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When and How Should You Refill Your E-Cig?

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As you regularly use your e-cig, you’ll inevitably come to the point where you need to refill your device. But how do you know when that is? Our guide shows you exactly what warning signs to look out for and the common problems you might come across — whether you’re using an e-cig starter kit or a more advanced e-cigarette.

man in a plaid shirt and jeans runs vape juice electronic cigarette. He holds a mechanical mod with RDA. wrists watch and bracelet. against the background of a brick wall

When you’ve only just begun vaping, it can be difficult to know when and how you should refill your e-cig. If you’re vaping on a cig-a-like, your e-cigarette will be ready to vape out of the box, but if you purchase a vaporizer starter kit, you’ll need to fill it up straight out of the packaging. Once you’ve mastered this, you’re free to vape as much as you like. But it’s wise to be on the lookout for these signs that your e-cig needs refilling.

Replacing Cartomizers

If you’ve ever had a cig-a-like e-cig starter kit, you’ll be familiar with cartomizers. They’re the small cylindrical tanks that screw directly onto the battery. In devices designed to look exactly like cigarettes, the cartomizer is the mouthpiece you draw on, which typically resembles a cigarette filter. Cartomizers are well suited to beginner vapers, as everything you need to vape — the e-liquid and the atomizer which heats the liquid — are all within the cartomizer, meaning you’ll avoid potentially messy refills.

When your cartomizer needs replacing, it’s a simple case of unscrewing it, discarding it, and screwing on a new one. While flavours are more limited in cartomizers, with typical offerings of tobacco and menthol, manufacturers are increasingly releasing new offerings, such as the Vype refills in cherry and vanilla.

But how can you tell when your cartomizer needs replacing? One downside to cartomizers is that they’re opaque, so you can’t see how much e-liquid you have left. The main telltale sign you should look out for is a weaker hit. If you’re not getting the throat hit you’re used to or the flavour isn’t there, this means you’ll need to replace your cartomizer. Keep vaping after this point and you risk burning the atomizer — which will result in an unpleasant taste — and who wants to vape a weak hit, anyway?

One noticeable exception is a pod mod: an e-cig designed to combine the ease of use of a cig-a-like with the power of pen-style models. Cartomizers — or pods — are easy to change via a magnetic slotting system and the pods themselves are see-through, so you can see when you’re out of juice.

Filling Clearomizers

Clearomizers are slightly more advanced territory. Both vape pen e-cig starter kits and box mods use clearomizers, which are completely transparent. This allows you to see how much liquid you have left. If you’re vaping on an empty tank, you’ll experience a burnt smell and taste, which could ruin your atomizer (we’ll go into this later).

To fill your clearomizer, start by unscrewing the mouthpiece. Most e-liquid bottles come with a fine nozzle tip, allowing you to be more precise when filling your device and avoid pouring liquid onto the atomizer or down the centre tube and out through the mouthpiece. Slightly tilt your device at an angle and gently squeeze the e-liquid into the tank, avoiding getting any in the centre tube. Fill it up to your desired level — to the top, unless you want to mix your flavours — and screw the mouthpiece back on. It’s important to not fill your tank past the internal tube, as this can cause the e-liquid to leak or even damage the device. The majority of starter kits have their maximum capacity labelled on the clearomizer, ensuring that with a clearomizer with a 2ml tank, you don’t pour in too much.

Common Problems

Spare parts with kanthal coil for e-cigarette vaporizer

Your Nicotine Hit

If you’re not getting a strong enough nicotine hit, the most common cause of the problem is that you’re not using a strong enough e-liquid. When you first begin vaping, it’s crucial to get this balance right. Too strong and you’ll make the process longer if complete nicotine cessation is your aim, as you’ll become dependent on a higher level than you may be used to. You may also experience light-headedness from vaping too often on a strong hit. However, choose too low a level and it won’t satisfy you, making you more likely to get tempted back to cigarettes.

Weak Taste

You may experience a weaker taste which you’ve never had before. Enough e-liquid in the tank? Check. Have you tried charging your e-cigarette battery? When your battery is in dire need of a recharge, on standard pen e-cig starter kits, the little button you hold down to vape will start flashing. On a cig-a-like, the tip of the e-cig will flash. However, you should start seeing these signs before this point. If your throat hit is significantly weaker, or you’re not enjoying the taste you’re used to, it could be a simple case that you need to charge your e-cig battery for a couple of hours.

Burnt, Unpleasant Taste

A burnt taste is something no vaper likes. Fortunately, in most cases, it is avoidable. There are a number of reasons you might experience this.

If you’ve just refilled your tank with new e-liquid and are getting an unpleasant taste straight away, it could be that you’re not giving the e-liquid the chance to “soak in”. Leaving your device for five minutes after refilling lets the e-liquid soak into the atomiser. Don’t do this and you risk a burnt taste, as the atomizer isn’t effectively heating the new juice.

If you’ve been vaping on the same e-liquid for a while and start experiencing this, you might have to replace your cartomizer or clearomizer, depending on the e-cigarette you use. Atomizers don’t last forever and we recommend you replace yours at most every two months — sooner if you use your device regularly.

All atomizers work by heating a coil in contact with the material containing the e-liquid. As a result, the atomizer can heat up very quickly and overuse can cause hot spots, or the component to burn out. This is what creates the burnt taste. It’s worth noting that the longer you draw for (whether you press the button on the battery or use a draw-activated e-cigarette), the quicker the coil will burn out, and the more often you’ll have to replace it.

But what if you use a cig-a-like? Cartomizers can suffer this same problem. Cartomizers work in a slightly different way to clearomizers. While they contain a coil and a tank, they’re much smaller due to their portability and similar appearance to an analogue cigarette. The coil runs the length of the cartomizer and is surrounded by either cotton or a synthetic wicking material which prevents you from being able to refill the cartridge. Just like in a clearomizer, the atomizer can get extremely hot and burn — and packed into such a small space, the coil can even burn the wick. If this happens to your cartridge, it’s a simple case of unscrewing it, discarding it and replacing it with a new one.

Knowing when and how you should refill your e-cigarette will save you a lot of experimentation and guesswork later down the line. Experiencing a weak or burnt hit doesn’t necessarily mean that refilling your tank or replacing your cartomizer is the solution. With our guide, you’re now fully prepared for the issues that may arise and how to solve them, so you can continue to vape enjoyably.

Browse our range of Vype refills and e-liquid at Electric Tobacconist today and get exclusive deals on selected brands, such as VIP and Ecig Wizard.

Updated: January 16th, 2019.