how to unclog a vape pen

Troubleshooting Tips for Common Vape Pen & Cartridge Issues

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We understand there can be much frustration when your disposable pen, cartridge or battery does not function as expected. Before bringing them back to the dispensary for further inspection by a technician, there may be a way to troubleshoot the item on your own before making the trip.

All Vaping Products

Always keep disposable pens, cartridges and batteries at room temperature. Avoid leaving items in your car or anywhere that experiences excessive fluctuations in cold and heat. Furthermore, always store items upright as laying them on their side could cause air bubbles to form and affect performance.

Disposable Vape Pens

Once you take the first “puff” or “draw”, the battery is “on” and cannot be recharged or turned off. You usually have up to 30 days to use all the product before the battery could die. You do not want to try it out and then save for later because it may not have battery left if you wait too long. More and more cannabis brands are creating rechargeable disposable vape pens to combat this.

Pull-To-Draw and Push Button Batteries

A vape cartridge can be inserted into either a pull-to-draw or push button style battery. Pull-to-draw batteries only require the user to “puff” or “draw” to use. Push button style batteries have a singular button that must be pushed five times rapidly to turn on and off. That same button can then be pushed three times rapidly to cycle between low, medium and high temperature settings. Those heat settings are usually indicated by varying light colors.

Vape Cartridges

Scenario #1: My cartridge worked at first and then stopped working.

  1. The holes in the cartridge may be clogged with oil. Try warming your cartridge with a hair dryer (lowest heat setting) or by rubbing it between your hands to warm up the oil and change its viscosity. You can also poke a toothpick or safety pin gently in the hole to help de-clog it.
  2. Prime your coil by taking “dry hits” from your cartridge without the battery, and blowing gently into it.
  3. Make sure the battery is turned on and fully charged.

Scenario #2: My vape pen doesn’t work at all.

  1. The contact on the cartridge may be pushed in too far and not connecting with the contact on the battery. This can happen if the cartridge is removed and replaced on the battery multiple times. If this occurs, SLIGHTLY pull the contact up (with your fingernail, pen cap or paperclip) until it is level.
  2. Inspect the battery contact; it may be clogged or coated. If this occurs, wipe the contact portion with a Q-tip soaked in rubbing alcohol, let the terminal dry, reconnect your cartridge to the battery and try it again. Do NOT overtighten your cartridge.
  3. Make sure your battery is turned on and fully charged. Pull-to-draw batteries are always on. Batteries with a button can be turned on by rapidly pressing the button 5 times. If you are using a battery with a button, also make sure you are holding the button down while you draw.

Scenario #3: The oil from my cartridge tastes burnt.

  1. If you have an adjustable temperature battery, try setting your temperature control to a lower setting. The Push-Button style batteries usually include multi-click functions (Rapidly Press button 5 times to make sure it is turned on and press button rapidly 3 times to cycle between low, medium and high temperatures).

If an issue with your disposable pen, cartridge or battery persists, drop on by our dispensary and a technician will examine further. If it is determined to be a defective product, you may qualify for a replacement. Call us at 217-214-6337 for any questions or concerns.

We understand there can be much frustration when your vaping product does not function as expected. Here are some tips and tricks for troubleshooting.

How to Clean a Vape Pen

Vape pens are increasingly popular products for cannabis, CBD, and other vapable products. These products are discreet and user-friendly, but require a bit of maintenance from time to time. It is extremely important to exercise good hygiene habits with your vape pen, and committing to a cleaning schedule is crucial to keeping your equipment safe to use and in working order.

Follow the directions below to clean your vape pen:

Step 1: Research Your Vape Pen’s Model and Construction

Be sure you know as much as possible about your vape pen to ensure you don’t damage the product or affect its function. For this reason, knowing the vape pen’s model and its individual components is important.

In the best case scenario, you know the vape pen’s product name, brand, and model number. Many of these products have manuals and other resources online to help you identify the components and proper cleaning processes.

Construction of a Vape Pen

Vape pens have a huge variety of shapes, sizes, features, and functions. Some require the push of the button to activate the heating element, while others are draw-activated. Some have a removable lithium-ion battery, and others are built in. Generally, a vape pen consists of the following parts:

  • Battery
  • Tank
  • Atomizer
  • Mouthpiece
  • Button
About the Battery:

Like any electronic, a vape pen needs power to function. Most vape pens are powered by lithium-ion batteries with a wide range of amps (amount of electrical power) and milliamp hours (mAh), which indicates how long the battery will run. If your battery is removable, like the popular 18650 lithium-ion batteries found in open system vaporizers, we recommend removing the battery and storing in a case before cleaning your vape pen. Damaged batteries are potentially dangerous, so always err on the side of caution with your power sources.

About the Cartridge:

The cartridge (also referred to as a “cart” for short) is the chamber where your cannabis oil is stored for vaporization. This is another case where different products have different constructions and styles; some have fillable tanks that require the user to squeeze oil into the cartridge, and others have disposable, replaceable cartridges that are pre-filled with oil. If your vape pen uses cartridges, be sure you know which cartridges are compatible with your product, such as a 510-thread or PAX Pod.

