Vapers using the RDTA v1/v2 and Supreme RDTA sometimes report issues of juice around the AFC which they describe as either CONDENSATION or LEAKING. These are two separate issues which should not be confused and I’m hoping this brief essay will help Cravers to identify which is which as the first step towards either resolving their leaking problem or managing the condensation better.
Leaking is an escape of juice, the juice is not being kept where it should be -within the tank, the base cap reservoir or within the wicks on your deck. Aromamizers have o-rings which are there to do one of two things … either enable two metal parts to move over each other smoothly (for example the two lower o-rings on the Supreme chamber on which the AFC moves) or provide an airtight seal against the escape of juice (for example the two o-rings which sit top and bottom of the glass section.) The second of these functions is what interests us in fixing any leaking.
If you have an escape of juice the first action must be to check the condition and function of the o-rings. Logically we would attend to the o-ring which is nearest to the evident leak. Look for signs of damage, being displaced or lacking suppleness – the latter is often a result of over-tightening components which makes the o-ring hard and flat. Discard any defective o-rings and replace them with your spares. When re-assembling your Aromamizer, you should be pinching up parts against the o-ring, “finger tight” for the optimal seal and not cranking so hard that the o-ring deforms or is over-compressed.
The second, commonly reported issue with leaking, is almost always the result of an inadequate amount of wick placed on the deck. If air pressure and the weight of the column of juice is able to force juice past your wicks this will result in a flooded chamber and then juice finding its way out of the airholes. Another way to create this effect is to try refilling without closing the juice flow control (JFC). Another issue may arise if you have too much wick tail which extends beyond the circumference of the deck. It will be apparent when you install the deck that the wick tails are compressed against the walls of the chamber … juice will be squeezed out and run along the walls to escape through the airholes. It’s not particularly problematic if your wicks touch the chamber walls, but issues certainly arise when the wick tails are being squeezed in.
If your wicking is adequate and the deck is still flooding, then inspect the o-ring on the deck which seals against the bottom of the chamber. If this is not providing a snug seal then juice can be pushed past the o-ring. If you can slot your deck into the chamber without feeling the o-ring in contact with the chamber then replace that o-ring.
There are two o-rings on the Supreme and Supreme Lite which perform both functions of allowing movement and sealing juice – these are the o-rings for the JFC ring. One is the top one of three on the chamber and the other is the bottom o-ring on the lower tank ring. Neither of these o-rings is under compression, as they’re primarily intended to tension the movement of the JFC. If damaged, misplaced or under compression they may allow a small seepage of juice above the JFC ring. Replace the o-rings if damaged and take care not to overtighten the chimney section which can result in compressing the o-ring on the lower tank ring. You may also find that the JFC becomes tight when this happens.
One more issue may cause seepage from the o-ring on the lower tank ring and that's caused by overfilling the tank with juice. Don't fill with juice beyond the two kidney shaped fill holes - always leave some air at the top of the tank. When you screw on the top cap it will pressurize the tank, without an air bubble the juice itself will compress like a hydraulic system and this can force a drop of juice past the lower o-ring which will exit on the JFC ring.
In summary then, the o-rings will prevent leaking of juice if they allowed to do what they’re designed to do. Damage or over-compression will lead to suboptimal performance and failure. Under or over wicking can also lead to problems yet the Aromamizers are not fussy or particular … wicking is simple to set up and very forgiving of vaper preferences as long as the deck and juice holes are covered. Avoid having too little on the deck or too much against the chamber walls and you should be golden.
With all leaking issues addressed we can now turn our attention to condensation. This is the fluid we find inside the chamber, chimney and drip tip after vaporisation has taken place. It is more watery than fresh juice, often darker in color and is an inevitable part of the process of vaping – it will be found in all atomisers. Condensate is ever present and unavoidable … the issue is whether we allow it to become an apparent problem, that is, what can we do to minimise its negative effects?
Users of the RDTA v1 or v2 will be familiar with the sight of condensation inside the chamber whenever they refill. Cravers will also see the darker residue on top of the posts and coils/wicks where it has dripped back from the chimney. Some will take to wiping out the condensate with each refill so that it doesn’t build up too much. Because it has top fill and the deck is not removed from time to time, Supreme users will be much less attentive to condensation build up.
