[This is a guest post by Todd Slater from Vapor Authority. We'd like to thank Todd for his contribution and offering this useful information for new vapers.]
Vaping requires two primary products that must be repurchased on a regular basis: e-liquid and atomizer coils. However, there is a lot of confusion as to how often atomizer coils need to be replaced. The confusion stems from the fact that there are several factors that determine how long an atomizer coil will last and when it should be replaced.
What Is An Atomizer Coil?
An atomizer coil (also known as an atomizer head or replacement coil) is the part of an electronic cigarette that heats the e-liquid, thereby turning it into vapor. Atomizer coils come in two general types: single-coil and dual-coil. Dual-coil atomizers have two heating elements vaporizing the e-liquid simultaneously, while single-coil atomizers have only one heating element.
Atomizer heads are made up of three primary components: the casing, the wire (coil), and the wicking material. The wire is wrapped around the wicking material in a coil formation. The two ends of the wire are then connected to the portion of the casing that makes contact with the battery. When e-liquid is introduced into the tank, the wicking material will absorb it and become saturated with it. Once the battery is activated, it heats up the coil, causing the e-liquid absorbed in the wicking material to be vaporized.
What Factors Determine How Long An Atomizer Coil Lasts?
There are several factors that collectively shape the lifespan of your atomizer coil. The acidity level and the PG/VG consistency of your e-liquid both play an important role. Additionally, the amount you vape and the amount of power running to the coil are also contributing factors.
In general, the higher the acidity level of your e-liquid, the faster the coil will burn out. Certain flavors, fruit ones for example, tend to have higher levels of acidity, which will in turn burn out your atomizer coil more rapidly than other flavors. In addition, the higher the VG content of the e-liquid, the quicker your atomizer coil will tend to need replacement. This is due to the fact that vegetable glycerin is substantially thicker in consistency than propylene glycol. As a result, the cotton or silica wicking element within the atomizer coil deteriorates much faster when VG dominant liquids are used.
Moreover, the wattage and voltage level you are running to your atomizer coil will be a determining factor for its longevity. The more power you are running, the quicker the atomizer coil will burn out. Higher wattage and voltage will ultimately cause the wire to lose its heating capability, and it will therefore produce less vapor.
Perhaps the most obvious factor involved in determining how long your coils will last is how often you vape. Those who vape consistently throughout the day will need to change their atomizer coils much more frequently than those who vape scarcely or sporadically throughout the day. In other words, the longevity or lifespan of an atomizer coil is measured in hours used as opposed to days since the last replacement.
How Do You Know Your Atomizer Coil Is Burning Out?
There are several telltale signs indicating that your atomizer coil is on its last legs. Generally, the first thing you will experience is reduced vapor production. Soon after, you will begin noticing other classic signs as well. Leaking, gurgling noises, poor flavor production and no vapor production are all symptoms of a failing or failed atomizer head.
Usually, the first sign of a dying atomizer coil is a reduction in vapor production. When you begin using an atomizer head for the very first time, you will notice that you get thick vapor clouds. This level of performance lasts for a few days before the atomizer gradually produces less and less vapor. Since this happens progressively, it is often difficult to detect the change. However, when you pop in a fresh coil, the difference is very stark.
One of the most common indications of a failing atomizer coil is a burnt taste when taking a drag. Although there are other causes of this, such as insufficient e-liquid in your tank or too much power running to the coil, a burnt taste is a classic sign of an atomizer that needs to be replaced. The absorbing material within the atomizer (usually cotton or silica wicking material) begins to discolor, oversaturate, and char through use over time. When this occurs, the material loses its ability to adequately absorb the liquid, thereby causing drier hits.
Another early sign of a failing atomizer coil is your e-liquid leaking. At some point in the time you have vaped, you have most likely experienced some of your e-liquid getting into your mouth when taking a drag. Although there are other causes for this, a leaking device is a clear indication that your atomizer coils is failing. Since the wire cannot heat to the necessary temperature to adequately vaporize the e-liquid, some of it gets drawn up into your mouth when taking a drag.
Additionally, a leaking device is often accompanied by flooding and subsequent gurgling sounds. Since the coil is not heating the e-liquid at a rapid enough rate, taking a drag causes the atomizer head to flood and begin gurgling. This is a very apparent sign, as the gurgling sound is noticeable and will immediately capture your attention.
Ultimately, if the atomizer coil is not replaced, it will eventually cease to produce any vapor whatsoever. When you take a drag at this point, you will get absolutely no vapor, and will likely end up with liquid in your mouth instead. When this occurs, the wire within the coil does not heat up at all, or at such a low temperature that it cannot vaporize the e-liquid. It isn’t recommended that you wait to this point before replacing the atomizer, however: the coil should be replaced at the first sign that it is beginning to fail.
How Frequently Should I Replace My Coils?
With all of the variables discussed above, it is extremely difficult to have a clear-cut rule for when an atomizer coil should be changed. However, there is a very general guideline that can be followed.
If you are a very heavy vaper, meaning you continuously vape throughout the day, you will generally need to replace your coil every 5 – 7 days. If you are a moderate vaper, whereby you vape fairly consistently through most of the day, but only take a couple drags each time, your coils should last you about 14 days or so. If you are a very light vaper, where you take a few hits here and there throughout the day, your coil could last you 3 weeks or so. Of course, this is not to say a coil cannot last longer or die sooner—it’s simply a very general rule of thumb. It is recommended that you change your coil at the first sign of the issues discussed above.
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