A burnt taste in your vape is often the first sign that something has gone wrong, but somehow many vapers still choose to ignore it until a bigger issue arise. To be fair, we’ve all done it before: we pick up our vape, take a long inhale, get a nasty burning taste and awful throat hit, set the vape down, and forget about it till it happens again. Burnt hits are by far one of the worst things a vaper can experience, and in some cases, it can even push people away from vaping.
In this guide, we’ll explore some of the most common causes of burnt hits and what you can do to ensure they never happen again, or less frequently.
Dry hits vs burnt hits
While some vapers tend to use these two terms interchangeably, they are two very different things, albeit both provide a very unpleasant sensation. With a dry hit, vapers will be able to tell almost immediately, thanks to the appearance of the coil. A dry hit will also contain less flavour, less vapour, and only a bit of nastiness associated with a dry hit.
On the other hand, a burnt hit is something considerably worse. This does usually occur after a few dry hits, or a particularly long haul off a dry coil, and will instantly present itself to vapers. In terms of taste, a burnt hit strikes a comfortable balance between burnt cotton, a metallic tang, and general notes of unpleasantness. The burnt hit also comes with a host of physical sensations, including throat irritation, coughing, and maybe even tears.
What’s the cause of a burnt hit?
At their core, burnt hits are almost always a result of firing an atomizer when there’s no e-liquid left on the wicks. The absence of e-liquid causes the coil to start burning the wick, meaning the user essentially inhales singed and burned cotton. In this section, we’ll explore some of the common reasons burnt hits occur and offer some advice on how to avoid them.
Pushing your coil past its prescribed limits will vapourize e-liquid far too quickly, and will not give the cotton enough time to saturate itself with e-liquid. When this happens, the coils can burn the wicks quite quickly, even if there is some remaining e-juice on them. To avoid this, ensure you are staying within the recommended wattage ranges, which are often printed on the side of a coil.
When taking a lot of puffs in a row, the wick of your coil will dry up very quickly. If this is something you regularly do, be sure to pay attention to the taste and feeling of each hit, as a slightly roasted taste may be the sign of an incoming burnt hit. When this happens, put your vape down and allow enough time for e-liquid to saturate the coils.
High VG e-liquids
Just because a company makes a high VG e-liquid doesn’t mean you can use it in whatever device you want. Some tanks will work with high VG vape juice, while others will only work with e-liquids that have at least 50% PG or more. A good way to tell if your tank will work with high VG juices is to check the size of your wick channels, if the holes have a small diameter, chances are your tank will not work well with high VG e-juice.
Not priming coils properly
This is by far the most common issue on the list and is often the most avoidable one. Priming your coil heads before you use them is key to installing a new coil and allows the wicks to get saturated with e-liquid before they soak in more liquid. If you want to prevent dry hits, and ensure the longevity of your coil, always prime them and give them enough time to soak in e-liquid properly.
How to prime a coil
While the core concepts of priming a coil are the same for every coil, there is some variation between different manufacturers and their coil designs. In this section, we’ll go over the core concepts behind priming your coil that should be applicable to all coils.
How to prime vape tank coils
The majority of all vape tanks will come with replaceable coil heads that generally have the same structure and require the same steps to be primed. This process will need to be repeated every time you replace your coil, but the amount of liquid you use to prime a coil may differ based on what tank you’re using.
- Remove your new coil from the box
- Drip 3-5 drops of e-liquid on all the wicking holes and inside the coil head. The white cotton should look saturated and no white spots should be visible
- Reassemble your tank and fill the reservoir with e-liquid
- Screw the mod onto the device and leave it to soak for 5-10 minutes
- Inhaling on the tip without firing the device will speed up the process
- If your device has wattage adjustment settings, start from the lowest recommended wattage and gradually raise the wattage till you find your sweet spot
We should mention that you may get some spitback on the first few puffs after priming, due to the extra bits of e-liquid that may have pooled inside and around the coil. This will pass quickly, but if it doesn’t and you’re using a variable wattage mod, try raining the power for a few puffs to vaporize the excess liquid. Remember, do not exceed the upper limits of the coil, as this will burn it out.
How to prime refillable pods
Unlike tanks, which require you to remove the coil for priming, pods are far simpler but do require more patience.
- Fill the pod with your desired e-liquid
- Set it aside and let it saturate for 10 minutes
Inhale on the pod itself, not while it’s attached to the battery. This will help draw e-liquid into the wick and will provide an extra layer of safety from dry hits.
When you first start using the new pod, try to take small and short puffs. The smaller coils used in pod systems need a bit more time to be broken in before they can be pushed to their full potential. If you start off with a long and hard hit, the wick may not be fully saturated and you’ll have a higher chance of getting a dry or burnt hit.
How to tell if your coil is burnt
If you get just one burnt hit, it’s probably time to dispose of your coil and put in a new one. However, if you manage to catch it early, there is a chance you could save it by allowing the coil time to saturate in e-liquid, or by dripping some e-liquid directly into the coil head. This isn’t exactly a foolproof solution, and oftentimes the first burnt hit is a sign of the coil’s end.
Determining when exactly you coil is dead is by no means a science, and is often more of a learning process. The more you use a specific vape tank, the more aware you become of the flavour it’s supposed to output and when you’ll need to replace the coil. The first sign will almost always be a loss in flavour, immediately followed by a loss in vapour production — whether that be in terms of density or overall plumage. At this point, you may be able to stretch a few more use off your coil, but you should be looking to replace it ASAP.
How often do you have to change your coils
While coils do go bad, unfortunately, there is no expiration date on them. The life of a coil is totally dependent on a host of factors, and even if you don’t get a dry hit, they will eventually burn out over time. There are a few parameters that can help determine the life of a coil, though these will only provide a rough estimate of when your coil will die.
A coil is generally good for a certain amount of e-juice, and the longer you use it, the faster it’ll die. Generally speaking, coil life can be calculated in days or weeks, but the most accurate way to calculate the life of a coil is mL. Depending on how many mLs of e-liquid you go through a day will ultimately determine how long your coil will last.
While all e-liquids are made primarily of VG and PG, there are other ingredients in e-juices that can cause your coil to die faster. Certain sweeteners are notorious for clogging up coils and reducing their lifespan considerably. The thickness of VG can also cause this buildup faster, so if you want longer coil life, look to lower VG e-juices.
The power you output onto your coil will obviously cause a strain on the material. Staying within the recommended wattage for a coil will help it last longer, but it will still deteriorate over time. Vaping on the lowest wattage can also cause damage, as the residual accumulation of e-liquid might get caramelized on your coils over time. Staying in the middle of the prescribed wattage is probably your best bet if you’re looking to get the most life out of your coils.
Is your new coil tasting burnt?
While the vape industry often has a vast number of checks and balances, it is possible that a new coil may still offer a burnt taste. If this occurs, chances are you got a dud and it’ll need to be replaced immediately. There is no way to save a dud coil and you’ll just have to accept that sometimes mistakes happen.
By now you should understand why a coil can offer up a burnt hit and you should know the various ways to stop this. However, even if you follow all these tips, chances are a burnt hit may still rear its head from time to time. This is just the unfortunate reality of vaping, but this shouldn’t discourage you from picking up the vape. It may seem like a waste to simply dump a coil in the trash, but if it isn’t working properly, there really isn’t much you can do. In the grand scheme of things, the majority of your coils should last a decent amount of time and their cost is so low that new coils should never break the bank.