How Do I Know When I Should Change My Coil?
Electric Nectar Collector Coils
Question: When Do I Know to Change My Coil?
Answer: That’s a great question!
Have you recently noticed your coil isn't heating up the same as it did when it was new?
The airflow on your device is seemingly more... restricted?
Or maybe you're looking at your electric nectar collector confused as to why the taste after each dab is a bit off these days… like it isn't as “clean” as it used to be.
You might find yourself asking... “Am I just high? Or is it time to swap out my coil?”
Chances are the answer is yes to both questions.
BUT you're not totally down on your luck, take a seat because I'm about to share some top tier tips that will increase your coil's lifespan and possibly help you make a more educated decision on your next coil purchase.
Let's start with the basics, proper maintenance. Practicing proper maintenance techniques can EASILY increase your coil's lifespan.
The number one rule everyone - yes, even you - should follow if they want to keep their device running like new is to clean it regularly, coils are no different. Some coils can be cleaned with solution; however others are considered to be disposable. Either way, the easiest and quickest thing you can do to increase your coil's lifespan is to run a “cleaning cycle” after each session. When you’re finished up and ready to put your device away, set your device to the highest temperature setting possible and run one full heating cycle. You'll see all the excess concentrates that are leftover burn off, smoke will rise from the coil until there is no more residues left and…
You've got yourself a clean coil for your next session!
Another thing you can do to increase your coil's lifespan is to never, and I mean it when I say NEVER, directly dip your coil into your concentrates. Direct dipping will most likely cause your coil to clog and can potentially damage it resulting in the need of a new coil almost immediately. You should always slightly "edge" your coil around the outer portion of your concentrates.
Now let's get into a breakdown of all the different types of coils you may come across and see if they might be salvageable.
CRUSHED QUARTZ COIL
Most popular e-nectar collectors on the market come with a crushed quartz coil, like the Lookah Seahorse Pro, the Yocan Falcon Mini, the G9 GDip, etc. Chances are, the electric nectar collector in your arsenal uses a crushed quartz coil too. This type of coil is made of hundreds of tiny pieces of quartz compressed together with a wire heating element.
Crushed Quartz Coils are generally considered to be one of those “disposable” types of coils we talked about earlier because they are incredibly hard to clean. You can expect this type of coil to last about a week or so, depending on use and taste preference. After prolonged use you may notice your once brand spankin’ new pristine clean coil has now turned completely dark in color and the taste after each dab is just all around n.a.s.t.y.
Aht aht aht. DON'T EVEN START, there's a reason for this travesty and it's partly because of you.
This happens because your concentrates slowly seep into all the tiny open spaces between the compressed crushed quartz, and it will continue seeping in deeper after each use. After extended use without proper maintenance (if you missed it, read all about it up there) the oils will simply get stuck there and with each session they will continue to burn, directly affecting taste as well as vaporization rate.
Quartz is a popular material used for dabbing because of its flavor preservation properties, fast heat up time, and ability to withstand high temperatures. If taste plays a big part in your preference to crushed quartz, you should also pay attention to where the heating element is located on your coil. If the heating element is exposed or close to the tip, you may run the risk of touching it to your concentrates while it's burning hot. When your wax touches the hot exposed wire on (or in) a coil, its super high temperature will typically BURN through the concentrates instead of VAPORIZING them which directly affects taste. This tends to be harsh on your throat and lungs, as well as your pockets.
… and with the gas prices these days we can all use some of that spare change.
The “edging” method may mitigate the chances of your concentrates touching the hot exposed wire.
DUAL CERAMIC ROD COIL
Next runner up, we have the Dual Ceramic Rod coil. You'll find this type of coil on the Boundless Terp Pen, and as a secondary option for the Lookah Seahorse Pro. These coils are made up of two ceramic rods with a wire heating element wrapped around each and are also considered to be “disposable” coils. Ceramic Rod coils are easier to clean on the surface however they tend to get clogged quicker than the other coils because the rods are placed right in front of the airflow hole.
Clogging is an issue with ANY type of coil you come across, so please, for the love of God, DO NOT DUNK YOUR COILS.
Ceramic coils will usually last you a bit longer because ceramic isn't AS porous (and is easier to clean on the surface) as a crushed coil is, but don't get it twisted, ceramic is still super porous.
God, I hope that makes sense.
Ceramic is known to be porous meaning this material contains a s*** ton of microscopic holes that absorb your concentrates, same concept as the tiny spaces in the crushed quartz coils mentioned earlier. Without proper maintenance your oils eventually harden and stay there, (I won't get into the whole “proper maintenance-coil lifespan-cleaning shtick” all over again, you can read all about it up there) directly affecting taste. Since these coils tend to clog quickly most users replace them every week or so even if the taste isn't so bad because of the restricted airflow, unless you're willing to put in the work and pick at the gunk that's built up behind the ceramic rods, which I don't believe is really worth the trouble in my opinion.
Ceramic is a popular material used for dabbing because of its heat retention and flavor preservation. There is no doubt about it, the wire on a ceramic rod coil is completely exposed to your concentrates which may make it seem like these coils are a horrible choice when it comes to flavor based on what was mentioned earlier regarding the result of your concentrates touching hot exposed wires. HOWEVER, ceramic is a neutral material that slowly heats up to temperature and retains heat for a longer period, because of this, most users notice their dabs are not as harsh or as intense as they would be with crushed quartz or other materials. Flavor is surprisingly NOT compromised even with the wires being exposed, and you might find yourself heating up your coil for a lesser amount of time with back-to-back sessions, again, because of heat retention.
