Last Updated on December 20, 2017 by Team Spinfuel

Burned Taste When Vaping: 9 Easy Fixes

People switch from smoking to vaping for an endless variety of different reasons. For some, vaping is largely about saving money. Others hope that vaping is less harmful than smoking. Nearly everyone can agree, though, that e-cigarette vapour tastes infinitely better than tobacco smoke — at least until the vapour begins to taste burned.


Every e-cigarette user has experienced a burned taste when vaping at some point. The harsh flavour and burning sensation in the back of your throat are signs that something has gone horribly wrong with your e-cigarette — and the harsh flavour takes all the fun out of the vaping experience.

There is hope! If you experience a burned taste when vaping, fixing the problem is easy as long as you understand the cause. These 9 simple fixes can help.

Burned Taste When Vaping With a Tank

Coil Gunk

Do you like sweet e-liquids? If you do, you may find that your tank’s coil heads begin to look dark after you’ve used them for a while. Some people call it coil gunk. Others call it coil crust. Whatever name you use, the dark colour is the residue of sweeteners in your e-liquid. E-liquid sweeteners such as sucralose don’t vaporize fully. Some of those compounds remain on the coil and eventually form a dark crust. When coil gunk really begins to build up, the burning carbohydrates will become a significant portion of what you taste when you vape — hence the burned taste. When you use a tank for vaping, there is no way to fix a gunky coil except by replacing the coil head — something that you’ll have to do fairly often if you prefer very sweet e-liquids. If you want your coils to last longer, try using e-liquids that aren’t sweetened.

Burned Wick

Have you ever experienced an extremely harsh “dry hit” when vaping because you forgot to refill your tank? The coil head in an e-cigarette tank has two main components: the coil — which generates heat and turns the e-liquid to vapour — and the wick. The wick uses capillary action to draw e-liquid from the reservoir to the coil. Cotton is the most popular wick material for vaping. Cotton is inexpensive, works well as a wick and produces a pure, clean flavour. The only real drawback of cotton is that it tolerates heat poorly. If the wick in your e-cigarette tank is dry, the heating coil will burn the cotton — and a burned cotton wick will produce a harsh flavour when you vape. If the wick in your e-cigarette tank is burned, there is no way to restore the original flavour. You’ll have to replace the coil head — and remember to keep your tank topped up in the future.

Wattage Too High

Do you have an e-cigarette with adjustable wattage settings? Increasing your device’s wattage increases the temperature of the atomizer coil, giving you warmer vapour, more intense flavour and bigger clouds. There is a limit, though, to how much wattage any e-cigarette tank can handle. When you puff on your e-cigarette, you create a vacuum that draws e-liquid from the tank to the atomizer coil. Any e-liquid in direct contact with the coil will vaporize relatively quickly. If you want to puff on your e-cigarette for more than a second or two at a time, though, e-liquid will have to flow through the tank and keep the heating coil wet. If your device’s wattage setting is too high, the e-liquid won’t flow quickly enough to keep the coil wet. If you experience a burned taste when vaping — and your atomizer coil is new — you probably need to lower the wattage of your device.

Inadequate Airflow

Most modern e-cigarette tanks have adjustable airflow settings. You’ve probably noticed that reducing your tank’s airflow increases the concentration of flavour when you vape. Less air flowing through your tank means less dilution of flavour. E-cigarette tanks don’t just have airflow collars to help people blow bigger clouds, though; allowing extra air to flow through the tank also helps to keep the coil cool. If you like a slightly restrictive airflow setting when you vape, try lowering your device’s wattage to compensate so the coil doesn’t overheat. If you don’t want to lower your wattage, try opening the airflow slightly to reduce the coil temperature.

Thick E-Liquid

When you look at the coil heads for your e-cigarette tank, do you see large wick openings — or do the wick holes more closely resemble pinpricks? A coil head with small wick openings requires a less viscous e-liquid to work properly. E-liquid makers such as Liberty Flights use two base liquids — propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG) — when creating their blends. VG is the more viscous of the two liquids. An e-liquid containing a higher percentage of VG will generate bigger vapour clouds, but it may not flow well through an atomizer coil head with small wick openings. If the e-liquid that you’re using is too thick, you’ll notice a burned taste when puffing multiple times on your e-cigarette. The burned taste will go away if you stop vaping for a while. If your tank’s coil heads have small wick openings, use an e-liquid with a higher percentage of PG.

