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July 11, 2024

How to Unclog a Cart

Estimated Read Time: 10 min

The portable nature of vape carts means they spend most of their time in cramped spaces, and dirt and gunk can easily build up inside the cart, causing it to clog. A clogged cart can present various problems, including little to no vapor production and a burnt taste. The only way to get it working again is to unclog it.

Understanding the Workings of a Cart

In many cases, the fault in a clogged coil is in the design of the coil and the quality of the components used to make the cartridge.

Original carts mostly came with a coil made of metal and a cotton-based wick. The power would be transferred to the coil when the battery was turned. The coil is the part that retains the heat and distributes it to the wick to vaporize the oil. This design often failed, especially when the device ran on more viscous vape oils.

Most modern coils now come with ceramic heating technology that is more efficient and distributes heat more evenly. It is the most common material for heating elements in modern carts and vaporizers.

Most vapes have also eliminated the cotton-wick design in modern carts. But that hasn’t entirely solved the clogging issues because other factors can cause your cart to get clogged.

Why a Cart Can Get Clogged

Besides the poor design and subpar materials, two other factors are most blamed for clogging vape carts. Both causes are preventable and easy to iron out if the cart happens to clog.

Condensation Buildup

This is the most common cause of cart clogging. Condensation builds up inside the cart's airway and, over time, blocks the mouthpiece, preventing vapor from passing through as you take a hit. Instead of a tasty hit, you can get a mouthful of bitter vape juice.

Why not also read: How to hit a cart without coughing.

You'll usually notice condensation buildup long before it becomes too problematic. If you start feeling tiny droplets of liquid hit your tongue as you take a draw, that's a sign of condensation buildup.

Chamber Flooding

The second cause of a clogged cart is chamber flooding. This happens when the cart sits around for a long time. When you leave the vape juice sitting around for some time, it separates and becomes thicker as the water evaporates. Over time, the juice works itself into the wick and oversaturates it, drowning the coil.

Once flooded, the coil will struggle to get up to temperature and vaporize the liquid. You will notice the vape isn't producing enough vapor and isn't hitting normally. Depending on how long the device has been sitting around, you might get a foul, burnt taste and smell when taking a hit.

If you notice a burning taste or smell, stop vaping immediately. Continuing to heat a saturated wick can damage the cart permanently and make the contents useless.

Other reasons that can cause your cart to clog include the following:

  • Solidified residue preventing air from flowing through the cartridge. In this case, the cart can have poor or no airflow.
  • The cartridge has been kept in a cold environment, causing the oil to be more viscous.
  • The vape juice inside the cart has a viscous consistency, even at room temperature.

How to Unclog a Cart

Unclogging a cart can be easy, depending on the cause of the clog. Some of the ways you can unclog the cart include:

Pull Hard Through The Mouthpiece

Pulling hard on the mouthpiece is one of the easiest and most common fixes for a clogged cart. This trick works if condensation buildup is the cause of the clog. To prevent further damage, you should do this without firing the vape.

This can help pull through the excess liquid sitting in the mouthpiece. If this works, you should know it's only temporary, and the device will clog again. It's only a quick fix unless you follow it with more thorough measures.

Remove The Excess Liquid

After pulling hard on the mouthpiece and getting the device to work, you should clear the cart completely. You will need to remove all excess liquid from the mouthpiece. This can be done using a thin wire or a paper clip.

Gently insert the wire or other object into the mouthpiece and scrape out the sticky residue by moving the wire side by side and up and down. You should be cautious not to scratch the inside of the cart.

This should help remove most of the buildup and clear the airflow. The cart should be cool while doing this so you can knock off any solid particles.

Heat The Cart

If you still can't unclog the cart, try heating it to dislodge any trapped residues in the mouthpiece. Don't heat the cart with a naked flame. Instead, you should use the gentle heat of a hairdryer. Alternatively, you can place the cart in a water-tight bag and submerge it in a warm bath.

