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Stainless steel and nickel coils

By: Nicholas King.
Last Updated: December 1st, 2018.


When it comes to vaping coils and the materials used in their manufacture, opinions among members of the vaping community can vary wildly. Some swear that certain materials are unsafe or inefficient, and refuse to even consider their use. Meanwhile, others simply have a preference for one type of coil material or another but hold no strong negative views about the alternatives. The bigger question that most people might ask, however, is an obvious one: who cares? Does it really matter which coil type you use to get the best vape? As we consider the differences between stainless steel coils and nickel coils, we’ll try to answer that question.

Coils made of stainless steel

Stainless Steel

Let’s begin with stainless steel, since that material is so familiar to many people. We all pretty much know what we’re getting with stainless steel in most areas of our lives. Good, quality, medical-grade stainless steel is used in medical equipment, cooking pots and utensils, and many other places throughout virtually every corner of society. It is reliable, hard-working, and safe to a fault. There is a reason we’ve used it in cooking for so long: its heat tolerance is positively incredible.

To be more precise, stainless steel has a melting point that is somewhere between 2400 and 2750 degrees Fahrenheit. Obviously, you never reach those temperatures when you’re cooking over a stove, and you certainly don’t come close to exceeding that tolerance when your pan goes into the oven. For that reason, stainless steel is considered an ideal material for pots and pans and other cooking tools. You can rest assured that the steel won’t melt or otherwise leach into your food.

Typical atomizer head made with stainless steel
Now, some might be more concerned about the thought of using vaping coils made from this material. After all, what if the stainless steel was damaged by the high temperatures or some part of it leeched into your e-juice? Obviously, that would be catastrophic. Another point that some people often raise is that the stainless steel used in vaping coils often contains alloys other than the steel. For example, the metal nickel appears in some alloys, causing some to speculate that there could be a danger of ingesting the metal if the high heat impacts the steel in a certain way. The good news in that regard is that nickel also has a high tolerance for heat, being safe at temperatures up to 2200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here’s the thing: vaping devices don’t actually reach those temperatures – though I suppose there could be some custom-designed devices or little-known units that do. None of the more commercially-available and well-known options do though, and that’s what matters. The fact is that stainless steel coils are strong, durable, heat-tolerant, and safe to use for vaping devices.

Coils made from nickel


Nickel has been one of the most-examined metals used in vaping products, and it’s been given some pretty harsh reviews by people throughout the industry. All of these negative assertions have been based on the danger that nickel is known to possess as a poison – and the belief that it is possible that the metal could somehow make its way into the human body through vaping. The thing is though, that none of those assertions mean much unless it is indeed possible for that leeching to occur.

First off, nickel melts at just over 2,650 degrees Fahrenheit. That is why it is considered safe enough to be used in orthodontics and a wide variety of jewelry and other everyday products. So, nickel won’t melt when vaporized in e-cigarettes and is not even remotely soluble in water, or either of the base liquids commonly used in e-juice. Granted, you can reduce it to liquid form by exposing it to acid, but that’s not really something that any vaper is going to ever do intentionally – and if you have acid anywhere near your coils then you’re going to be worried about a lot more than just nickel.

Typical nickel atomizer head
So, nickel isn’t going to melt and leach into your e-juice, since its melting temperature is above those reached by electronic cigarette devices. But, some might ask, what about those infamous hot spots? We are, after all, talking about electronic devices – and there is always the potential for problems when you’re firing your device up at high wattage. A hot spot can appear, and cause the nickel wire to overheat. Certainly, that could cause problems, right? As it turns out, no. If the wires overhear, they’ll snap long before they have a chance to melt – so there’s no threat there either.

Of course, much of the concern is simply the result of nickel and vaping being so new in their relationship. That newness has resulted in some understandable caution with respect to the potential for accidentally inhaling metal vapors. Nickel poisoning is, of course, a real thing – and something that is worth examining. And then there is the fact that vaping studies are by no means conclusive with respect to the safety of the activity. Sure, the best scientific evidence suggests that vaping is perhaps 95% safer than using tobacco, but the very newness of the technology means that they have not yet been any long-term studies to conclusively prove anything.

Tongue showing nickle reaction

Depapillation of the tongue, similar to that from a Nickel allergy.

Nickle allergies, on the other hand, are a real thing – as anyone who has ever had an allergic skin reaction to coming into contact with nickel alloy jewelry can attest. There is a large percentage of people in the world who are allergic to nickel – estimates at between ten and twenty percent of all of the world’s population. Obviously, anyone with that sensitivity would be more than a little bit concerned about the possibility that they might be exposing themselves to a substance that could irritate them or provoke an allergic response.

Once again, however, there is no evidence to suggest that the nickel could end up making contact with the vaper’s skin – unless that person is directly handling the coils. Some people have been known to make claims that their nickel allergies were triggered by vaping, but that could just be psychological in nature. On the other hand, despite the lack of evidence of any danger, vapers with sensitivity to any coil material should probably consider other options to be on the safe side. One good option is to stick with a cig-a-like type e-cig, or vape pod, their battery is on the small side so the burning of the coil is much less dramatic and less likely to cause any irritation. If you’re after a little more power without going over the top, we suggest reading about the best vape pens.

Finally, there are some who worry about carbon monoxide – primarily due to the way in which nickel can produce that poisonous gas when it is super-heated. Here again, though, there is no real cause for worry, since vaping does not come anywhere close to matching the conditions that must be used to create that gas. The production of carbon monoxide requires temps in excess of 2000 degrees and reduced levels of oxygen in the environment, which are two conditions that are never achieved through vaping.

Mixture of nickel and steel coils


Is One Better Than the Other?

And that brings us to the main question that everyone seems to want to be answered. Which is the better option? The simple fact is that both are tried and tested metals that have provided millions of vapers with the vaping experience they desire. There is no evidence that either of these materials has ever produced dangerous gases or other ill effects for those using them – and both perform well in a variety of vaping settings.

With that said, the choice of which to use is ultimately up to the user. Whenever two high-performing options are there for the choosing, that usually results in an abundance of treasures for consumers. Nowhere is that truer than in the choice between these two coil options. So, though some vapers with sensitivity to nickel may want to avoid nickel coils just to avoid even the remotest possibility that they might come into contact with that metal, most users can experiment with both options without fear and then choose the one that best suits their fancy.

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Nicholas King
Nicholas King

Hi! I’m Nicholas King, the founder, and Chief Editor at SmokeTastic. As an ex-smoker and now vaping enthusiast for over 13 years myself, I understand the transition between smoking and vaping. My aim is to share useful information about all the different vape and e-cig products on the market, self-help tips, and detailed reviews.

I hope you find something on SmokeTastic that helps you with your decision process.

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