When to Change Your Vape Coil: A Complete Guide

Knowing when to change your coil comes more with experience than anything else. Manufacturers will often tout their coils as ‘long lasting’ or double the life span, but this can be frustratingly vague. No matter how sophisticated the design, a coil’s lifespan can depend on a number of factors including the way you vape and what type of e-liquid you are using.

There are a number of early warning signs that can alert you to when your coil is on the way out, knowing and recognising these indicators will ensure that you have the best vape experience possible. In this guide, we are going to give you a rundown of what coils are and how they work. We’ll explain why they eventually deteriorate, show you how to maximise your coil's lifespan and leave you confident with the know-how to recognise when it's time for a fresh one. Welcome to the guide on When to Change Your Vape Coil.

1. What Are Vape Coils?

A deconstructed image of a vape coil

A vape coil comprises a metal cylinder containing steel wire or mesh wrapped in cotton. When you activate your kit, the coil heats the e-liquid and turns it into a vapour. Coils come in all shapes and sizes, some coils need to be fitted into a pod or tank whilst others come prefixed. The coil elements are made of stainless steel, kanthal or nickel and are set at certain resistance levels which deliver a unique style of vape. Coil resistance is measured in Ω (Ohms), which tells you how much power you can vape at. The higher the number, the less power and the lower the number the more power the coil will let through.

Coils in the range of 0.7Ω to 1.3Ω are suitable for the mouth to lung (MTL) style used in devices like disposables and refillable beginner vape kits favoured by people looking to replicate the sensation of smoking. Coils with lower resistances of 0.15Ω to 0.6Ω are perfect for the direct to lung (DTL) style that uses thicker high VG e-liquid for cloudy vaping.

2. How Long Should A Coil Last Before It Needs Replacing?

The lifespan of a vape coil is about 1 to 2 weeks on average. There is no exact time and it can be influenced by a number of factors, including how frequently you vape, the length of your draw and what type of e-liquid you use. To get the most out of a new coil make sure that you prime it before vaping. Priming a coil involves filling your tank or pod with e-liquid and waiting for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the vape juice to soak the cotton. Known as wicking the coil, this crucial step allows time for the cotton to become fully saturated in e-liquid, this will not only prevent the coil burning but also guarantee that you experience the best flavour possible.

3. Signs It's Time to Change Your Coil

When a coil starts to deteriorate it will begin to deliver a poorer vape experience. This may not be noticeable at first, but there are a few telltale signs that it is on the way out. You may experience one or more of these at first and when you do, you should change the coil.

Flavour Degradation

Loss of flavour is one of the first signs that your coil isn’t functioning properly. Flavour can fade gradually and may not be noticeable at first, especially if you vape the same flavour constantly and have become desensitised - what is known as vapers tongue. Every time your coil heats e-liquid, a small amount of it sticks to the coil and the cotton. Over time, this residue can build up and prevent the coil from vapourising efficiently. You may continue to vape your device, but you'll begin to lose complexity and depth of flavour.

A photo showing flavour degradation in a damged coil

Reduced Vapor Production

As residue builds up in your coil the cotton will eventually become clogged up, resulting in reduced wicking efficiency which means the coil itself will no longer be able to vapourise e-liquid efficiently. Along with muted flavour, it will also start showing signs of reduced vapour production. You may notice that your draw feels thin or is lacking that satisfying throat hit feel.

An image showing reduced vapour production with an old coil

Gurgling Sounds or Leaks

A coil with build up can cause heating issues whilst poorly wicking cotton will create an imbalance with your e-liquid absorption. Both of these factors can result in bubbling sounds or leaks. Once the cotton starts to degrade, your vape juice will begin to flood the center of the coil chamber and it won’t be vapourised in time. Every time you take a pull on your vape, the excess e-liquid will clog the airflow and gurgle. It may also begin to leak out of your pod or tank through the central chamber of the coil. In the worst case, you may end up drawing hot e-liquid into your mouth.

Gurgling can also occur if you overfill your tank or pod, so if you’ve just installed a new coil and its already making a noise, check that you haven’t added too much e-liquid. There is a max fill line on pods or on the coil itself that will help you with this.

Chain vaping will cause your e-liquid to overheat, making it very runny. Hot vape juice will flow through the cotton barrier and into the coil chamber, the coil might not necessarily be damaged, but it will still cause a bubbling noise and potentially leak, so take frequent breaks to allow your coil to cool down.

An image of liquid leaking out of a vape device

Burnt Taste/Dry Hits

A sure sign that your coil is at the end of its life is a burnt taste or a stark change in the flavour of your e-liquid. As the coil ages the element will eventually build up enough residue that causes it to heat unevenly, creating hotspots which can burn the cotton and the e-liquid. If you're not chain vaping and you've had the coil for a week or two, it's best to replace your coil once you taste burning.

Remember to always keep your e-liquid topped up so that you don’t burn the cotton and shorten the lifespan of your coil. Dry hits occur when your coil doesnt vape the e-liquid when you activate the kit. A dry hit can be a sign that the coils element is no longer functioning properly.

