Why is my vape harsh?
Why does my vape hurt my throat?
These are relatively common questions among vapers. Unfortunately, you’re bound to experience this at least once throughout your vaping journey, especially as a newbie without a preferred vape device or e-liquid brand.
The good news is that this isn’t a complicated problem. With a few tweaks and maintenance here and there, you can enjoy a smooth vape anytime, any day!
This piece explains six possible reasons why your vape is harsh, how to recognize the cause, and tips on solving them.
Let’s get started!
6 Possible Reasons Why Your Vape Is Harsh
Let us start with the most common reasons for harsh vapes and slowly narrow them down to the least occurring.
1. High Nicotine Strength
High nicotine strength is one of the most common causes of a harsh vape among e-cigarette users. Simply switching up your e-liquid to a lesser nicotine strength will eradicate the harshness caused by a high nicotine content.
If you’ve been using the same e-liquid strength before the harshness or onset of the problem, you can safely tick out the nicotine content being the problem.
2. Burnt Vape Coil
An e-coil-induced vape harshness is relatively easy to point out from the unmistakable burnt taste of a burnt metallic coil.
This is most likely the cause of why your vape tastes burnt. However, to be sure the problem is from the coil, consider taking in a prolonged inhalation of the vapor. If the coil is responsible for a harsh vaping experience, you should notice an obstruction of airflow, triggering a cough response that can exacerbate and cause you to vomit.
Regular maintenance is the best way to prevent coil burnout, and if you notice recurrent burning coils, this may be due to you vaping on an empty tank. Always refill your e-liquid when it runs out to prevent coil burnouts.
This YouTube video illustrates how to avoid burnt vape coils.
3. High Wattage Settings
Vape devices with a variable wattage feature can lead to a harsh throat hit. This is because the wattage of your device determines the current transmitted to the coils, which indirectly influences the amount of vapor produced.
So, when you tweak the power setting to a much higher wattage, it creates a high amount of vapor, which includes nicotine making it very harsh for you to handle. To eliminate this issue, reduce the power wattage and notice the difference in the harshness.
See this YouTube video to learn more about the ideal vaping wattage.
4. Reduced Airflow Settings
Some vape devices have an adjustable airflow feature, where you can change the airflow rate of your vape. Reducing the airflow produces a lower vapor while increasing the airflow results in more vapor.
This is a useful feature, and at the same time, not so good. Namely, when you decrease the airflow, there’ll be inhalation of a more concentrated vapor at a warmer temperature which can cause a harsh hit.
Try increasing the airflow to cool down the coil and produce a less concentrated vapor.
5. Low Propylene Glycol: Vegetable Glycerin (PG:VG) Ratio
E-liquid comprises vegetable glycerin (VG) and propylene glycol (PG) in various combinations, depending on the brand of the vape. The PG: VG ratio is one huge determining factor of the smoothness of the vapor produced.
Propylene glycol acts as a carrier for nicotine and flavors, so a high amount of PG in vapes increases the amount of nicotine inhaled with each drag. On the other hand, vegetable glycerin acts as a thickening agent. In conjunction with PG, VG is responsible for the vapor produced when an e-cigarette is inhaled.
There’s no specified or constant PG:VG ratio — it varies from brand to brand. However, if you’re struggling with a harsh vape on a 50/50 PG:VG e-juice, switching to a 70/30 PG:VG variant is an effective solution.
The main focus here is the concentration of vegetable glycerin since it’s primarily responsible for thick vapor or smoke. Higher VG content implies a lower PG:VG ratio. Hence, you should opt for a higher PG:VG ratio if your throat hurts while vaping.
This video on YouTube breaks down all you need to know about the PG:VG ratio and how it affects your overall vaping experience.
6. Wrong Wicking Type/Material
If none of the above five reasons is behind your harsh vaping experience, you can then proceed to change the wick in your vape. Cotton wicks are known to yield less intense hits, while wicks made from hemp or silica will produce stronger and harsher hits. Hence, if your e-cigarette’s wick isn’t cotton-based, you should consider replacing it with one that is.
However, note that most vapes don’t work with any new material besides the manufacturer wick, so confirm this before switching wicks.
If you still haven’t found a fix, watch this video for a more visualized way of correcting a harsh vape.
Other Common Vaping Issues/Challenges
A harsh throat hit is just one of the many challenges you may face as a vaper. Here are other widespread ones:
1. A Dry Hit
A dry hit occurs when the smoke inhaled burns the back of the throat excruciatingly.
