In a similar way that a kettle uses an internal heating element to heat up water, most vape devices also contains a heating component inside it which is known as a coil. The coil is a tightly wound, highly conductive piece of metal which is wrapped around a wicking material which is saturated in e-liquid.
Power from the battery in a vape heats the coil and allows the wicked up e-liquid to be atomised into a fine vapour and inhaled through a mouthpiece. you can learn everything you need to know about coils and beyond in our comprehensive guide How to Vape Properly. Read on however to learn about the telltale signs it is time to change your coil.
When to change a coil
What some new users don’t know is that a coil has a natural lifespan before it burns out and then needs to be replaced with a fresh one. It’s difficult to say exactly when a coil should be changed because various factors affect how quickly a coil is spent, such as intensity of usage and even the environment in which you leave your device when not in use.
A very general estimate is that an average user may need to change their coil somewhere between 2 and 5 weeks, whereas a heavy user may need to change their coil more frequently. The signs listed below can help you keep an eye out for when a coil is nearing the end of its usage and needs to be changed over.
A bad taste when vaping
A change in the taste of e-cigarette vapour is usually the most obvious way to identify when a vape coil has reached the end of its natural lifespan. You may notice an unpleasant, burnt taste to e-liquids when you draw vapour with a spent coil. In this case, the problem is not likely to be with your vape juice, it is with the coil you are using to atomise the e-liquid. If you refill the tank of the device with fresh e-liquid and bad taste remains, the coil needs to be changed.
Change of vape juice colour
Some vaping devices have a clear window that allows you to look directly into the e-liquid tank. In this case you can take note of the colour of the vape juice inside. Most e-liquids are clear or light yellow in colour, however if a coil is burnt out then you may notice a change in the colour of the e-liquid to a darker orange or brown tinted colour, particularly if left in the tank over time. This is a sign that the burnt coil is interfering with the e-liquid.
A burnt coil isn't always obvious at first glance. A classic sign that the coil is about to go, even when it may appear to be fine, are fine "strands" of yellow or darker orange coming from the wicking ports in the coil. this can be a sign that the coil is internally damaged, and in need of replacement asap!
More resistance when drawing from a device
Have you noticed that your vape feels more difficult to draw from than when you started? This is a little less easy to tangibly define, but a general feeling of the vaour taking more effort to pull in to inhale is a signal that your vape isn’t functioning at its peak capability any more. A spent coil can cause this reduction in ability to convert the e-liquid into vapour. In extreme cases you may even notice vape juice leaking from your device.
The increased resistance can come from a few issues - it may be that the wicking material has collapsed slightly or swelled to prevent proper airflow. Equally, a spent coil can flood, causing liquid to seep into the airflow channels, obstructing them. In either case, that coil needs to go!
Another sign that a coil is no longer functioning at its peak capacity any more is hearing gurgling or crackling sounds when inhaling from the device. The reason your vaping device may start making these sounds is because the coil is no longer efficiently atomising the e-liquid into vapour and has therefore flooded the wicking material and is not getting drawn up properly.
This flooding of the atomiser head of the device makes for an inconsistent and unpleasant draw with harsh, overly wet or dry inhalation and distinctive noisy sounds coming from an otherwise quiet e-cigarette.
In these cases, take notice of the signs of a burnt out coil and replace with a fresh one to return to an optimal vaping experience. Learning to spot these signs early can help you keep an e-cigarette in good nick and reduce internal damage to the rest of the device from a poorly functioning coil.