If you’re eating Rice Krispies – and especially if you have the munchies – then you want the bowl to snap, crackle, and pop. But you might get concerned if your vape starts making such weird energetic sounds. Fortunately, GIYF. So if you’ve just typed: “Why is my vape popping and spitting back?”, here are some answers to help you solve the problem. You’re welcome!
Why is My Vape Popping and Spitting Back?
When a vape is working properly, the battery heats the coil or atomizer, which then vaporizes the e-juice. This juice could be soaked in a wick or it could be sitting in a chamber where it’s heated through ceramic conduction. The process of turning e-liquid into aerosols is a quiet one, so you shouldn’t hear any sound. You simply inhale the vapor and expel puffy clouds.
But sometimes, your vape emits popping or hissing sounds, a bit like simmering water or a sizzling pan of hot oil. This spitting and popping is aptly called spit-back, and it can be quite alarming. It’s caused by a pool of liquid drowning your atomizer or coil. This overwhelms the heating device so it can’t vaporise your e-liquid effectively so it spits and bubbles instead.
Usually, e-juice goes from liquid to aerosol, releasing the fumes that you inhale. But when the e-juice puddles around the coil, it ends up ‘cooking’ the liquid more slowly and forming tiny spouts and splashes. This is accompanied by gurgling, almost like someone sucking on a straw when their drink is nearly gone. Hot liquid might also sputter into your mouth. Why?
1. Your E-Juice Has Some Water In It
In early e-juice recipes, people added water or vodka to make the juice a little thinner. Even today, some people adulterate their e-liquids with water to make them last longer. This causes spit-back because the water and the e-juice evaporate at different temperatures. The water fizzes and crackles inside your atomizer just like it would in scalding oil or a hot frying pan.
Whether you made the e-juice yourself or bought it at a vape store, you can’t be sure it’s not contaminated with water. If your vape is refillable, drain the tank, clean it, air-dry it, and add a fresh batch of e-juice. Make sure the second load is from a reliable source. If your vape is a disposable, consider ditching it and buying another one. The same goes for your vape carts.
2. Your Tank Has Too Much E-Juice
As we said before, vapes are filled in two main ways. Option one, the tank holds e-liquid that sits on a ceramic coil and gets vaporized through conduction. Option two, a wick is saturated with e-juice and wrapped in a coil which gets red hot, turning the vape juice into an aerosol. Vapes typically have a little ‘breathing space’ around the wick or at the top of the vape tank.
If the tank is overly-full, the e-liquid has no room to expand and there’s excess pressure on the coil. The e-juice sitting directly on the coil will then boil instead of vaporizing and these simmering bubbles will rush to the top of the tank and escape through the mouthpiece with a pop and a spit. Avoid this by filling the tank slightly below the top, allowing sufficient room.
3. The E-Juice Temperature is Too Low
Several factors affect the heat levels of your vape – and your vape juice. These include coil resistance, battery power, and airflow. Reduced resistance makes a coil burn hotter, so it’s paired with high wattage and vice versa. And airflow can cool the coil by influencing the pace of hot air in the vape. If the temperature is too low, the e-liquid won’t vaporize as efficiently.
This can lead hot drops to zip out of the mouthpiece before they’re fully aerosolized. To avoid this, check the wattage, voltage, airflow, and resistance levels carefully if you’re using a high-end device. These top-shelf vapes have adjustable settings for all the above metrics so if you get any of them wrong, you’ll soon be asking why your vape is popping and spitting back.
4. Your Wick Needs Replacing
When the coil gets overpowered by liquid, it’s sometimes called flooding. And if this happens in a vape with a wick system, that could be the source of the issue. Wicked coils are designed to hold just enough e-juice without leaking, and with practice, you can fill them to a point of saturation. But as the wick gets older, it might leak before it reaches its full wicking capacity.
Also, if the vape stayed idle too long, the e-juice may have sunk into the wick and drowned it. This excess e-juice will then seep into the other parts of the vape and some may trickle back into your mouth. This only applies to refillable vapes so the solution – pun intended – is to dismantle your vape mod and inspect the wick. Clean it, air-dry it, and install a new wick.
5. Your Coil May Need Replacing Too
Vape juice often has yummy flavors like grape ice. It’s refreshingly sweet and pleasantly chilling. But even with icy variants, the flavor is designed to be heated and evaporated. So when it seeps into your mouth in liquid form, it doesn’t taste good at all. As we’ve seen, this could be the result of a deteriorated wick. But it could also be caused by an elderly vape coil.
It may have burnt out or gotten too old to produce or retain heat. Disassemble your vape and inspect the parts. According to the type of vape you have, you can twist a new coil to place in the atomizer. If your coil isn’t removable, you may have to buy a whole new atomizer. For a braided coil, tighten it or replace it, since the gaps between the loops could cause flooding.
6. Your Technique Could Be Troublesome
We’ve mentioned airflow before, and we discussed it in relation to the internal temperature of your vape. But airflow can cause leaking and flooding too. If you pull on the vape too hard, you might draw too much e-juice onto the coil and it could end up in your mouth. Yuck. Try a gentler inhale and see if that helps. You can also consider upping the number of your inhales.
Instead of taking one deep drag, take a few shorter ones. The reason you pull so hard is that you’re probably not getting the same buzz from your nicotine. Or maybe your clouds are too small. If your vape has adjustable airholes, increase the airflow and suck more gently. Then take three or four inhales before you exhale. This increases the fumes as well as the nicotine.
7. You’re Not Letting Your Vape Warm Up or Settle Down
When you unbox a vape the first time, you shouldn’t immediately hit it up. Similarly, when you mix and/or refill your e-juice, it needs time to settle. DIY e-liquid needs 4 to 5 days to steep before use. And once loaded, you should wait thirty minutes to an hour until you vape. This allows the e-liquid to fully soak into the vape or settle firmly at the bottom of the tank.
For wicks, adequate saturation prevents dry spots that can cause harsh hits. For conduction coils, the wait allows the e-juice to fully cover the surface of the ceramic coil so it can heat the e-juice evenly. Also, before you vape, prime your device by manually dripping a little e-juice on the coil or wick to get it going. Take a few quick puffs without inhaling to pull the e-juice.
8. You Might Be Using the Wrong E-Juice
VG (vegetable glycerine) is thicker than PG (propylene glycol). It also produces bigger clouds so an e-juice that has a higher VG ratio needs a thicker wick and higher temperatures. That’s why sub-ohm e-juice works well with low-resistance coils. If you use a high-VG vape juice on a high-resistance vape, it may not atomize and could end up damaging the coil, so be aware.
Similarly, an e-liquid that has too much PG could leak and flood the coil if it’s in a low-temperature vape or is paired with a thicker wick. This not only causes popping and spitting, it can also slip into the battery and damage the chips on your vape. Double-check that your e-juice has the appropriate PG/VG ratio, wick, and coil resistance for the vape that you have.
9. Your Drip Tip May Be the Wrong Diameter
On vape carts, there’s a hollow chimney running from the oven to the mouthpiece. It’s often metal though it can be ceramic. These are both good conductors so it’s easy for your breath to condense inside this drip tip when you inhale. The resulting droplets might mix into your e-juice and make it gurgle and spit. Dismantle the chimney and clean it with rubbing alcohol.
Air it dry to get rid of any droplets. If the spit-back persists, the chimney might be too narrow for your e-juice density or vape temperature. Try a wider, longer, curved, or spit-screened drip tip to see if that solves things. Ensure the threads or end clip still match the battery. Some carts have a magnetic attachment you can use to slip them into unthreaded box mods.
10. Your Vape May Need an Extra Tap
Vapes can be auto-inhale and manual-inhale. On auto-inhale vapes, you press a button to wake the battery and heat the coil. On manual-inhale devices, the action of sucking in air will activate the battery. You may notice spit-back on your auto-inhale device if the wick is too full or the tank overflowed. This happens if you used the wrong refill juice or put too much.
Press the button a few times without placing the vape in your mouth. This will burn off some of the excess e-juice and release the built-up hissing and sputtering. Once the vape gets a lot quieter, you’ll know the coil is no longer flooded and you can puff in peace. For the record, manual-inhale vapes are often disposables so you’re unlikely to face spit-back with that type.