How to Clean an E-Cig
You can use just about any type of electronic cigarette, and you will find that it starts to get a bit dirty with use. Most atomizers and cartomizers have small holes in their battery terminals, allowing you to draw air through. Unfortunately, e-liquid has a habit of seeping out through this hole, no matter how careful you are.
If you use automatic e-cig batteries — which also have holes in their terminals — this can ruin your batteries over time. Wet batteries can also damage chargers. If you have a charger that seems to flip constantly between green and red or stays on green for extended periods before charging batteries that you know are dead, it is likely that the charger’s internal components have become damaged by e-liquid on your batteries.
Atomizers also have a habit of accumulating gunk on the heating coils or wicking material as you use them; this can make your e-liquids taste a bit muted, and lowers the intensity of menthol e-liquids.
This is the cleaning procedure that I perform on my e-cigs. I recommend performing it each time you remove a battery for charging. I use the Volcano Inferno e-cig as an example here, but you can adapt this method for just about every type of e-cig. If you don’t drip with your e-cig, you can skip some of these steps. (Read more: what is dripping?)
You need at least one paper towel, and may end up using 2-3 paper towels each time you clean your e-cig.
- Unscrew the atomizer and drip tip assembly from the battery, and remove the atomizer cone.
- Wipe down the outside of the atomizer and drip tip.
- Fold the paper towel into a square, and hold it against the battery terminal end of the atomizer and drip tip. Blow gently through the drip tip, using the paper towel to catch the old e-liquid.
- Fold the paper towel into a conical shape, and run it through the inside of the atomizer cone to remove the condensation from the inside of the cone.
- Fold the paper towel into a stiff point, and clean the inside of the battery terminal. You can also use a cotton swab for this, but I find a paper towel to be sufficient.
- Charge the dead battery, and reassemble your e-cig.
- Put about five drops of e-liquid into the drip tip, and allow several seconds for it to soak into the atomizer heating coil before using the e-cig again. If you hear a slight gurgle when drawing on the drip tip without engaging the battery, you have wet the heating coil enough.
If you use a tank-based e-cig like the Volcano Inferno Tank Kit, don’t blow directly through the mouthpiece. Remove the mouthpiece and tank, and blow through the Tank-o-Mizer. After you reassemble the e-cig, draw a few times on the mouthpiece without engaging the battery to send e-liquid from the tank to the heating coil.
Some people recommend performing a periodic deep cleaning on e-cig atomizers by swishing them in a glass of hot water or grain alcohol followed by water. The idea is that this helps break up some of the old e-liquid in the atomizer that is not removed by blowing alone. I have tried these deep cleaning methods and find that they generally do not produce better results than simply blowing the e-liquid out.
I find that electronic cigarette cartomizers that use tanks to store e-liquid often produce more vapor than the cartomizers that use saturated polyfill. However, they tend to leak when stored on their sides. If you are one of those e-cig users who likes to switch to a different cartomizer containing another e-liquid flavor when changing batteries, make sure that you store your filled cartomizers at a slight angle to prevent leaking. I also suggest storing filled cartomizers in zip-close bags.