Getting a burnt taste from your vape is one of the foulest things that you can experience as a vaper. There’s one thing that’s worse – having a venting battery in your pocket – but, trust me, the bad taste that you get from a burnt coil ranks pretty close. To minimize this particular unpleasantness, I’ve prepared a short guide on what causes those burnt taste mishaps and how to avoid them in the future.
What Causes Burnt Vape Taste & A Quick Fix:
- Not priming new coils – manually prime the coil or let it sit in a full tank for an hour
- Wattage too high – reduce wattage until the burning taste disappears
- Chain Vaping – allow your coils to rest between taking puffs
- Temp Control – let the device automatically sense and adjust for optimal temperature
- Tank Empty – make sure that your tank is always at least half full
- High VG vape juice – juices with a higher PG percentage (and less sugar) wick easier
Vaping Burnt Taste Causes (Complete With Solutions)
A lot has been written about avoiding burnt taste from funky coils (most commonly called ‘dry hits’) but new vapers I meet are still pretty confused about the whole issue. I’ll often hear people say: ‘How will I know that I’m getting a ‘dry hit’?
You can’t miss it!
It’s like lighting a ball of cotton on your tongue and inhaling the fumes. Your throat itches, your nostrils flare up, your eyes water…it’s so bad that it can put you off vaping and drive you straight back to smoking stinkies. And we wouldn’t want that happening, right?
Don’t think you can power through burnt vape taste, either. First of all, once you get it in your mouth, it only gets worse. Secondly, the taste is not the worst thing you need to worry about – dry hits are also a health hazard.
Two components contribute to a dry hit:
- Overheated vape juice – when overheated, vape juice breaks down to its chemical components. PG breaks down to formaldehyde (poisonous in large quantities), and that tastes absolutely gross.
- Burning cotton – once there’s nothing between the cotton and the coils, the cotton starts to burn. You’ve guessed it, cotton is not a S’more and it certainly doesn’t taste like one.
The best solution to dry hits is to make sure that there’s always plenty of vape juice on the coil (and the wicks inside it). If you’re not paying attention to that, you’ll be burning through coils faster than you can replace them. Worst yet, you will always struggle with dry hits and burnt taste. Here’s what you can do to save yourself some money and a whole bag of nerves!
New Coil, Burnt Taste?
Sometimes you’ll just get a bad coil (Dead On Arrival) and there isn’t much you can do about that other than to chuck it and install a new one. This happens more with knock-off coils but genuine articles also produce their fair share of doozies (including Aspire, Smok and Uwell, among others).
However, when a new coil tastes burnt it’s most often the user’s fault. Here’s why – you’ve forgotten to prime it! Priming is a technique of breaking a new coil in and preparing it for use. The easiest way to do it is to take the coil head, locate the wicking holes (parts of the coil where cotton is exposed) and drip a couple of drops of vape juice into them. Then let it sit there for a couple of minutes. This will allow the cotton to soak up the vape juice, ensuring there aren’t any dry spots left inside the coil.
A better way to deal with it would be to put in a new coil, top up your tank, and leave the whole setup to soak overnight. This solves the problem of ‘flooding’ – putting too much vape juice on the coil while priming it, which can result in gurgling sounds and spitback. Whatever route you take, do a couple of ‘dry’ inhales before hitting the fire button – this will allow the juice to climb up the coil and soak it completely.
Turn Down the Dial, Wattage Matters – A Lot!
If you have a powerful MOD, chances are you’re going for huge clouds. To get them, you’re probably vaping on a high wattage setting. This can also cause dry hits, resulting in a burning taste and damaging your coil. If it happens, the easiest way to deal with it is to simply reduce wattage. Higher temperature results in quicker evaporation and some coils are not equipped to deal with that; they just can’t wick fast enough. Vaping at a comfortable 40W should give you decent clouds and allow your wicking ports to pull in enough juice before the next puff.
As with everything, reading and adhering to instructions is crucial here. Most coils have a recommended wattage range etched on them. Make sure to stick to it and you will extend their life. As an added bonus, you won’t have to worry about dry hits. Also, when you install a new coil.
