Have you ever gotten a burnt hit just after installing a new coil in your vape tank or pod system? It’s an awful experience. During a burnt or dry hit, your vape coil overheats and begins to produce horrible fumes that burn your throat and lungs. That isn’t just a bad and potentially painful experience – it can also damage your coil permanently.

Even with the very best vape tanks on the market, failing to prime your coil before installing it can spell certain doom – and as expensive as today’s coils are, that’s a major problem. Thankfully, it’s also a problem that’s easy to avoid.

It’s time to learn how to prime a vape coil.

Key Takeaways:


Prime a vape coil by putting a small amount of e-liquid on each of the wick openings.


Stop adding vape juice to the coil when the cotton is visibly wet.


Install the coil as normal and wait a few minutes before you begin vaping.

How to Prime and Install a Vape Coil Properly

Priming a coil before installing it helps to ensure that the wick won't burn.

Priming a vape coil is extremely easy and only adds a few seconds to the time needed to install it. Here’s what you need to do.

  • Grab the coil and a bottle of e-liquid.
  • Look at the coil from the side. You should see several openings. Through the openings, you should see white cotton.
  • Put a drop of e-liquid on each of those openings. You should also send a few drops of e-liquid down through the top of the coil.
  • Examine the cotton. Does it still look fairly dry? If so, add more e-liquid.
  • Continue this process until the cotton looks very wet. When the cotton appears to be fully saturated, you’ve added as much e-liquid as necessary.
  • Install the coil as normal.

After you install the coil and fill your tank, you should still wait at least a few minutes before you start vaping. Even if you’ve primed the coil properly, it’s still possible that the wick will have a few pockets of dryness remaining. Waiting a few extra minutes helps to ensure that the wick will be completely saturated.

If your vaping device has adjustable power, it’s always a good idea to start at a lower-than-normal power level when you first begin using a new coil. That decreases the risk of getting a burnt hit as the coil breaks in. Also, if you do get a burnt hit, the fact that you’re vaping at a lower power level makes it less likely that the coil’s wick will be damaged. Burnt cotton causes a coil to produce a horrible flavour, and there’s no way to fix it – so it’s a situation that you want to avoid if you can.

Why Do You Need to Prime Coils Before Installing Them?

Priming a coil involves putting e-liquid on each of the wick openings.

To illustrate why priming a vape coil is so important, try taking a cotton ball and putting a few drops of water on it. You’ll probably notice that the water rests on top of the cotton for a few seconds instead of absorbing instantly. The cotton that’s used in vape wicks is very fluffy, much like a cotton ball. It can hold a lot of liquid, but it takes a moment for the liquid to absorb when the cotton is dry. Priming the coil essentially forces the e-liquid into the wick, shortening the wait and helping to ensure that the cotton won’t have any dry pockets remaining when you begin vaping.

In the past, vape manufacturers actually put a bit of primer fluid on vape coils before packaging and shipping them. The primer fluid was plain propylene glycol. The practice eventually ended because people didn’t like the flavour. The fact that vape coils no longer have primer fluid means that when you install a new coil, you’ll taste the flavour of your e-liquid – not propylene glycol – from the very first puff. However, it also means that you need to prime your own coils manually if you want to be certain that you won’t get a dry hit.

New Coil Tastes Burnt? Here’s What to Do

We’ll conclude this guide with some advice that can help you if you’re having trouble with the coil installation process because you’re experiencing a burnt flavour. The good news is that long-time vapers rarely experience burnt hits – so once you’re used to the process of priming your new coils before you install them, you’ll probably never experience this issue again. For now, though, here’s what you should do if you’re getting a burnt flavour with a new coil.

  • Stop vaping immediately. A burnt hit means that your coil is dry, and the cotton wick will burn if you continue using your device. If the wick burns, the coil’s flavour will be ruined permanently.
  • Close your tank’s vent and puff on the tank a few times without pressing your device’s fire button. The idea is to create a vacuum that forces the e-liquid to absorb fully into the coil’s wick.
  • Open your tank’s airflow vent. If the burnt flavour occurred because the wick wasn’t completely saturated, you should now see air bubbles forming around the wick openings inside the tank. This indicates that the e-liquid is absorbing.
  • Set your vaping device to a very low wattage and try vaping. If the flavour seems normal, begin increasing the power level slowly until you’re happy with the intensity and flavour quality.

If you’re tried all of the steps above and still taste a burnt flavour every time you puff on your device, it’s likely that the coil’s cotton wick is burnt. A burnt wick causes a vape coil to produce a distinctive flavour that some people have compared to a burnt t-shirt. Unfortunately, there’s no way to fix burnt cotton, so if this happens, the coil is ruined. Now that you understand how to prime a new vape coil properly before you install it, though, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever have to worry about dry hits and burnt wicks again.

Greg Williams

Greg Williams

Greg Williams is an electrical engineer who enjoys tinkering with vapes to discover their inner workings. Greg’s informational articles clarify the complex aspects of vaping to help everyone have a better experience.