Want to blow humongous clouds? Want your dense fog of vapour to block out the Sun?
There’s nothing wrong with cloud-chasing. Like most vapers, I enjoy putting out a satisfying amount of vapour. But you just won’t see me in a cloud competition sporting a bazillion-coil build and a brick-sized mod. The key factor that vapers like me are looking for is getting vivid, robust flavour from a setup. Huge clouds don’t really matter.
The problem is that cloud-chasing is the more fashionable goal. You’ll see tons of guides to creating obnoxious amounts of vapour, but far fewer on how to get the best taste out of your e-juice.
So how do you go about maximizing the flavour from your e-cig? What are the best tips for the flavour-chasers out there?
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1 – Tweak Your Wattage and Temperature Settings
Adjusting your settings is the simplest way to improve the flavour you get from your e-liquid.
Different elements of juices come out at different settings. This is because specific flavourings vaporize at different temperatures, and your setting (in combination with your coil’s resistance) determines how hot your coil gets. For flavour-chasers, this is the major benefit of having a variable voltage/variable wattage device.
The best advice is to start at lower settings and work your way up until you hit the “sweet spot.” Each e-liquid has its own sweet spot, so you’ll need to experiment with each flavour. One juice may shine at 20 W while another comes into its own at 35 W.
But when you get right down to it, the temperature of your coil is the crucial factor. Temperature control devices limit your coil’s maximum temperature, which makes them perfect for flavour-chasing. The process of finding the right setting is the same – start low and adjust upwards as needed – but the result is a more consistently flavourful vape.
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2 – Reduce Your Airflow
For cloud chasers, big airflow is an important factor. When you have a lot of air going through your coil, the vapour gets less dense but billows out to produce giant clouds. The downside to this is that this reduces flavour too.
For flavour chasers, closing off the airflow is the best approach. This produces a denser, warmer vape that carries a lot more flavour. Adjustable airflow systems on atomizers make this easy to achieve.
Getting the right balance is important, though. If your airflow is too closed off, you’ll have poor vapour production and the vapour may be too hot. Like with the power setting, start low and adjust to larger airflow settings until you hit the ideal balance for your tastes.
There is a little bit more to consider here, too. Closing off the airflow on an atomizer head with a wide bore (a large diameter) can make the resulting throat hit harsher, and the same is true for rebuildable atomizers with a large chamber. The best advice is to choose smaller bore coils and smaller chambers where possible to complement the restricted airflow.
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3 – Choose Your Coil Carefully
The type of coil you choose has a huge part to play in how much flavour you get from your e-cig. Personal preference has a big part to play, but some general rules can help you get the best flavour.
Firstly, top-coil clearomizers are becoming less popular for a reason. These have the atomizer head at the top of the central stem, and rely on the wick to soak the e-liquid up against gravity. As a result, they don’t wick efficiently, and the flavour you get from them is generally poor.
Bottom-coil coils like the Aspire BVC offer significant improvements. These make gravity work for you, with the coil located at the bottom of the central stem so that the wicks don’t have to suck the e-liquid up to the coil.
The next step up in terms of overall performance is sub ohm tanks. These are tanks that support coils under one ohm in resistance.
A great example of this is the Jac S22 tank. When used with lower resistance coils, these notably boost vapour production and flavour in comparison, and the flavour can be better in some cases too.
The crucial factor is the bore of the atomizer head. The trend towards larger bore coils leads to more airflow through the coil and can reduce the flavour as a result. So in most cases, it’s better to choose a sub-ohm tank with a smaller bore coil, if possible. These coils (and the tanks using them) are often advertised as supporting mouth-to-lung hits.
However, these aren’t always easy to find, so devices with smaller bore coils like the Nautilus – even though it isn’t sub-ohm – are still often better when it comes to flavour.
For many flavour-chasing vapers, though, rebuildable atomizers offer the ultimate experience. It’s a bit more hands-on, but if you’re comfortable with making your own coils, they’re definitely worth considering. They offer a level of customization over your vaping experience you can’t get with any other device.
If you want to get really technical, there are many specific coils you can try to maximise the flavour you get. It’s a deep rabbit hole, but for serious flavour-chasers it’s one you should consider delving into.
4 – Wicking and Coil Materials Matters
The material you use for your wick can have a big impact on the flavour you get. Silica wicks used to be the standard for e-cigarettes, but they mute the flavour of your e-liquid. That’s one of the reasons that cotton has now taken its spot as the wicking material of choice for vapers.
Organic cotton balls used to be the go-to option, but there are many more choices for cotton wicks these days. Japanese organic cotton is now the most widely-recommended. You can buy it in square sheets, and it comes as standard on many clearomizer coils. It gives you a very clean flavour from your juice, and has fantastic wicking capabilities too.
This isn’t for everyone, though. Other choices like cellucotton and “Cotton Bacon” have staunch supporters too. Additionally, ceramic wicks are making a comeback. As well as being resistant to heat (so they tend to last longer), they also produce great flavour that some vapers swear by. (ED: Do note that there are some concerns about the safety of ceramic coils.)
Explore the options, but generally speaking, any high-quality cotton or a modern ceramic wick will give you superior flavour.
As well as the wicking material, the other part of your atomizer that’s closely involved in the vaping process is your wire. Thankfully for flavour-chasing vapers, Kanthal is still the most widely-used coil material and it gives a clean, natural flavour from your juice.
The biggest change in recent years is the introduction of temperature control. This has brought new coil types with it, notably nickel (Ni200), stainless steel and titanium. Nickel performs as well as Kanthal in terms of flavour, but stainless steel and titanium can add a slightly metallic component to the taste.
