Vaper’s Tongue: Why Does E-Liquid Lose Its Flavor?
A lot of smokers switch from tobacco to electronic cigarettes because they taste better.
Instead of that throaty burnt ash hit, vapers can get a huge array of different fruit, dessert and menthol flavors loaded in their e-cig.
But while the first few puffs of a new vape juice are almost always magnificent, e-liquid flavors can lose their potency after you have been vaping them for a while.
This is totally normal. There’s nothing up with your device or your tank. You just have what the e-cigarette community calls vaper’s tongue.
What is Vaper’s Tongue?
It might sound like a nasty disease from medieval England, but vaper’s tongue is actually commonplace for e-cig users. We think that most vapers have experienced it.
It’s easy to get rid of vaper’s tongue. But before we tell you how to make your vape juice taste great again, we’ll take a quick look at what causes vaper’s tongue.
Vaper’s tongue is a little more complicated than your e-liquid turning bland. To fully understand it, we need to look at some of the science behind taste.
The first thing you need to know about taste is that it isn’t just about what you put in your mouth.
Heston Blumenthal is a celebrity chef who advocates a scientific understanding of cooking. He is also a pioneer of what’s known as ‘multisensory cooking’.
“The next time you go to a restaurant, remember that eating is a process that involves all the senses,” he writes.
“Any notion that food is simply about taste is misguided. Try eating a beautifully cooked piece of fish off a paper plate with a plastic knife and fork, or drinking fine wine from a polystyrene cup - it is not the same.”
A lot of people assume that taste is all about the tastebuds on your tongue. But your tastebuds can only recognise five flavors - salt, sweet, sour, bitter and umami (savory to you and me).
Your tastebuds are good at registering the taste of very salty or sweet foods. But they can’t pick up some of the complex flavors that you’ll find in e-liquids.
Most ‘tasting’ happens in the olfactory bulb and has a lot to do with how your food, drink or e-liquid smells.
You can test this by holding your nose while you take a hit on your vape. The flavor will be very muted until you let go of your nose, at which point the flavor will wash over your senses.
The olfactory system is far more complicated than tastebuds. It contains hundreds of very sensitive receptors that ‘digest’ aroma molecules and pass flavor information to the brain.
But what does this have to do with e-liquid losing its taste? Well it’s fairly simple when you think about it.
‘Vaper’s tongue’ would be described by scientists as olfactory fatigue. Also known as odor fatigue or olfactory adaption, olfactory fatigue is a normal and temporary inability to discern a particular smell once you have been exposed to it for some time.
Think about when you first walk into a fragrant restaurant. At first, the aroma washes over you in a heavenly burst of sensation. But once you have sat down, talked and eaten, the smell fades or disappears entirely.
It was probably the same with cigarettes. If you smoked in your house, you got used to the smell and barely noticed it was there. But when non-smoking members of your family would come over, they might comment on how smoky your house was.
It’s the same with e-liquid. When you have been puffing on one e-liquid for a long time, your nose and brain starts to get used to the smell and the flavor sensation will diminish or disappear.
Vaper’s tongue isn’t the only thing that will cause a loss of taste. But we believe that it is the most common when you’re talking about e-cigarettes.
You may also struggle to taste e-liquid if you have a blocked up nose, an illness or if you have damaged smell receptors (possibly from smoking). If you struggle to taste other things apart from e-liquid, we advise you to seek advice from a medical professional.
How to Stop Vaper’s Tongue
Vaper’s tongue is annoying, there’s no doubt about that. But it can also put people off vaping.
If one of the only reasons you are vaping is for the flavor kick and you aren’t getting this anymore, then you might be tempted to switch back to tobacco.
We’re sure that vaper’s tongue is responsible for some vapers giving up on e-cigarettes. So make sure you know how to spot vaper’s tongue and stop it.
The easiest way to stop yourself from getting used to a flavor is to cycle your e-liquids. Think about the first few puffs of a new vape juice and how much better they are than the dregs at the bottom of your tank.
When you are out and about, carry two or three different bottles of e-liquid around with you in different flavors and when you get sick of one, switch to the other.
Switching flavors is easier with a rebuildable atomizer or a smaller tank, because you can swap the flavors out more regularly.
Some vapers may want to clean the tank and atomizer between each use, but if you don’t mind mixing the flavors a little bit then it will be a lot easier for you. You can also carry two different tanks and have one for each flavor.
Cleanse Your Palate
Wine tasters have to cleanse their palate by having small amounts of bread, crackers or cheese in between wines, which helps them distinguish between different flavors more accurately.
This is one of the reasons why your vape tastes a little bit better after you eat something or drink a cup of coffee. The flavors of the e-liquid are flushed from your system and you can start appreciating the juice again.
As well as bread, crackers and cheese there are a number of other good palate cleansers including:
- Spicy food
- Citrusy fruit
- Pickled foods
- Carbonated water
Drink More Water
Some of your vaper’s tongue may be cause day dehydration. Propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG), the two base ingredients in most e-liquids, have dehydrating properties that suck up the moisture in your mouth.
Vaping can make you dehydrated, and this can have a number of nasty effects, including vaping headaches. Dehydration can also affect your sense of taste, so make sure you are taking on plenty of water while you are vaping.