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How to Fix a Burnt Disposable: Elf Bars and More

Jeremy Mann
September 14, 2023

A burnt hit on a disposable vape can just about ruin your day. Most of the time, it’s caused simply by an empty disposable that should be thrown away. But there are other times when the device isn’t empty, yet you’re experiencing a burnt hit. What gives?

This guide lays out the reasons your disposable vape tastes burnt and the ways that you might be able to fix it.

Identifying the problem with your disposable

Before we dive into the fixes, let’s identify what the problem could be. Because technically, the burnt hit is a symptom of a problem. Inside every Elf Bar or any disposable vape, is a battery, a coil (heating element), and a material saturated in vape juice. Assuming it’s not a dud or empty, a burnt hit is a malfunction. Here’s what’s causing it.

The three reasons your disposable vape tastes burnt:

  • Not enough liquid is getting to the heating coil quickly enough (liquid levels might be low though not empty)
  • A coil that gets too hot (maybe you just took the device off the charger and the battery voltage is at its highest for a brief period, or maybe you took too many puffs in quick succession)
  • A product dud that shouldn’t have passed quality control (it tasted burnt the second you opened the package)

Steps to fix a burnt disposable vape

Considering the various reasons that your vape might be tasting burnt, these are universal steps to trying to solve the problem, though it’s most likely about the liquid being too low.

Note: this could get a little messy. Bring out a paper towel or a clean rag to work on. Latex gloves are advisable.

Step 1: Clean the mouthpiece

cleaning the mouthpiece of an elf bar

Disposable vapes do a lot of traveling inside pockets and purses. If debris gets down into the chimney of the mouthpiece, it can cause a nasty hit.

Look closely inside your mouthpiece and swab it with a rolled-up tissue or napkin. You might be surprised what you pull out.

Okay, this might be more about hygiene than a burnt hit. Still. It’s step one.

Step 2: Remove the internals (if you can)

Disposables like the Elf Bar BC5000 can be disassembled. With a bit of elbow grease, pry the top off with your fingers. Shimmy it back and forth till you start to see some separation. Don’t pull too hard once it starts to give a little. Use your nails to work it off once it’s clearly coming off.

Notice how the pieces are assembled so you can reassemble it properly. Do NOT detach any wires. Pull out the internals as a single unit. Lay it on the work surface.

Step 3: Check the levels of eliquid

With your finger or a dry tissue, pat the cotton-like material and see if it’s wet. If feels dry, take a bottle of your favorite liquid. You can drip juice into the polyfill until it stops accepting liquid.

Step 4: Add your favorite vape juice (if it feels dry inside)

While you have the mouthpiece removed, take the opportunity to clean it. You can use a cotton swab or tissue to wipe away any dirt or debris.

Step 5: Let the cotton soak

If you just filled the cotton, let it soak for a few minutes before taking a puff. If it looks like it can take more juice, add a little more. These disposables hold a lot of liquid. Give it a few minutes to soak through.

Step 6: Reassemble the disposable

Once you have soaked the cotton wick, it’s time to reassemble the vape. Make sure that everything is properly aligned before screwing the mouthpiece back into place.

Step 7: Take primer puffs

Primer puffs are just light hits to get things flowing. You want to avoid starting out with a big hit. Take it easy. Notice the aroma and taste. If it smells and tastes right, you can start taking bigger hits.

Tips on preventing burnt hits

Just like with your health, prevention is always easier than fixing. With your disposable vape, there are a few things you can do to help prevent a dry or burnt hit from ever occurring.

  • Slow down. It’s easy to vape more and faster than you realize. Try to take shorter puffs and give just a little more time in between the next.
  • Be wary of puff counts. Puff counts are based on very short puffs. Some vapers take really long drags. The puff counter for the liquid is more based on the total time the coil has fired. If you want to get more puffs, take shorter ones.
  • Don’t overcharge. Sometimes a disposable vape can give a burnt taste because the battery is pumping out too much voltage for the coil. The nominal voltage for these devices is 3.7V, but a freshly charged lithium-ion battery will charge to 4.2V for a brief period before going back down toward 3.7V. If it tastes burnt after a charge, take light puffs for a period without fully inhaling. This will start to deplete the battery enough to bring the total power output down. Try a full inhale when the taste feels right.
  • Don’t chase a bad purchase. If you bought a device that tasted burnt from the beginning, it was a dud. But sometimes, those duds can be indicative of a batch issue. Try buying again, but from a different retailer or brand.


Disposable vapes are great for many reasons. The ease of use is likely their biggest pro. Just take it out of the package and start vaping.

Having to fiddle with a disposable vape because it’s tasting burnt is unfortunate because they’re not designed to be tinkered with. Still, if you’re industrious enough and want to get your dollars’ worth out of the device, you now know what you can do to fix that burnt hit and prevent it from happening again.

I'm the chief editor here at Vaping360 and I reside in southeast Michigan. I've been vaping since my first ecig purchase in 2010. For more reasons than I can list, vaping has been a lifesaver for me. Now, my goal is to help other smokers make the switch.
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4 months ago

I have refurbished many Elfbar BC5000s as they are one of the most durable disposable vapes I’ve seen. But the most common reasons burnt hits developed and their implications are not addressed. Bottom line: restoring a vape developing the flavor as delightful as sucking on a raging campfire is usually not possible. This article with the word ‘fix’ in its title shows nothing more than how to refill the reservoir. This will not dowse the campfire that you will forevermore be downwind from. The preventative tips while useful, are not curative. The most common cause of the burnt flavor is… Read more »

4 months ago

Thanks for taking the time to write this! It helped me.