Coil Gunk: What It Is & How To Prevent It
These past few articles have been very focused on coils. Coils are one of the most important pieces of any vapers equipment because it dictates how much flavor you get out of your vaping experience. We’ve talked about how long coils last, how and when to clean them, but we haven’t really dived headfirst into why coils fail. You may have noticed that when you’re ready to change the coil, you see a disgusting black and gooey mess on the top of your coil. While there are ways to clean the gunk on the coil (and you can check out that article here), we thought we’d dedicate this article to explaining what coil gunk is and how to prevent it.
COIL GUNK: WHAT IS IT?
The nasty black gooey mess on the top of your coils is referred to as “gunk” is the result of your favorite e-liquid leaving behind a sticky residue that builds up overtime. And with high wattage tanks that produce huge puffy clouds, this residue builds up quickly, especially if the e-liquid is sweet. As the residue clings to the coil, it darkens and thickens to the point where you can’t taste any of the fresh and clean flavor you so desperately desire. You’ll taste a faded burnt taste that faintly resembles the e-liquid flavor and you’re left disappointed and frustrated with your vaping experience. You can try to save money and clean the coil, but best case scenario is you squeeze a few more days out of your coil and you’re forced to load up with a fresh coil. There are a few reasons why your coil might get gunked up to begin with. Let’s take a look at those now and see if slight changes to your vaping habits can give your coils an extended useful life.
SWEET & FLAVORED E-LIQUIDS
E-liquid sweetener greatly enhances the taste of your favorite e-liquid, but it's also the easiest way to kill your coils. You may have noticed that with thick dessert flavors like custards, sugary candies like sour and chewy e-juices, and rich ripe fruit flavors like blueberry and strawberry can clog your coils faster. Vape juice sweetener (such as sucralose) caramelizes as you use it and leaves behind a nasty residue that eventually renders your coil dead and useless. You might get a good hit every now and then, but for the most part, your coil becomes impossible to use after 2-3 weeks. You might think an easy solution is to simply vape an ejuice with little or no sweetener...but you can imagine how bland your clouds would taste. The vast majority of vapers look for a sweet and tasty e-liquid to delight their taste buds (I know I do!). However, there are a few vendors that sell unsweetened e-juice. With just a little digging, you may find some indie companies that will be more than happy to supply you with unsweetened e-liquids. but you’ll have to do some digging to find them. They may be priced higher (since the popular e-liquids are made in large quantities and can be purchased at an affordable price point) but the flip side is that you can save money from not having to constantly purchase new coils. You can also discover flavor profiles you didn’t originally know about, making it exciting to discover new e-liquids outside of the normal vape juice flavor profile. Fun Fact: menthol vape juice doesn’t have any sweeteners in it (unless you get flavored menthol flavors).
VAPING AT HIGH WATTAGES
This might seem like a no brainer, but vaping at high wattages causes the cotton to burn at a high rate of heat. If you own a large tank (i.e. TFV12) and vape at high wattages (100W+), you risk burning the coil by overusing it, also known as chain-vaping. Chain vaping can happen for a number of reasons. Either the flavor is just THAT good that you can’t get enough of it or you feel like you need to keep taking a hit to satisfy your nicotine craving. If it’s the former, calm down and take your time to savor the cloud’s flavor. Your vape tank isn’t going anywhere! If it’s the latter, you may want to consider increasing your nicotine count. Nicotine salts became extremely popular for heavy smokers and vapers wanting a smoother taste (you can read about nic salts here). Nicotine salts are high in nicotine content but you can also increase your freebase nicotine content to 6mg, 12mg, or in some cases, a whopping 24mg. Be aware that vaping high nicotine content on large tanks might make the throat hit unbearable. If you do end up switching your nicotine content to a higher number, consider getting a low-powered tank as well. The combined use of higher nicotine and lower wattages might help you stretch out your coil’s lifespan, thus resulting in a more pleasant vaping experience and more money in your pocket!
VAPING MAX VG & NON-CLEAR E-LIQUIDS
If you have a preference for e-liquids that are max VG, chances are you’re clogging your coils. The max VG vape juice gives a smoother throat hit and huge clouds (you can read more about VG and PG here), but you’ll end up going through coils much quicker than the common VG/PG ratios of 70/30, 60/40, or even 50/50. You’ll also notice that e-liquids that aren’t completely clear may clog your coils. If you vape e-liquids with nicotine, most likely you’ll notice that your e-liquid comes in variant shades of yellow. Some are barely tinged yellow whereas others look like straight vegetable oil or darker. There was even one company called Juice Hog that had red e-juice, which was infamous for staining the coils red and making it nearly impossible to get the flavor out of your coil, even with changing the vape juice and rinsing out the tank. The more yellow your e-liquid, the more likely your coils will build clog or build up gunk. While there are many reasons that coil gunk can slowly build up on your coils, many vapers feel like using dark colored e-liquids can speed up the clogging process and significantly reduce the lifespan of your coils.
Keep in mind that burning the cotton in your coil is different from your coil building up residue to the point of being unusable. If you accidentally press the firing button without inhaling, this will burn the coil. If you let your tank run out of juice and you take a nice big pull, you’ll burn the coil. Unfortunately, there’s no way to save a burnt coil, unless you take a wad of vaping cotton and restring your coil yourself. At that point, you may as well just buy a new coil to save yourself the struggle and hassle of doing what professional coil makers do for a living.
The only way to save your coils is to either make some changes about the way you vape or you can do some preventative maintenance to keep it from happening as quickly. We’ve gone over a few reasons why coil gunk occurs, and hopefully this can help you make more informed decisions on your future vaping purchases. Do you have any methods on what helps extend the life of your coils? What’s the longest you’ve ever kept your coil (our current record is 6 months!) and still used it? Let us know in the comments below! It’s always interesting to see how vapers around the world enjoy the daily pastime of vaping. If you have any questions or concerns about finding the e-liquid that is right for you, don’t hesitate to reach out via phone or email; we promise we’ll answer you quickly and promptly. Check out our next article, where we review the new gun mod: the Smok Mag P3!