How To Clean A Burnt Coil and What Causes Them to Burn Out?

By James Powley

Vape devices come in a range of different types, and if you’re using a box mod or a vape pen then you may already be familiar with vape coils. A vape coil is a conductor - the part of the vape that heats the e-liquid – and much like vape batteries, they don’t last forever.

A common issue with these key vape components is burnt-out coils. When electricity flows through your device, it heats up the coil – most of this heat is absorbed by the e-liquid saturating the wick. When the wick isn’t saturated with enough e-liquid, or isn’t installed properly, the coil continues to heat up and burns the wick. This can cause the remaining e-liquid to congeal inside the coil and impairs your device functioning. Often, the easiest way to remedy this is to simply replace the whole coil, but in some cases, coils can be cleaned and reused. If your coil is discoloured or corroded after cleaning, this indicates the coil is at the end of its lifespan – discontinue using it and replace the coil immediately.

Always follow manufacturer instructions when dismantling and cleaning your coils. While cleaning can help remove build-up and allow the coil to be used again in the short term, replacing the coil completely is typically the best solution.

How to Clean a Burnt Coil?

A burnt-out coil can be soaked in ethanol or vinegar to try to soften built-up and congealed e-juice. The method of cleaning will differ depending on whether you are using a replaceable or rebuildable coil. Here’s a general process you can follow for replaceable coils:

  1. Remove your coil from your vape
  2. Soak it in ethanol or vinegar for several hours
  3. Rinse with water
  4. Leave to air dry

This process can take some time, as the vinegar or ethanol needs to soak into the wick and break down any build-up. Soaking the coils overnight should be sufficient. Ensure the wick is completely dry before reassembling your device.

If you’re using a rebuildable atomizer, (RDAs or RTAs) then you will be able to remove and replace the wick. Once you remove the atomizer from your mod, place the coil under running water and lightly brush any residue off before rinsing again. Ensure your coil is completely dry and the water has completely evaporated before installing a new wick and reassembling your device.

While regular cleaning and maintenance can extend the lifespan of your coil, coils themselves are not intended to last forever. The best thing to do is replace a burnt-out coil rather than try to re-use one that is past its prime.

What Causes A Burnt-Out Coil?

There are several causes of burnt-out coil issues, including:


  • Insufficient liquid in the tank
  • Not priming coils before use
  • Wear and tear


It’s not unusual for coils and wicks to start burning out towards the end of their lifespan. This is because most wicks are made of cotton and, after repeated use, will naturally begin to degrade. Over time, the e-juice will build up on the coil and as this residue continues to be heated by the coil, it will eventually burn out. This is especially true for high VG juices which are more viscous and can clog the coil, limiting the wick’s ability to absorb the e-liquid. Conversely, high PG juices are thinner, absorb faster, and can over-saturate the wick, causing vape crackling and spit back.

Another cause of burnt coils is not filling the tank with enough e-liquid, which prevents the wick from becoming sufficiently saturated. Without enough liquid to absorb heat, the coil is essentially heating itself and any residue, which will cause burn out.

What Does A Burnt Coil Look Like?

A burnt coil isn’t always obvious at first sight. For many users, the tell-tale signs come from vape juice tasting burnt. It’s easier to get a visual clue for burnt coils if you use a rebuildable coil, as these can be taken apart for a clear view of each component. A burnt-out coil will almost always have a build-up of browned e-juice ‘gunk’. With replaceable coils, you may be able to spot the same darkened burnt juice around the holes of the coil.

How To Prevent A Vaping Coil From Burning Out

There are a few steps you can take before every vaping session to minimize the risk of coil burn-out:

  1. Prime your coils
  2. Ensure the tank is full and give it 10 minutes for the coil to fully saturate
  3. Make sure you are using a suitable e-juice for your coil, i.e. the right ratio of VG/PG

How Long Does a Vape Coil Last?

Vape coils typically last between 1-4 weeks. Knowing how to clean a burnt coil can be useful for general maintenance, but it’s not a long-term solution for a coil that needs to be replaced. The best solution for a burnt coil is always to replace it with a new one, and then to follow the tips above to guard against future coil burn-out.

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