One of the things that helps people become addicted to cigarettes is the fact that no one has to tell you how to use them. If you inhale in the wrong way, you’ll cough – so you figure it out very quickly.

Vaping, on the other hand, isn’t necessarily self-explanatory. There are many different types of vaping devices, and they’re not all designed to be used in the same way. In this guide, we’re going to clear up one of the most common newbie questions by explaining how to inhale a vape properly.

As you’re about to learn, vaping has three different inhaling styles. We’ll explain them all and describe their benefits. In case you don’t have the time to read all of the details, though, we’ll begin with a summary of the things you need to know as a new vaper.

Key Takeaways:


The best vape for a beginner is usually a small e-cigarette, disposable vape or pod system.


These types of vapes are always designed for mouth-to-lung (MTL) inhaling, which is described in detail below.


If you’re in doubt, puff gently in the same way that you’d smoke a cigarette. 

Mouth-to-Lung (MTL) Inhaling

Cigalikes are always designed for MTL inhaling.

What Is It?

MTL inhaling means that you’re allowing the vapour to enter your mouth before transferring it to your lungs. This is the same way that you inhale when smoking a cigarette.

What Are the Benefits?

The MTL vaping style is the ideal way to inhale if you’re using a high-nicotine e-liquid. It provides the most cigarette-like experience since it’s the same way that you inhale when smoking. It’ll feel familiar to you, and it’ll provide the same assertive throat hit that you feel when you smoke.

Another benefit of MTL vaping is its low cost. Of the three different inhaling styles, MTL vaping produces the smallest clouds and uses the least e-liquid. Since you won’t need to refill your vape as often, you’ll spend less on vape juice.

What Types of Vapes Are Designed for It?

Small pod systems are usually designed for MTL inhaling.

The smallest vapes are designed for MTL inhaling. These devices include cigarette-shaped “cigalikes,” pod systems with pre-filled pods, small pod systems with refillable pods and most disposable vapes. In general, if your device’s mouthpiece is about as wide as a cigarette, it’s probably a MTL vape.

Some of the best MTL vapes that we have reviewed include:

Direct-to-Lung (DTL) Inhaling

Large vape mods and pod mods are designed for DTL inhaling.

What Is It?

DTL inhaling means that you’re inhaling the vapour directly into your lungs without drawing it into your mouth first.

What Are the Benefits?

Compared to MTL inhaling, DTL inhaling produces much bigger vapour clouds. It also produces significantly bolder flavours because you’re inhaling a great deal more e-liquid with each puff. DTL is the ideal way to inhale if you’re using a low-nicotine e-liquid. Because you’ll be using a low nicotine strength, you’ll experience very little throat hit in comparison with MTL inhaling. The people who use the DTL inhaling style prioritise flavour and cloud production over throat hit. They’re usually long-term vapers who have been vaping for so long that they’re no longer tempted to smoke and no longer crave the smoking experience.

If you’re new to vaping, you might assume that using a lower-strength e-liquid would mean you wouldn’t get enough nicotine. That’s not the case. Broadly speaking, the ideal nicotine strength is a function of your device’s vapour production. The bigger clouds your device produces, the lower your nicotine strength should be. The cloud production of your device makes up for the difference in nicotine strength, so the end result is that you get the right amount of nicotine for your needs either way.

What Types of Vapes Are Designed for It?

DTL vapes are the largest vaping devices on the market. They’re vape mods and pod mods with large mouthpieces and wide airflow openings. If your vape’s mouthpiece is much wider than a cigarette – and you feel little air resistance when inhaling through the mouthpiece – you probably have a DTL vape.

Some of the best DTL vapes that we have reviewed include:

Restricted Direct-to-Lung (RDL) Inhaling

Small vapes with adjustable airflow usually work well for both MTL and RDL inhaling.

What Is It?

RDL inhaling means that you’re inhaling the vapour directly into your lungs, but you’re using a small vaping device that provides some air resistance.

What Are the Benefits?

RDL inhaling provides some of the benefits of both the MTL and DTL vaping styles. With RDL inhaling, you’ll get bigger clouds than you would with a MTL vape, and you’ll also get more throat hit than you would with a DTL vape. As you might imagine, RDL vapes tend to work best with e-liquids that have in-between nicotine strengths. In other words, with a RDL vape, you probably wouldn’t want to use a nicotine strength as low as 3 mg/ml or as high as 20 mg/ml.

New vapers usually start with MTL devices and eventually step up to RDL vapes when they decide that they’d like to enjoy slightly larger clouds and bolder flavours.

What Types of Vapes Are Designed for It?

A small vape with adjustable airflow is usually designed to provide a good experience with both the MTL and RDL inhaling styles.

Some of the best RDL vapes that we have reviewed include:

How Can You Tell if You’re Inhaling in the Wrong Way?

We’ll conclude this guide with a few helpful pointers that can help you understand if you’re using the wrong inhaling style for your vaping device or for the nicotine strength of your e-liquid. If you’re not fully enjoying your vaping experience, correcting your inhaling style may be the key.

  • Is e-liquid spitting into your mouth? You’re using too much air pressure when you inhale. Although cigarettes and small vapes use the same inhaling style, you can’t inhale as firmly when you vape because you’ll force some of the e-liquid out of the device. Inhale more gently.
  • Are you coughing when you vape, or do you feel like you’re getting way too much nicotine? You’re probably using a nicotine strength that’s either too high for your needs or too high for your device’s intended inhaling style. Remember: More vapour means you need to use a lower nicotine strength.
  • Do you feel like you’re inhaling too much air, and the vapour has no flavour? You’re probably trying to use the MTL inhaling style with a device designed for DTL inhaling. You’ll have the best experience with a device designed for your intended inhaling style. In the meantime, try reducing your device’s airflow.

Greg Williams

Greg Williams

Greg Williams is an electrical engineer who enjoys tinkering with vapes to discover their inner workings. Greg’s informational articles clarify the complex aspects of vaping to help everyone have a better experience.