“Vaper’s tongue” is a condition where—unexpectedly and without warning—a vaper loses the ability to taste vape juice. This is a nearly universal phenomenon, as most vapers will experience it from time to time. It typically lasts for 1-3 days, but can persist for up to a full two weeks without being able to taste your vapes.
Years ago, the phrase became common because many vapers noticed on occasion that their tongue felt like it suddenly developed a thick coating that blocked the ability to taste. While vaper’s tongue won’t hurt nicotine absorption or vapor production, the ability to taste the full flavor of your juice is equally important for enjoying the experience. In this guide, we look at the causes of vaper’s tongue and nine ways to get past it.
We have anywhere from 2,000 to 8,000 taste buds in our mouth and fortunately they regenerate every ten days. Your sense of taste, called your gustatory sense, requires saliva to keep your taste buds working properly. Vaping can sometimes cause a fatigued tongue, leading to dry mouth which will be devoid of adequate saliva. When we don’t have enough saliva, the ability to taste is almost non-existent.
Another culprit behind not tasting your e-juice is flavor fatigue. Your sense of smell, called olfactory sense, and your taste buds work together for full flavor perception. It’s a commonly known fact that smell accounts for up to 70% of perceived flavor.
Taste buds discern between the five tastes: sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and umami; however, different flavors of the same type of taste can only be distinguished through smell. Without smell, the pure flavor of a sweet apple would taste little different than a sweet pear.
Since vaping has no texture to speak of, the main identifying characteristics are taste and aroma. The problem, as grade-school science experiments prove, is that the olfactory sense loses its perception to an aroma the longer it’s exposed to it.
The final reason for why many vapers have problems tasting can be due to smoking. If you’ve only recently quit, and especially if you still smoke, your ability to fully taste will be hindered. Smoking wreaks havoc on oral health, and this includes a possible impairment to smell and taste. Luckily, your sense of taste and smell can recover with time. There’s no specific time frame for when that will happen, but a general rule of thumb is up to a month from the time you quit.
1. Drink more water: Staying hydrated is not only essential for health, but it can help you get the most flavor from your vape. Increase your water consumption, especially if you vape often. Regardless of the cause of your dry mouth, the first recommendation is always to drink more water.
2. Cut back on caffeine and alcohol: Beverages containing caffeine or alcohol can begin to dry out the mouth on contact, and they are classified as diuretics which means they make you urinate more frequently. This can lead to dehydration, which will cause vaper’s tongue. If you’re experiencing dry mouth, it’s advisable to limit consumption of these two drugs.
3. Use an oral hydration product: Biotene (and similar products) are oral hygiene aids that can temporarily cure dry mouth. These products come in various forms including mouthwash, spray, toothpaste, and an overnight gel. Unlike other oral cleaning and freshness products, Biotene does not contain alcohol. Interestingly, the ingredients in Biotene include PG and VG, just like e-liquid.
4. Clean your tongue: Keeping your tongue clean is another way to ensure you’re getting optimal flavor from your vape. Don’t forget to brush your tongue, and if you want to take it a step further, there are tongue scrapers to remove the film that accumulates on your tongue.
5. Stop smoking: One of the best things you can do for your health is to quit smoking. This will also be of benefit for your ability to taste. If you’ve just recently quit, it may take some time for your taste to return. Don’t quit trying to quit!
6. Take longer breaks in between vapes: If you’re a chain vaper, it’s going to take a toll on your flavor and smell receptors. One way to cut back on vape time is to increase your nicotine level. Higher nicotine should satisfy you for longer periods without needing another hit. If you’re not interested in upping your nicotine, just take longer breaks between your vape breaks to give your taste buds a rest.
7. Switch juices: If you’re vaping the same flavor all the time, eventually it’s going to be less vibrant than it originally was. The olfactory sense can only tune into a single aroma for so long. If you want to fight flavor fatigue, switch it up a little bit. Use this as an opportunity to experiment with flavors you don’t normally vape. Take a break from your all day vape, you can always come back to it later. Ideally you’ll want to try using a flavor in a completely different category. For example, try a coffee or tobacco flavor if you’re accustomed to fruity or candy ones, or vice versa.
8. Try a mentholated or cooling flavor: Even if you’re not into menthol flavors, it might be exactly what you need right now. Menthol doesn’t actually need smell or taste to be perceived. Menthol activates thermoreceptors, which is why you can feel it in your eyes or on your skin. Mentholated vapes can help you reset your taste buds and give you a change of pace from your typical fruity and dessert flavors.
9. Vape unflavored: Vaping unflavored base is another clever way to get over vaper’s tongue. It’s similar to taking a break from vaping, but without actually doing it. Unflavored e-juice doesn’t have much taste at all—just a slight sweetness—so you won’t be missing out on any flavor. Unflavored vape juice is typically sold by DIY shops, and you can find the PG/VG ratio you like as well as your preferred nicotine level. As a bonus, unflavored vape juice is usually much cheaper than flavored vape juice.
If you’re still experiencing vaper’s tongue, and you’ve tried all of the methods above, there could be something else at play.
About 70% of all Americans are currently taking prescription drugs and dry mouth is a common side effect of many of them. Commonly prescribed medications used to treat depression, anxiety, allergies, colds and many other common illnesses all can cause a dry mouth. Cannabis products are also known to cause a similar effect, especially when vaped.
Even if you’ve never experienced dry mouth before, it could be a result of your medication combined with vaping that finally brought it on. Consult your doctor or dentist if the problem persists.