Why Is There Gunk On My Vape Coil?

Vapers often encounter some common issues along their vaping journey. One such issue is finding gunk on your vape coil. Gross and sticky, finding gunk that is clogging your coil up for the first time can be concerning and confusing. Don't worry, though! In this article, we'll delve into the reasons behind this phenomenon and provide you with expert tips on how to prevent and deal with coil gunk. 

Understanding Vape Coils and Their Function

If you're new to vaping, you may have only used disposable vapes or closed pod kits where the vape cartridges containing the coil and vape juice cannot be opened. These devices are very simple and don't require any kind of coil maintenance or replacement -- just replace the vape cartridge or disposable device once you're done with it. However, as soon as you upgrade to a pod kit with open pods or a different type of vape kit, you'll get to know your vape coils a lot better. This might be your first encounter with the gross gunk that can clog up your coils. 

But before we dive into the reasons for coil gunk, let's take a moment to understand what vape coils are and their crucial role in the vaping experience. A vape coil is a heating element made of metal, usually stainless steel or kanthal, that is responsible for vaporising your e-liquid. When you activate your vape pen or device, the coil heats up, allowing the e-liquid to transform into vapour that you can inhale.

Reasons Behind Coil Gunk

E-Liquid Residue

One of the main culprits behind clogged coil gunk is the residue left behind by e-liquids. Over time, e-liquids can leave a sticky, caramelised residue on the coil, which accumulates and eventually leads to gunk formation. This residue is typically a result of the sweeteners, flavourings, and other ingredients present in your e-juice. Because the clogged coil contains the remains of old e-liquid, you might find that any new vape juice you put in the tank might taste weird or off. For this reason, it's important to unclog this residue before switching out your flavours -- otherwise you won't be able to enjoy your e-juice to the full!

Sweeteners and Darker E-Liquids

Certain e-liquids, particularly those with high levels of sweeteners or darker in colour, are more prone to gunk buildup. Sweeteners, although they enhance the taste, can leave a sticky residue on the coil. Darker e-liquids, such as those containing tobacco or dessert flavours, tend to have more complex compounds that can contribute to coil gunk. If you're experiencing clogged coils, consider opting for a simpler or less sweet e-liquid such as a menthol flavoured vape juice.

Chain Vaping

If you're a dedicated vaper and tend to take consecutive puffs without much of a break, you might experience coil gunk more frequently. Chain vaping doesn't give the coil enough time to cool down, causing the e-liquid to vaporise faster and potentially leading to a buildup of gunk that clogs the coil.

VG/PG Ratio

The ratio of vegetable glycerine (VG) to propylene glycol (PG) in your e-liquid can also impact coil gunk. High VG e-liquids with 70% VG or more are known for their thicker consistency, which can lead to slower wicking and potential wick saturation issues. If the wick doesn't properly absorb the e-liquid, it can contribute to gunk formation.

Is Coil Gunk Dangerous? 

While coil gunk is not known to be dangerous or harmful to your health, clogged coils can have other negative impacts on your vaping experience.

Altered Flavour and Vapour Production

The buildup of coil gunk can lead to a noticeable decline in flavour quality and vapour production. As the residue accumulates on the coil, it can interfere with the heating process, resulting in muted flavours and reduced vapour clouds. This can be frustrating for vapers seeking a satisfying experience from their vape.

Potential for Dry Hits

Coil gunk can impede the proper absorption of e-liquid by the wick, leading to dry hits. Dry hits occur when the wick fails to effectively deliver e-liquid to the coil, causing the coil to heat up without sufficient lubrication. This can result in a harsh, burnt taste and discomfort during inhalation.

Coil Lifespan and Efficiency

The presence of coil gunk can shorten the lifespan of your coil. The residue acts as an insulating layer, making it harder for the coil to heat up efficiently. Consequently, the coil may need to work harder to reach the desired temperature, potentially leading to faster degradation and reduced performance.

Preventing and Dealing with Coil Gunk

Regular Coil Maintenance

To prevent coil gunk, it's essential to maintain your coils regularly. This involves cleaning or replacing them depending on the type of coil you're using. Your coils are designed to be easily swapped out for replacement coils when they become gunked up. Keeping an eye on the condition of your coil and changing it when necessary can help maintain optimal flavour and vapour production from your vape device.

Choosing E-Liquids Wisely

Opt for e-liquids with a lower amount of sweeteners to reduce the likelihood of coil gunk. Lighter-coloured e-liquids, such as fruity flavours  and menthol flavours, generally contain fewer additives that contribute to coil buildup. Additionally, consider experimenting with different VG/PG ratios to find a balance that suits your vaping style while minimising gunk formation. However, if you love sub-ohm vaping, it's going to be hard to avoid e-liquids that are high in VG, so consider more frequent cleaning and coil replacement instead. 

Adjusting Airflow

Proper airflow plays a crucial role in preventing coil gunk. When the airflow is restricted, the e-liquid may not vaporise efficiently, leading to increased gunk buildup. Adjusting the airflow on your device can help create a balanced flow of air, ensuring optimal vaporisation and reducing the chance of coil gunk that clogs your vape.

Priming Your Coils

Before using a new coil or replacing an old one, it's crucial to prime it properly. Priming involves saturating the wick with e-liquid to ensure it's fully soaked and ready to vaporise. This step helps avoid dry hits and potential wick burnout, which can contribute to coil gunk. Allow the primed coil to sit for a few minutes to ensure sufficient absorption before vaping.

Read our full guide to priming vape coils. 


Now that you understand why gunk forms on your vape coil and how to prevent it, you're armed with the knowledge to keep your vaping experience clean and enjoyable. Regular coil maintenance, choosing e-liquids wisely, adjusting airflow, and proper priming are all essential factors in combating coil gunk. 

Here at Vaping 101, we're dedicated to providing you with the best vaping products, including high-quality replacement coils from top brands from Innokin to Voopoo and Uwell to Vaporesso. Explore our range of products, experiment with different setups, and enjoy a satisfying vaping experience while keeping coil gunk at bay. Got more questions about vape and coil maintenance? Contact us and the Vaping 101 team will be happy to help!

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