Nothing is worse than looking forward to a tasty mouthful of vapor only to be met with a nasty, burnt flavor meeting your taste buds. A vape that tastes burnt can ruin a vape session and can be infuriating to fix. Many vape users give up trying to resolve the issue and end up buying a completely new device, which can be a needless and hefty expense.
Trying to pinpoint why a vape tastes burnt can be a chore because different vapes will taste burnt for various reasons. A few questions you’ll need to determine to begin troubleshooting the root cause, include: Are you using oil, dry herb, or a wax vape? Does your vape have a disposable design, is your cartridge refillable, or do you have a high-end box mod setup? If you're new to vaping, it can feel impossible to diagnose the issue, let alone resolve it.
Fortunately, you don't have to worry about figuring out the problem on your own! The experts are here to discuss the most common reasons your vape tastes burnt and the best strategies to follow to fix the issue. We'll also talk about when it's time to replace your device.
Burnt Hits vs. Dry Hits
Before determining why your vape creates a burnt flavor, you need to determine that what you're experiencing is a burnt hit. Dry hits are often confused with burnt hits, but they are very different experiences that have very different solutions.
A dry hit is the precursor to a burnt hit. Dry hits are caused by a dry wick, which happens when your vape tank or cartridge is running low on vape juice or THC concentrate. You may suddenly realize that your pen is creating less vapor than usual, the traditional flavor of your vape juice is weaker, or there's a strange, subtle flavor that was not previously present.
The solution to a dry hit is simple. Just add more vape juice or THC concentrate! Refilling the vape tank will re-saturate the wick, which will allow your vape to produce vapor normally. If you're using a disposable oil cartridge or disposable vape, a dry hit signifies that you need to buy a new disposable.
If you take too many dry hits from a vape pen, you will eventually start getting burnt hits, which are less than pleasant. Heed the warning of the dry hit and refill your vape tank or replace the disposable as soon as you can.
Why Does Your Vape Taste Burnt?
When you start getting burnt hits, you'll know immediately. The vapor will taste scorched and harsh, and you may experience discomfort or pain in your throat and lungs. What causes a burnt vape will vary, but it's likely related to your wick.
The most common reason your oil vape tastes burnt is that you did not heed the warning of a dry hit, and ignited your wick. When a wick is saturated, it transfers the heat from the atomizer into the vape juice to create vapor. If there is no vapor, the heat burns the wick, creating nasty, scorched-tasting smoke.
Getting a burnt hit is more than just an unpleasant experience. It could potentially be dangerous since the chemicals released from burning cotton are toxic.
There are several ways you can burn your wick. Avoiding these mistakes is a great way to keep your vapor smooth and tasty.
Too Much Wattage
Pumping in too much power too quickly is a quick way to burn your wick, even if vape juice is present. This is usually an issue with box mod-style vapes, which sport a powerful battery that can output a massive amount of power. To avoid this issue, start at a low power setting and work your way up until you find that vaping sweet spot.
Vaping Too Much Too Quickly
If you are taking large drags back-to-back, you may exhaust the vape juice that was soaked into your wick. If you vape faster than the wick can draw up vape juice, you'll end up burning the wick, resulting in a scorched flavor.
Vaping the Wrong Kind of E-liquid
Different vape tanks are built to handle different kinds of vape juice. High vegetable glycerin (VG) vape juices are thicker and contain more sugar than other vape juice mixes. The result can be a clogged juice or vapor path, preventing vape juice from flowing freely, resulting in the vape juice scorching.
Old or Scorched Coils
If you have a refillable vape tank, you may taste a consistent scorched flavor because your coils are old. All vape tanks will eventually need their coils replaced (or the entire tank replaced), as the march of time is relentless upon all things. If you have confirmed your wick is not scorched and note that you have plenty of vape juice and still taste a burnt flavor, it is time to replace the coils.
If your vape tank does not have replaceable coils, you'll need to buy a new vape tank. Most rebuildable atomizers (RBA) can exchange coils, though this feature is rare among disposable cartridges or disposable vapes.
What's the Best Way to Prevent Burnt Hits?
Now that we know what causes burnt hits, it's time to learn how to prevent them in the first place. Remember, your primary goal is to keep the wick from burning, and there are several ways to do so.
Keep Your Vape Tank Filled
The most common reason wicks get burnt is that there isn't enough vape juice in your vape tank. Regularly filling the tank before it starts to get empty is the easiest, most straightforward strategy to keeping your wick protected and avoiding burnt hits.
Prime Your Coils
If you use a vape tank that allows you to replace your wick, you should have the ability to prime your coils. This means you pre-soak your wick manually before turning your vape pen on and letting it sit for around 10 minutes. The steps to priming your coils will vary from product to product, so be sure to study the accompanying manuals that come with your vaping equipment.
Avoid Installing Too Much Wick Material
Overstuffing your coils with too much cotton or other material is an easy way to get burnt hits. Too much wick material means your wick will have a tough time becoming completely saturated, which means there will always be a part of the wick exposed to direct heat. This increases the chance that you burn your wick, which creates a scorched flavor.