Burned Taste When Vaping With a Rebuildable Atomizer

If you use a rebuildable atomizer, most of the above tips apply to you. Coil gunk, for example, is a common problem among RBA users because the more sweet e-liquid you consume, the faster coil gunk will form — and RBA users consume a lot of e-liquid. RBA users also have to contend with burned wicks along with incorrect wattage and airflow settings. When you build your own coils, though, you need to consider additional details because you can customize so many different aspects of your vaping experience. If you’re getting a burned taste when vaping with an RBA and have tried the fixes suggested above, these additional pointers may help.


Hot Spots

After you build a new RBA coil and check its resistance, you should test fire the coil to check for hot spots. The coil should glow from the middle outward. If you’re using a dual-coil configuration, neither coil should be brighter than the other. If one section of a coil glows brightly while the rest of the coil remains dull, you’ve got a hot spot. A hot spot can cause a coil to produce extreme heat, resulting in a burned taste when you vape. To build atomizer coils that heat evenly:

  1. Ensure that the two coils are equal in length and identical in appearance
  2. Tighten all screws or clamps fully
  3. Use ceramic tweezers to push the coil together if one loop glows more brightly than the others
  4. Use ceramic tweezers to spread the coil slightly if the hot spot resembles a horizontal line across the loops of the coil

Inadequate Wicking

One of the greatest challenges of building your own atomizer coils is learning how to wick the coils properly. An RBA coil generates intense heat and can produce enormous clouds. If the cotton doesn’t carry e-liquid to the coils quickly enough, the coils will run dry in the middle of your puffs. You’ll experience a burned taste every time you vape — something that happens to almost everyone when building atomizer coils for the first time. When you build atomizer coils, the amount of cotton that you use — and the length of the cotton — are both important.

  • If the wick doesn’t touch the coil, it can’t keep the coil wet. If you use too little cotton, you’ll have hot spots where the wick doesn’t touch the coil.
  • The wick will expand when it is wet. If you use so much cotton that you struggle to get the wick through the coil, the wick will choke off the flow of e-liquid. The middle of the wick will burn. You’re using the correct amount of cotton if you feel only slight resistance when threading it through the coil.
  • Trim your wicks so the ends just touch the bottom of your atomizer’s drip well. You may not get a burned taste if you fail to trim your wicks, but you will waste e-liquid because some of the e-liquid will not reach your coils.

Temperature Control

Many modern vaping devices have the ability to estimate the temperature of a coil made from nickel, titanium or stainless steel by measuring how the coil’s resistance changes during use. Using a device with a temperature control function can help you avoid getting a burned taste when vaping because your device allows you to set a maximum coil temperature. When the coil reaches the maximum temperature, the device lowers the coil’s temperature by reducing its power output. Temperature control vaping isn’t for everyone. When you switch from a standard kanthal coil to a coil made from nickel, titanium or stainless steel, the flavour that your e-cigarette produces will change. Some people don’t enjoy the flavour of any coil material other than kanthal. If you like the flavour of a temperature control coil, though, you’ll find that using your device’s temperature control function eliminates almost any chance of getting a burned taste when vaping.

Alternative Wick Materials

Although most e-cigarette users prefer cotton as a wick material because of its pure flavour, cotton has the unfortunate drawback of burning easily. If you constantly experience a burned taste when vaping with a rebuildable atomizer, you may want to try a different type of wick. Fibres such as rayon and silica transport e-liquid much more efficiently than cotton. If you use one of those materials for your wicks, you can puff more frequently without dry hits. Rayon and silica also don’t burn as easily as cotton. Ceramic is another popular wick material. While ceramic doesn’t transport e-liquid to the coil as efficiently as cotton, it also doesn’t burn at any temperature that an atomizer coil can reach. Some people also believe that a ceramic wick produces an extremely pure flavour. Switching to a different wick material will change the flavour that your e-cigarette produces, though, so you’ll have to weigh the benefits and drawbacks to decide whether using a different wick material is the right choice for you.

About the Author

Andrew Dent is the Director of Liberty Flights Australia. With more than three decades of experience as a business executive, Andrew’s passion for disruptive technologies led him to enter the vaping industry in 2012. Andrew believes that there is no limit to the life-changing potential of e-cigarettes.