How to Tell If Your Coil is Burnt: 6 Symptoms to Look Out For

When I first began vaping, one of my biggest fears was vaping with a burnt coil. I was aware of the dangers of it, but I had no idea how to tell when my coil was burnt. At the time, there were very few resources telling me exactly what to look for.
Well, as the years went on, I began to recognize some of the surefire signs that my vape coil has gone bad. Along the way, I experienced my fair share of burnt hits and funky flavors. It wasn’t fun, but I learned from it. And now I’d like to share what I learned with you.
If you experience any of the symptoms below, you should replace your coil immediately. Vaping with a burnt coil not only tastes horrible, but it can be dangerous, too.
Now, without further ado, here is my list of the top 6 ways to tell if your coil is burnt:

Burnt Coil Symptom #1: Gurgling
Normally, vaping can produce a light popping, crackling, or hissing noise. But if it sounds similar to a kid blowing bubbles in his milk, you’ve got a problem.

While several things can cause a gurgling vape, it often is symptomatic of a flooded coil. Because wicks gradually lose their ability to absorb e-liquid, older coils in particular have a tendency to flood. When this happens, the coil becomes oversaturated and unable to vaporize all of the e-liquid on it. Thus, the excess juice “bubbles” and produces a gurgling noise.
If you suspect that your coil is flooded due to, say, over-priming, you can try cleaning your coil. But if the issue persists, it’s a solid clue that your coil has gone bad.

Burnt Coil Symptom #2: Burnt Taste
This is the most obvious and unpleasant sign that your coil is burnt. And as a new vaper, this is the one that I dreaded and feared the most.
I remember googling what a burnt vape hit tastes like. But oh, when you taste it, you’ll know. It’s unmistakable.
If you were ever a smoker, I’m sure you, at some point, accidentally lit the wrong end of the cigarette. That’s basically what it tastes like… to me, anyway. Not good.

Like gurgling, we can blame burnt hits on old wicking material. However, in this case, the wick becomes gunked up and unable to absorb new liquid. As the material surrounding the coil dries out, it overheats and burns, leading to that burnt taste.
If your wick isn’t dry due to an empty tank or a lack of priming, this is a sure sign that it’s time to replace your coil. Either way, once you’ve experienced a burnt hit on a coil, you’ll want to change it to avoid tasting that again.

Burnt Coil Symptom #3: E-Liquid Tastes Weak or Weird
Even if you’re not getting burnt hits, any change in flavor could signal a problem with your coil. Of course, this could also be due to vaper’s tongue, a bad batch, or expired e-juice. But if your favorite flavors suddenly taste foul, weak, or “off” in general, your coil is most likely to blame.
It may be saturated with too many different flavors, creating an unsavory combination. Or perhaps residue has built up on the coil, causing uneven or inadequate heating and a muted flavor. Regardless, replacing your coil will likely make your favorite flavors taste “right” again.

Burnt Coil Symptom #4: Decreased Vapor Production
Over time, coils lose their ability to produce vapor. A completely burnt coil will produce no vapor at all. But every vaper has their own standard of vapor production, so recognizing this symptom of a burnt coil has an element of subjectivity to it.

For instance, a cloud chaser might want to replace their coil sooner than necessary in order to avoid diminished production.
Other vapers might find themselves using more e-liquid than usual or wanting to increase their nicotine level. This may be because they are experiencing less satisfying and productive hits.
Be aware of your own habits so that you can detect changes in your coil’s behavior. You don’t want to develop new patterns of vaping that will increase your nicotine dependence. But you do want your vaping experience to be smooth and enjoyable. Good vapor production is certainly part of that.

Burnt Coil Symptom #5: Visible Black Gunk
Sometimes you can identify a burnt coil just by looking at it. Shine a flashlight down through the top of the head and examine the coils and wicking material. If you see a black crust on the coils or dark spots on the wick, you’ll likely begin experiencing the other symptoms on this list (if you’re not already.)

As I mentioned earlier, this buildup of residue can cause heating problems and a bad or weak taste. If you want to be proactive, monitor the appearance of your coils to prevent burnt hits and other unpleasant occurrences.

Burnt Coil Symptom #6: It’s Been a Long Time Since Your Last Coil Change
As you may have gathered from this article, coils don’t last forever. The longevity of your coils depends on many factors, but the typical lifespan is only a couple of weeks.

If you’ve been using the same coil for three weeks, it’s time to evaluate its appearance, taste, and performance. Use the symptoms in this guide to give you ideas of what to look for. And don’t be afraid to test a fresh coil just to see if your coil is living up to your standards.
Again, it’s important to be aware of your own habits when it comes to vaping. Whether you’re a heavy or a light vaper, you will eventually get an idea of how often you’ll be changing your coils.

Wrapping Up
In conclusion, it’s really not too difficult to tell if your coil is burnt. Essentially, your vape coil won’t be shy in letting you know it needs to be replaced. By being aware of your device and your habits, you can proactively avoid some of the most unpleasant symptoms of a bad coil. Alternatively, you could try cleaning your coil head to squeeze a bit more life out of it.

And here’s my basic rule of thumb:
Trust your gut instinct. If it looks, tastes, sounds, or smells weird, replace it immediately.