The difference with other materials won’t be too severe, but if you notice your juice not quite shining as much when you switch to a temperature control device, your coil material could be to blame.
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5 – Try Higher PG Juices
Most vapers develop a preference for the PG/VG ratio of their juices over time. Cloud-chasers tend to prefer high-VG juices, because they produce thicker vapour and bigger clouds. However, if you’re looking to maximise your flavour, high VG juices don’t quite cut it.
The problem is that although VG is almost tasteless, it does have a slight touch of sweetness, and it doesn’t carry flavour as well as PG. That’s why concentrated flavourings come mixed in PG, not VG.
So choosing higher-PG juices will generally lead to better flavour. The downside is that PG produces throat hit, and choosing too high a ratio can easily make vaping too harsh on your throat.
A 50/50 ratio, such as that used in the Halo Vapour Co e-liquid, is ideal for most vapers. This still offers great flavour, with excellent vapour production and a manageable throat hit. But you can push it to 60 or 70 percent PG if you want even better flavour.
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6 – Below-Coil Airflow Boosts Flavour
As well as the amount of airflow, the position of the airflow holes is also important. The airflow holes on most atomizers open up at the side of your coil, and although this can work well, there is a better layout.
When the airflow holes are underneath your coils, the direct path up to the mouthpiece improves the flavour. Many sub ohm tanks have this setup as standard, and it’s one of the reasons they can provide such great flavour.
The position of the airflow holes is an especially crucial consideration for flavour-chasers shopping for a dripping atomizer. Choose options with under-coil airflow holes over those with side airflow every time.
7 – Choose a Narrower-Bore Drip Tip
You might not think the drip tip you use influences the flavour you get, but it does. The trend with modern tanks and atomizers is towards larger-bore (i.e. wider) drip tips. This produces an airier vape and is good for cool vapour and cloud production.
As with airflow settings, though, this isn’t ideal for flavour. If you get a tank or atomizer that comes with a wide-bore drip tip, try switching it for a narrower-bore one to boost your flavour.
There is some disagreement on this point, but in general – and based on first-hand testing – thinner drip tips do improve flavour. It won’t have as big an effect as your main airflow setting, but it does make a difference.
8 – Keep Your Wicks, Coils and Tanks Clean
You wouldn’t use a plate for a curry and then eat your dessert off it afterwards (or at least I hope you wouldn’t). If you care about flavour, you should carry this ethos over to your wicks.
The simple fact is that fresh coils and clean wicks make for better flavour. The only problem with the plate analogy is that rinsing your wick or switching to a new coil after every change of flavour is a little excessive. But the core lesson is still valid: juices taste better from fresh wicks, coils and tanks.
So you don’t need to rinse your coil or change it after every flavour change, but after a day or two of use the taste will start to suffer. Occasionally rinsing pre-made atomizer heads extends their lifespan and improves the flavour.
There’s a detailed section on this in our ultimate guide to tanks, but the basic approach is simple. Just disassemble your tank, rinse the components in hot water and give them plenty of time to dry. Leaving your atomizer heads until the wicks are completely dry is important (24 hours is usually enough), so it’s a good idea to have another head to use while it’s drying.
If you use rebuildable atomizers, you can change your wick easily, so doing it with every change of flavour is more feasible. Remove the old wick, fire your coil (without a wick inserted) to dry it out, wait for it to cool and then insert the new wick.
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9 – Fight Vaper’s Tongue
Your setup is only part of your flavour experience. You are the other part of the equation, and the biggest problem you may face is “vaper’s tongue.” Many different things can cause this, but it’s easiest to understand as a kind of “flavour fatigue.” The flavour of your juice seems to lose its punch after extended use, and you might even struggle to enjoy other similar-tasting juices too.
There are many solutions to this problem, but the simplest is to change to a new flavour. You can also smell fresh coffee beans, drink water or even suck a lemon to reset your palate and beat vaper’s tongue.
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10 – Look After Your E-Juice
Finally, your e-juice itself may be to blame. Correctly storing your e-liquid is important, because the flavourings can degrade with poor storage. Keep your juices away from heat and light, and minimise their exposure to open air to keep them in excellent condition.
Some juices also benefit from “steeping.” This is like how wine ages with time and improves in flavour – allowing your juice to age can really bring out flavour notes. There are many approaches to steeping, but they all have two common elements. Most steeping involves leaving the juice in a cool, dark place and occasionally shaking the bottle. The other major theme is letting your juice “breathe” (for short periods) by opening the cap.
Steeping isn’t needed for every juice, though, and the results might not always be what you were expecting. However, if you want the best flavour, it’s something to try.
Steeping E-Liquid: Downloadable Cheat Sheet
Learn how to steep e-liquid in this compact, printable guide!
Improving Flavour is Easy; Perfecting it is Hard
These tips should help you enjoy the flavour of your e-juices more, but there is a lot more to flavour chasing than this. There are tons of different approaches to try, heated debates about the merits of different coil arrangements, and a big helping of personal preference to deal with.
In short, this post will set you down the right path, but you’ll have to walk the remaining distance to your personal flavour-chasers nirvana on your own. Just follow your tastebuds, and don’t get lost in the clouds.
A big thanks to P Busardo of Taste Your Juice, Dimitris ‘The Vaping Greek‘, Julia of Spinfuel Magazine, Chris of Vaping 360 and Brian of Olympia Vapeworks for taking the time to read this post and make suggestions on improving it. Their suggestions have improved this post but any errors are our own.
Next: Check out the Vaper’s Guide to Steeping E-Liquid: