Why Is My Vape So Harsh? 13 Causes & Solutions

why is my vape so harsh solutions

For many people, the first experience with vaping can be accompanied by coughing fits and throat irritation. While this is often a temporary issue that subsides as the body adjusts to the new sensation, some vapers may continue to experience a harsh or unpleasant throat hit even after extended use. If you find yourself wondering, “Why is my vape so harsh?” it’s important to explore the potential causes and solutions to this common problem.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into 13 reasons why your vape might be delivering a harsh experience, and provide practical tips on how to achieve a smoother, more enjoyable vaping session.

Potential Causes of a Harsh Vape

1. Overly Strong Flavors

Certain vape juice flavors, such as those with minty, citrusy, or eucalyptus notes, can feel quite sharp on the tongue and throat. If you find these flavors too harsh, consider switching to something sweeter and smoother, like coffee, tobacco, or a blend like Pineapple Mango Ice. The sugary notes can help counter the rough acid tone and provide a more soothing throat hit, while the icy element offers a cooling effect that soothes irritation from a heavy inhale.

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2. High Resistance Settings

Early vape devices had resistance levels ranging from 1.5 to 3 Ohms, which was considered normal at the time and provided a warm hit. These vapes also had high wattage and voltage settings to maximize vapor absorption with each hit, resulting in faster e-liquid consumption.

Nowadays, some vapers prefer sub-ohm devices, which operate at 1 Ohm or less. These vapes produce larger clouds and last longer, delivering a cool and chilly sensation on the tongue and throat. However, it’s important to note that sub-ohm devices require more frequent coil replacements.

3. Excessive Wattage

High-wattage vapes cause e-liquid to burn faster and at higher temperatures, resulting in an intense nicotine buzz but also potentially contributing to a harsh vape experience. Disposable vapes typically have a wattage range of 5W to 20W, while some advanced vape mods can reach up to 230W.

To achieve a gentler throat hit, experiment with different wattage and voltage settings. Adjustable vape pens allow you to reduce power levels, or you can opt for a vape pen with a lower preset level. Finding the right combination of wattage, voltage, and resistance can help you achieve a more comfortable vaping experience.

4. Dry Hits

Disposable vapes and pens have standard settings, so finding the perfect hit may require experimenting with different types, brands, and flavors. With advanced vape mods, you might encounter high resistance with low wattage or vice versa, and these settings may be adjustable.

However, in all cases, a dry hit can occur if the e-liquid is running low, the wick is out of position, or the coil is burning too quickly. To avoid this, warm up the vape with a few quick inhales or pulses, keeping the fumes in your mouth and expelling them before they reach your throat.

5. Intense Nicotine Buzz

Long-term vapers or smokers may develop a tolerance to nicotine, leading to a diminished buzz. Taking a break from vaping can help recalibrate your body and neuro-receptors, but when you resume, the vape may feel harsher due to increased sensitivity in your tongue and throat.

Consider using a vape with a lower nicotine concentration, such as 5% (50mg/ml), 2% (20mg/ml), or even 0% nicotine, to reduce the intensity of the throat hit.

6. Dehydration

Transitioning from smoking to vaping can lead to a sore throat or a prickly burn on the tongue, lips, or roof of the mouth. This is because vapes deliver more nicotine per puff compared to cigarettes, cigars, or tobacco pipes.

Chain-smokers who switch to vaping may also experience this issue, as the nicotine levels in vapes are lower, and the vaping experience differs from chain-smoking. To balance the effects of varied nicotine levels, drink plenty of water and take breaks between puffs, as chain-vaping in the same way as chain-smoking is not recommended.

7. Mismatched Cigarette and Vape Habits

Chain smokers who go through one or more packs of cigarettes a day may find themselves using multiple disposable vapes or vials of e-juice when switching to vaping. This excessive use can lead to harsher throat hits.