This build-up of condensate in the RDTA was certainly exacerbated by the deployment of the anti-spit back baffle on the original stock drip tips. At best the baffle would reduce the flavor experience of the vape; at worst case, this created gurgling in the chimney section. Many Cravers either removed the baffle or switched to another drip tip. I found that the use of wide-bore, friction fit tips both smoothed out the airflow and minimised the obstruction of condensate. Further, I designed a tip which fitted around the nipple cap to maintain the bore through the drip tip and not allow any condensation to gather in the chimney. This tip may be bought from Big’s Tips in the UK. A similar design is available in the US from Mink Machine Mafia.
Any standard fitting 510 drip tip will provide a pinch point obstruction to the airflow and condensation as a result of the tip fitting inside the chimney profile. Friction fit tips provide less obstruction and I was pleased to see the new Supreme Lite now comes with such a tip as standard. Cravers who persist with standard fitting 510 drip tips, perhaps for aesthetic reasons, must continue to deal with the detrimental effect they have on condensation build-up.
Aside from the drip tip, the second step to minimising the effects of condensation is to address the wicking … which I have already covered above as part of fixing leaking issues. Keep the wicks inside the circumference of the deck to prevent them from wicking the condensate off the chamber walls.
As the juice flow and airflow systems are fundamentally the same, the same good practice applies to the Supreme and Supreme Lite as much as it does the RDTA v1/v2. The airflow system is a single process from the intake, outside the AFC ring, to the vaper’s mouth, at the end of the drip tip. This leads nicely onto the next item for consideration.
THE INHERENT PROBLEM OF SIDE AIRFLOW
All the Aromamizer RDTAs have side airflow, we can see the coils through the air holes. Obviously this also means that the chamber has holes in it. These air holes give us the legendary, fantastically smooth and flavorful vape from direct to coil air but also present an opportunity for the condensate on the chimney walls to escape and for juice to be spat out from the coils. Also, any vapor left in the chamber after inhalation, it being heavier than air, can fall out of the air holes and potentially condense on a cool AFC or mod. This inherent problem is often mistakenly refered to as leaking.
What can be done about it? Unlike leaking which can be fixed, condensation is something we have to manage and minimise. The first thing we should think about is not making it worse. I often see vapers indulge in the practice of exhaling during the fire prior to the inhale, in order to warm up their coils. Reversing the airflow like this drives the vapor out of the intake air holes … no surprise then that this practice results in a lot of condensation around the AFC. Similarly, firing the coils prior to the inhale allows them to spit hot juice droplets out of the air holes, as there’s no airflow intake to direct the vapor and the hot juice droplets inside the chamber and up the chimney.
In my experience, all coils no matter how simple or complex, whether spaced or closed wraps, whether the wicks are more or less saturated, have the potential to spit juice droplets. We can see that whenever we test fire a build with the deck outside the atomiser. Adjusting the power levels will increase or reduce the effect, but they all do it.
Complex and thick wires which create a lot of heat also have a tendency to retain more than enough heat to vaporise juice after the vaper has stopped pressing the fire button and inhaling. The “overrunning” means the atty continues to fill the chamber with vapor well after we’ve finished vaping. We’ve all no doubt witnessed the vapor still rising through the drip tip or falling out of the air holes when we’ve put our mod down. Sometimes whilst driving, I place the mod near a ventilation port and see the cool airflow still creating a vape off the coils.
Releasing the fire button before you’ve completed the inhale is one way to manage this overrun, I’ve also seen vapers clearing their atty after an inhale by blowing the vapor out. These are not offered as solutions, they’re simply a way to manage the situation. Still other Cravers have resorted to removing the AFC ring, not because it stops the condensation happening but because it stops the AFC ring from trapping the vapor which can condensate there.
Unlike leaking problems which we can fix, condensation issues are something we have to manage and minimise. Supreme and Supreme Lite users will find fewer opportunities to wipe out condensation from the chamber than RDTA users so it’s reasonable to expect they’ll also encounter a wet AFC. Adjusting how you vape, having some empathy with what’s going on would be my advice. Think about your choice of drip tip … is it there just to look pretty or is it in tune with the airflow process? Think about your wicking … is it creating an avoidable condensation problem? Do you actively manage and minimise the condensation build up inside the chamber and chimney with the way you vape?
Maybe the next Aromamizer will seek to address the inherent problem of side airflow, we’ll have to wait and see. Meanwhile, Crave on and give some thought to condensation when you chase for flavour!