Ceramic heating elements used in atomizers currently fit into these categories; disc, vertical tube, vertical chip and porous wick.
The vertical tube also known as "Food Grade Ceramic Coil - FGCC" and the ceramic chip also know as Center Vaping Unit - CVU use Tungsten encapsulated in a ceramic sheath.
The porous ceramic wick can either be wire embedded in the ceramic or wire wound around the ceramic.
Don't be fooled by statements like "MSDS Approved" or "Food Grade". At best, these mean nothing to the vaper or vapor. MSDS is useful for handling and shipping only. And "Food Grade" means nothing without testing and not necessarily at even cooking temperatures let alone vaping temperatures. Further, these monikers are being applied simply to enhance sales without anything to back them up. Like RoHS compliance and made in XXX when clearly they were bought from China. In other words, unscrupulous vendors are just using words to get a sale and the words mean literally nothing and are a plain dumb blasted lie. The fact is we do not have any test data on the vapor produced by any of these using mass spectrometry to determine any potential contaminants, by-products, materials or elements. We know literally nothing about their safety. The hypothesis is that since they are sintered at 1000-1200C or higher (if true), then vaping in the 300-500F range ought to be "safe". This hypothesis is untested. For low risk, these product need to be avoided. Personally, it is a risk that I can accept for testing purposes and limited use having a kiln and have done some ceramic work myself and my own personal interest in this topic. It makes good science sense to me for heating as the method to create vapor to use ceramic (of some type) encapsulation is the way to go. And it is important to note that there are many things covered by the word "ceramics". For example there are organic as well as inorganic ceramics. I am not sure what any of these companies are using. One of my projects in the near future is to create my own porous ceramic tubes where I do know what is used and with high porosity around 50-200 microns versus the normal 1 micron used in current porous ceramic vaping products and ceramic water filters.
For those ceramic heating elements that use Tungsten, I try .003 for the TCR. I measured the Krixus and it is actually .0034 in the vaping range. I don't use .0045 as Ness suggests or any other metal wire type like SS, Ti or Ni modes. I did a single point measurement on Fatdaddys Vapin Donuts and found .003 to be within several degrees.
There are some like the cCell that are available with Nickel wire coil. I use standard Ni200 TCR for these.
I am not aware of SS or Ti being used in ceramics at this time but you will find Kanthal which of course has no appreciable TCR.
Given my IR camera testing it is evident that these ceramics have hot spots just like coils. Maybe some day they will be more balanced. But not today, I leave a lot of margin on my TC setting.
Ceramics take a little more time to ramp up. Many mods have a feature that allow you to set a pre-heat like the DNA200. These work well with ceramics. But I don't go crazy. If I typically vape at 40W then I set preheat to 60W. 150% not 200%. Mods that don't have preheat I have to hit fire, wait a second or so, then they start producing vapor.
This is done in theory to remove any black gunk buildup. Which if there is black gunk buildup using a TC mod, then either the TCR is set wrong or the temperature is set too high for the eLiquid ingredients and ceramic heating element.
Only those that completely encapsulated the metal in ceramic (Tungsten only as far as I have seen) and allow removal of wicking support safe cleaning through a dry fire or dry burn with TC. The wire coil based ceramics and porous wick ceramics like the Hygeia, cCell and NTBVC don't completely encapsulate the wire and/or don't allow wick removal.
For the CVU, FGCC like Krixus or Fat Daddys Vapin Donuts where I can remove the wicking, I set power to 20W.
While I do not dry burn wire anymore, I do dry burn ceramic elements. And I dry burn them at maximum temperature setting on the TC device. Also the DNA only goes to 600F. The only higher TC mod that I know of is the Hohm Wrecker that goes to 700F and there I use XXX mode and 32 for the FSK percentage.
I do not dry burn on a mech, VV or VW mod where they glow orange or worse (yellow - white) in the visible spectrum. Too much temperature or power and they will take permanent damage.
And if I have set a mod to a pre-heat for vaping, I disable that feature beforehand or the mod will hit the ceramic element with too much power too rapidly and they will take permanent damage.
Let's take a look at each type in turn.
I have mounted these in many atomizers both single and duals.
Fat Daddys Vapin Donuts. I have had good success with these. There are a lot of myths out there about these, but I have never had any trouble as long as I follow the general guidelines for ceramic heating elements.