Disposable vapes have built-in e-liquid and a pre-set number of puffs, while mods and refillable devices require you to choose the right e-juice. As a general guide, 3mg/ml is suitable for those who smoke a cigarette or two per day, 12mg/ml is better for pack-a-day smokers, and 5% is intended for experienced vapers.

8. Low-Quality Vape Juice

With the increasing availability of vapes, it’s essential to be cautious when purchasing e-liquids. While some are premium products with a higher price point, others may be home-made or unregulated variants that could contain additives and flavors that produce thicker plumes but are harsher on the throat.

To ensure a safer and more enjoyable vaping experience, stick with trusted brands and purchase from reliable suppliers to minimize the risk of using counterfeit or low-quality products.

9. Improper Airflow Settings

Some vapes feature adjustable airflow options on the side, bottom, or mouthpiece. These may include multiple holes that can be covered to decrease vapor intake or a slider to adjust the mouthpiece size according to personal preference.

Increased airflow allows you to inhale more vapor per hit, which can feel harsh on the tongue and throat. However, it can also make the vapor cooler by spreading the coil concentration. Check if your device has adjustable airflow settings, and if not, consider purchasing an adjustable airflow pen.

10. Inadequate Vape Maintenance

Disposable vapes offer convenience, as they can be discarded once the e-juice runs out. Some models are also rechargeable and refillable. When disposing of these devices, be sure to place them in the trash or recycling bin to prevent battery leaks or explosions.

For those using vape mods or kits, regular maintenance is crucial. Wicks and coils need to be replaced periodically, as e-liquid and soot can clog them, resulting in burnt fumes that irritate the throat. Regularly disassemble your vape mod and clean its internal components to ensure optimal performance.

11. Imbalanced PG and VG Ratios

E-liquids consist of two primary components: Propylene Glycol (PG) and Vegetable Glycerine (VG). PG carries the flavor, nicotine, and other additives, while VG is responsible for producing the vapor clouds. VG has a thicker consistency, while PG is lighter and less dense.

Vapers who prefer heavy plumes might opt for an e-juice with a higher VG ratio. However, the thicker VG oil is more likely to clog the coil and contaminate the vapor. Conversely, more PG provides a smoother hit, as it carries the nicotine that creates a throat sensation similar to cigarettes.

12. Unsuitable Nicotine Type

Vapes use synthetic nicotine processed in a lab, which comes in two forms: nicotine salts and freebase nicotine. These forms have different effects on the vaping experience.

Nicotine salts absorb faster, allowing you to feel the hit sooner and work with low wattage devices. Freebase nicotine, on the other hand, provides a slower buzz but produces bigger clouds and stronger flavors. However, freebase nicotine can become harsh at higher concentrations, so it’s essential to check which type your vape uses and adjust accordingly.

13. Incompatible Vape Kit Components

Experienced vapers often build their own mods using vape kits with various atomizers, clearomizers, coil sizes, and other components, allowing them to customize their vaping sessions. However, beginners may make mistakes when assembling their devices, leading to a harsh vaping experience.

For example, nicotine salts are better suited for low wattage and high resistance setups, while freebase nicotine works well with the opposite configuration. Sub-ohm vapes are compatible with low-resistance coils, but the ideal setup may depend on the nicotine variant being used. Additionally, stainless steel and glass components tend to produce a softer hit compared to other materials.

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Tips for Achieving a Gentler Throat Hit

Several factors can contribute to a harsh vaping experience, including overheated coils, excessively warm vapor, high wattage, low resistance, thick e-liquid, restricted airflow (which puts extra pressure on the coil), dry wicks, or a depleted power source.

To troubleshoot a harsh vape, consider the following aspects:

  • Wattage and voltage settings
  • Coil resistance
  • Vape temperature
  • E-juice flavor
  • Wick saturation
  • Coil cleanliness
  • PG to VG ratios
  • Vape mod components

Always warm up your vape before taking a deep inhale to ensure a smoother, more enjoyable vaping experience.

Matthew Ma