Step by Step Guide: Fixing Burnt Vape Coils

Burnt vape coils are the bane of a vaper's existence. There is nothing worse than puffing on your vape only to inhale the acrid taste of burnt cotton - it stops you in your tracks.

If you're lucky, you just have to swap out the entire pod for a new one, wasting e-liquid and money in the process. Otherwise, you need to go through a messy coil change, rinse out your pod or tank, dry it and start again.

Fortunately, you can stop your coil from burning by following a few easy steps. In this article, we are going to explain how coils work and show you how to use them properly. Let's dive in.

Table of Contents

1. Understanding Vape Coils
2. Signs of a Burnt Coil
3. Ways to Stop a Burnt Vape Coil
4. Choosing the Right Coil
5. Conclusion
6. Additional Resources

1. Understanding Vape Coils

Coils vaporise your e-liquid, they are the workhorse of your vape kit and the only disposable part of refillable vape kits.

A coil is a hollow metal cylinder that forms a connection to your battery. It contains a coiled wire or (nowadays) a steel mesh heating element that is wrapped in a wicking material usually made of cotton.

Your e-liquid is absorbed by the cotton and vapourised by the heating element when you activate your vape. As you inhale, air is drawn through the centre of the coil carrying that delicious vapour with it.

An image showing a deconstructed mesh coil.

Types of Coils

Coils get their name from the original design of the steel element. This spiral coil shape worked well in low-powered devices but could often heat unevenly leading to hot spots which affected flavour and shortened the lifespan of the coil.

Innovation led to the design of 'mesh coils' - a wide sheet of wire mesh with a much larger surface area that heated quickly and evenly. Mesh coils were a huge leap forward for flavour and coil longevity and have become the staple in most modern coil designs.

A photo showing the difference between a mesh coil and a spiral coil.

Eventually, a coil heating element and cotton will wear out and need to be replaced. On average a pack contains three to four coils or coil pods, each lasting between 1-2 weeks or a months worth.

Experiencing a burnt coil can put strain on your budget, leading you to buy additional packs per month.

Coil Resistance

Now for the tricky part, coil resistance is where new vapers get hung up, worrying about ohms and which number they need. You can rest easy, you don't need to learn Ohms Law, you just need to know what kind of vape you want and what kind of e-liquid you are using.

A coil only lets through some of your kit's power and resists the rest, this resistance is measured in Ohms. The higher the number the more resistance, so less power. The lower the number, the less resistance, so more power.

Let's break it down.

Not all e-liquids are created equally, their two main ingredients PG (propylene glycol) and VG (vegetable glycerine) play a big role:


Here's an example:

Want to blow big clouds?
Need lots of power!
Low resistance coil 0.4ohm
Prefer a cigarette-like vape?
Need less power
High resistance coil 1.2ohm

If you want to dive down further into coils and resistance, our handy Coils Buying Guide will tell you everything you need to know.

2. Signs of a Burnt Coil

Burnt, acrid taste
Loss of flavour or change in flavour
Burnt or overly sweet smell
Darkening of e-liquid
Coil wick looks dark or damaged

3. How to Stop a Burnt Vape Coil

Okay, coils soak up e-liquid and turn it into vapour, great. So why do coils seem to randomly burn?

Your cotton is wrapped around a heating element and if it hasn't soaked up enough e-liquid, it will burn. This is known in vaping circles as a 'dry hit'.

ere is what you can do to stop a vape coil from burning:

  • Prime your vape coil.

  • Make sure your e-liquid is topped up.

  • Don't chain vape.

  • Reduce your power.

  • Avoid dark e-liquids.

  • Check your airflow.


Prime Your Vape Coil

A new coil always needs to be primed first to give it enough time to soak up e-liquid before you use it. All you need to do is fill up your pod or vape tank with e-liquid and wait for 5 minutes. If you are using a high VG e-liquid with a thicker consistency, then wait for 10 minutes before you fire up your vape.

A photo showing how long to prime your vape pod or tank.

Top Up Your E-Liquid

If your tank or pod runs low your coil will vape what it has soaked up and then it will burn. Your e-liquid doesn't always have to be full to the brim, but it needs to cover the visible cotton in your coil. This should usually be at about the halfway mark in your pod/tank.

A photo highlighting the exposed cotton in a coil that alwas needs to be submerged in e-liquid

Don't Chain Vape

Coils heat up every time you take a puff, keep doing this nonstop and the element can overheat, shortening its lifespan and risking a dry hit. It can also get so hot that it caramelises the e-liquid.

