Why do my coils keep burning out?
3 min read /
Most seasoned vapers will, at one time or another, experienced the unpleasant taste of a burnt coil. Despite our best efforts, we all get caught out now and then. In some cases though, vapers can find their coils burning out far more regularly than should be expected.
Should you find this applies to you, or simply wish to avoid such issues on your own vaping journey, we will cover the most common causes of a burnt out coil below so you can react accordingly.
Understanding Your Tank & Coil
Almost all vape tanks whether modular or part of an all-in-one type vape device will function in more or less the same way. You can read more about tanks and coils within our Best Practice Guide: How To Vape Properly, however in most cases the e-liquid you fill your tank with will absorb into a coil.
What is a coil?
Coils are the interchangeable core component of your vape tank, that heats up using the power of the battery to turn the e-liquid into the vapour we inhale. In simple terms, they are a tightly wound wire which is wrapped around a wicking material, like cotton.
This wicking material absorbs the e-liquid when you add it to your tank. When you activate your vape device the wire heats up and evaporates the e-liquid. Each coil is designed to handle a different range of power output from the device.
This is because coil wires are made to have a specific electrical resistance, which is measured in ohms. The output of an e-cigarette is most commonly measured in watts. The lower the ohm rating of a coil, the more watts it will typically be able to handle.
Why Does My E-Cig Taste Burnt?
Ultimately the right combination of e-liquid, coil and device power will result in a pleasant vaping experience, however this leaves many variables to take note of to prevent burning your coil out.
Even if you are using a pod device like the EDGE GO or a disposable vape, these still feature a coil and therefore carry a risk of burning out in certain circumstances. A burnt coil will almost always result in your e-liquid itself tasting harsh, with little to no flavour beyond that of burning cotton.
Take note of the following steps; observing best practice and avoiding the pitfalls will help to ensure you avoid getting a burnt coil and help keep your vaping experience consistent.
Ensure Your Tank Is Properly Filled
While this might seem obvious, the first port of call when your coil is burning is to ensure that it is properly saturated with e-liquid. Allowing your tank to run on empty while still vaping will inevitably cause dry burn, which can permanently damage the coil.
The simple solution is of course to ensure your tank remains at least half full, however as this is not always possible, try to at least ensure the wicking ports of your coil are covered.
Wicking ports are usually seen at the base of the coil, exposed within the tank to allow the absorption of e-liquid. Take note of the location of your ports, some are higher up the body of the coil than others, which will mean your minimum fill level for safe use will also increase.
If you cannot refill your vape it may be tempting to take one quick puff, however doing so risks burning the wicking material which can permanently damage the coil as well as potentially tainting fresh e-liquid you try to put on top later; forcing you to replace both.
Ensure You Are Using The Correct E-Liquid Type
Different coils are designed to be used with specific e-liquid types. 50-50 e-liquids like in the EDGE Core Range, are best paired with lower powered devices using coils with a rating of 1.0ohm or above such as the EDGE Pro which uses 1.2ohm coils.
These coils are easily identifiable by having smaller wicking ports, owing to the thinner consistency of 50-50 e-liquids which can easily absorb through the smaller openings.
High-VG e-liquids like our EDGE Base, are much thicker due to their larger volume of Vegetable Glycerol (VG) in their recipe. These e-liquids are best used with sub-ohm coils. These are so-called because they always feature a rating of less than 1.0ohm.
Sub-ohm coils need more power to heat up and evaporate the thick e-liquid to create massive clouds of vapour. This is why they are used in larger devices with a high wattage output.
Because HVG e-liquids are so thick, sub-ohm coils have much larger wicking ports which allow it to absorb properly.
Using High-VG e-liquid in a device with a 50-50 coil with tiny wicking ports, will struggle to absorb the e-liquid properly. If the user vapes very regularly, the coil will quickly dry out in patches, or completely. When this occurs, it will often burn out.
Many vapers unknowingly use the wrong e-liquid with the wrong type of device, leading to frustration when their coils keep burning without clear reason. Avoid this pitfall by checking the rating of your coil, it will be printed on the coil itself or on its packaging.
If the coil has a number of 0.9ohms or below, it is sub ohm – you should use HVG e-liquid with this.
If the coil is rated 1.0ohm or above, it should be used with 50-50 e-liquid to avoid the risk of a burnout.
Remember To Prime Your Coil
While not an essential practice, priming should almost certainly be factored in by those regularly burning out their coils.
It is a simple process that takes a matter of seconds. When preparing to load a replacement coil, or perhaps the first in a brand new device, take your e-liquid bottle and drip one or two drops carefully onto the wicking ports.
