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Why Your Vape Tastes Burnt and How to Fix it

Spyros Papamichail
November 9, 2018

Is your vape burning your throat?

Vape Tastes Burnt

It has happened to all of us: we grab our vape, take a long puff, and instead of tasty soothing vapor, we get a nasty burning taste and an awful throat feeling. Burnt hits are one of the worst things a vaper can experience. It can ruin your day, and even worse, steer you away from vaping. While there are many reasons for a burnt hit, the good news is that most can be avoided.

Let’s examine some of the most common causes of burnt hits and find out what you can do to prevent them.

Burnt hits vs dry hits

Although most vapers use these terms interchangeably, they are in fact two separate things. While dry hits are not pleasant, they are far less shocking than burnt hits. A dry hit will make its appearance as soon as the wick of your coil dries up a bit. You will get less flavor and exhale less vapor, without the nastiness and coughing that come with a burnt hit.

But keep vaping on these dry coils and you are in for a surprize… Think of a dry hit as a warning signal to pay attention to: don’t disregard that dry, flavorless vape you took! The burnt hit is coming soon. But why is it happening?

What causes a burnt hit?

Burnt hits are the result of powering an atomizer when there is no liquid or not enough on the wicks. Without liquid to vaporize, the coils start burning the wick, and the user essentially inhales burnt cotton. Here are some of the most common reasons behind burnt hits and some advice to help you avoid them.

High wattages
Vaping at wattages that exceed the coil limits will vaporize e-liquid too fast. When that happens, the coils can burn the wicks, even when there’s still some juice there. Always stay inside the recommended wattage ranges.

Chain vaping
When taking many puffs in a row, the wick will dry up fast. If you sense that a burnt hit is coming, by noticing a slightly roasted taste, put your vape down for a moment. This will allow liquid to cover the dry spots of the wick.

Vaping with high-VG e-liquids
Not all vapes are made the same. Some vape tanks will allow for high-VG juice, while others will often require 50% PG or more to function properly. A good rule of thumb is to check for the size of the wick channels. If the holes are of a small diameter, chances are your tank will not bode well with high-VG juice.

Not priming coils properly
This is probably the most common issue of the list. Priming your coil heads is essentially the process of getting them ready for first use by allowing the wicks to get saturated with e-liquid. If you want to avoid getting a burnt hit, remember to always prime your coils properly.

Prime your coils: stop the burnt hits

While the idea is always the same, the process of priming your coils varies depending on the equipment you’re using. Here’s a look at how to prime some of the most commonly used vapes.

How to prime vape tank coils

How to prime vape tank coils

All vape tanks that come with replaceable coil heads have more or less the same structure and require the same simple steps to get primed. You will need to repeat this process every time you replace a coil.

  • Take a new coil out of the box
  • Drip some e-liquid on the wicking holes and inside the coil head (3-4 drops will do)
  • Assemble your tank and fill it with ejuice
  • Screw your tank on your mod and set aside for 10 minutes
  • Inhaling on the tip of the tank without firing will speed up the process
  • For vape mods with wattage adjustment, start from lowest recommended wattage and raise gradually until you find your sweet spot

Take note that you might experience a bit of spitback on the first puffs, due to the extra bit of liquid that may’ve pooled inside the coil. If it doesn’t go away and you are using a variable wattage mod, try raising the power a bit for a couple of puffs—but make sure you don’t exceed the upper wattage limit of the coil, as this will most probably burn it.

How to prime refillable pods

How to prime refillable pods

Refillable pod systems will usually arrive without e-liquid in the pod. The process is even simpler for this kind of vape, as you will not be able to remove the coil from inside the pod.

  • Fill the pod with e-liquid.
  • Let it saturate for 10 minutes.

Inhale a couple of times on the pod itself, not while in the battery (just in case it’s draw-activated). This will push some liquid inside the wicking channels and give you some extra safety against dry hits.

When you first begin vaping on a pod, try and take shorter puffs to begin with. Some of the smaller coils need to be broken in a bit before being pushed. If you take really long hits to start, even if the wick is fully saturated, you could get a burnt hit. Think of this as somewhat like slowly raising the wattage on an adjustable power mod.

That’s it. You may now start vaping!

How to tell if your coil is burnt

After a nasty burnt hit, your coil is probably ready to be binned. If you managed to catch it early, you can still give it a go and see if the burnt taste disappears after a couple of puffs. Unfortunately, chances are you’ve already burnt some of the cotton inside the coil, and it will need to be replaced. That taste will not leave if it’s truly burnt!

Burnt hits aside, if you have properly primed your coil and you’re sure that it is adequately fed with e-liquid, you might be wondering why you keep getting a burnt taste out of your vape. While burnt hits are the most common culprits behind a throat burn, they are not the only ones. A coil might be burnt due to a number of reasons, and while the sensation is not as pronounced, you sure aren’t getting the best out of your e-liquid.

