Struggling with a burnt vape taste? No worries - we've got you covered.
In this article, we'll be looking at the various reasons that your vape coil may be burning and causing a dry and unpleasant hit and how to prevent it from happening.
Don't worry this happens to all vape enthusiasts from time to time and is easily resolved once you learn these simple tips and tricks for preventing coils from burning or breaking prematurely.
There are many reasons why you might be getting a scratchy and burnt tasting hit from your vape. Below, we’ll be going through some of the most common reasons and provide some steps that you can take to correct these issues and to avoid this from dampening your vape experience in the future.
This article will explore the most common reasons that can damage your coils and how to stop it from burning. It will be broken down into 10 easily digestible sections.
- The coil is old
- Not cleaning your coil
- Priming the coils
- Watt is too high
- Chain Vaping
- Cheap juice
- Low amount of juice in the tank
- Cold Weather
- Hot spots on the coils
- Too much cotton on the coil
How do you tell if your coil is burnt out?
If your vape is producing that unmistakable burnt taste, this is not something that you’re likely to miss. But what if the coil is only slightly burnt out and the taste of your vape is scarcely any different?
Make no mistake; you’ll still notice a slightly burnt taste in this instance, while you’ll definitely get the impression that something is not quite right when vaping.
Now, you may be inclined to leave a coil that is only slightly burned in place so that you can get the full use out of it, but we wouldn’t recommend this. Even coils that are only a little burned can produce harmful chemicals, so it makes sense to swap this out just as soon as you become aware of the problem.
Why do Coils Get Burnt in the First Place?
If you’ve realised that your coil is burned, you’ll probably wonder how this has happened? In fact, there’s a really simple explanation, and understanding this is crucial if you want to avoid burning your coil and being forced to replace it in the future.
Firstly, think about all the times that you vaped but did not get that bitter, burnt taste in your mouth. On these occasions, you’ll have hit the fire button and released electricity through your coil, causing it to heat up gradually.
This heat will have then been absorbed by your choice of e-liquid, which then seeps into the wick and transforms the juice into thick and satisfying plumes of vapour. This step is crucial to the whole process, as the capacity of the e-liquid to absorb heat prevents the coil from overheating while vaping.
OK, we hear you ask, but what happens when there’s no juice in the wick, or not enough to absorb any excess heat? This can happen if the wick becomes a little dried out over time, or in instances where you have a tank of e-liquid that is less than full.
On these occasions, you’ll press the fire button and heat up the coil in the usual way, but the lack of surrounding e-liquid or juice will cause the temperate of the coil to increase quickly. As the coil overheats, any juice that remains in the wick becomes overcooked, causing the PG to break down into formaldehyde and creating a truly disgusting taste.
At the same time, your wick becomes directly exposed to a red-hot coil, causing it to burn within a relatively short period of time (especially if it’s made of cotton). If the wick is completely dry it could even catch fire, but at the very least it will leave a bitter, burnt taste on your tongue.
As you can imagine, the combination of formaldehyde and burnt cotton does not make for a pleasant taste sensation, while this should also serve as a warning that vaping on your device is no longer safe.
The coil is old
Possibly the simplest and most common reason for coils burning is their age. Nothing lasts forever and your coils are no different. Regular maintenance and cleaning will help to prolong the life of your coils. If it's looking charred or rather dark coloured you may want to consider switching it out for a new one as it has probably passed its best.
Not taking into consideration personal consumption habits, a coil should last an average of two-three weeks. Heavy users that don’t clean their coils will find themselves changing them significantly more frequently. The coils will start to produce a burnt tasting vapour when it begins to fail.
The jury is still out on whether vaping on a burnt coil is actually bad for your health but the fact that it produces such a terrible taste is enough motivation to not vape on burnt out coils anyway.
