount of vapor inhaled during DL vaping is exponentially larger than that inhaled during MTL vaping. That means that the amount of e-juice consumed is also exponentially more. That’s why I  never recommend DL vaping anything above 6mg…if you value your own physical comfort, that is!

Read our guide Best Box Mods to help you pick the right mod for your DTL tank!

And in Conclusion?

While you may have noticed a bit of a slant toward the DL side of things in this article, it’s a matter of personal preference. While I might poke fun at your refusal to touch a DL device, you’ve got to consider the likes of Adam. Our editor/ administrator and general mastermind @ecigology. A living, vaping, legend, still, MTL’ing like a boss (lol), just as you can do if you find that DL just isn’t for you! There are a thousand awesome MTL devices on the market to choose from. Be yourself, do what suits you and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise…just do so safely and in an educated fashion. Vape on and live strong!!!!!

Feel loaded with knowledge and ready to look at what kits are out there for both MTL and DTL vaping? Read our Best Vape Pens 2018 guide HERE.

I've been vaping since 2010 and been cig free ever since. I have been through hundreds of products from cig-a-likes to TC mods and I've lost count of the e-liquids I've tried! Ecigology is here to help you make an informed decision. We know how difficult it can be to choose from all the options out there.


  1. Question what about people that smoke with a direct lung hit. I smoke direct to lung. So when I vape I like about 3 restricted 2 to 3.5 second hits. I quit with juul but had to take a couple hits in a row to get satisfied. I also was never able to quit with dl sub ohms. Couldn’t vape a mic level high enough to get satisfaction. So I seem to he burning out mtl coils because they cant keep up. I am using 25mg salt nic at 45/55 .6 mesh coil in my vinci but cant figure out what is the best combo of coil, nic level, vg/pg. I was also a 3 pack a day smoker of reg menthol. I make my own juice and it’s a custard clone. Oh I like more of kinda a loose mtl and not a huge cloud of smoke. Like 3 chain vapes in a row. So need a mtl style that can handle getting hit a couple times in a row. Would I be best with the vm4 mesh which is a .6 half dl? Please help as cant figure out where I fit in

  2. Thank you for this article, it has been most helpful in making me understand the difference between MTL and DL vaping. I’m a 30+ year Marlboro smoker, smoking up to 1 pack/day. My son recently gave me a SMOK Nord MTL vape for my birthday. I have tried the DL vapes in the past and they just didn’t do much for me. They would only get me through a couple of hours in places where I was unable to smoke a cigarette. I would “fire up” a Marlboro the first chance I got. With this MTL vape (50mg Salt Nic), I haven’t touched another cigarette. It’s completely satisfying! I would’ve never believed it would get me completely off cigarettes. I figured this gift would just be another vape that would go into a desk drawer, but I was wrong. I feel so much better since I’ve given up the cigarettes. Thanks again for the info!


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