Knowing when your coil is done is not a science, but it is a learning process. The more you use a vape tank, the more aware you become of the time you need to grab a new coil out of the box. The first sign will usually be a loss of flavor, followed by a drop in vapor production. Even at that point, you can squeeze a little bit of life out of your coil. But if you are out of supplies, that’s a good time to get some.

How often do you have to change coils?

How often do you have to change coils?

Coils go bad. Unfortunately, they don’t come with expiration dates: the time your coil head will last depends on a variety of factors. Even if you never had a dry hit, a coil will eventually “burn” after extensive use and taste bad. There is a number of parameters that you will need to consider when trying to estimate the expected lifespan of your coils.

A coil is generally good for up to a certain amount of e-juice. The more you use it, the faster it dies. Coil life is sometimes calculated in days or weeks, but the most accurate way to calculate it is in mL—some people vape only a couple of mL per day, while others will consume 10-20 mL or more.

E-liquid ingredients
If you want your coils to last, try to avoid sweeter juices—especially the ones that come in high-VG ratios. Sweeteners are notorious for clogging coils and reducing their lifespan, and the thickness of VG only makes things worse.

Vaping on the higher end of the recommended wattage will strain your coils and reduce their lifespan. In effect, your coil is “getting tired” and starts flirting with burnt hits. Vaping on the lower recommended wattages is not ideal either, as it might reduce the life of your coil due to residual accumulation—e-liquid that doesn’t get vaporized might caramelize your coils after some time. Try to stay somewhere in the middle for the best results.

While there is no universal rule in place, most coil heads will generally last anywhere between one to two weeks. Mouth to lung tanks tend to last a bit longer than sub ohm tanks, due to the smaller amount of e-liquid that passes through the coils—although there are a lot of exceptions to that “rule.”

If you are using your tank regularly and haven’t noticed a flavor drop after two weeks, consider proactively changing your coil. Flavor and vapor production might diminish very gradually and might go unnoticed. In the meantime, you will be vaping on some low performing coils—get a new coil in the tank and you will be amazed with how much better it tastes.

Does your new coil taste burnt?

If you have properly primed your new coil, but it is giving you a burnt taste—or any weird taste for that matter – replace it. Chances are you got a dud. Not all coils are made equal, especially considering the vast numbers that are getting produced every day. Some coils are bad out of the box—a production flaw may cause a bad fit or a loose connection.

Also, know that sometimes faulty coils come in batches; there is a small chance that the rest of the coils in the box are also faulty. This won’t happen very often, but if you want to be prepared, consider buying more than one box of coils every time.

Beat the burnt hit!

By now you should understand the various causes of burnt hits, how to prevent them, and how to stop them for good! If a sneaky burnt hit happens, you’ll at least know the probable causes and what to do about it. Don’t be discouraged. Vaping is an enjoyable safer alternative to smoking. If your current coil tastes burnt, grab a new one and discard the bad one. Just don’t forget to prime it first!

My first attempt at vaping came back in 2009 on some of the first cigalikes to ever reach Europe. A couple of attempts -- and vaping tech generations later -- I managed to quit smoking in 2016, and have since then developed somewhat of an obsession with all things vaping. When I am not consuming vape reviews I am either tinkering my NBA fantasy teams or playing board games with friends.


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Thank you for this article! It turns out I was priming my coils incorrectly so they would be fine for about a day before tasting AWFUL… I may or may not be guilty of chain smoking because I’m around cigarette smokers frequently but I managed to save the coil this time!


Don’t prime your coils, they are designed to absorb juice. Just wait 2 to 3 min and they are ready to go, and you don’t drown them. When building other rules apply. Prime your cotton and coil and fire up a few times for greater absorbtion. cheers from Belgium


Hi, when I take my oil coil out to replace it with a new one, I generally take it apart and look inside. The cotton very often is blackish on the inside and the metal coil itself also has a black coating. Does this mean I keep on having burnt hits without realising?


I really don’t understand what the problem is here. It used to work just fine. But then I noticed the battery life was being greatly reduced (I had to charge my e cigarette once a day). When the e-liquid’s color suddenly turned black (!!) I exchanged the coil. Even though it I cleaned it thoroughly and even started using a non sweetened liquid, taking a hit tastes weird and feels way too strong…


I suppose the person who wrote this article thinks he’s cool with all the new age words used but to be honest spelling is what makes it understandable. What if you are not American? Bad luck, What if you don’t have all the American gear that this article is speaking of? More bad luck? Did this article address the problems with already made E cigs, the kind you don’t buy in America? Small minded and can’t spell. Misspelt names is at least readable but when you see “from” replacing “this” and two of these in one sentence it’s unbearable to… Read more »


This article is useful even if you’re not American. I’m not American and this was still applicable to my vape. If your problem still isn’t resolved then it’s probably not the problem and you need to find other help. There’s nothing small minded about his article 🙂


Well said, don’t know why spelling was picked up on. Yet again someone trying to be helpful getting slammed by a weapons grade know it all


This article doesn’t cover crackpipes either, Joanne. Think you may be in the wrong place.

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