Guides | 03.09.2023

Why Vape Cartridges Clog & How To Fix It

We'll help you get back to puffin' in no time.

So your vape cartridge isn’t hitting. What’s the next step? Just because you’re not receiving vapor from your cartridge doesn’t mean it’s time for a new one. There’s likely still lots of oil to be used, and it would be a shame to let it go to waste.

This guide discusses why vape cartridges tend to clog and the steps you can take to fix them. All you’ll need are your hands, maybe a paper clip, and some time. This guide was designed for 510-threaded vape cartridges specifically.

See below for more information about how to unclog a vape cartridge and why it happens.

Why Do Vape Cartridges Clog?

There are a few reasons why vape cartridges can clog, which we’ve discussed below.

Moisture & Oil Buildup: A clogged vape cartridge is mostly because moisture and oil have built up near the top of the device in the mouthpiece. Over time, vape oil can pop up and start to build up, which limits the airflow until there’s no airflow at all. This is easily fixable with our tips below.

Frequent Use: We all have that one friend who takes monstrous draws from our vape pens. Did you know that’s actually affecting the quality of your cartridge? Frequent back-to-back hits can result in heated oil, which can rise into the mouthpiece and clog it. It can also burn your vape’s coil, but that’s a whole other problem.

The Oil Is Old: You can try to save a vape cartridge and make it last for weeks, but the oil might harden around the air holes, meaning it won’t work as well after sitting idle for some time. You can try to fix it, but the oil itself might be unpleasant to use, depending on how old it is. Similarly, older oil can get thicker, which is harder to pull.

Improper Storage: Where you store your vape cartridge will affect its quality. For example, keeping it in the heat can heat up the oil, leaving it to harden and become thick when it cools down. If left in the cold, the oil will become thick and dense, making it difficult to pull.

How To Unclog A Vape Cartridge

Most of the time, a clogged cartridge means the airflow is being blocked. There are a few ways to move the oil and fix airflow, which we’ve discussed in a step-by-step format below.

Step 1: Try inhaling as you normally would. Vape batteries with a button might help heat up the oil and loosen it up, so hold down the button during this step (not for too long, though, or you’ll burn the coil). Keep pulling until you feel a pop. If you don’t, it’s time for step 2. 

Step 2: Blow back. It might feel wrong to blow into the mouthpiece of your cartridge, but it could help add pressure to the oil and force it back down. Keep your lips pressed on the mouthpiece like you’d inhale, and blow into it instead of pulling. If it’s still not working, check out step 3.

Step 3: Keep your hand wrapped around the cartridge for at least 5 minutes. This will help heat up the oil to loosen it. Keep your hand wrapped around the cartridge and repeat steps 1 and 2. When all else fails, visit step 4.

Step 4: This next tip isn’t recommended unless you’ve tried the options above. First, unscrew your cartridge from your vape pen. Take a paper clip and fold it open, so there’s one long prong. Gently stick the paper clip prong into the airhole of your mouthpiece to manually poke at the clog. Don’t put the clip in too deep, as it could puncture the internal hardware. If this doesn’t work, your cartridge is either broken, or your vape battery has an issue, which we discuss in step 5.

Step 5: When the vape cartridge is unscrewed from the pen, take a cotton swab and isopropyl alcohol and gently wipe the area where your cartridge usually sits. It could be an issue with the vape battery itself. If not, it’s likely your cartridge is broken, and you’ll need to get a new one.

Final Thoughts

Wasting your precious oil in a faulty cartridge is a huge letdown. But how do you know if it’s a faulty cartridge or simply just clogged? If you’ve tried everything on this list and your vape still isn’t hitting, it might be a dud. 

Let this be a lesson to never buy from that brand again. It’s far too easy to make low-quality vape cartridges. Our mission at Herb is to connect consumers with products that are actually worth it. Check out our list of the best vape cartridges of 2023. You won’t be disappointed.

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