Not cleaning your coil
As mentioned briefly above, taking care of your coils will greatly improve their lifespan. Regularly cleaning them and keeping on top of the maintenance of the rest of your vape will ensure the maximum amount of use from each coil and help you avoid taking burnt hits from your vaporiser and save you money on coils by not having to replace them as often. Not cleaning the coils will make them more prone to clogging and bunging up.
Most people will clean their coils by using a cotton bud soaked in alcohol and gently rubbing the coil clean and then washing it in clear hot water to remove any excess residue and alcohol.
Priming the coils
A commonly overlooked issue that can cause problems with your coil, is not correctly priming it. To prime the coil simply add two or three drops of the ejuice onto the wick holes, fill the tank and wait for up to 30 minutes. Waiting this short amount of time will help to maximise the absorbency and minimise the chances of the coil producing a hot and dissatisfying hit.
Some vapers prefer to perform a dry hit – inhaling without pressing the on the switch to manually draw the E-liquid up the wick, soaking it and priming it for use.
Failing to prime coils is one of the main contributory factors towards new coil burn out.
Watt is too high
Vaping is becoming increasingly popular and as such the technology is ever-changing and evolving to provide consumers with a wide range of different types of vapes and customisable components.
Vape batteries have developed too, the user can now control the wattage they produce. A higher wattage produces more vapour, which is fine if you want big, thick clouds, however it can negatively impact your coil and isn’t particularly economical. The wick will also dry much quicker at a higher wattage running the risk of of a dry hit and burning the coil. Whereas setting the wattage lower, will lower the chances of the coil burning.
The coils themselves usually have an operating range printed on them. Keeping the power within this range will help to ensure the longevity of the coil. By reducing the power you’re also reducing the length of time it takes the wick to reabsorb the eliquid which means that you can vaporise more frequently without the fear of burning the wick or coil.
Chain vaping is typically an issue for new vapers. Chain vaping is when you take successive hits of your vape in quick succession. This can be an issue as not all coils are created equally. Some will “wick up” (saturate the wick) a lot faster than others meaning the time between hits is lessened.
Taking just 15-20 seconds between hits allows the coil to cool and the wick to saturate or “wick up” this will improve the coils longevity and create a pleasant vaporising experience for the consumer.
Most chain vapers are newly converted tobacco smokers and as such they are looking for that thick, heavy hit and consequently too often set the temperature too high and try to inhale it like they would the cigarettes they used to smoke – short quick bursts, this will quickly dry up and damage the wick as it won’t have time to wick up between hits. It may also potentially burn out the coil.
So you’ve spent lots of money on a top of the range vaporiser, you keep it immaculately clean, replace the coils frequently and avoid the amateur mistakes of chain vaping and not priming coils, yet you’re still getting a burnt tasting vapour?
It is likely then that you’ve been using a cheap E-liquid. Cheaper liquids are often produced using a higher ratio of VG to PG making them thicker which increases the likelihood of clogging the coil which can also lead to the wick drying out and burning. Using an ejuice with more PG should help reduce clogging as it will be thinner.
These cheaper E-liquids also tend to contain sweeteners. The sugars in these sweeteners can caramelise and block up your coil leading to it burning out.
Low amount of juice in the tank
Possibly the most common reason for experiencing a dry, harsh vape hit is having an empty tank. Attempting to vape an empty cartridge will result in a foul burning taste and quickly dry up the wick and can potentially destroy the coil. “Overcooking” the little remaining E-liquid can cause it to burn, which doesn’t taste too great. If you experience this then remove the wicks immediately as the taste will remain even once topped up.
Hitting a fully dry cartridge or tank could potentially ignite the wick, setting it on fire. Keeping your tank topped up and ensuring that you prime it too will help you to avoid this common pitfall and keep you vaping with confidence.
Interestingly, the weather can effect your vaping experience. The viscosity of your ejuices will change depending on what temperature they are stored in. Cold weather will thicken your ejuices and warm weather will thin them. The cold will cause more issues than the heat as the temperature will make a PG heavy mix act like a VG dominant combination. This will make the coil more prone to clogging as the E-liquid is thicker. Try to avoid leaving your vape exposed to extreme temperature fluctuations.
