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Why Does My Vape Taste Burnt?

If you’re in the mood for some quick entertainment, go to Google and type “dry hit meme.” See anything familiar? We bet you do, because every person who vapes has experienced a burnt taste at one time or another. Don't become another dry hit meme! Find out why your vape tastes burnt and fix it now. Nothing in the world can go from absolutely delicious to completely vile quite as quickly as a dry hit vape or one that tastes like burnt sugar because its atomizer coil is covered with black residue.

The bad news is that experiencing an occasional burnt taste when vaping is something that’s definitely going to happen to you at one time or another. When you’re sucking on an 80-watt heating coil all day, there’s always a small chance that things won’t work exactly as they should. The good news is that, when your vape tastes burnt, it’s always due to a specific preventable cause. Therefore, knowing the most common causes of dry hits and burnt flavours when vaping makes it a fairly trivial matter to minimise those sets of circumstances. Let’s begin!

Why Does Your Vape Taste Burnt?

If you get a burnt taste when vaping, it’s because one of two things is happening.

You’re getting a dry hit. That’s what happens when e-liquid fails to feed through to your atomizer coil’s wick. With no liquid to cool it off, the atomizer coil becomes red hot and emits noxious fumes. A dry hit is terrible while it’s happening, and it often leaves a long-term effect behind by burning your coil’s cotton wick. Even a tiny burned spot on the wick can ruin the flavour of an atomizer coil.

Your coil is covered with residue. The residue comes from sucralose, the most common e-liquid sweetener. If your e-liquid tastes sweet like candy, it probably contains sucralose. Although it’s very common in e-liquid, the issue with sucralose as a sweetener is that it doesn’t vaporize. It creates a layer of coil gunk on the atomizer coil that thickens, darkens and eventually burns. A thin layer of sucralose residue on your coil will create a flavour that tastes like burnt sugar. A thick layer will prevent e-liquid from reaching your coil efficiently, creating an effect much like that of a dry hit.

So, why does your vape taste burnt? You can determine the cause simply by looking at your atomizer coil. If it’s covered with sticky black residue, sweetened e-liquid is the cause of your problem. If that’s the case, the solution is simple; you can stop using sweetened e-liquid, or you can put up with poor coil life.

What is a Vape Dry Hit and How do You Avoid it?

If your vape tastes burnt because you’re getting dry hits, though, the solution is a bit more complex because dry hits have several common causes. We’ll explain how to prevent the four most common causes of dry hits.

Keep Your Tank Full

The most common cause of dry hits is actually incredibly simple – dry hits happen when you forget to keep your tank full. You don’t ever want to use a tank until it is completely empty. Do you see the white openings on the side of your atomizer coil? Through the openings, you can see the coil’s cotton wick. E-liquid reaches the coil by traveling through those openings and soaking into the wick. If the e-liquid in your tank doesn’t cover those holes, the wick isn’t getting e-liquid – and that leads to dry hits. Keep your tank topped up.

Reduce Your Wattage or Puff Duration

Dry hits can happen if your atomizer coil burns e-liquid away more quickly than the wick can replenish itself, and that will happen if you’ve set your device’s wattage too high or you’re puffing too deeply when vaping. If you experience dry hits when you’re trying to extract bigger clouds out of your vape, it’s a sign that you need to consider buying a more capable sub-ohm tank. In the meantime, lower your device’s wattage or reduce the duration of your puffs.

Find Your Perfect Wattage

Let's take a moment to talk about vape wattage because not only can too much of it cause a burnt hit and a burnt coil head but it also affects the flavour of your vape. Depending on what you're vaping, you're going to want to adjust your wattage to fit the flavour profile. This is why variable wattage products are great and perfect to experiment with, especially if you're keen to try new flavours and tastes. Ah, yes - it's like appreciating the intricate tastes of fine wine or a cigar - except you get to control it and set it to your optimal flavour preference (and hopefully avoiding that nasty burnt taste altogether). First of all, don't just stick to one wattage if you're experimenting with new vape juice. If you're new to this game, you'll be surprised to learn that most experienced vapers stick to 50-75 watt levels. This is where most of the flavour notes and complexities come out of the vape juice. E-liquids are a complex creation and need the right temperature to get the whole symphony of taste out of them. Again with the wine metaphor - you wouldn't serve a fine red wine chilled or warm, would you? It has to be the right temperature for the taste to really show up. If you're used to a higher wattage, make sure to adjust it if you decide to experiment with those sticky sugary e-juice. Likewise, some flavours simply taste better when heated up more - this is because different parts of the vape juice react to different temperatures and while you should definitely experiment to unlock them, try not to go overboard and burn them until you need a new coil to get the burnt flavour out of your vape. In conclusion, remember - variable wattage products are there for a reason. Don't just get stuck with one go-to wattage!

