If you’ve been vaping long enough that you’ve had an opportunity to try several different e-liquids, one thing has probably become abundantly clear to you: most vape juice tastes great. Vaping, in fact, is pretty darn enjoyable; that’s why around 41 million former smokers around the world now vape. Vaping becomes a lot less enjoyable, though, when that burned sugar taste begins to creep in. It begins with the vapor acquiring an “off” flavor that doesn’t taste quite right, and before long, every inhale burns the back of your throat. When you finally can’t take it any longer, you open up your tank and find that your coil has turned completely black.

What’s happening? Why can’t you vape with the same coil for more than a day or two? Is your vape juice turning your coils black?

The short answer is: Yes.

You’ve just discovered coil gunk, the annoyance that’s always threatening to ruin your perfect vape.

The bad news is that there’s no way to prevent coil gunk if you use vape juice sweetened with sucralose. The good news, though, is that there are gunk-free vape juices in the world – and if you don’t want to use those, there are also several ways to minimize the inconvenience that coil gunk causes.

Let’s learn more.

Why Is My Vape Juice Turning My Coils Black?

Your vape juice is turning your coils black because it contains sucralose. Sucralose – sold in markets under the brand name Splenda – is America’s most popular artificial sweetener. Most people find that sucralose has a very sugar-like flavor, but it contains virtually no calories and doesn’t affect blood glucose levels. Sucralose also comes in a liquid form, so it’s very easy for vape juice makers to add sucralose to e-liquids.

Sucralose is a very potent sweetener. In a vape juice, sucralose can make any flavor profile taste almost like a real candy, soda, gum or other treats. The problem, however, stems from the way in which sucralose behaves when it’s heated. Sucralose isn’t exactly like sugar. Bakers deal with the same problem because sucralose doesn’t melt in an oven. That can lead to textural issues when sucralose is used to sweeten baked goods.

Sucralose also doesn’t vaporize fully when it’s heated in liquid form. Instead, it sticks to the atomizer coil and forms a coating that darkens and burns. When the coating begins to thicken, you’ll taste caramelized sugar when vaping. When the coating starts to burn, you’ll feel irritation in the back of your throat. Either way, coil gunk makes the vaping experience thoroughly unpleasant.

Here’s what you can do about it.

Switch to Unsweetened Vape Juice

Almost all e-liquid leaves some residue on a vape coil. However, sucralose is by far the biggest culprit behind coil gunk. Switching to unsweetened vape juice will dramatically improve your coil life. It might seem incomprehensible to you, but did you know that there are some vapers who can actually use the same coil for weeks without problems? That’s the benefit of switching to unsweetened vape juice. Imagine what it could do for your bottom line if you swapped your coil every three weeks rather than every two days!

Some people, though, love sweetened vape juice far too much to give it up. That’s why a large percentage of today’s e-liquid companies don’t make anything but sweetened e-juice. Don’t want to give up your sweet vape juice flavors? We’ve got some alternatives for you.

Use Less Vape Juice

One of the reasons why so many vapers complain about coil gunk is because today’s vaping devices have incredible vapor production and go through a lot of e-liquid. The more vape juice you use, the faster your coil will turn black. An easy solution, then, is to use less e-liquid. These days, you can find almost all of the most popular e-liquids in nicotine salt form for use in small refillable pod vaping systems. You can enjoy the same flavors you use now – and go longer between coil changes – if you increase the nicotine strength of your e-liquid and switch to a lower-output vaping device.

Increasing your e-liquid nicotine strength means that you’ll get more throat hit when you vape. Many long-term vapers use lower-strength e-liquids specifically because they no longer need to experience throat hit to feel satisfied and would rather taste the flavors of their vape juices more vividly. Does that sound like you? Here’s what you can do if you don’t want to change your e-liquid or vaping equipment.

Start Cleaning Your Coils

Coil gunk can dissolve in liquid to a certain extent, so you can sometimes get a little extra life out of your coils by cleaning them. Try taking a handful of gunky coils and tossing them in a bowl of vodka for a day. Swish the coils around periodically to agitate the liquid. After a day of soaking, remove the coils and rinse them in the sink. Let the coils dry completely and prime them with vape juice before using them. If you’re happy with the result, consider buying an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner for even more effective cleaning with plain water.

Coil cleaning works great for some people. Other people, though, would rather have that “new coil” experience every time they vape. If that’s true for you, we have a final solution that gives you a new coil whenever you want it without costing you a fortune.

Build Your Own Coils

If you don’t want to change anything about the way you vape – and you’re not happy with the performance of cleaned coils – the next best option is to buy a rebuildable atomizer and start building your own coils. Coil building isn’t a fast process; it’ll probably take you at least 15 minutes for a full rebuild, even after you gain experience.

There is a major benefit of coil building, though, aside from the fact that you can have a new coil whenever you want it. The cost difference between pre-built coil heads and coils that you build yourself is massive. Depending on the brand of vape tank that you use, you’re probably paying $2-3 for each coil. How would you like to spend a few cents instead? Cotton and wire – the only two consumable items that you need for coil building – are easily purchased in bulk. Once you’ve done that, coil rebuilds are almost free apart from the time spent doing the work.