About the Atomizer:

The atomizer is the part of the battery that actually heats your cannabis oil, which “atomizes” the product into a fine vapor. In general, atomizers consist of a series of metal coils that get hot when electrical current passes through them. The most common coils are made out of nichrome, but some other materials include nichrome, kanthal, nickel, titanium, and stainless steel.

About the Mouthpiece:

The mouthpiece is the part of the vape pen that makes contact with your mouth. These are often removable, and come in a variety of materials from silicone to plastic. It is especially important to keep this part of your vape pen clean, since this part touches your mouth.

About the Button:

As mentioned before, not all vape pens have buttons. Some products are activated by your inhaling. For vape pens that do have buttons, pressing the button completes the circuit between the battery and the atomizer, activating the pen. Some vape pens have multiple temperature settings that can be accessed by clicking the button several times to cycle through each setting.

Step 2: Disassemble Your Vape Pen

Now that you know the individual components of your vape pen, you’ll need to take it apart. Most vape pens “thread” together, which means they can be screwed together or unscrewed apart. On the other hand, some vape pens snap together with plastic. It is essential to disassemble your vape pen completely before cleaning. If you are unsure how to disassemble your vape pen, the product’s user manual can often be found online.

Step 3: Gently Scrub Your Equipment

How to Clean Your Mouthpiece

(Materials needed: Rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, paper towels, bowl, water)

The cleanliness of your mouthpiece is essential for hygienic vaping. Dab a cotton swap or cloth in rubbing alcohol and scrub the inside and the outside of the mouthpiece, taking special care to remove any residue. For a deeper clean, mouthpieces can be soaked in a rubbing alcohol or water for up to an hour prior to scrubbing. After scrubbing, set the mouthpiece on a paper towel or cloth to dry.

How to Clean a Vape Pen Cartridge

(Materials needed: Rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, paper towel)

Cleaning cartridge-loaded vape pens is generally easier than cleaning tank-based vape pens. Dab cotton swabs in rubbing alcohol and gently scrub the exterior of the cartridge, taking special care to remove any residue on the outside of the cartridge. Once the exterior is clean, use a paper towel to dry the outside of the cartridge completely.

Important note:

Never submerge your cartridge in alcohol or other liquids. This may contaminate your vape oil, produce harsh flavors, or dramatically affect your vaping experience.

How to Clean a Clogged Vape Cartridge

(Materials needed: Safety pin, hair dryer)

The oil in the cartridge may solidify, obstructing the airflow through the cartridge. In some cases, you can use the fine point of a safety pin to clear the clog. If that doesn’t work, apply heat to the cartridge with a hair dryer, gently warming the cartridge from a foot or two away from the cartridge. Once it has warmed for a minute or so, try removing the clog with the safety pin again. Repeat this process as many times as necessary to clear the clog. If the cartridge is still clogged after repeated attempts, you may have to replace the cartridge altogether.

How to Clean the Tank*

(Materials needed: Rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, paper towels, bowl, water)

*If your vape pen uses cartridges, you can skip this section.

To clean the tank, empty out any residue from prior vaping. For liquid, turn the tank on its side, draining the liquid into a pile of paper towels or directly into a proper waste management receptacle. Pouring liquid directly down the drain in the sink is not recommended. For solid concentrates, apply rubbing alcohol to a cotton swap and scrub away all residue. Soak the tank in rubbing alcohol and water for up to an hour before wiping down the inside with a cotton swab and left to dry on the paper towels.

How to Clean the Battery

(Materials needed: Rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, water)

As mentioned before, the battery is the most potentially dangerous part of the vape pen, and should be cleaned with care. In most cases, the battery needs a gentle cleaning on the exterior with cotton swabs. Make sure the connector (where the battery threads and connects to the atomizer) is free of any residue, as this can obstruct the flow of electricity to the atomizer.

Important note:

Never submerge your battery in liquid. The battery should be cleaned externally and never soaked. Submerging or soaking your battery could result in a dangerous situation.

Step 4: Allow Your Vape Pen to Dry

To ensure you don’t get any “off” flavors or the essence of rubbing alcohol in your vape pen, give your vape pen enough time to fully dry. If you want to accelerate the drying process, you can use paper towels or cloth to wipe off any visible droplets. Once your equipment is fully dry, it is safe to refill your tank or insert a new cartridge, reassemble the individual components, and vape your products.

Step 5: Maintain a Regular Cleaning Schedule

Even if you only vape occasionally, you should clean your vape pen at least once a week. Depending on the amount of vaping you do, you may need to clean your equipment more frequently. A good rule of thumb is to clean your equipment as soon as you see any residue on the exterior of your vape pen, or whenever your vape has an irregular, “off” taste.

Learn More About Cannabis Products:

For more information on vape pens, concentrates, and high-quality cannabis products, check out our Resource Center. Become a Happy Valley Insider for exclusive deals and updates, and be sure to download the Happy Valley Insider App for even more tools to assist you with your experience.

Unsure of how to clean a vape pen? Find out the step-by-step process you need to take to properly clean, sanitize, and prepare your vape pen for safe use.