Simple Effective Atomizer Cleaning
The carbon build-up from burnt e-liquid (& flavours & other additives eventually cause a strong bad 'burnt' taste when vaping.
So I far have tried various treatments:
hot water, detergent, alcohol, powerful sonicating bath, coca-cola (weak acid),
concentrated acid, concentrated hot caustic ... and some combinations.
None will remove all of the built up carbonised e-liquid/flavour/colourings on the coil & wick,
Some give a short-lived 'freshen' to the taste, but it quickly comes back (e.g. Coke),
some clean/dissolve the deposit better, but have other problems like leaving residues in the metal mesh (e.g. caustic).
Here's an easy, cheap, safe & practical cleaning method that actually works:
Get some 30 vol (9%) hydrogen peroxide (see note 1)
e.g. from Boots the Chemists (UK) - over the pharmacy counter, 90p for 200 ml.
1 Blow the excess e-liquid out of the atomizer, rinse in hot water & blow out excess water.
2 Run the atomizer to dryness & then red heat (see note 2)
3 Keep it running & drip some hydrogen peroxide as close to the coil/wick as possible, one drop at a time,
use a plastic pippete of glass dropper maybe, let it fizz between drops (it decomposes to just water).
4 When you've done this say 10 times, drip quicker to flush it a bit & turn off the power.
6 Wash in hot water, blow excess out.
(7 if you've got a hand held steamer with nozzle, it might be worth using it here to give a final clean)
8 drain and/or dry out a bit (see note 3).
Use it again.
Note 1 : used as a skin disinfectant & mouth wash. so no real danger here.
Still it's best not to get hot peroxide on your skin, you might get a white patch.
Note 2 : problem here for automatic batteries, how to activate withou t sucking on it yourself (!),
I guess use some sort of suction device (hoover, or maybe a rubber sqeezie-bulb as sold in aquarium shops).
With manual batteries or some external power supply (see note 4) this is a lot easier.
Actually this step may not be necessary at all.
Note 3 : don't dry the wick out too much, or it won't soak up e-liquid very well for a while.
Note 4: In the below demonstration I used a switchable voltage supply with 3V, 4.5V (and others),
1.2 amp current-limited, bought from Argos for £10, the jack plug happens to touch the atomizer battery contact-end quite nicely.
Visual demonstration of cleaning an extreme case, click on any picture to enlarge it:
Test liquid was a worst case mixture : 4ml 36 mg liquid + 1ml Loranne Coffee (thick opaque black) + 1 ml Loranne Peppermint oil.
Brand new dissected atomizer, you can see the shiny 'primer' on it:
After vaping a millilitre of so (I wasn't inhaling this btw, but the room smelt very nice),
extreme carbon build up !
Burn off by heating the coil (this was with 4.5V, the e-cig battery probably wont get it so hot)
hydrogen peroxide boiling on the coil:
Not too bad a result, thee coil is clean, & the wick is clean under the coil.
The ends of the wick are still a bit dirty, but I don't think this matters too much
(it might in the long run, if it stops it actually 'wicking' eventually)
This is an extreme example, and of course prevention is better than cure, so doing this as frequently as possible
would keep the build up to a minimum (say at least once a week?).
The hydrogen peroxide leaves no residue and also seem to clean & de-colourise the metal wick parts nicely.
Any other tests I should perform?
Here's a quick vid to show it happening for real on an intact atomizer:
YouTube - e-Cigarette Atomizer In-Place Clean Using H2O2
(There's some extra details in the 'details' section for this vid on YouTube proper)
Last edited by ZambucaLu; 03-29-2009 at 02:50 PM.
Reason: OP's request
Exogenesis --I will give it a go and report---Looks good!!!---Sun
Well, if you can only get 75 of your 150 atomizers usable again, it'll be a win
Really nice shots there Exo :-)
Have you tried that with just using water instead of peroxide? I wonder if it would do the same job. From those great pictures you can see the heat obliterated most of the stuff, all that's left is a bit of cleanup :-)
It might be the liquid boiling that's giving you the rest of the cleaning action, not necessarily the properties of the peroxide.
If you could try that, that would be cool. 9% peroxide is quite a bit harder to find than the regular 3% on the shelf
great job though :-)
The H2O2 was always a strong possibility because it reacts with organics. Happy to hear you persevered in testing this Exogenesis (I knew you would). I didn't know one can get 9% peroxide so easily. And the heat is an important factor. I could even get vinegar to achieve results by doing so with the atomiser running.
This is looking positive.
As I said before, a two step process with H2O2 first makes best sense. First oxidise, then use an acid to remove the oxides (if any still there); and other mnerals, carbonates etc.
Good work. I think your worked-out protocol using H2O2, followed by a stronger phosphoric acid bath, as Sun will get tomorrow, should deal with most caes of deposits.
Last edited by kinabaloo; 03-27-2009 at 08:33 AM.
One note of caution though, after reading more carefully. You say worst case juice, but this is far from worse case scenario - the deposit was formed perhaps same day from new ? The deposits that are proving difficult to remove are those that have been heated over and over for weeks.
I really hope this still works, but there is a possibility that it might not.
Exogenesis - a guy (i assume) called Jimbob had a nice idea for an atomiser cleaning gadget - plug in atomiser, fill tank, switch on (usb perhaps?). And the fluid is cycled with a small motor. Put this idea with the right solution and it is a big step forward
I had tried 'boiling' in some hydrogen peroxide but it made no difference...I shall have to give the heating the coil up idea a try ..hydrogen peroxide had always been my favourite idea to work so I was surprised it failed.....but I am now very hopeful for sun's idea of the much stronger Phosphoric acid bath...the perfect cleaner would be one we can just simply leave the atomizers in soak for a while and rinse out.
As you said I think the ultimate application of cleaning the atomizer would be something we could soak the atomizer in, Say overnight while your battery is charging and you are sleeping.
Originally Posted by surbitonPete