How to prime your e-cig coils

Related articles: common coil problems | how to stop coils burning

What is priming?

if you think of 'priming' as the process involved in ensuring the cotton or wicking material inside an e-cigarette heating coil is sufficiently wet with eliquid before you start to vape with it.

Due to the internal design of some of the newer coils (coil heads, atomizer heads, wicks, burners - all words for the same thing), the eliquid can take longer to be absorbed.

To minimise the risk of experiencing a burnt taste and a ruined coil, following these simple steps for 'priming' or 'breaking in' your e-cigarette coils.

Installing the coil and filling the tank

Install a new coil into the base of your tank.

For standard ecig coils, drip a couple of drops of eliquid directly into the hole in the top of the coil to help with saturation.

If you're using larger coils you can also add a couple of drops onto the exposed cotton through the holes around the coil.

You will usually need to fill your tank to its fullest level, but just bear in mind there are one or two tanks such as the Joyetech eGo ONE VT atomizer where the manufacturer recommends to leave a small air pocket. Assume full (but not above the central airflow tube if you're filling from the bottom) unless you know otherwise.

Completely filling the tank will ensure that when the liquid enters the coil’s wicking area (where the cotton or absorbent material is situated), that a proper liquid level will be maintained during the priming process and the resulting vacuum can also play its part. 

Screw everything back together securely but don't over tighten and risk ruining the seals, and always ensure the seals are seated correctly to avoid damaging them.

Priming

Let your filled tank sit waiting for a time - it can take several minutes for the liquid to be absorbed and completely saturate the interior of the new coil you've just installed.

The liquid needs to fully saturate the coil before it’s heated - there shouldn't be any dry areas of cotton or wicking inside the coil before you press the fire button.

Thinner liquids are likely to take less time, thicker, more viscous liquids and those with a higher level of VG (vegetable glycerin) and larger coils are likely to take longer to prime.

You can speed up the process by drawing on your ecig without pushing the fire button as this will help pull the liquid into the coil.

You draw from the mouthpiece as normal but you don't press the battery button. This is known as a dry hit.

The suction created as you draw will help to pull the liquid into the absorbent material inside the coil so it becomes sufficiently saturated.

If you have adjustable airflow it will help to reduce the air coming in while you're priming, you can do this but covering the area with a finger, and if it still feels vary airy you can do the same with the contact pin, when it's not connected to the battery or mod of course.

So, take a few gentle draws WITHOUT pressing the battery button. Five draws should be sufficient but it can vary.

If you keep drawing, or you suck too hard, the chances of flooding your coil or getting liquid into your mouth is more likely. Remember you just want the coil to be wet through.

UNTIL YOU'RE INTRINSICALLY FAMILIAR WITH YOUR COILS, IT'S NEVER A BAD IDEA TO LET YOUR DEVICE SIT FOR A WHILE AFTER FILLING.

THIS COULD BE ANYTHING FROM 5 MINUTES TO HALF AN HOUR BEFORE YOU TRY AND USE YOUR E-CIG - THE LONGER THE BETTER IF YOU WANT TO BE ON THE SAFE SIDE BUT IT DOESN'T REQUIRE HOURS.

IT'S A GOOD GENERAL RULE TO INSTAL A NEW COIL AND FILL YOUR TANK WHEN YOU'RE NOT IN A RUSH.

IT'S VERY EASY TO BURN COILS AND GET A HORRIBLE TASTE SO TAKE YOUR TIME.

PATIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE IS THE KEY TO NOT WASTING COILS AND NOT WASTING MONEY.

Quick hits

Having followed the guidelines above, the coil should be pretty much primed and ready for vaping, however, 'quick hits' are good practice and so is being mindful not to apply too much power to the coil immediately after it’s been primed. A bit like a car, just go gentle while the choke's still on.

If you have a variable voltage device, keep the voltage on the low side until you're up and running as usual.

If you can't alter your voltage that's one less thing to worry about.

Proceed then by taking quick hits - a quick hit means to take draws from the mouthpiece very quickly without inhaling the vapour (quick hit, blow out).

If you do this approximately 5 times it's often plain sailing thereafter, however, the specifics for any one product will vary, especially for cotton coils, and the the viscosity of the eliquid plays its part too. Get the gist of "priming" and be mindful it may take more persistence than detailed here.

Organic cotton coils

When you're using cotton coils, it's very important to ensure the coil is thoroughly saturated in e-liquid to avoid dry hits (to avoid the cotton inside the coil getting burnt).

The burning of the cotton releases unhealthy chemicals, a bit like burnt toast, and these are not good and should not be inhaled.

If you do burn the cotton, the vapour will be particularly unpleasant and the liquid will turn darker.

Cotton will generally give enhanced flavour and retain your liquid better than traditional silica wick.

Cotton also tends to perform better with thicker liquids.