This is my favorite design so far in vape experience. These have slots on the side for the juice to get inside the heating element which makes a big difference in flavor. They do however have nickel leads that are silver soldered to the Tungsten via small attachment pads through the nonporous ceramic casing. Silver solder contains Cadmium and CdO forms at room temperature and is toxic. Although the solder pads are small, I would like to see these encapsulated like the solder points are on the Vapin Donuts.
Scylla, Starre, Starre Pro coil cartridges
Vapeston Ceramikas Same as above
Gigue Dolphin, Flawless Tug Tank
Modvapa Panda V12
My theory is these require OC pads that have been perforated for best performance. I have seen a lot of reviews about these leaking. But then I saw that about the Krixus too. The fact is I have to wick them, like any atomizer, correctly. Correctly meaning being right on the verge of but not leaking for best performance and they all can be wicked correctly. It just takes time and patience.
Guo Altus - Started this trend but is kind of pricey.
Pioneer4you Pure X2 - Affordable but limited to the one tank.
These I think have the greatest promise but the current problem is the pore size. I have spoken with a few China vendors and they don't seem to be interested in increasing the porosity/pore size forcing me to make my own. A near future project I hope. Porous ceramic is used in water filtration and these can filter out flavorings but impede VG flow quite a lot. Often advertised as "pure taste" etc. And they don't work well with 100VG unless you bypass the wick with larger holes, cotton etc. The porosity on these need to be increased from 1-10 micron currently to 50-100 micron or more. For now, these are the ones I am aware of:
Ceravape Hygeia, Ceravape Soter (6 coils total in three cartridges and also comes with a high VG cartridge set) both based on horizontal tubes.
Vaporesso/Elego cCell fits Orc Tank, Target, Atlantis, Triton (coil embedded towards the inside of the porous ceramic vertical tube).
I am aware of the Council of Vapor tanks below. I do not own any and I have not been able to find good videos or pictures of the coil construction.
Phoenix, Defiant (possibly FGCC but not certain)
MiniVolt Kit - Uses the Defiant tank
Vengeance (possibly MMMF or Silica)
GreenSound GS L20 (appears to be porous wick)
There are many tanks of each type so we have several choices in colors, shapes and features.
Many ceramic types are non-toxic at vaping temperatures but not all. The ceramic structure can also help to even out temperatures if done correctly. This is why I believe it is a step in the right direction. But none of the current designs have any testing for either topic other than the IR camera test I did with the Krixus.
I did a TCR test with the Modvapa Panda V12 ceramic cartridges. The results are shown below:
And this is the .csv file for the DNA200:
Note it does not have to be "normalized" to work.
Below is a picture of the ceramic heating element.
Note that the nickel leads are Silver soldered. Silver solder contains Cadmium. Cadmium Oxide forms at room temperature and is a lung and kidney toxin. Although the solder pads are small, I would like to see these covered with a non-toxic barrier of some kind. Like the Vapin Donuts below:
This is true of all these "FGCC" nonporous slotted vertical tube Tungsten encapsulated in ceramic heating elements. So this is not specific to Modvapa or the Panda V12. For example the Krixus uses the same. Having messaged vendors on Alibaba I conclude there is one or possibly a few vendors that actually make these ceramics and they are used by the likes of Yiloong, Horizon Tech, Gigue, Freemax etc.
The non-toxic food grade epoxies that I am aware of are good to 450-500F and are usually clear. So I do not know what is used in the Vapin Donuts to cover the solder pads. Further the same ceramic could be applied after the leads are soldered on and then cured to a temperature below that of the melting point of Nickel. At any rate I would really like to see the silver solder pads encapsulated somehow.
This is the Joyetech Riftcore RFC heating element which uses AlN ceramic to encase the Tungsten heating element. It can be TCR'd using the settings above like the rest talked about here on this page. There was much to do about these WRT to safety and indeed as is the case with all powders of glass and ceramic, the powders present health hazards. But in their sintered form they are inert and safe. An example is Silicon Dioxide. SiO2 makes glass but if the powder is inhaled it is a health hazard. Here are the MSDSs of Alumininum Nitride for both forms.
And here we look at the Joyetech Riftcore RFC Solo with a FLIR.
As is the case with all heating elements, ceramics are not immune, the center gets hotter than the outside. Remember temperature control doesn't know that, it just looks at the total resistance change given the TCR. I like that the legs are not soldered. Unfortunately, both the Duo and Solo underperform for 100VG in terms of vapor density. The vape experience, while safe, is muted and weak.
All the information contained in these pages are only the opinions of the author and the author is not an expert at anything.