A photo of a burnt piece of toast

Visual Inspection

There are also a few visual indicators that will confirm that your coil needs to be replaced. If you are experiencing any of the issues listed above as well as the following, then its best to fit a new coil.

A photo of a vape pod with dark e-liquid caused by a damaged coil

Darkening E-Liquid

When an old or burn't vape coil overheats the e-liquid can begin to caramelise, turning your vape juice a darker colour, this not only looks revolting, but also doesn't taste great either. Some dessert flavours are naturally a darker colour, but if you are vaping a clear liquid and it turns dark brown after a few puffs then you know you’ve got to replace your coil. A fresh coil guarantees that you experience a full depth of flavour instead of something vaguely sweet.

A photo showing damaged and burnt vape coils

Cotton Colour

Every coil has an exposed section of cotton that you can regularly check as an indicator of the coils health. This window is how the e-liquid is absorbed, but its also a great way to check for a burnt coil. The colour of your coils cotton should remain white, once it turns brown or you note black spots on the visible cotton, you can be sure that the coil is damaged and not longer functioning optimally.

4. Factors That Affect Coil Lifespan

Type of E-liquid

Very sweet e-liquids like desserts and candy flavours can gunk up your coil and shorten its lifespan faster than clear fruit flavours. When choosing an e-liquid, always purchase from reputable brands that use safe ingredients and look out for the colour of the e-liquid. You can still enjoy a darker sugary flavour like doughnut, but be aware that it may result in a shorter coil lifespan.

A common beginner mistake is to purchase an e-liquid that is unsuitable for the vape kit being used. Once you've decided on a flavour the next thing to do is check the base ingredients (PG & VG) on the bottles ingredients list. They are mixed to ratios that affect the viscosity of the liquid, giving them either a thick or thin consistency.

High PG juice like 50:50 PG/VG mixes are commonly found in nic salts and work best in low-powered refillable mouth-to-lung (MTL) vape kits, if used in a high-powered direct to lung (DTL) vape device, you risk burning your coils.

High VG blends like 30:70 PG/VG e-liquids have a much thicker consistency and will gunk up a beginner vape kit as it does not have the wattage to vape the e-liquid efficiently. If you are unsure of what e-liquid to buy, our comprehensive E-Liquid Buying Guide will set you on the right track.

Going cheap and using poor quality e-liquid is a false economy as it will only accelerate the wear of your coils and have you shelling more money out in the long run. Additionally, using the wrong e-liquid in the wrong kit will leave you changing your coils much more often than you need to.

Vaping Habits

A photo showing a vape pod being filled with e-liquid

Regularly check your e-liquid levels and keep your pod or tank topped up. As a rule of thumb, the exposed cotton section of your coil should always be covered in vape juice.

A photo of a coil showing its operational wattage range

If your vape kit allows you to manually adjust the power output, always ensure that you are operating within the coils wattage range. You will find the coils operational wattage range stamped onto the side of the coil.

A photo showing a person exhaling vapour

Chain vaping and taking frequent long draws can overheat your coil and cause burning. Take regular breaks between vaping to allow your e-liquid and the heating element in your coil to cool down.

5. Summary

Whilst vape coils do not have an exact lifespan, learning how to spot the early signs of coil degradation like gurgling, impaired flavour or a burn't taste will give you the confidence to know when it's time to swap your old vape coil out for a new one. You can maximise the life of your coil by following good vaping practice like priming, topping up and not chain vaping. Give thought to the type of vape experience you want (whether it be MTL or DTL), your vape kits capabilities and the e-liquid you wish to use, and affirm that you are purchasing the correct type of coils. If you need further help with purchasing the right coils, check out our extensive Coils Buying Guide!

6. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

How do I know my coil is burnt?

If you taste burning or can see black spots on the exposed cotton of the coil then you need to change your coil. Gurgling sounds or constant leaks can also give an indication that your coil may be damaged.

What is the lifespan of a vape coil?

A coil lasts between 1 to 2 weeks with an average of lifespan of 10 days. However, this can vary greatly depending on the type of e-liquid you are using. Sugary dessert liquids can shorten the lifespan of a coil, so can vaping constanly without regular breaks and forgetting to keep your tank or pod topped up.

What happens of you don't change the coil in your vape?

Eventually the wicking material (cotton) will degrade to such an extent that it is unable to hold any e-liquid, leading to constant leaking issues. Without proper wicking, the element in your coil will heat unevenly and burn your e-liquid. Vaping from a burnt coil poses a risk to your health as you may be inhaling harmful substances.

At Vape Superstore we have a wide array of vape kits, coils and e-liquids to help you get your dream setup. Browse our handy guides section to find out more about vaping, and once you've decided, all that's left to do is pick out the setup of your choice. Whether you're into nic salt vaping with MTL pod kits or enjoy billowing clouds of flavour with the latest DTL vape kits, we've got you covered with an array of options and the best deals anywhere in the UK!

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