Why Does My Coil Taste Burned?

3 min


When you browse any vaping discussion group online, you won’t have to read for long before you’ll start to see people raving about their favorite e-liquid flavors. That might come as something of a surprise for you if you’re one of those unfortunate new vapers who has never had a good experience in the flavor department. It’s all too easy to make a mistake that ruins the atomizer coil in your device’s tank or pod permanently – and if that happens immediately when you begin vaping for the first time, you could come to the unfortunate conclusion that the burned taste must be normal.

We’re here to tell you that a burned taste when vaping is absolutely not normal and is, in fact, completely avoidable. Vaping should taste great, and this article is going to explain what you need to do in order to have that experience. Before you can change what you’re doing, though, you need to know the answer to one question: Why does your coil taste burned in the first place?

Understanding Why Your Coil Tastes Burned

There are two reasons why a vape coil can produce a burned flavor.

  • The cotton wick in your coil is burned. Depending on how badly burned the cotton is, this problem can manifest itself as anything from a slight irritation in the back of your throat to a horrible flavor that tastes like vaping an old t-shirt. 
  • The metal heating surface of the coil is covered with residue. As you’ll soon learn, some types of e-liquid can leave a coating on your coil’s heating surface. As the coating thickens, you’ll begin to taste a flavor resembling burned caramel. Eventually, the coating becomes so thick that it obstructs the flow of e-liquid. At that point, the flavor becomes incredibly harsh. Vapers have invented the term “coil gunk” to describe this residue.

The two causes of a burned flavor when vaping manifest themselves in different ways. A burned wick can ruin a vape coil instantly. Residue buildup, on the other hand, takes a while before it begins to affect flavor in a negative way. The “burned caramel” flavor may start to creep in after a few hours of vaping – or several days – depending on how much you vape.

How can you tell whether your coil tastes burned because of residue or a burned wick? Remove the coil from your tank and take a look at it. Look through the opening at the top of the coil. If the coil’s heating surface is still relatively white and shiny, the coil’s wick is probably burned. If you see a dark, sticky-looking coating, that’s coil gunk – and now that you understand the nature of the problem, let’s learn how to fix it.

What to Do About a Coil That Tastes Burned Because of Coil Gunk

Almost every e-liquid flavor leaves residue on a vape coil to a certain extent, but the primary e-liquid ingredient that causes coil gunk isn’t a flavor – it’s a flavor enhancer. To be specific, the sweetener sucralose – one of the most popular ingredients in the entire e-liquid industry – is the biggest cause of coil gunk. Sucralose is an extremely popular e-liquid additive because most vapers enjoy sweet flavors. With a bit of sucralose, e-liquid can taste like an almost perfect clone of any candy, snack or beverage that you can name. The problem with sucralose, though, is that it doesn’t vaporize when you heat it. Heating sucralose only causes it to melt down and caramelize. You can taste a bit of the sweetness in the vapor, but most of the sucralose merely sticks to the heating surface of your atomizer coil.

If your coil tastes burned because of coil gunk, there are two solutions for that problem.

  • You can stop using sweetened e-liquid. As popular as sweetened e-liquid is, there are still plenty of unsweetened vape juices on the market – and you might be surprised to learn that an e-liquid can still taste incredibly delicious without an added sweetener. Without sucralose, you’ll find that your vape coils last dramatically longer.
  • You can learn how to clean a vape coil. You’ve still got a perfectly good coil if you can remove the gunk. Through cleaning, it’s possible to restore a coil to like-new condition – and it’s usually possible to clean a coil several times before the flavor quality begins to degrade permanently.

What to Do About a Coil That Tastes Burned Because of a Burned Wick

The wick in a vape coil can burn because almost all coils use cotton wicks. Cotton is the best wick material for vaping because it offers great performance and flavor characteristics. A cotton wick can burn, however, if it isn’t kept wet at all times. There is no way to fix a vape coil with a burned wick, so keeping the wick saturated with e-liquid should always be on your mind when you vape. Here’s how to do it.

  • Prepare your new coils for use by priming them. When you install a new coil, dampen the wick with e-liquid. Install the coil and fill the tank as normal – but wait a few minutes before you start vaping. Priming the coil helps to ensure that the wick will have no dry spots when you begin vaping with it.
  • Don’t be too aggressive when setting the wattage level on your vaping device. Stay well within your coil’s recommended wattage range – and stay in the low end of that range if you prefer to vape with very long, deep puffs. Vaping at too high a wattage will eventually char and burn your coil’s wick because you’ll vaporize the e-liquid held in the wick more quickly than the cotton can refresh itself with e-liquid from the tank.
  • Refill your tank promptly when you notice that it’s starting to get low on e-liquid. The wick can only work efficiently if the openings on the side of the coil are completely submerged, and that isn’t the case if the tank is nearly empty.

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