If you use an e-cigarette with an atomizer or replaceable coil, you’re already aware of the fact that e-
cigarette atomizers rival the best cartomizers in terms of vapor production and true-to-life flavors. What
you may not be so fond of, though, is the fact that these e-cigarette components are often relatively
large investments compared to less expensive cartomizers. A good atomizer generally comes at about
five times the cost of a standard cartomizer, and it doesn’t last any longer — or does it? If your atomizer
coil has begun to exhibit muddled flavors or lessened vapor production due to e-liquid buildup, a good
cleaning can remove the gunk and restore some of your e-cigarette’s lost performance.
Removing Excess E-Liquid
What you’ll need: paper towels
If you drip e-liquid directly into your atomizer, there’s a good chance that you’ll have a bit of a mess on
your hands when you remove the atomizer for cleaning. Fold a paper towel to create a small, stiff edge
that you can push into crevasses such as your e-cigarette’s drip well and inside the atomizer cone or drip
guard. This will remove the condensed liquid that impedes airflow and lowers vapor production.
Next, turn your attention to the atomizer itself. If you experience bubbling or gurgling noises when using
your e-cigarette, it means that the atomizer’s wick has become so saturated that e-liquid has begun
to flow down to the threading below, clogging the air holes. Clear this out by blowing firmly through
the atomizer while holding a paper towel against the opposite end. Some people recommend blowing
through the atomizer threading rather than the top of the atomizer to avoid dislodging the wick. When
you’ve completed this process, your e-cigarette and atomizer will be clean, dry and ready to use.
Full Atomizer Cleaning
What you’ll need: water or grain alcohol
Vegetable glycerin and sweeteners such as agave nectar can leave a sticky film on the components of
your atomizer such as the wick and heating coil. This film doesn’t vaporize and will continue building up
inside the atomizer until it becomes completely unusable. By using a solvent to break up this film, you
may find that your atomizer will perform nearly as well as it did when you first purchased it.
To give your atomizer a full cleaning, fill a bowl with hot water or grain alcohol. Both solvents work well;
alcohol has the benefit of evaporating more quickly than water, but it may also leave a distinctive flavor
on the atomizer coil until you’ve completely flushed it out with e-liquid. Agitate the bowl to push the
water or alcohol through the atomizer and dislodge the film. Remove the atomizer and blow through it
to remove the majority of the solvent.
At this point, you won’t be able to resume using the atomizer immediately. At best, the solvent will mix
with your e-liquid and create off flavors. At worst, the solvent will vaporize too quickly and char the
atomizer’s wick, creating a permanent bitter flavor. Allow at least one full day for the atomizer to dry
completely. To speed this process up, you might consider placing it in your refrigerator, which removes
ambient moisture automatically. Prime the atomizer with a generous amount of e-liquid before using it