June 14, 2024
Annapolis, US 76 F

Why Are My Vape Coils Turning Brown?

If you have a vaping device with a removable coil, replacing the coil is one of the most common things that you’ll do to maintain your hardware. It’s a pretty quick process. When the coil that you’re using no longer produces a good flavor, you simply pop the pod out of your device – or remove and disassemble the tank – and pull the old coil out before replacing it. If you’ve ever actually looked at a coil after removing it from your tank or pod, though, you might have gotten a bit of an unpleasant surprise when you discovered that the heating surface had turned dark brown. 

What does it mean when a vape coil turns brown, and what in the world have you been inhaling? In this article, we’ll attempt to answer those questions. The fact that your coils are turning brown most likely means that you’re using e-liquid sweetened with sucralose. That may not be a major concern. After all, a good portion of today’s e-liquids are heavily sweetened, and it doesn’t seem to have caused any major issues. It’s worthwhile to spend a bit of time examining this issue, though, because you may ultimately end up deciding that it makes sense to change the way you vape.

Vape Coils Turn Brown Because of Sucralose

The most common reason why a vape coil turns brown is because the e-liquid that’s being used is heavily sweetened with sucralose. Sold in supermarkets under the brand name Splenda, sucralose is one of the most popular low-calorie sweeteners because it tastes very much like sugar.

During the mid-2010s, e-liquids sweetened with sucralose began to appear on the market and immediately became very popular with the vaping community. People gravitated toward the sweetened e-liquids because sucralose made many types of flavor profiles – fruit, candy and dessert, for instance – taste much more realistic. By the end of the 2010s, almost all of the mainstream e-liquid brands found in vape shops were sweetened.

Although sucralose does taste very good, it also has an unpleasant side effect in that sucralose doesn’t actually vaporize fully the way most e-liquid ingredients do. It actually darkens and burns in much the same way as sugar. You can see the effect in this YouTube video, which shows what happens when a hot ball of nickel is dropped in a bowl of Splenda. You do see a bit of vapor rising from the bowl, but most of the Splenda simply turns into a black, sticky goo.

That goo is exactly what you see on your brown vape coil when you remove it from your tank or pod. People who vape have invented a nickname for it: coil gunk.

How Does Burnt Sucralose Affect Flavor When You Vape?

When your vape coil is covered with burnt sucralose, it’ll have a very negative effect on flavor quality. During the early stages of residue formation, you might notice that your e-liquid tastes a bit sweeter than it did when the coil you’re using was first installed. After a while, the sweetness will start to taste a bit more exaggerated, making the flavor profile of your e-liquid a bit more difficult to detect.

With continued vaping, the layer of residue on your coil will become thicker and darker. At that point, you’ll no longer just taste an exaggerated sweetness; you’ll start to taste a slightly caramelized note. From there, it only gets worse. Eventually, the caramelized note will give way to a full-on burnt flavor. 

If you keep using your coil after that point – perhaps because you’re on your last coil and don’t have a replacement immediately available – you may actually start to experience throat irritation. That happens because the stuck-on layer of burnt sucralose is beginning to prevent fresh e-liquid from reaching the coil, and that’s causing the coil to overheat. People usually replace their coils before they get to that point.

The rate at which sucralose residue will form on your coil depends on how much e-liquid you use and how sweet the e-liquid is. If you have a powerful vape mod and use a very sweet e-liquid, you may find that the “new coil” flavor only lasts a couple of hours after you’ve installed a new coil.

Are There E-Liquids That Don’t Turn Coils Brown?

If most mainstream e-liquids are heavily sweetened, what can you do if you don’t want your vape coils to turn brown? The answer is that you need to find an e-liquid that’s more coil-friendly. Although many popular brands are heavily sweetened, there are some well-known brands like Elfbar liquid that don’t use so much sucralose and are still extremely tasty. 

You can also switch to a vaping device that doesn’t use quite so much e-liquid. In addition to the lighter application of sucralose, another feature setting the Elfliq brand apart is the fact that it is a nicotine salt e-liquid designed for use in smaller vaping devices that don’t produce such large clouds. If you use a device with more modest cloud production, it’s okay to use an e-liquid with sucralose. Because you’re consuming less e-liquid overall, it’ll take longer before sucralose residue begins to affect the flavor quality.

Coils Can Also Turn Brown Because of Other E-Liquid Ingredients

Are your vape coils turning brown even though you’re already using unsweetened e-liquid? There are a few other e-liquid ingredients that tend to turn coils brown. There are some e-liquids, for instance, that are flavored with tobacco extracts. A tobacco extract may contain minute solid particles if it isn’t filtered very carefully, and those solids will eventually discolor the coil or the wick on the outside of the coil. Some people have also reported this issue with other e-liquid flavor profiles such as coffee. If the e-liquid that you’re using is brown in the bottle, you can expect it to eventually turn your coil brown as well. If you’re still happy with the coil’s flavor quality, there’s nothing to worry about. If you don’t want your coils to turn brown, though, it might be wise to think about using an e-liquid with a different flavor profile.

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