Hot e-liquid can also seep through the cotton in your coil and leave you with a leaking vape.

All of us are guilty of this at some point, whether lost in your favourite TV show or on a night out, you can easily lose track of how much you are vaping.

Unlike cigarettes, vaping has no cut-off point, so you need to remember to put your vape down every now and then. Try and vape for 2 minutes at a time to give your coil a break.

Reduce Your Power Level

Some more advanced vape devices allow you to adjust the wattage, giving you control over the power delivered to the coil. However, it's important to remember that each coil has a specific operating range. For instance, these SMOK coils have various resistances which each have their own wattage range. Exceeding the recommended power can cause the coil to overheat and burn the cotton.

A photo showing 3 different SMOK coils and their wattage operating ranges.

Being able to adjust the power level allows you to fine-tune your vape, as changes in heat influence the rate and amount of e-liquid vaporisation, which in turn affects both flavour and cloud production.

If on the other hand, you can't adjust the power on your vape kit or your device has a SMART Mode setting, you needn't worry as the smart chip in the device will automatically detect the coil's resistance and set the power level for you.

Sweeteners and Dark Liquids

Vapers of dessert flavours are particularly prone to this problem as any e-liquids that are especially sugary can caramelise on the coil over time.

Not all dessert flavours will do this, but it's worth keeping an eye out for extremely dark liquids as these are guaranteed to be 'coil killers'.

They may taste great, but you pay for it with a certainty that your coil will gunk up pretty soon, it won't vape efficiently and that gunk can start to give you a burnt taste.

A photo showing the colour of dark e-liquids that can cause a coil to burn.

Check Your Airflow

And finally, if you've done all of these things and you're still getting a burnt taste then you might want to take note of how you hold your vape.

Airflow not only carries all your vapour, it also cools down your coil. Take note of where your airflow inlets are and make sure you don't inadvertently block them with your fingers.

Additionally, if you have adjustable airflow make sure it's not closed off fully, otherwise your coil will overheat pretty quickly.

A photo highlighting the airflow inlets on a vape tank and vape pod.

4. Choosing the Right Coil:

Matching Resistance

Your new vape kit will come with one or two coil options to get you started. This will give you an idea of what range of coils you need to look for.

Here is an example of what to expect:

  • MTL kits (disposables and cigarette-like vaping): 0.6 to 1.5ohm resistance.

  • DTL kits (deep inhale and cloud chasing): 0.15 to 0.5ohm resistance.


Wattage Range

Remember to stick within the coil's wattage range. Use too little power and you may find that your vape is lacklustre, use too much power and you can burn the coil. If you can't adjust the wattage, then you needn't worry as your vape kit will set the optimal power level for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I properly prime my coil to prevent it from burning?

To prime the coil, start by adding a few drops to the exposed wick. Then fill your tank or pod and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.

How often should I replace my vaping coil?

This depends on how often you vape and what type of e-liquid you are using, but generally a coil should last you between 1-2 weeks.

Can the type of e-liquid I use affect my coil's lifespan?

Yes, e-liquids with higher VG (vegetable glycerine) content are thicker and can cause your coil to burn out faster, especially for coils not designed for high VG e-liquids. Additionally, sweeter e-liquids like desserts can leave a residue that clogs the coil.

Does the wattage I vape at affect my coil?

Absolutely. Vaping at a wattage that's too high for your coil can cause it to burn out quickly. Always check the recommended wattage range of your coil and adjust your power accordingly.

Can cleaning my coil extend its lifespan?

We don't recommend that you rinse out your coils as once a coil is burnt there is no going back and it's better to replace it with a new one.

5. Conclusion

Properly primed and paired with the right e-liquid, you can reduce the likelihood of burning a coil. Remember to take frequent breaks in between vaping and keep your e-liquid topped up, with your airflow at least a little bit open.

Remember to buy only the best quality e-liquids, keep your tank topped up to ensure that burnt taste is a thing of the past.

If you would like to share your thoughts on this article or your experiences with burnt vape coils, please add a comment below.

6. Additional Resources: contains general information about vaping and vapour products. The information provided is not medical advice, and should not be relied upon unless explicitly cited. We do not make any warranties surrounding the health benefits, reliability and accuracy of written copy across all pages on our website, including blog content and content posted on social media.

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