You’ve been using your RDA for a while, so you take the cap off and look under the hood to see how your coil is doing. When you first built the coil, the metal and cotton were new, white and shiny. Now, though, the wick is turning red, brown or black. Sometimes, it happens after just a few hours of vaping. You might notice some darkening on the coil as well. What’s going on; why is your RDA wick getting dark? Let’s examine the causes and solutions.
Is Your E-Liquid Sweetened?
When your RDA wick turns brown, do you begin to notice the flavor of burned sugar when vaping? Sucralose is most likely the compound producing that flavor. Sucralose is an incredibly popular sweetener. You taste it every time you drink diet soda. If your e-liquid tastes almost like real candy and leaves a lingering sweetness on your lips even when you aren’t actively vaping, the e-liquid most likely contains sucralose.
Sucralose tastes great. That’s why many e-liquid makers use it. The problem with sucralose in e-liquid, though, is that the heat of your coil causes the sucralose to caramelize, darken and eventually burn. When your RDA wick turns brown, you’re most likely seeing caramelized sucralose. Sucralose doesn’t vaporize cleanly; some of it is always left behind in your RDA. If you continue vaping, your coil will eventually darken and form a crust called coil gunk.
If you don’t want to give up your sweetened e-liquid, there is no real solution for coil gunk except to rebuild your coil when the burned flavor becomes too overpowering. The less sucralose your e-liquid contains, the longer your coils will last.
Not using a sweetened e-liquid? Let’s examine some of the other reasons why your RDA wick is turning brown.
Inadequate Wicking Performance
When you start building your own coils, you’re likely to experience dry hits occasionally. Dry hits are absolutely horrible, so the natural temptation is to wick your coils with a huge amount of cotton. You might assume that the more cotton you use, the more e-liquid your RDA can hold – and the wetter your RDA is, the less likely dry hits should be.
The problem with using too much cotton – particularly if you’ve left the tails of your wicks extremely long – is that some of the e-liquid in the cotton will never actually get to the coil. You’ll notice darkening at the tails of the wicks if this is the case.
When you pull your wicks through your coils, you should feel slight resistance. If you feel no resistance, you aren’t using enough cotton. If you can’t get pull the wicks through without deforming your coils, you’re using too much cotton.
You most likely need to trim the tails of your wicks shorter than you think. The tails should just touch the bottom of your RDA’s drip well. You want to make sure that the tails will absorb the e-liquid in the drip well while minimizing the distance the e-liquid must travel to reach the coils. Are your wicks turning brown on just one side? Make sure you’re trimming them evenly.
Wick Is Too Wet
Since you’ve most likely experienced your share of dry hits as a new coil builder, the next temptation is to add e-liquid to your RDA constantly, thus ensuring that the coil never has an opportunity to dry out. As long as you don’t flood the coil and get e-liquid all over your hands, keeping your coil wet is never a bad thing. If you add more e-liquid to the RDA before using the e-liquid that’s already there, though, the sweeteners and flavors in your e-liquid will collect in the bottom of the RDA’s drip well and darken the tails of the wicks.
Is Your Wick Burning?
If you notice significant darkening of the cotton under your coil – but the coil itself is still white – it’s likely that the cotton is burning. You can confirm that by removing the cotton and examining it. A vaping coil heats from the middle outward, so the wick will be darkest in the center. It might even split in the middle when you try to remove it from the coil.
If your wick is burning, the most likely cause is that it isn’t transporting e-liquid efficiently enough. If you’ve already tried the tips in this article and aren’t seeing an improvement, though, you may need to change something about the way you vape to prevent the cotton from drying out. Try lowering your device’s wattage and shortening your puffs to a few seconds each.
Try Wicking With Rayon
Unless you’re using an extremely plain e-liquid – an unflavored menthol e-liquid, for example – some darkening of an RDA wick is completely normal. If you’re happy with your vaping experience as it is, there’s no need to change anything. If you’re not happy, though, you might benefit from switching to an RDA wick material that moves e-liquid to the coil more efficiently. Try rayon instead of cotton. Rayon is so efficient that it usually has no trouble keeping up even during high-wattage chain vaping. You’ll find rayon at your local beauty supply store under the CelluCotton brand. CelluCotton has a handy shape that’s perfect for threading through a coil.
If you decide to try wicking your RDA coils with rayon, the most important thing to remember is that rayon and cotton behave differently when they’re wet. Cotton expands when it’s wet; that’s why using too much cotton can be problematic. Rayon, on the other hand, contracts when it’s wet. If you have a little difficulty getting the rayon through the coil, you’re probably using enough. You really need to stuff your coil full of rayon.
If rayon transports e-liquid more efficiently than cotton, why isn’t everyone using it for their coils? The answer is that most people prefer the taste of cotton wicks. Rayon is essentially plastic, and some people find that it produces a plastic flavor when it’s used as an RDA wick. Compared to cotton, though, rayon has superior capillary action and heat resistance. It’s much less likely to turn brown when you vape.
Jason Artman is the owner and author of eCig One. A professional freelance writer and SEO consultant with more than a decade of experience, Jason works with vaping companies around the world to increase their targeted web traffic and improve their revenue
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