CERAMIC TUBE COIL
We originally saw the ceramic tube tip coil on the OG of the OG electric nectar collectors, the Huni Badger. Ceramic Tube Tips are typically made up of layers upon layers of ceramic with a flat metal wire embedded in the middle of those layers. Although these tips are made out of delicate ceramic, they have an average lifespan of 2 months, but they can last you WAYYY longer than that, if you clean them often, they generally don't need to be replaced until they are somehow broken or have too much build up. These coils feature an extra-large airflow path that isn't easily clogged..
I know EXACTLY what you're thinking and it's STILL a big no-no.
Just because these don't get clogged easily, doesn't mean you should neglect cleaning them. If too much residue builds up inside the tube, you might notice the airflow is more restricted affecting cloud size, as well as taste. Same deal as the other coils, if you continuously heat up old, hardened oils, it will directly affect the taste of your future dabs.
To keep your ceramic tube tip in pristine condition for months or even a year, (trust me this is totally possible) you should practice proper maintenance and clean your coil every few sessions.
Best way to clean a ceramic tube tip is by running your device through one or two heating cycles to loosen up any build up, after, you can place an extra small cleaning brush dipped in solution into the tube. Be extra careful with this step, if the cleaning brush is pushed in too far you may mess up the electrical components which will result in a broken coil. Swish the brush around to remove any residue, then run one more heating cycle to remove any leftover cleaning solution! And there you have it! Easy as pie..or actually…
Ceramic Tube Tips have recently grown in popularity, you can expect to see this type of coil mimicked on electric nectar collectors released throughout 2022. We've already seen the Ceramic Tube Tip on the Rokin Stinger and also the Lookah Seahorse 2.0.
Lets not forget though, as the wise Ray Jay once said,
Huni Badger HIT IT FIRST.
The ceramic on this type of coil can easily break, you should avoid dropping this guy at all costs. The metal wire that's embedded into a ceramic tube coil heats the ceramic to high temperatures in a short amount of time because the wire encircles the entire tube. Ceramic tube tips combine the same smooth dab experience of ceramic, but they are also less wasteful since the metal wires are NOT exposed. Tube coils have longer and larger heated tips allowing for more of a heated surface area, compared to standard coils making it easier to take larger dabs. These are meant for those looking for some serious dabs out of an electric nectar collector.
QUARTZ TUBE COIL
That brings us to the quartz tube coil, this guy is a little new to the game.
It seems there is only one out on the market of its kind so far, which is the Lookah Seahorse V Coil that was recently introduced by Lookah on their Seahorse Pro Plus. This Quartz Tube Coil is made up of a clear quartz tube, a crushed quartz tip, and a wire heating element running downwards from the top of the quartz tube into the crushed quartz tip.
That's a mouthful.
Since the tip of the tube coil is crushed quartz it's safe to assume it'll have a lifespan similar to a regular crushed quartz coil. You’d want to swap this coil out based on taste preference, again, with heavy use and without proper maintenance you might find yourself replacing it in as little as three days. To keep your tip in tip top shape -no pun intended- practice the same maintenance and upkeep mentioned at the start of this whole comprehensive explanation of electric nectar collector coils.
When does it end, am I right?
Unlike a regular crushed quartz coil the heating element on a quartz tube tip IS NOT exposed similarly to most ceramic tube coils on the market, because of this there is no chance of the heating element touching your concentrates, minimizing waste, and maximizing flavor.
IT IS SAID that this coil's main function is to provide a larger heated surface to consume bigger dabs, for those who prefer quartz over ceramic based on taste preference, heat up time, and more.
(Reason why “it is said” is capitalized is because this statement is what Lookah claims to be true, however the heating element does not wrap around the quartz tube like it is on a ceramic tube coil. This statement is to be debated.)
AHA! Finally, we made it to the end of this whole -as my boss would say- “mishigas”.
We still have one more particular coil to talk about.
NICHROME & CERAMIC COIL
That brings us to the Dip Style electric nectar collector coil seen on the Dipper and Little Dipper by Dip Devices. What sets the dip style coil apart from a regular ceramic coil, is that it is made up of a Nichrome heating element surrounded by ceramic. This thing is 100% built to last and is by far the easiest coil to clean that I've come across. The lifespan on this type of coil, with proper maintenance and cleaning should last you roughly 2 months or more! There's generally no reason to replace these unless they have a huge amount of build up or they break similar to the Huni Badger coils.
To clean the dipper coil, you simply dump the coil directly into isopropyl alcohol.
Yeah… that's about it.
After an hour you should be able to rinse off the excess residue, let air dry and you're good to go!
I'll be completely honest here, when I first saw the Dipper coil, I started singing that “helllll to the nawww” song by Bishop Bullwinkle in my head.
No, but really. With all the reading I've done on exposed wires and how wasteful they can be, I didn't think this coil would stand a chance.
WAIT before you call me a hypocrite, after I did more research, I found that this coil is made up of NiChrome and ceramic. Nichrome has a higher resistance, meaning it heats up low and slow, as does ceramic. The combination of the two, slowly heating up to temperature, and considering the heat retention properties of ceramic, leads me to believe that this type of coil may not be as “wasteful” as others may assume it might be at first glance.
Lower temperature dabs produce a different effect because the compounds and terps aren't immediately destroyed by the high temperature of your coil. I would recommend this type of coil for anyone that is trying to achieve a slow rise out of an electric nectar collector instead of a straight shot to high heat!
Ultimately coil lifespan, aside from maintenance, material, cleaning, and usage, depends on preference. If the taste isn't up to par and the airflow isn't to your liking, then it's time to thank your old coil for its service…
…and swap that baby out for a new one.
-Preppy La' Peui