Why your vape tastes burnt | …and how to prevent it

The various causes of dry and burnt hits from your vape and what can you do prevent them from happening.

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vape-tastes-burnt

What are ya, burnt?

One minute, you’re on cloud nine. Puffing clouds and enjoying your favorite e-juice, wondering how it could ever get any better. Then all of a sudden, the magic is gone. You take a huge rip, and it burns your throat and tastes terrible! The good news is that vaping isn’t supposed to be this way…

Burnt hits are one of the worst things a vaper can experience. It can ruin your day, and even worse, turn off a lot of people to vaping. Fortunately these nasty hits can be avoided.

Let’s examine some of the major causes of burnt hits and how you can prevent them…

Burnt taste (for tanks and AIO's)

1. Chuckin' coils

chuckin-coils

If your vape tastes burnt using a tank, the first question to ask is, “How old is my coil head?”

Assuming your vape was already how performing how it should, chances are you have either an old or burnt coil. No matter how hot you like to vape, it shouldn’t ever burn your throat and taste like burnt cotton.

Just replace your burnt coil with a new one.

2. Prime time

priming-coils

Learning how to prime your coil heads will also help to get the prevent future burnt-tasting hits. First install your coil and put a few drops of e-liquid on the wick holes. Fill your tank, and let the coil sit inside of it for a half hour. It sounds like a long time, but that will maximize its performance, and it helps to not rush it.

Take your time.

Starting at the lowest setting, increase it by a few watts every puff until you find your sweet spot. Eventually you’ll find the setting that has just the right balance of heat and flavor to your liking.

Warning: Don’t exceed the maximum wattage range of your coil head. These are printed on the coil head, or in the user manual of your device.

3. Turn down for watt!?

turn-down-for-watts

If you’re still getting a burnt taste from your vape, then try lowering the wattage on your device. A general rule of thumb is the higher the ohms, the lower the watts, and vice versa. If you are vaping at a wattage too high for your particular coil, then you’ll probably end up with a burnt coil.

You can calculate your own watts and optimal setting by using Ohm’s law, or by reading the suggested ratings normally printed on the coil or in the manual.

The main rule of thumb is to vape by taste. As long as it tastes good, you’re at a good setting.

4. Take control

tc-control

Temperature control can be helpful to avoid dry and burnt hits. Using a temp control mod with nickel, titanium or stainless steel coils allows you to limit the exact temperature of your vape. To learn more about using temp control, check out our guide to temperature control vaping.

5. Juice is guilty

guilty-e-liquid

If you’re still getting a burnt-tasting vape, and you followed all of the steps above, it could just be your juice. It might contain too much VG for your device to handle since it is thicker than PG. Experiment with a lower VG, higher PG e-liquid until you find the right balance for your device.

Most e-juice will have its VG/PG ratio printed on the label. The more VG it contains, typically the thicker it will be.

Sometimes e-liquid that uses too much sweetener can destroy your wicks and lead to dry, burnt tasting hits. Be cautious of those juices. Typically they will be very dark and opaque.

6. Slow down there, buddy

slow-down

Not all atomizers are created equally. Some wick faster than others, and chances are if you are still experiencing burnt hits, you might just need to give your coils more time to wick up. If you really want to chain vape, consider searching for an atomizer that has faster wicking abilities or temp control.

Generally speaking, chain vaping isn’t as much of a problem as using the wrong draw too frequently. See our article on vaping and inhaling to learn more.

Burnt taste (for rebuildable atomizers)

If you are using an RDA or rebuildable tank, and getting a dry or burnt taste, there could be a number of things causing this. Here are a few of the most common culprits.

7. 43% burnt

hot-spot

A common cause of burnt hits is when your coil has a hot spot which can cause the coil to partially glow red. It’s a very unpleasant and nasty vape! Hot spots can give you a metallic, burnt taste, even if your wicks were fully saturated. And you may not be able to see a burnt spot on your wicks because they are still fully saturated.

Even if your wicks aren’t showing signs of a burnt spot, take them out. That horrendous flavor can stay in your wicks. Toss them. Then, get your coils to pulse evenly by lightly pinching them with a pair of tweezers or even gently “strumming” them with a small screwdriver (or checking to make sure they aren’t touching any parts of the inside of the atomizer).

Caution: Never pinch or strum your coils while pressing the fire button, unless you’re using a tool that is non-conductive, like a pair of ceramic tweezers.

8. Tricky wicking

tricky-wicking

A lot of rebuildable atomizers, especially RTAs, can be a bit tricky to wick. If you don’t use enough cotton, or whichever wicking material you’re using, it can leak. However, if you happen to jam too much of it into the wick holes, you’ll get a burnt vape taste surprise.

Talk to people who have the same atomizer as you and find out which method has worked best for them. Usually it’s finding the perfect middle ground, but all atomizers will have specific needs.

Experiment with more cotton, or less cotton, until you find the perfect amount for your setup. But if you keep doing the same thing and expecting different results, that would be… well, you know.

9. Keep those coils sexy

gunky-coils

This is one of the most common cause of throat-burning hits. Keep your coils fresh and change your wicks every once a week to avoid those nasty burnt hits. You can take your atomizer apart and rinse the coils with warm water or an ultrasonic cleaner to get all of the gunk out.

If your coils are charred-looking, or extremely dark after cleaning, then they need to be replaced.

10. How's the weather?

weather

Yes, sometimes the weather can actually have an effect on your vape. If it is cold, the juice inside the device can thicken and will not wick right. A cold day can make a dominat PG juice thick like a high VG juice. This can lead to dry and burnt tasting hits. Keep your vape away from extreme weather conditions in order to avoid that burnt vape taste.

Death to burnt hits

Unfortunately sometimes the cause of the burnt taste is a combination of a few of the above mentioned, so use it as a reference. If you are following all of the steps, then chances are you won’t be getting burnt hits anytime soon. If you’re still getting a burnt hit, leave a comment.

By now you should understand the various causes of burnt hits and how to prevent them. Vaping is supposed to be delicious, so if you’re getting a burnt taste, something’s just not right. Don’t let that discourage you from switching to a more enjoyable, safer alternative than smoking.

A lot of people who are new to vaping, might not realize that it isn’t supposed to burn your throat. Vaping isn’t smoking, and it can take some time getting used to inhaling vapor. Once you get over that, there’s a whole world of new flavors out there for you to discover. Vape on, but never accept the burnt taste!

Dave Kriegel

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Dave has always had a passion for helping people quit smoking. As a former smoker himself, he knew how hard it could be. As soon as he learned about vaping, he instantly became obsessed with it and helped many people stop smoking. Vaping360 has given Dave a platform to do this on a much larger scale, by educating the public about the wonders of vaping. When Dave is not writing he is either listening to music, performing it, or cruising around on his Penny board.