This means when you load it into the tank and add your e-liquid, it will already be primed and partially soaked. This can help to prevent a nasty shock if, in a moment of absent mindedness, you should take a puff on your vape without allowing the proper time for the liquid to absorb into the new coil.
As there is already some e-liquid present from being primed, it has a failsafe against human error, and will hopefully prevent you having to discard a burnt out coil seconds after loading it for the first time.
Match Your Power To Your Coil
This is something that can prove to be both daunting and confusing to new vapers, while still proving to be a regular cause of mishap for veterans. Ensuring your device’s power output is in-line with the capacity of your coil is vital in avoiding burnouts.
As with any electrical device, it is widely understood that running too high of an electrical current through it can cause issues, from the mild to the explosive, and e-cigarettes are no different.
Consider a lightbulb – if you put a 30-watt bulb in a lamp that actually needs a 120-watt bulb, the filament burns out due to the excess power and the bulb dies. The bulb is your coil, and the lamp is your vaping device.
As mentioned above, every coil has a specific resistance. Sub ohm coils have a low ohm rating which, contrary to logic, means they have a far higher electrical resistance. This in turn means that they can, and must, handle much more power in order to reach their ideal operating temperature.
If you were to expose a coil rated at 1.0ohm or higher to the power needed to heat one rated at 0.4ohms (a common sub-ohm coil rating), its naturally low resistance means it will be overwhelmed by the power and burn out, just like the filament in the bulb.
This is why you must be careful when using a vaping device that allows you to customise the wattage output. Setting it too low for the coil will just result in a pathetic puff with no vapour or flavour, with the silver lining of a longer lifespan. Setting it too high will likely result in a burnout.
Most coils will have their safe wattage range printed on them for easy reference. Ensure you stay within these parameters, and you should be able to enjoy a consistently pleasant vape. Exceeding the maximum power slightly will not cause your coil to burn out instantaneously, however it will reduce its lifespan.
If your device has a lock function, set the correct wattage for your chosen coil and lock it in to avoid accidentally raising or lowering the power in a pocket or bag. If a lock function is not available, then take care to double check the settings before taking a puff.
Equally, many all-in-one devices and pod systems like the EDGE GO, make life simpler for you by operating with one coil variety at one pre-set output you cannot modify yourself. Others feature smart tech like temperature controls and coil detection, automatically adjusting their wattage output to the coil being used at the time.
Take special care with devices that both allow you to modify the wattage and are compatible with a variety of coil types. Some may feature both a standard and sub-ohm coil option, expecting you, the user, to adjust the power accordingly when switching. If you choose a different option either intentionally or by accident and don’t adjust your power, you might burn out your coil.
How Often Should I change My Vaporizer Coil?
Even when observing the above guidance for best practice when using your coil, they will eventually reach the end of their natural lifespan. Once a coil reaches this point, it must be swapped out to ensure your vaping experience isn't compromised.
Over a period of regular use, a coil's wicking material is the main component that begins to deteriorate. Due to the constant absorption, heating, drying and then re-absorption of e-liquid, the wick slowly turns dark in colour and loses it's ability to perform correctly.
In this case, continued use of the coil will likely lead to a burnt taste, and even flooding. flooding occurs when the wick loses it's ability to properly retain the e-liquid, allowing it to leak into the airflow cavities within the coil and tank. If your device gurgles when you inhale, it has likely flooded - you should check your coil condition as soon as possible.
During normal use, a good quality vape coil should last anywhere from two to three weeks. However, there are a number of variables that can dictate this lifespan. Avoiding the above pitfalls causing a burnt out coil will of course prolong the lifespan, however the type of e-liquid used as well as the power output of your device play a significant role.
Certain e-liquids that use colourants and a lot of sweeteners like sucralose, will cause your coil to deteriorate that much faster, meaning you may have to change it sooner than if you were using a simple 50-50 menthol, for example.
Ensure you use the correct power for your coil rating, avoid coloured and overly sweet e-liquids and follow the best practice for avoiding a burnout, and your coil should be expected to last. Coil technology has moved on a lot since vaping's early days, and the likes of mesh coils have greatly improved lifespans of two weeks plus, over older styles that often became compromised much sooner.
Ultimately using your common sense and getting used to the device you are using, while observing the telltale signs above that it may be about to burn out, will make it obvious when it is time for a change.
One golden rule to avoid a bad experience: when the wick turns black, send it back!
Observing the practices above and remembering those that are relevant to you and your chosen vaping device, will stand you in good stead for avoiding a burnt coil. Accidents happen but avoiding the pitfalls can save you time, money and disappointment.
Discover how to get even more from your vaping journey by checking out our Vape Hub.