Ensure you follow the manufacturer's instructions on what kind of wick to use and how much material to use.
Use the Right Vape Battery with the Right Vape Tank
Even if a vape tank can physically attach to a vape battery, this doesn't mean they are genuinely compatible. If you have a vape battery that is extremely powerful connected to a vape tank with modest power requirements, it will be very easy to fry your coils. This ruins your vape tank since there is no way to unfry scorched coils.
As we said before, it's a good rule of thumb to start with a low power setting when using a vape tank for the first time and work your way up. We recommend that beginners buy vape kits (vape batteries paired with an ideal vape tank) to avoid running into incompatible equipment.
Regularly Replace Your Vape Coils
If you are using an RBA-style vape tank, regularly replacing the coils on a set schedule is a fantastic way to avoid getting nasty, scorched hits. It's the same idea as getting new tires before you get a flat. Replace your coils when you know they are close to the end of their life but before they begin to fail and produce burnt nasty-tasting hits.
Other Ways to Avoid Burnt Hits
There are a variety of different ways to avoid burnt hits, depending on your vaping device. While less common, the following techniques could help prevent getting the occasional nasty burnt hit.
Use the Right Vape Juice
Most vape devices are not built to handle high concentrations of VG (likewise, the vast majority of vape juice available has at least a 1:1 ratio of VG and propylene glycol (PG). This ratio will rarely cause issues for your vape tank, nor will vape juices with higher concentrations of PG.
Use a Disposable Vape
The likelihood of you getting burnt hits from a disposable vape are meager (unless the device has some kind of defect). If you don't like the idea of having to constantly maintain your vape tank, consider switching to disposables, like the Firefly Mini. The battery is designed for the attached cartridge and is charged with enough power to run out at about the same time the oil does.
Switch to Dry Herb Vaping
Dry herb vapes that use convection heating will rarely if ever, give nasty, scorched hits. The reason for this is the temperature of the heating chamber is never high enough to cause combustion, so you never actually "burn" the dry herb or marijuana inside. You will eventually exhaust the dry herb, but you won't ever get a burnt hit.
If you like the idea of vaping dry herbs with a high-quality device to avoid burnt hits, then looking at the Firefly 2+ is a great place to start shopping.
How Can We Stop Our Coils From Burning Out?
Unfortunately, all coils will eventually burn out. Though you can't stave off the certainty of entropy, there are a few steps you can follow to stretch the life of your coils as much as possible. Remember, you need to regularly replace your coils (or eventually replace your vape tank) regardless of whether you follow these steps!
Avoid Using Too Much Power Too Quickly
If you crank your vape to the highest possible temperature the first time you use a vape tank, you run a very good chance you will roast your coils. Even if the coils are rated for the temperature level you want to use, pushing a surge of power through a cold coil could ruin the sensitive electronics involved. Start slow and work your way up to your ideal temperature!
This is especially true if you were storing your vape in an abnormally cold location. Of course, you shouldn't be keeping your device in extreme temperature conditions anyway.
Avoid Overusing High-VG Vape Juices
VG juices are generally very thick and have high sugar content. Over time, this will create buildup on your coils more quickly than other juice ratios, which will cut the life of your coils short. If you are sold on vaping high-VG e-liquids, be sure to buy a vape tank that is specifically designed to handle the unique properties VG juices have.
Clean Your Coils
Since residue buildup is a common culprit for coils burning out, keeping coils clean is a great way to extend their life. Again, not all coils can be cleaned (especially if your cartridge is disposable or the vape tank isn't designed to be disassembled), but for those that can, clean them!
Most coils follow a simple cleaning process of allowing them to cool and using a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol to gently rub off residue. Your specific vape tank may have unique steps for coil cleaning, so be sure to follow the detailed instructions provided by the manufacturer.
As we have mentioned, the absolute best thing you can do to avoid getting burnt hits is to regularly refill your vape juice tank. Many tanks are designed specifically for easy refilling, which may be attractive if you hate the idea of having to periodically clean up vape juice messes.
Keep your vape juice tank primarily full most of the time and will bring your experience with burnt hits to a minimum.
Burnt hits are nasty, gross surprises when they come. However, if you follow our advice above, you'll find that burnt hits will be few and far between. It takes some effort and due diligence, but the work is worth it to consistently have delicious tasting vapor!
If the work to avoid scorched hits from a refillable vape tank isn't attractive to you, consider moving to disposable vapes. They take the work out of maintaining a device, and while burnt hits are possible, they will be exceedingly rare. If you enjoy vaping THC-oil, consider picking up the Firefly Mini (the premium choice for disposable THC-oil vapes).
If you want to move away from vaping oils or e-juices altogether, vaping dry herbs or cannabis flower may be an attractive option. If you're new to dry herb vaping we’d recommend considering Firefly 2+ which will offer an incredibly smooth, satisfying dry herb vaping experience. You can learn more about what to expect from the Firefly 2+ in this detailed Vaping 360 review.