Plenty of vaping guides and instruction booklets will stress the importance of cleaning your coil. It’s made out to be a key part of the vaping experience, yet few will ever go into exactly how to clean a vape coil or why it needs to be done.
We intend to resolve that issue here.
The more you use a vape the more residue will build up, accumulating from vapourised e-liquids that leave trace amounts behind. The only effective way to remove this residue is by removing the coil itself and cleaning it.
It’s not something you want to leave to chance either: any seasoned vaper will tell you just how bad it is to get a lungful of burnt, stale leftovers. It may be also worth to consider how long you're waiting between vapes.
Some coils aren’t worth cleaning, with disposables in particular being a waste of time if you can access them at all. In these cases you’re better off replacing the coil entirely.
This is the eventual fate of every coil as, no matter how well cleaned it is, they will all reach the end of their usefulness someday.
Although this is an inevitability, keeping your coils clean will help to keep that final date as far away as possible.
Every device will benefit from a regular cleaning routine, with an extended lifespan and an increased quality to your vaping experience.
When Do You Know It Needs Cleaning?
Knowing when your coil needs a clean is relatively straightforward; the warning signs of a dirty coil are hard to miss. Although many vapers maintain a cleaning schedule that they stick to thoroughly, others simply wait for these issues to appear.
Whatever approach you decide to adopt, these are the signs that you should always be looking out for.
If your vape suddenly develops a charred, bitter taste, this is a good indicator that the coil is clogged with residue. This taste comes from the residual e-liquid and other debris burning on the coil, spoiling the flavour of your liquid.
Excess residue can also cause the tank or atomiser to leak, as a build-up of debris can interfere with the seal on these sections.
Other signs of a coil needing a clean are related to the underperformance of the coil itself.
A sudden decrease in vapour production is a good indicator of something being wrong with the coil, whether a cleaning issue or something more serious. In this case residue will be clogging the coil up, limiting its contact with the e-liquid and preventing proper vaporisation.
Likewise, a gradual gurgling and popping noise when the vape is fired is a sign of the coil operating at a low heat and not fully vaporising the e-liquid. This reduced temperature can be caused by residue clogging up the coil.
The ‘pop’ is often caused by old residue heating up and vaporising, giving you a cloud full of weeks-old e-liquid instead of your usual delicious hit.
The Cleaning Process
Now that you know what to be looking out for, let’s go over how to actually clean a vape coil. The steps to conventionally cleaning a coil are fairly straightforward and low-cost.
Before you do anything, make sure you’re wearing thick rubber gloves to keep your hands safe.
Firstly, remove the coil and clean the inside of the chamber. Some retailers will sell vape cleaner specifically for this, but frankly rubbing alcohol on a cotton bud works just fine.
At this stage you should check the coil for damage; there’s no point in cleaning a damaged coil. If possible remove the wick as this will cut down on drying time, however this isn’t strictly necessary.
Place the coil in a small tub of rubbing alcohol and leave it to soak for a few hours. Although coils differ in design and material none should be damaged by this soak, even if you leave it overnight.
Once it’s soaked for at least an hour remove the coil and leave it on a towel to dry. A hairdryer or cotton swab can help to speed up this process, but simply waiting for it to dry out is the best way to be certain.
You’ll need to be absolutely sure that it’s dry before you slot it back into the mod.
Whilst your coil is soaking or drying, it’s a good idea to clean out the tank itself.
This helps to keep the tank in a generally good condition and is a key part in basic vape maintenance. Use a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol to remove any residue or stains from the inside of the tank.
Once both the coil and tank are completely dry, reinstall them both back onto your mod. If you’ve followed the steps correctly you’ll be able to start vaping straight away.
Other Cleaning Methods
Although this is the most common method of cleaning a vape coil, a few different techniques have emerged over the years.
Any vape fanatic will have their own particular routine worked out, but here are some of the other cleaning methods seen across the community.