This can occur due to two main reasons, including the following:
- The wick isn’t duly saturated with the vape juice due to a low level of e-liquid.
- The coil is burning through the vape juice at a significantly accelerated level.
This can be easily corrected by pulsing the e-cigarette for a few seconds before inhaling.
2. Chesty Cough
The composition of your vape juice can lead to different reactions, such as a chesty cough, among other symptoms like irritation and pain in the back of your throat.
A vape juice high in propylene glycol may cause these reactions, so it’s crucial for a vaper to always take enough water and stay hydrated during hits. You can also try switching your e-juice or changing your vape device if it’s a disposable vape.
3. Sore Throat
Do you get a sore throat anytime you use an e-cig? A vape device not suitable or made explicitly for your inhaling style can cause a constant sore throat.
Some e-cigarettes are specifically made for either the mouth-to-lung (MTL) or direct-to-lung (DTL) inhaling style. Therefore, using a vape device made for MTL inhaling for DTL inhaling can lead to an “unpleasant vaping experience.” The inhaling style suitable for a vaping device is sometimes indicated in the vape’s product description.
Tips for a Smoother Vaping Experience
To have the best vaping experience, consider looking into the following hacks:
1. Opt for more airflow.
Release and create a more free airflow in your vaping device. A tight airflow may lead to a harsh vape. We’ve discussed this extensively earlier.
2. Try out e-juices with varying nicotine strengths.
Sometimes, you may develop unwanted reactions (e.g., cough) due to transitioning from smoking a cigarette with a high level of nicotine to a vape of low nicotine strength. The secret is always to transition gently and gradually to the desired level.
Here’s a nicotine strength mini-chart you can follow:
- 3 mg (0.3%): Social smokers (people who smoke 1–2 cigarettes/day).
- 6 mg (0.6%): Light smokers (people who smoke a 20-cigarette pack a week).
- 12 mg (1.2%): Average smokers (people who smoke a 20-cigarette pack a day).
- 18 mg (1.8%): Heavy smokers (people who smoke more than 20 cigarettes daily).
3. Change the coils frequently.
When coated with built-up dirt and gunk, the coils can lead to a dry-out coil. Therefore, coils should be changed regularly, mainly if your e-liquid includes a high percentage of vegetable glycerin, which has a thicker viscosity.
4. Switch to nicotine salts.
Lowering your nicotine strength may not get you the sensation you need, and a high strength may cause a harsh throat hit. In this case, what can you do? Switch to nicotine salts.
Nicotine salts are extracted directly from tobacco leaves. They ensure the smoothest vape and, at the same time, give you just the right sensation you need. Switching to nicotine salts rather than using nicotine freebase as your vape juice makes your vaping experience smoother and better.
This YouTube video explains the major differences between nicotine salts and freebase nicotine.
For a quick rundown, nicotine salt contains a higher nicotine strength, smoother throat hit, and lesser vapor production than nicotine salt.
5. Try out different flavors.
Compared to traditional cigarettes, there are various options to experiment with in the vaping world. From traditional flavors like menthol and tobacco to various exciting flavors like citrus and strawberry, there’s almost an option for everyone.
There are different flavors available for vape devices, and each flavor has its distinct quality and impact on the throat. For example, menthol flavor increases the throat hit experienced, while citrus flavor gives a cooling effect.
6. Switch e-cigarette options.
As a new vaper, trying different vape devices and e-juice is advised until you find the one that works best for you. Reactions and various unpleasant vaping experiences may occur initially, but they’ll dissipate as you find your feet in the vaping world.
7. Use the right wattage.
If your vape device has an adjustable wattage feature, it’s advisable to stick to a wattage recommended for its coil. We discussed this in great detail earlier.
8. Opt for cotton wicks.
For your wicks, it’s always advisable to use cotton. Though most vape devices come with a cotton wick, some brands may use hemp or silica. The latter two variants yield a harsher throat hit than cotton, sometimes a bit too strong.
One thing vapers don’t want is a harsh vape, which can lead to an unsatisfactory vaping experience, and there are several reasons for this. Try out the solutions listed in this guide, and you’re on your way to a smoother vaping experience.
For a quick rundown on how to fix a harsh throat hit, either swap to a lesser nicotine strength, tweak your e-juice’s PG:VG ratio, switch to a lesser wattage, try a new wick, or try out other flavors. Feel free to contact us and comment on the post for any further questions or thoughts.