Adjust Your E-Liquid’s VG/PG Ratio

Do you use a small device such as a pod vape? If you do, it’s time to start paying attention to VG/PG ratios when you buy e-liquid. The smaller your vaping device is, the smaller your atomizer coil’s wick openings are. As we’ve just explained, dry coils lead to dry hits – and a thick high-VG e-liquid can have trouble getting through the wick openings in a small vaping device. If you use a pod system, stick with nicotine salt e-liquid for the best possible performance.

Check for Hot Spots When Building Coils

If you use a rebuildable atomizer and build your own coils, you’re already familiar with the importance of checking for hot spots because you do it every time you mount your coils to your atomizer. Did you know, though, that it’s equally important to check for hot spots again after you’ve threaded your wick through the coil and added e-liquid? If you don’t have firm contact between the coil and the wick, you’ll experience dry hits even when your coil seems completely wet.

Can Chain Vaping be the Culprit Behind the Burnt Taste? 

What is chain vaping? You've probably done it even if you don't know what it is. If you love chain vaping, you'll be disappointed to know that you might be killing your coil as a result. Chain vaping is probably the most common cause of burnt hits ever, and no amount of troubleshooting is going to fix your problem - you just have to give your coil a break, man! Chain vaping is when you inhale a lot of hits in a short period of time, preventing enough vape juice from getting absorbed by the coil. You're basically torturing and dry burning it. Imagine a saucepan on the hot hob - if the water evaporates, there's nothing left and the saucepan begins to smoke, burn and turn very nasty. Now imagine that the saucepan is your coil and you're inhaling all that's produced as a result of this process - is it any wonder you're getting a burnt taste in your mouth? This is a problem very common to vaping newbies because people they either experiment a lot or crank up the volume for a "full effect" - when in reality it takes some experience to learn that bigger isn't better, less gives you more in terms of flavour.  This is also why "Why does my vape taste burnt" is a question mostly asked by beginners. See our beginner vaping guides if you want to read more.

How do I Get the Burnt Taste Out of My Vape? Is it Possible to Fix?

If you don't have a spare coil ready to go, there is a way of getting the burnt taste out of a coil. You have to remove your sub-ohm coil and the wick very carefully, without doing any further damage to the burnt coil. Get the coil into warm water and submerge it for about 5 minutes. This will let the burned particles soak up the water and loosen their grip on the coil. Have a bowl of ice water ready, and transfer the coil into it after your 5 minutes is up. This will hopefully make the loosened burnt particles fall away from the coil, and your coil will be ready to use again after being air dried. This can save you some money and annoyance of getting a new vape coil - if it's not too badly damaged, of course. Some people try lemon juice or vinegar to clean their coils, but there is a large chance of manhandling it and breaking it, resulting in having to get a new coil anyway.

How Often Should You Change Your Coils?

Sometimes, the secret behind vape tasting burnt is not gross mistreatment but steady prolonged use. In other words, coils should be replaced on a regular basis in order to keep your vape from tasting funky and off - not only burnt. After all, this is a part of your vaping kit that takes the most beating. Depending on how much you vape, vape coils should be changed every week for hard vapers, and every four weeks if you don't vape that much. If you burn your coil and don't want to get a burnt hit every time you want to vape, just replace it. Nothing will get rid of the burnt taste faster than just getting a new coil and treating it well.

Why does my vape taste burnt even with a new coil?

If you have this question, there might be a simple answer to your troubles - you're probably not priming your coils correctly. Meaning that you might be getting a burnt taste because you're sucking down the hits too quickly and not letting your wick soak up the e-liquid properly, causing your beautiful new coil to burn. Make sure you saturate the wick and stop chain vaping so much!


We hope to have answered your questions about burnt vape taste troubles. Take a look at our free guides to vaping for more information - there's always more to learn and more ways to make your vape taste better.

Above all:

Prevent dry hits Don't chain vape excessively Slow down Turn it down Check if you need a new vape coil Become an expert at priming your coil Turn it down if you're into dessert and fruity flavours Adjust your VG/PG ratio.