A far more effective means of cleaning a coil, ultrasonic cleaners use extremely high frequency vibrations to shift debris and gunk more thoroughly than soaking and rubbing ever could.
This method will only take a few hours and will leave your coil spotless, but does require a rather significant investment in hardware.
Soaking In Vinegar:
Similar to soaking it in rubbing alcohol, soaking your coil in vinegar is an equally effective, somewhat cheaper way of cleaning your vape.
Although it certainly does work well, you’ll need to rinse your coil very thoroughly afterwards to prevent a lingering taste and smell.
Baking soda has a particular place in the heart of clean-freaks the world over, touted as a godsend for its ability to remove even the toughest of stains. It’s been known to take a tank stained from the darkest e-liquids to a virtually brand-new state.
But you’ll need to be careful that it’s fully emptied and rinsed when the work is done, otherwise any remaining soda could ruin a coil when it’s fired.
Ultimately the best way to ensure that your coil stays in top condition is to limit how dirty it gets in the first place. We’ve gone over how to clean a vape coil, but here are a few tips for avoiding the worst effects of residue build-up.
Overly sweet e-liquids may be delicious, but there’s some good evidence indicating that they’re the worst option for coil longevity.
The excess of flavourings leaves behind a particularly large amount of residue, making your coils clog up faster. In the same vein e-liquids with high levels of vegetable glycerine tend to produce more residue, as they struggle to vaporise cleanly when compared to e-liquids with a higher propylene glycol content.
If these are the kind of e-liquids you enjoy most, keep an extra eye out for the warning signs of a dirty coil when you use them.
Over-filling your tank can also result in more residue, as the increased e-liquid concentration can cause incomplete vaporisation. Being sure to only fill your tank part-way will cut down on the number of times you’ll need to clean your coil.
Another major cause of the charred-bitter taste that usually indicates a clogging is a burnt-out coil. If you find your coil has been burning out unusually quickly, try lowering the power output of your device and taking shorter drags.
It’s also a good idea to be sure that you prime your coil before you fire it.
As a part of general maintenance of their device, plenty of vapers will give it a quick clean at the end of each day.
Taking a dry cotton bud, or one soaked in rubbing alcohol, and wiping over the coil and around the inside of the tank will help to remove the accumulated debris of the day.
It’s a small thing and it doesn’t replace a proper clean, but it does help to make those bigger jobs much easier when they do come around.
How Long Before I Should Swap?
For some coils a good clean just won’t be enough anymore: they’ve sadly reached the end of their usefulness. In these cases you’ll need to replace the entire coil, as no amount of cleaning will make it work again.
But how can you tell when that time comes?
Most coils will last between 2 and 4 weeks from instalment, with heavier or harder use reducing that time. Much of this is personal taste however, as there are no strict rules on how often you should be swapping out your coils.
Some people stick to a clear routine of changing their coils, whilst others will make the change as soon as they switch to a new e-liquid.
Other vapers will alternate constantly between several coils, changing their overall stockpile every few months.
Ultimately, the real indicator of a coil needing changing is when those warning signs – the gurgling, the charred taste etc still persist after a thorough clean. No coil will last forever, they’re just cotton and wire after all.
If you keep an eye out for these warnings and make sure your hardware is clean and well maintained, then you should find yourself swapping out coils less frequently and only when necessary.
Upkeep of your device is an essential part of vaping, and that includes keeping the coils good and clean.
Despite the many different methods people have figured out for keeping their coils immaculate, it’s ultimately a very straightforward process.
Whether you’re soaking it in alcohol or using an ultrasonic cleaner, knowing how to clean a vape coil is an extremely useful thing to be aware of.
Many coils have been unnecessarily thrown away or burnt-out before their time because of poor upkeep, not to mention the amount of e-liquids that have been written off as awful when the problem was with the device all along.
Knowing what to look out for will help you to catch these issues before they develop into anything worse.
Making sure you take good care of your equipment is the best way to ensure that you keep getting the most out of it for as long as possible.