Slow Down, Take a Breath – Chain Vaping Kills Coils
There’s mouth-to-lung vaping. Then there’s direct-to-lung vaping. Both vaping methods have their benefits and advocates, there’s no doubt about that. However, there’s a third route some vapers are taking and it’s the chain-vape-until-you-drop method.
Chain vaping means taking continuous puffs until you can’t see anybody else in the room thanks to that thick layer of vapor forming around you. Also, it kills coils faster than anything else I know. Again, it’s down to the delivery system – wicking holes are usually small and can’t accommodate your rapid puffing and huffing.
So, chill out. Take a couple of puffs and allow your MOD to rest for a minute or two. It literally takes that long for vape juice to seep through wicking holes and saturate the cotton again. Now, can you honestly say that taking a breather now and again would take away from your vaping experience? I didn’t think so.
Give Temperature Control MODs a Try
Vape technology is making great strides so if you can’t find your wattage sweet spot or you’re constantly vaping when low on juice, temperature control comes to the rescue. That’s right – there’s something out there that can save you from yourself!
Temp control devices can ‘sense’ the coil material and know exactly how much power to deliver for an enjoyable vape session. If the coil gets too hot or there’s not enough vape juice on the wicking, it will simply refuse to fire. One such MOD is the Innokin Cortex TC – get it (or something similar) if you’re the type of a vaper who constantly struggles with the burnt vape taste.
Keep Your Tank Full at All Times
Another important thing is to keep your eye on the juice levels in your tank. Once your juice goes below a certain point the possibility of dry hits increases. That’s because the wicking ports are not always positioned at the very bottom of the coil – sometimes pushing it below the tank’s half mark can cause problems with wicking.
The best advice I can give you for that is to keep your tank topped up whenever possible. I know that not everybody likes to go out with a pocket full of gorilla bottles but the least you could do is fill your tank up when you’re leaving the house. In a pinch, you can gently turn and rotate the tank to facilitate contact between the wicking holes and the leftover juice. However, this is far less reliable and, at one point or another, you will have to refill. Why not do it immediately and get some practice in?
When All Else Fails, Blame Your Vape Juice
Occasionally, the problem is not in how you vape, but in what you vape. Your choice of e-juice can contribute to dry hits in several ways:
- High VG vape juice blends
- High content of sugars
- Weather conditions
Vegetable glycerin (VG) is more viscous than PG and, therefore, it has a tougher time soaking into the wicks. This is a non-issue for some sub-ohm tanks who have large wicking holes but can be a problem for tanks that are either a bit older or not intended for sub-ohm vaping.
It’s an easily solvable problem, however – simply switch to a vape juice that has a higher PG concentration. High VG juices (70% VG or more) can be troublesome but a 50/50 VG/PG blend shouldn’t pose any problems.
Also, artificial sweeteners often ‘gunk’ up the coils, limiting their ability to perform. Be careful with dark vape juices because they are usually laced with sugars. Some vape juice categories lend themselves to this particular issue – desserts, coffee, fruits (I know, all favorites, but what can you do?). The best solution for this is to simply limit your consumption of these types of juices.
Last, but not the least, there’s the weather. It affects everything so why should your vape juice be different. In all seriousness, cold weather can seriously mess up vape juice, causing PG to behave like VG, making it thick and hindering wicking. Keep your vape protected from extreme weather conditions (balcony or your car during the winter) – there’s not much you can do if you live in Anchorage, Alaska, but still, it doesn’t hurt to make an effort!
Save Your Tastebuds & Your Money
This exhaustive list of burnt vape causes and solutions should give you a leg up next time you’re having issues. I understand it’s a lot to keep track of but think of it like this – every coil that you don’t destroy through neglect or carelessness is money in your pocket.
Vaping is supposed to be enjoyable so it pays off when you’re not ruining the experience for yourself. Take care of your coils and they will take care of you by not delivering that awful taste of burnt wick into your mouth and lungs.
How do you keep your coils from burning? Share your tips below and help out your fellow vapers!