Why does my e-liquid suddenly taste bad?
Many vapers have experienced those times when your favourite e-liquid starts tasting weird, different, or isn't tasting of anything much at all. It's something I've been through and sometimes it will reoccur occasionally.
One of the big differences between vaping and when we smoked is that as smokers we used to stick to the same brand of cigarettes for years. As vapers, most of us change flavours often, we go through spells of really enjoying a flavour then moving on and almost forgetting the flavours we used to vape. Some people will have different flavoured e-liquid in different set ups and change regularly throughout the day.
When we stopped smoking, we soon realised, as our taste and smell started to return, that after years of smoking we didn't really taste our cigarettes any more. On reflection, that was probably a good thing! However, taste and aroma is far more important to us as vapers and we often get frustrated or worried when things aren't tasting as we expect them to.
Most of us have heard of the dreaded 'Vapers Tongue' when we simply can't taste the flavours in the vapour, but I've noticed many other things that affect how my vape tastes. Some of them might be common and obvious, while others were unexpected to me and took me some time to understand why it was happening.
So here is a quick list of reasons that your e-liquid can suddenly taste weird or bad:
Complimentary Flavours (or lack of!)
Illness and Tiredness
Fresh Coils or Old Coils
Flavour Fatigue ('Vapers Tongue')
Let’s take a brief look at each.
This is something we all know about, but as new vapers it might be something we didn't think would affect the taste of our e-cigarette. What I'm talking about here is the same thing as brushing your teeth before having a cup of tea, or on the other side of the coin, having a glass of red wine with your steak. One compliments the flavour of the other, one ruins the taste of the other.
I often enjoy vaping tobacco flavours but I never vape them after eating something sweet like a pudding, because to me they always taste bitter and nasty. In the evening with a cup of coffee however it's a totally different story and I can enjoy the strongest tobacco flavours. I also find a nutty biscuit flavoured vape goes really well with a cup of tea. If you vape tastes weird, did you drink or eat something just before? If so then this might be why your e-liquid is not tasting quite as you expected.
Illness and Tiredness
When you have a cold, flu or aren't feeling 100% for whatever reason, it will affect the taste of your vapour. It sounds fairly obvious as I'm typing it now, but it really did surprise me the first couple of times I experienced it and it can be quite dramatic. We've all experienced a loss of taste when we have a cold, but with e-liquids it wasn't as simple as that and I would find that flavours I was very familiar with started tasting like completely different e-liquids.
I'm not suggesting your strawberry liquid will suddenly taste like banana because of a runny nose, but for example you might find that a lemon and lime pie flavour you enjoy just tastes like plain lemon, or maybe all you can taste is the pie crust. I often experienced changes like that when I had a bit of a cold or was getting over a tummy bug.
If I'm up working late and starting to get tired, that can really change the taste of my e-liquid for the worst too. Some flavours start tasting harsh and quite unpleasant, just because I need to sleep. For times like these I keep a bottle of plain mint or menthol e-liquid around and just vape that for a while until I feel I can taste things properly again.
Fresh Coils and Old Coils
I think most would agree that the best flavour you get is on the second or third fill of your e-cigarette device. From there on in it's a gradual downhill path, until it gets to the point where you start tasting a burnt dirty flavour or it just deteriorates to a simple lack of taste and vapour production. It's often so gradual that we don't really notice it until it gets to a point that is probably well below it's optimum for really good flavour. If the flavour is starting to drop off then change your vape coil and see if it bounces back up.
On the other side of this is the taste of a new coil, or more specifically the cotton wick. Some people experience something commonly referred to as 'cotton break in', where the first tank or two will taste a little 'cottony', for lack of a better word. There's not really anyway around this with stock replacement coil heads and you'll just have to put up with it until you've vaped a couple of millilitres, it does go fairly quickly and isn't really a big problem. If you are making and wicking your own coils then of course you can try any of the various cotton wicks available until you find something that works better for you.
I think flavour fatigue is the main reason for what people call 'Vapers Tongue', when vapers can't taste any flavour in their e-liquids. We are essentially bombarding our taste-buds with relatively strong flavours all day and sometimes I think we just need to give them a rest. Try vaping a lighter flavour, or even unflavoured e-liquid for a little while and see if your taste returns. I've been vaping a very light citrus flavour all day today and I've just picked up a tobacco flavour. I've not vaped it for a while and the tobacco tastes ridiculously strong to me right now. Most of us enjoy bold and strong flavours in our liquids but sometimes just a little break from your favourite e-liquid will be enough for you to really appreciate it when you pick it up again.
I've spoken to people who seem quite concerned when they experience a lack of flavour or their favourite liquid starts tasting not quite as nice as it used to. As far as I'm aware nobody has 'damaged' their taste-buds by vaping and all the strange taste changes I've experienced have passed fairly quickly.
It would be a good idea to make notes of when it happens, what you had been eating, drinking etc. and see if there's any correlation with anything the next time it happens. It took me a while to realise that it was tiredness that was making my e-liquid taste harsh and unpleasant. It was just another way that my body was screaming at me to get some sleep. Your experiences might be caused by something totally different but equally just as simple.
Hopefully this blog will give you some ideas and thoughts that might both put you at ease and help you figure it out.
Simon, My Vape Box