Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Does vaping suddenly leave you with a bad or strange taste in your mouth for no apparent reason?
Getting bad, burnt or undefinably weird tastes from your e cigarette during vape sessions is horrible, but it’s usually not that hard to fix.
By bad vape tastes, we’re talking about:
- a nasty dry hit that makes you cough or retch
- a musty or burnt taste that ruins your vape
- weird underlying tastes like plastic, metal, cotton, soap, or fish
What’s it like to get a bad or weird tasting vape?
One minute you’re savouring a rich, full-flavoured vapour that tickles and teases every taste bud. The next moment, your vape tastes dry and chemically, or metallic, damp, burnt or maybe just a bit weird.
But why does your vapour suddenly taste so bad when all you did was attach a new coil or adjust your power?
Reasons why your vape suddenly tastes bad
A common reason why your vape suddenly tastes bad is a new or damaged coil. Bad flavours can also happen because of poorly-packed or worn-out wicking and poor device air circulation. Likewise, sudden unwanted tastes may arise from poor vape device maintenance, unsuitable e liquids or heavy vaping.
Here are the reasons in more detail:
1. Coil issues
Hot spots in vape coils can cause sudden unpleasant “dry hits” and odd burnt tastes, too. Also, some vape coil materials can react with e liquids to generate acrid or acidic tastes when worn or corroded.
Devices with high-resistance, thin or delicate coil types (e.g. MTL 1.0+) are more prone to giving out burnt, weird or horrible tastes. This is because their small size means they tend to work harder and wear out more quickly.
2. Wicking problems
When the soft wicking material in your vape coil gets displaced, worn-out, dry or oversaturated, bad tastes can appear.
Cheap or poor-quality wicking materials can also affect flavour negatively because of poor absorbency or airiness.
Cotton wicking should still be airy enough to let juice flavour flow through it quickly even when it’s packed into your coil. This isn’t a problem in disposable vape coils, though rebuildable wicks can cause weird tastes if you pack them too tightly.
3. The wrong e liquid or “ghosting”
The e liquid you use in your device can give you a bad or weird-tasting vape if it’s poorly-suited to your device. So, thicker vape liquids may create burnt flavours in MTL devices because they flow too slowly, or because they leave burnt-tasting residues on lighter coils.
Homemade e liquids can sometimes cause problems because they are too thick or overly sweetened, and this can lead to burnt tastes developing on your coil.
Likewise, some e liquid flavours can taste awful in direct lung e cigarettes because vapour gets too hot.
E liquid flavouring residues from earlier sessions can also linger on your wick and ruin the taste of your vape by “ghosting” the current flavour. This basically means you get a terrible mixture of tastes that don’t go that well together when you vape them.
4. Poor air circulation
All vape devices, whether they have disposable or rebuildable coils, depend on good air circulation to generate rich, clean flavours.
So, not enough air flowing through or around your vape coil and wicking means more damp, wet or musty tastes. Air blockages in external ventilation holes, as well as in the bore hole beneath your vape coil can also produce weird, unwanted flavours. Too much wicking can also affect air circulation.
5. Poor device maintenance
Not bothering to replace pods, vape coils or wicks regularly lets residues build up on your coil leading to burnt, weird and other unsavoury tastes.
Also, not washing your mouthpiece or tank “chimney” means vape flavours from past sessions can build up and ruin new flavours you’re vaping.
6. The way you vape
Vaping too often or too heavily can mean you end up with not only burnt tastes, but weird flavours and dry hits, too. Chain vaping, for example, can weaken more delicate coils in just a few days, allowing burnt, cotton or plastic flavours to emerge.
Choosing to vape at very high power for long periods can also mean flavours suffer from burnt wicks and coils.
How do I get rid of the bad taste in my vape?
To get rid of that bad taste in your vape, you first need to identify what kind of bad flavour you’re getting. Is it a nasty burnt flavour like a dry hit when you vape, or a weird taste, like plastic, metal or soap?
Once you know, look at the suggested solutions below to find appropriate ways to fix them.
Burnt vape tastes: causes and solutions
Burnt tastes are the most common type of bad flavour issue that new vapers experience. Most often, these kinds of flavours are pretty subtle and just linger in the background.
