What is Flavour Ghosting?
- 24 Aug, 2020
Last fact-checked 24 August 2020 | Report a factual error on this article
Flavour ghosting can ruin your vaping experience, especially when you're discovering new e-liquid flavours. It’s also completely avoidable with a little prior care and planning. In this article, we’ll explain how flavour ghosting works and show you how to stop it spoiling your vape.
Have you ever noticed how, when you fill your vape device with a brand new e-liquid, you can still taste the previous flavour lingering in the background? This irritating experience is a phenomenon known as flavour ghosting.
Flavour ghosting happens when two e-liquid flavours — the ‘old’ flavour you’re moving on from and the ‘new’ flavour you’re just about to discover — combine in your vape device to create a flavour profile you’re not expecting.
Different flavour combinations will ghost worse than others, and there are a few simple steps you can take to avoid the sensation of flavour ghosting altogether. We’ll explain all this, but first let’s talk about why flavour ghosting happens in the first place...
In the UK and Europe, the legal limit on an e-liquid reservoir is just 2 millilitres Footnote 1. When your vape-device’s tank runs dry, a tiny residual amount of the original e-liquid is often left behind on the inner surfaces of the tank. Trace amounts of the old liquid can cling to the valves and the corners in your vape’s reservoir, and those small traces of liquid can be enough to dilute and spoil the contents of your entire 2ml reservoir if you’re not careful.
Ghosting doesn’t just happen in the tank. Excess e-liquid can cling to the wicking material in your atomiser and cause ghosting there, too. If you have a perfectly clean e-liquid reservoir but you don’t change your vape device’s wick and/or coil, your vape device will still have to ‘burn through’ the old flavour before you get a clean uninterrupted draw of your new juice.
The worst kinds of flavour ghosting:
Flavour ghosting isn’t always a problem, and most vapers don’t even notice it when they move between similar-tasting e-liquids (if you wanted to move from one mango flavour to another for instance, it would be almost impossible to tell where one mango ends and the other mango begins). When you swap between major flavour categories, however (for instance, from tobacco to a dessert flavour), you can stumble across some pretty foul taste combinations.
Menthol flavours are delicious and refreshing, but they tend to be the worst culprits when it comes to flavour ghosting. Our brains pick up on the ‘coolness’ of menthol with a different set of nerves and receptors than the ones we use for ‘normal’ tastes like salt, sweet and so on Footnote 2. This means that flavours in menthol juices are very hard to mask, and most of us will notice even trace amounts of it when we’re vaping.
Menthol is a flavour that normally doesn’t play well with others, but there are some really good exceptions to the rule. I’m particularly fond of Element’s Watermelon Chill and ASAP Grape by Nasty Juice - both are worth a try if you haven’t discovered them already.
Ghosted flavours usually disappear after a few minutes of vaping, but if you’re still tasting an old e-juice in your vape after an extended period of time (a few hours or more), then you might need to replace or clean a few parts.
Just like your vape tank, an e-liquid syringe Footnote 3 can hold trace amounts of e-liquid, increasing your chances of flavour ghosting. The simplest way to clean vape tanks and syringes is with a bowl of warm water. First, you just need to separate the bit of kit into its component parts (making sure to remember how everything fits back together), then leave the individual parts to soak in a bowl of warm water for at least twenty minutes. Clean and dry the parts well (using a microfibre cloth if you have one, otherwise kitchen roll will do the trick), and put it all back together carefully. Add a small amount of your new e-liquid, just to make sure that nothing is leaking, then carry on as normal.
If you’ve cleaned out your tank and you’re still tasting the old e-liquid flavour, then it’s probably time to replace your coil. A vape device’s coil needs to make direct contact with the wicking material in order to evaporate all of the e-liquid that the wick is holding. If your coil gets gunked up, or if an old flavour caramelises on your coil, then your coil will lose its efficiency. The old flavour will linger for longer, because it’s not being evaporated away properly. If this happens, your best bet is to just swap out the wick and/or the coil and start fresh.
Coil replacement techniques differ depending on the device and atomiser type you use, so our advice here is to read the packet and follow the instructions. Most modern atomisers are very user-friendly, so don’t be afraid to give it a go yourself.
All of this cleaning and swapping can be a bit of a pain if you like to keep lots of different flavours on the go. Here at Gourmet E-Liquid, to keep the maintenance down, we have multiple vape devices in use at any one time. I personally have a dessert vape and a fruit vape, but I also keep a few vape devices at Gourmet E-Liquid HQ so that we can test out the latest tobacco, menthol and beverage flavours. The key thing here is to label your vape devices. Otherwise, you’ll get your vape pen or box mods confused and you’ll get a mouthful of a flavour you weren’t expecting (this has happened to me more than once).
There’s no simple answer to this, sadly. Every flavour of e-liquid has the potential to ghost on you, because flavour ghosting happens when you move from one flavour to another.
Menthol flavours are probably the worst culprits, but a sweet flavour is just as capable of ghosting on you if you let the vape juice caramelise on your coil (learn more about coil caramelisation here). If you have a high-PG e-liquid, the e-liquid itself is runnier, and this could theoretically help it clear through the tank and atomiser faster than a high VG liquid (learn more about Propylene Glycol here), but if your coil is gunked up, the viscosity of your e-liquids won’t make much of a difference.
The best way to avoid flavour ghosting is to simply follow the steps I’ve mentioned in this article (like keeping your kit clean and running more than one vape device). Your odds of flavour ghosting will drop dramatically, and you’ll stay in control of the flavours hitting your taste buds.
I hope this week’s article has given you a better idea of what flavour ghosting actually is, and how to avoid it in future. If you need any further help or advice, you can keep an eye on our blog, give us a call or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always happy to help our customers to make the most of their vaping experience.
Stay safe and happy vaping!
- John Boughey
Links & Citations
The 2ml legal limit on e-liquid reservoirs is set out by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR) in the UK, and the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) in the EU. You can view these legal documents for yourself at the links below:
There’s a detailed explanation of how the nerves involved in detecting menthol are completely different from those involved in detecting taste on the American NCBI website. See “TRPM8 HAS PROPERTIES SIMILAR TO THOSE OF COLD RECEPTORS” in TRP Ion Channel Function in Sensory Transduction and Cellular Signaling Cascades (Liedtke WB and Heller S) at the link below:
By the way, if you don’t have an e-liquid syringe yet, you should think about getting one. We sell syringes in our Vape Accessories department — they’re a really helpful tool for anyone who mixes their own shortfill.