Here’s Why Your Vape is Harsh

If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to put a dampener on your vaping (and maybe even your day) it’s when your vape is harsh. And by harsh, we don’t mean that little throat hit you get when your nicotine is slightly too strong, we mean HARSH!

In fact, that’s one of the things you Vapoholics contact us about the most. Vapers who are having a hard time with the harshness of their e-cigarette regularly get in touch with questions like ‘why is vaping so harsh?’ and ‘why does my vape burn my throat?’, so this is clearly a common issue and one that needs addressing pronto. 

Thankfully, although a sore throat or an unpleasant burning taste is never ideal, there’s usually a simple explanation for why your vape is too harsh, and with some minor tweaks and maybe a little extra maintenance you should be on the road to a smoother, more satisfying vape quicker than you can say “pass me the Strepsils”.

So, to help you get to the bottom of the problem, here are 6 possible reasons why your vape is harsh and how you can fix it.

throat hurts because vape is harsh

Why does my vape burn my throat?

If there’s something not quite right with your vape device, you might find it’s starting to take a toll on your throat. 

This could be caused by a number of things, but to give you the best chance of eliminating the problem let’s look at the most common reasons for a vape hitting harsh.

Nicotine is too strong

Perhaps the most common cause for a harsh vape is the strength of nicotine is too high. This is an easy mistake to make, particularly if you’re just starting out on your vaping journey, and switching up your e-liquid for one that contains less nicotine should swiftly resolve the issue.

If you’ve recently quit smoking then you might prefer a strong hit of nicotine but without the throat hit you get with some of the stronger standard e-liquids. If that’s the case, instead of regular freebase nicotine you could try nicotine salts instead. 

Nic salts are designed to provide a more concentrated hit of nicotine but without the harsh throat hit you get from higher-strength, standard liquids. If you’re using a stronger e-liquid but you’re finding it way too harsh, try switching to nic salts – believe us when we say your throat will thank you later!

For some more information on this increasingly popular alternative to freebase nicotine, check out our Nic Salts Guide.

Coils may be burned

If there’s a burnt taste coming from your device, chances are your coil is well past its shelf-life and needs to be replaced immediately. 

Every certified vaper knows and hates that unmistakable taste of a burnt coil, and a decent hit on a vape with a burned out coil is sure to leave you coughing and spluttering. Take a massive hit and you might even vomit, so be sure to change your coils on a regular basis to avoid this grim experience.

If your vape coils keep burning out, you may be using the wrong type of liquid. Check out our vape coil guide for some useful information if there’s anything you’re unsure of. 

vape is harsh

Wattage too high

This is another common issue and if you’re using a device with variable wattage it could well be the reason why you’re experiencing vape throat burn.

Variable devices allow you to adjust the current that’s flowing through the coil, which in turn dictates the amount of vapour your device produces.

This can come in handy when you’re in the mood for some cloud-chasing, but cranking up the wattage too high could provide a hit of vapour (and nicotine) that’s a tad too much to handle. This can result in a harsh vape, which over time could start to take a toll on your throat.

If you’re using a variable device and you’ve got the wattage turned up high, try reducing it and see how it feels. If the vapour is suddenly a lot smoother, it looks like you’ve identified the offender!

Airflow needs adjusting

This is the most straight-forward remedy on the list, but surprisingly, in many cases, it’s actually the root cause of a rough vape.

If you’ve got the airflow restricted, try opening it up to allow more air to pass through it. You’ll be surprised at the difference it can make.

PG to VG ratio

As many of you will know, most e-liquids are made using a combination of propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG). What you might not know is why these ingredients are used in vape liquids and how the ratio of PG:VG can affect the smoothness of your vapour.

PG is a viscous, colourless liquid with a slightly sweet taste. It’s used in a wide range of everyday products including many foods, cosmetics and medicines. It’s also used as an emulsifier in e-liquid due to its ability to keep the ingredients mixed together. 

VG is a clear liquid that’s typically made from palm, soybean or coconut oils. This product is used as a thickening agent and is responsible for the clouds of vapour produced by your device. 

A higher concentration of VG will result in thicker plumes of vapour.

When making their e-liquids, manufacturers use different PG:VG ratios to achieve various levels of thickness as some devices work best with the thinner consistency of PG, while others are better-suited to the more viscous VG.

Surprisingly, the ratio used can have a major impact on the throat hit you get with your liquid. VG is known to produce a smoother throat hit than PG, so if you’re struggling with the harshness of your vape then replacing your 50/50 e-liquid with a 70/30 e-liquid may be an effective way of making your vape smoother.

Wrong type of wicking

This is an area that often gets overlooked due to the fact cotton is so widely used, but the wicking material can have a pretty significant influence on the throat hit.

It’s true that cotton provides the gentlest throat hit, which is why it’s so popular, but not all coils come with cotton wicking. For instance, some coils are wicked with hemp, while others contain a wick made from silica. Both of these provide a much stronger throat hit than cotton, and while it’s likely your coils will use the latter, be sure to check as this may well be the root cause of your excessively harsh vape.


So there we have it. Those are the 6 most common reasons for a harsh vape. Test out the suggestions we’ve made in this piece and chances are you’ll be vaping tastier, smoother clouds before you know it. 

If you’re simply suffering from burnt out coils, we stock a massive selection of replacement vape coils – you should be able to find exactly what you need there. Alternatively, if you’re still quite new to vaping and you’d like some more info on the different types of e-liquids to help you find a vape juice that’s right for you, head over to our E-Liquid Guide where you’ll find everything you need to know.