What is an RDA Vape and How Does it Work?

An RDA vape – ‘Rebuildable Dripping Atomiser’ – is an advanced piece of vaping gear. It’s about as far away as possible from your standard vape pen. If you’re a fan of electronic cigarettes you may already know about coils and how to swap the old ones for new. An RDA vape is quite a simple item, really: it’s a tank for which you construct your own coils out of cotton and wire. A lot of users, while expressing interest, are rather apprehensive about engaging with rebuilds. If you’re not familiar with constructing your own coils, the task might look complex, so let us offer you the information you need on how to get started with an RDA vape.

Is it Difficult to build RDA coils?

Quick answer: not really! Constructing your own coils is relatively simple, it just takes a bit of patience. It can look intimidating, but it’s actually quite easy and ultimately leads to an unmatched vaping experience. Many even find building their own coils to a be a fun, calming and meditative exercise. Using an RDA vape is the mark of a true vaping enthusiast, as it provides what is undoubtedly the ‘purest’ experience when it comes to electronic cigarettes.

What is an RDA Coil?

Simply put, an RDA coil is usually a twist of kanthal metal or the coil material of your choice, curled around a strip of cotton and fixed into place via the RDA ‘posts’. While construction methods may differ, there’s actually very little difference between an RDA coil and a pre-built BVC (bottom-vertical-coil). Homemade coils utilise far less materials than traditional variants, requiring no steel casing like you would usually see on BVCs. The reason for this reduction in materials is due to the differences in how you use RDA coils.

Why Use an RDA Vape?

In one word: purity. RDA coils aren’t intended to be used again and again over the course of a few weeks the way BVCs are. Instead, after a day or two you simply remove your homemade coil and construct a new one. There’s no need to worry about the cost of changing your coil every few days, as  purchasing new RDA materials is inexpensive and usually done in bulk.

One of the most commonly celebrated aspects of RDAs is the depth and clarity of flavour, as no pre-built coil compares to the taste sensation of an RDA, and since the coils are disposable, users are far less hesitant about trying a higher wattage on their device than usual, to create vast and potent clouds. If you’ve ever seen someone filling a whole room out in a single exhalation, we can assure you they were using an RDA vape.

What’s the Difference Between an RDA and a Traditional Tank?

One of the key differences between an RDA and a traditional vape tank is that a RDA vape is not used to store vape juices the way a tank usually does. Instead, the user infrequently applies e-liquid top-ups directly to the coil. While some dislike the idea of having to constantly add more and more e-liquid over the course of the day, RDA users find it a small price to pay for flavour intensity and cloud production. Another plus to consider is that you can alternate your flavours across the day; just a couple of puffs and the previous e-liquid is completely vaporised, allowing you to try different tastes. This ability to become a kind of ‘Renaissance vaper’ is one of the many reasons why the ‘true believers of vaping’ are often predisposed to the RDA experience.

Are There Different Kinds of RDA Vapes?

As well as a vaping RDA, you can also purchase an RTA, which stands for Rebuildable Tank Atomiser and is a bit of a middle-ground. These tanks also allow you to build your own coils, however, unlike an RDA vape they have an internal e-liquid reservoir, much like a traditional tank. Building coils will be a similar process regardless of which variant you opt for.

There is some variation in RDA vapes as well, usually regarding whether the device is a single or dual coil build. There are advantages to both choices: a single coil build will usually have a higher resistance and drain your battery far slower, though what you sacrifice is a certain amount of vapour. On the other hand, dual coil builds split the unit’s power between both coils, which decreases the resistance of the build and results in vast clouds, with a notable increase in power drain.

How to Build an RDA Coil

While there are more complex coils that require a bit more maintenance, all you need to start working on your first coils are an RDA tank such as the Pulse RDA 24 Dual, a spool of kanthal wire, a pack of cotton such as Cotton Bacon, and a small number of tools – all of which you can find in the UD Tool Kit.

How to build an RDA coil yourself:

  1. Cut off a length of wire. It’s often best to cut off a little more than you think you’ll need, as you can always trim off any excess prior to fitting it.
  2. Next, use a ‘coil jig’ to start wrapping your wire into a consistent spiral. Some jigs are simple steel rods; other more professional pieces of kit will lock your wire into place as you twist it, providing more standardised dimensions and cutting down on the likelihood of ‘hotspots’ developing.
  3. Once you have a reasonable number of ‘wraps’, gently stretch the wire from both ends so that a small gap is left between each curl of the wire.
  4. The next step is to remove your newly wrapped wire from the jig and use a pair of wire-cutters to carefully snip away at any excess – bear in mind you’re going to need a bit of uncurled wire left on both ends to feed into the RDAs posts and fix it into place.
  5. Feed both ends of the wire into the posts and tighten the screws. Check your wire to see if it’s bent in any way, or if there are any points where the curls of wire press against each other tightly.
  6. Then use a set of tweezers to gently shift the wire in a consistent and evenly spaced position. (This process may take some time to begin with, but once you’ve built three or four coils you’ll find it gradually easier to do.)
  7. With your wire now firmly in place, tear off a strip of cotton. You want to take a length which is long enough to stick far out of both ends on your wire wrap. Don’t worry if you tore off too much; it’s easy to trim it down to a more manageable amount.
  8. Use your tweezers to feed the cotton into the wrap, trying not to alter the shape of the wire, and pull it through the other side. At this point it’ll look like your wire wrap has a big white ‘moustache’ – so, take your tweezers and grip either end of the cotton, then gently fold it back into the RDA housing, tucking it neatly beneath the wire. And if you find it’s too thick to tuck in, unfurl it again and trim it off slightly. Once it’s satisfyingly tucked in, you’re all done!

Congratulations, you just built your first coil! It only gets easier from here on out.

Aiden Aitken avatar

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