Cleaning your atomizer helps prevent stale flavors and extend the life of the chamber and even the vaporizer. The slow buildup of gunk can block airflow, prevent the coil from doing its thing, and screw with the electric connections between the battery and atomizer.
So how do you clean your atomizer? And how often should you do it?
Well it depends on what’s wrong with your atomizer, and how often you vape wax. There’s no reason why a wax pen owner shouldn’t be cleaning atomizers weekly at the very least. It’s a worthy investment that will keep the atomizer lasting longer and maintain clean-tasting vapor production.
The Q Tip Method
For quick wipe downs, a q tip dipped in isopropyl alcohol will do. For one thing, the q tip won’t hurt the coil. Did we mention that, ironically, the heating coil is a real snowflake when it comes to direct contact? You damage the coil and you might as well drill a couple holes in a potato for a makeshift pipe because your atomizer is dead.
Cleaning atomizers with a q tip works when you do it regularly, like after each session. But if you let wax build up and harden, you’ll need to use a deeper cleaning method, which is why it’s better in the long run to take a minute to clean your atomizer every day.
Soak the Atomizer
So you didn’t clean your atomizer every day. Now it looks and tastes like a petri dish. The wax is all blackened and hardened like mineral deposits around a volcano. Your q tip abandoned hope a long time ago. Now it’s time to pay your dues and invest some energy into a deep clean of your atomizer.
While we don’t recommend this for coil atomizers, it’s totally fine to soak removable coilless buckets like the ones seen in certain SOURCE vapes atomizers. If you do decide to soak a coil atomizer, make sure to dry it out really good before you vape again.
(The SOURCE Titanium atomizer with a removable bucket enables easy cleaning.)
A 30-minute soak in isopropyl alcohol will do the trick. The wax will become saturated and break down next time you try to wipe it. Unless of course, you waited so long that the wax has crystallized in between the coils of the heating rod, in which case it’s time for your atomizer to start getting its affairs in order.
Blow Out the Atomizer
Blowing out the atomizer airhole is an unorthodox method that some swear by and most laugh off. It only really comes in handy if you’ve overloaded the atomizer and the airhole got clogged. Otherwise the airhole generally stays clear.
If you end up sensing a clog in the atomizer airhole, try blowing through the battery end of the atomizer into your sink. And remember to let the atomizer cool off before you do that, or your lips will look all Deadpool.
(Blowing through the battery end of the atomizer can create a spitball effect that clears the airhole of all sorts of trouble.)
If you’re lucky, gunk will be sneezed out of the airhole and the optimal airflow will be recovered. If not, no worries. Our next atomizer cleaning method is perfect for clearing wax out of the airway.
The Paperclip Method
A q-tip is great for wiping down the inside of the atomizer, and it’s a gentle way to clean the fragile coil. But to clean the gunk out of the tight spaces like the airway, you’ll need to go MacGyver.
MacGyver, for anyone under fifty, was a television character who jerry-rigged useful tools and weapons out of everyday items in order to right the wrongs of the world.
In true MacGyver fashion, you will wrap a toothpick or paperclip with a piece of paper towel to create a needle-like poke for clearing the airhole of your atomizer. You can also gently scrape wax from the coil, or the little nooks beneath it.
Using the toothpick method to clear the airhole will only really come in hand if you overfill the herb chamber. So make sure to use the appropriate amount of wax so you don't have to resort to these sort of extraordinary measures.
Clean the Connections
It’s not just about the atomizer. To ensure the best for your wax pen, you’ll want to keep the connections between the battery and atomizer clean and clear of wax. Using lint free cloth or smooth tissue with some isopropyl alcohol, wipe down the threading and the connection. Don’t let scraps or lint get stuck in the threading. These can not only interrupt your electrical connection, but create a fire hazard. Leave no liquid or material on the connection. Make sure it’s dried before you reconnect and start vaping. If the threading or connection gets gunked up, it can prevent you from screwing the battery and atomizer together all the way, which will ruin your whole day.
Buy a SOURCE Atomizer with Removable Buckets
So now you see cleaning atomizers can be a pain. Especially if you procrastinate. If you want to skip all these cleaning methods and make it really easy for yourself, go with an atomizer that has a removable bucket.
SOURCE Vapes makes a few very high grade options available in their 4 Series line of atomizers: The SOURCE Nail Gr2 Titanium, the SOURCE Nail Ceramic, and the Source Nail Quartz.
(Some Source Vapes atomizers feature easy-to-clean removable buckets.)
A coilless atomizer makes it easy to clean up. But a removable coilless atomizer makes it really easy to clean up. You just unscrew the atomizer, let the cup pop out, soak it if you must, or just wipe it out with a q tip and, of course, some isopropyl alcohol.
Burn Off Leftover Wax
One tried and true method for keeping the atomizer clean is running a burn off. This is super simple and only takes half a minute to do--and it's not as much of a hassle as cleaning the atomizer with a q tip. After you take a hit, simply hold the power button down and watch that coil glow orange for thirty seconds. This will burn off any excess wax so it doesn't harden into concrete on your coil or in the airpath.
Maintaining the longevity of your atomizer is all about the daily ritual of spot cleaning to avoid the bigger clean up job that procrastinating can accumulate. Running a burn off is one of the easiest ways to clean your atomizer after each session.
How Do You Know When Your Atomizer Needs Cleaning?
If your wax atomizer is on the decline, the first thing you’ll notice is a stale, even burnt taste. Imagine what an old boot tastes like and you’ll know when you’re overdue for an atomizer cleaning. Leftover wax has built up on the walls of the chamber and/or coil, and now it’s messing with your vapor production. Another symptom of a messy atomizer is decreased airflow, when the airhole is blocked by runoff wax. Both problems are solvable if you catch the problem fast enough. You just need to clean the atomizer.
What if Your Wax Atomizer is Dead?
So your atomizer is done. And you can’t revive it with a q tip.
It’s time for a new atomizer. Luckily there are plenty available on our wax atomizers page that are just waiting for you to gunk them all up.
William Updyke is a writer and creator at The VaporNation Blog, an online publication providing the latest news, advice, and opinions on the vaporizer industry. His articles are enjoyed by a monthly readership of over 60,000, while his instructional videos on Vaporizer Education: The Official VaporNation Channel have been watched over 120,000 times.
While he didn't attend vape college, per se, William does know a good vaporizer when he sees it. A vape enthusiast for the past four years, he has a deep understanding of the heating styles, materials, build quality, and functionality that separate decent vaporizers from great ones. You can read his reviews and how-tos for helpful and trustworthy information about the latest devices, trends, and practices in vaping.
William graduated from the University of Montana before moving to Los Angeles, where he writes weekly blogs about vaping and hosts a Clippers podcast. You can read his articles on Leafly, Inked, and more.