There are a number of reasons why your vape may taste burnt, but they pretty much all stem from the same core issue: not enough e-liquid in the wick. However, that doesn’t always mean that your tank or pod is empty, you can still get a dry hit from a full tank if it has a dry wick from overuse, too high of a wattage, or an improperly primed coil.
The most common cause of a dry hit is simply an unsaturated wick or coil. If you are using vape tanks, this is often the result of not properly priming coils.
Depending on the type of vape coils you are using, your wick will either be at the bottom of the device, as is the case with the vast majority of pods, or protruding out from the top. Bottom-coil devices are much less likely to dry out as gravity is constantly pulling the liquid down toward the coil.
Another thing to look into if you’re already using a bottom-coil device and priming your coils before use is the e-liquid you are using. If the liquid is too thick, the wick will not be able to properly absorb and transport it towards the atomizer.
Most vape juices are made with a blend of propylene glycol, or PG, and vegetable glycerine, also known as VG. Too much VG in the ratio and the e-liquid will be too thick to effectively penetrate the wick material.
How to avoid a dry wick
The first thing you want to make sure of if your vape tastes burnt is that you have the right coil and wick for your vape device. If you’re using a top-coil device that gives you regular burnt hits, it might be worth looking into switching to a bottom-coil setup.
Next, check your vape liquid to see what the VG to PG ratio leans towards more PG. If it has a high rate of VG try a different e-liquid that uses more PG. The most common ratio is 70% VG and 30% PG. Learn more about vegetable glycerine and propylene glycol in Everything You Need to Know About Nicotine Free Vapes.
If you’re already using a bottom-coil and a high PG liquid and you’re still getting a burnt taste from your vape then you may have already burnt the cotton wick beyond use and need to replace it.
When using a new coil it’s important to fully saturate the wick material before filling the rest of the tank. This allows for air to more easily escape the wick and coil as you prime and makes it easier for the e-liquid to fully saturate the wick.
Once you prime the coil and fill your tank, one of the easiest ways to make sure that your wick stays saturated is to always store your vape tanks or pods upright so the liquid can flow down toward the atomizer.
Wattage Too High
If saturation isn’t the issue and you’re finding that you’re getting the burnt taste at the tail end of your draw, you might have the wattage up too high on your device.
If the rate of the burn is higher than the rate of absorption, then you’re going to end up with dry hits regardless of how well you primed and maintained your coil.
If you are having issues with a fixed wattage device, like those most commonly used with pods, then it’s more likely that your issue is chain vaping as the devices are specifically designed to work in conjunction with their pods and are rarely high enough wattage to cause dry hits.
However, variable wattage devices, like vape mods, box mods, and some vape pens, allow you to control the wattage settings and it’s certainly not unheard of that these settings get changed accidentally.
How to adjust your wattage
If you have a variable wattage device, first, check that you haven’t changed the settings accidentally. If the settings are the same and the burnt taste is new, then it’s likely that you simply need to replace the coil.
Next, turn down the wattage if you are able. If you have a fixed wattage device or already have your vape on the lowest setting then the issue is likely something else, but you could also try swapping out for a lower wattage device. They come as low as 10 watts all the way up to over 200 watts.
If you are using a pod device, the wattage should already be preset to correspond to the components in the pods themselves. Make sure the pods you are using are the ones intended for use in that specific device.
So you’ve checked your device wattage, got a bottom-coil setup, made sure you’re using an e-liquid with enough PG or are using pods with their designated device and you’re still getting dry hits and a nasty burnt taste after a few draws. The issue might be chain vaping.
Chain vaping is common, especially among former cigarette smokers and other cessation users. When you are vaping continuously for an extended period of time, you end up depleting the e-liquid in the wick before it can reabsorb resulting in a dry hit.
The highest levels of chain vaping can also lead to an overheated coil which can burn the already dry cotton in the wick. Once this cotton is damaged, it loses its ability to absorb e-liquid and needs to be replaced.
How to adjust for chain vaping
If you think you may have already burnt your wick and your device has a replaceable coil, switch it out for a fresh one, there’s no undoing the damage once it’s there.
In order to avoid future dry hits, try using two vapes and alternating between them to allow each more time for the e-liquid to be absorbed and descend toward the coil. This is also a great opportunity to play with complementary flavours and works exceptionally well with pod devices as you can simply swap out the cartridges.