Burnt tastes aren’t always strong enough to ruin your vaping, but they can take the edge off nice flavours. Burnt-tasting e cig vapour can range from barely noticeable to very nasty, as is the case with “dry hits”.
Why does my vape taste burnt?
Your vape can taste burnt because of accumulated residue on your coil, or because coil or wicking have expired. It can also happen because vape juice is too VG-heavy. Other reasons for burnt tastes include not priming a new coil, vaping at high power, or low juice levels.
What is a dry hit?
Dry hits are the most unpleasant example of burnt tastes that can come out of your e cig. A dry hit is a sudden strong, chemically blast of burnt cotton, plastic or metal that makes you splutter or choke. Much like a wicked vape witch, a dry hit is usually accompanied by a puff of acrid smoke and a loud crackling sound.
Dry hits often happen because part of your wick is bone dry (i.e. not saturated with liquid). They can also occur when some parts of your vape coil wire are heating up much faster than others, hence the awful burnt taste.
Solutions: prevent or eliminate burnt tastes and dry vape hits
- “Prime” new disposable coil heads with e liquid to saturate and leave for at least 2 minutes
- Dry saturated rebuildable coil wicks with tissue to remove excess liquid before vaping
- Make sure all parts of coil are making contact with your wick; if not, nudge back into place with a cocktail stick or needle
- Discard and replace any coils with obvious hotspots (pulse-heat your coil to identify)
- Remove wick and dry burn gunky wire vape coils by slow-pulsing till they glow, then rinse to remove burnt-tasting residue
- Vape new coils at low power to start with, then build up slowly
- Change to a thinner vape liquid (e.g. PG 70%+) that won’t cause burnt tastes, or add a little water to thin sluggish liquids
- Keep vape tank topped up to prevent wick from drying out
- Drop power to give cooler hits and switch between devices, to avoid burning out coils
Weird vape vastes: causes and solutions
Though they’re not any nicer than burnt vapes, weird tastes are those you can’t put your finger on right away.
Flavours like plastic, metal or soap are typical examples of weird tastes that your vape device may be producing. Some weird flavours can taste burnt, too, and vice-versa, but the strange tastes are not always as easy to spot.
Let’s look at each in turn:
1. Metallic tastes
When your vape tastes like metal, you’ll know because it may leave a weird aftertaste, too. Brand new disposable coils or RTA coils often taste a bit metallic anyway for a while, though thankfully, the tang doesn’t tend to last.
Why does my vape taste like metal?
Your vape can taste like metal if wire coil segments become worn due to overuse. Metallic flavours also arise if redundant untrimmed RTA coil “legs” are left untrimmed. Using TC modes with Kanthal or Nichrome coils, or acidic vape juices which corrode coils can also generate unwanted metal flavours.
Solutions: get rid of metal tastes from your e cigarette
- Break in new Kanthal or Nichrome (NI80) wire coils by slow-pulsing them gently at low power several times until metallic tastes burn off
- Remove metallic-tasting residues on new disposable coils by flushing out with watered-down e liquid, then take a few puffs without inhaling
- Remove wick and check for weakened metal or hot spots on rebuildable wire coils by slow-pulsing, and replace if necessary
- Match your power settings to your coil material and switch to “power mode” (aka wattage/voltage mode) with Kanthal or Nichrome coil types
- Cut RTA coil wire legs as short as possible
- Switch to a more neutral e liquids and avoid acidic-tasting citrus flavours which can react with metals
- Switch to stainless steel coil types for a cleaner vape with fewer unwanted metallic tastes
2. Plastic tastes
Weird plastic-tasting e cig vapour can be a sign of a dry hit, though there may be other things going on, too.
Why does my vape taste like plastic?
Plastic tastes usually happen when parts made from plastic inside or around your vape device get too hot because of frequent vaping or overly-hot vapour. Plastic flavours are also more likely if using old e liquids or those stored for too long in plastic bottles.