After sufficiently heating the cart, let it stand upright so the excess liquid settles again. Remember that heating the cart lowers the liquid's viscosity, causing it to run off the walls of the mouthpiece and into the chamber.

Flick The Cart From Side To Side

Flicking the cart from side to side can help dislodge any excess liquid and disperse it evenly. It can also send any small debris stuck in the airflow or mouthpiece flying out, restoring the normal functioning of the cart.

Blow Into The Cart

If drawing hard from the mouthpiece doesn’t work, try blowing into it. If you have a refillable cart, remove the chamber, clear the excess liquid from the coil, and wick manually, then reassemble it.

Fire Up The Vape

Once you’ve cleared out as much liquid as possible by blowing out the excess liquid, you can fire up the vape without inhaling. Be careful not to overdo this. Only one to two seconds on the button should be enough to vaporize the excess liquid without burning the wick.

It should also clear the flooded chamber. If you still experience problems after all this, your current cart could be too far gone. If it is refillable, you may need a replacement coil and wick or a new cart altogether.

Tips for Preventing Future Clogging

You don’t have to subject yourself to such problems and the sudden deprivation of going without vaping for longer than is necessary. With a few tips and some due diligence, you can reduce the chances of the cart clogging up and prolong its life. These prevention tips can be divided into two;

Preventing Condensation Buildup

Preventing condensation buildup is simple but requires discipline and a strict cart maintenance routine.

Read our blog on how to mart carts last longer.

Take Smaller Hits

Change how you use the device. If you take long and hard draws, change that and keep your hits to under three seconds. This will significantly reduce the chances of condensation buildup and allow the mouthpiece to clear effectively.

Smaller hits on your vape help reduce the time vapor sits in the mouthpiece. This decreases the chances of condensation buildup, as the cooler mouthpiece isn't exposed to warm moisture for too long.

Take ‘dry’ Hits

This is not a statement any vaper wants to hear. But it is not what you think it is. Before heating the coil, take a dry hit from the mouthpiece to clear it before each hit. Pulling the cart first without firing clears moisture before the vapor comes through.

Don't pull too hard while the vape isn't fired because it can create a new problem by saturating the chamber.

Clean The Mouthpiece

Use a small cotton pad or Q-tip to wipe the mouthpiece periodically to remove condensation and debris. You don't have to do this after every hit, but doing it regularly can help keep the cart clean and clog-free.

Preventing Chamber Flooding

Preventing chamber flooding is more about carefully using your vape. It's easier to prevent if you're diligent and observant with how you use your vape and store it when not in use.

Vape Every Few Days

The leading cause of flooding is leaving the cart full and not vaping for long periods. Taking hits every few days will keep the distillate within the right temperature range and prevent it from oversaturating the wick and drowning the coil.

Also, you should avoid leaving your vape sitting around at room temperature for long periods, especially if you vape viscous liquids. They get thicker with lower temperatures.

Leave The Cart Unprimed

If you don't plan on vaping from the cart for some time, leave it unprimed. You shouldn't store a primed cart because it will get oversaturated. Also, ensure it's disconnected from the pen and left in a cool, dark place to avoid deterioration.

Take Smaller Hits

For example, to prevent condensation, you should also take smaller hits to avoid chamber flooding. Deep and powerful hits can overwhelm the wick and the coil, especially in low-end devices. The coil may struggle to vaporize the liquid fast enough to be inhaled, causing the wick to become saturated and the coil to flood. Settle for quick, light hits rather than large, heavy ones.

Correct Storage

Keep your vape upright if you plan not to vape for an extended period. If left upside down, the reservoir's contents slowly leak into the elements, clogging the device. The mouthpiece should be on top to prevent this.

Closing Remarks

If you notice your cart losing power or producing a burnt taste sooner than expected, it could be clogged. Cleaning the mouthpiece can knock off the debris and restore proper performance, but you should also practice better storage techniques, like storing the cart in its original packaging until you’re ready to use it to avoid similar problems in the future. If you need THCA vapes, we can help.

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