Hot spots on the coilsAnother common cause of burnt hits when vaping are hotspots on the coil which can cause it to glow an intense red as the excessive heat moves through it. Vaping on a hot-spotted coil can result in a nasty metallic tasting draw that will be hot and unpleasant. Hotspots cause burnt vapour regardless of the saturation levels of the wick. Throw away any wicks that have been burnt, as they will retain that unpleasant flavour and taste.
Once you’ve identified a hotspot on your coil, there are two things you can do about it. Replace it or attempt to fix it. You can get the coil to pulse evenly again by using a tool to “strum” the coil or lightly pinching it with some tweezers which will promote even distribution of heat across the coil.
DO NOT attempt any repairs on the coil while pressing the on button unless using ceramic tweezers.
Too much cotton on the coil
The wick is responsible for vaporising the E-liquid in the tank. It is heated by the coil and then inhaled through the mouthpiece. Using too small of a wick will result in a poor vaping experience and can even cause it to leak.
Using too much wick is also a problem, having too much cotton increases the total area that needs to be saturated to work correctly and to avoid potentially burning out the wick. It also means that the time between vapes will have to be increased to allow the ejuice to be fully absorbed on to the wick.
How Can We Stop Our Coils from Burning Out?
So what are the key takeaways here that can prevent your coil from burning out? The most obvious message is that you always need juice in the wick when you vape, so it’s imperative that you maintain a relatively full tank of e-liquid at all times.
Ultimately, this means that you should never “dry burn” your coils, as most wicks are made from cotton and will quickly become ruined if they’re heated without the adequate amount of juice to protect them. In fact, you should only ever consider dry burning when using a ceramic wick, although even then it’s not recommended over an extended period of time.
Even if there’s juice in the tank, you can take a couple of proactive steps to help protect your coil. You need to ensure that the flow of e-liquid can keep up with the rate of vapourisation, which relates to the resistance of the coil and your device’s power settings.
This will make sure that you do not deplete your e-liquid resources too quickly when hitting the fire button, while extending the longevity of the wick over time.
Beyond this, we’d also recommend that you avoid so-called “chain vaping”. While this is great if you’re looking to disguise your appearance in a thick cloud of vapour (perhaps you’re vising the in-laws), it can easily cause your coil to overheat and lead your wick to burn out too.
In simple terms, chain vaping causes your wick to dry out considerably thorough the repeated hitting of the fire button, affording it little time to re-saturate with liquid or recover in between hits.
You could also try priming your coil, which is the process of manually soaking your wick before it’s installed. After all, the wick has to go from being completely dry to being immersed in liquid when a new coil is installed, and this usually requires you to wait for a few moments before you take your first puff.
The issue here is that most of us cannot wait to vape once our devices are ready to go, and this impatience can mean that there is not enough surrounding e-liquid to absorb the excess heat.
You can avoid this by priming the coil, however, which protects the wick and negates the need for any waiting time!
On a final note, you may also want to consider using an e-liquid with a higher level of PG. PG is far thinner than VG as a base, meaning that it soaks into wicks far more easily. So not only does it protect the wick during vaping, but it also helps you to strike a superior balance between powering your device and the speed of vapourisation.
Small considerations like this can make a big difference when vaping, particularly if you want to get the most from the device and prevent the individual components from burning out!
There are many reasons why your coils might be burning up and giving off a foul tasting vapour. Above we have listed the ten most common causes, however as the industry continues to grow so does the information, awareness, and education around vaping. It’s important to stay up to date with the latest technological advancements and advice.
If you are still experiencing dry, harsh and burnt tasting hits then it could be a combination of several of the above factors. Start with the most common reasons and go from there. Should you still be having problems reach out to the vaporising community online.