Solutions: fix plastic tastes in your vape
- Reduce power and vapour heat until plastic tastes diminish
- Check your coil for hotspots by slow-pulsing
- Allow more breaks between puffs or switch to another vape device to see if plastic tastes subside
- Open up your vape tank to check that loose washers or other plastic parts are in place and reassemble correctly if necessary
- Discard out-of-date e liquids, avoid storing juices for too long in plastic bottles or buy liquids only in glass bottles
- Avoid tanks and clearomisers made of polycarbonate, and steer clear of non TPD-compliant e liquids, which degrade plastic
- Clean plastic mouthpieces, chimneys and other sections with hot soapy water
- Check your vape device packaging for a manufacturer’s seal of authenticity and return if you think it might not be genuine
3. Soapy tastes
A soapy-tasting vape is pretty rare in my experience, though this does seem to be a weird and worrisome issue that new users do experience from time to time.
Why does my vape taste like soap?
A soapy-tasting vape is nearly always caused by traces of strong floral or fruity flavour residues from earlier vape sessions (ghosting). But they can also arise from vaping unflavoured e liquids or those with high PG ratios. Soapy vapes also happen because of sensory distortions caused by “vaper’s tongue”.
Solutions: fix soapy vape tastes
- Wash your vape device with hot water only – no detergent
- Clean your vape device properly after switching away from strong floral or fruity flavours to remove residual soap tastes
- Clean your tongue and drink some water to reduce confusing effects of vaper’s tongue on your sense of taste
4. Vape tastes wet
When your vape tastes wet, you puff and puff, but whatever vapour comes out of your device is soggy, strange or just unsatisfying. Wet vapour can also be unpleasant because larger, soggier vape particles condense in your mouth and throat and make you hiccup.
Why does my vape taste wet?
Soggy, wet-tasting vapour usually happens because of issues with airflow, coils or battery contacts. Too much wicking, or a very tightly-packed wick will both make strange damp vape flavours more likely. Soggy tastes also happen because of wet or loose battery contacts, worn out coils and blocked vents, all of which generate weak vapour.
Solutions: fix a wet or damp-tasting vape
- Dry out your vape coil by blowing excess e liquid out of it onto a tissue to reduce saturation
- Dry off any moisture on disposable coil contacts and tank deck with a tissue, then reinsert into your device
- Trim excess wicking around RTA vape coils, and avoid over-packing to maximise airflow and limit soggy tastes
- Increase voltage and make sure your mod or battery is properly suited to your coil type
- Use the right liquid thickness for your device (e.g. high VG for direct lung)
- Set up RTA coils with a gap below to improve air circulation around bore holes and prevent damp flavours
5. Fishy or rubbery vape tastes
Perhaps the weirdest taste of all, no one wants their vape to taste like fish or rubber. Thankfully, rubbery of fishy vapes are easy to fix as they happen because of e liquid rather than hardware. That said, if you’re already having problems with these kinds of strange flavours, hardware issues may make them even worse.
Why does my vape taste like fish or rubber?
E cigarette vapour can taste rubbery or fishy because of using e liquid which is too old, or which has been stored in strong sunlight and has degraded. Using unflavoured nicotine salt vape juice, or 100% PG liquid can also generate peculiar piscine or rubber-like flavours.
Solutions: fix fishy or rubbery vape tastes
- Check your e liquid sell-by date, and discard any liquid you’ve had for more than two years
- Store e liquid in a cool, dark place, or in your fridge to limit bad flavours
- Mask the rubbery/fishy taste of unflavoured nic salt or PG liquid by adding a couple of drops of menthol vape liquid
- Dismantle your device and check for burnt plastic or rubbery-smelling damage to parts, then fix or replace
A sudden bad or weird-tasting vape is the last thing anyone wants, but it’s especially horrible if you’re new to vaping.
The good news is that if you know what’s causing the problem, nasty, unexpected flavour gremlins are usually easy to fix, and needn’t spoil your vaping.
In the end, learning how your vape device works and knowing how to maintain it properly are the best ways to stop bad, weird or nasty tastes in their tracks.
Frequently asked questions about bad vape tastes
The easiest way to get rid of the new coil taste in disposables is to first saturate your coil wicking with a thin e liquid. You then blow out any excess liquid to prevent dampness, and re-insert the coil. Puffing a few times without inhaling should remove any remaining unwanted flavours allowing you to enjoy your new coil.