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What is Vaper’s Tongue and How Do You Fix it?

Getting the best flavor out of your e-liquid is one of the most important things for any vaper. Along with getting enough nicotine and putting out a nice cloud of vapor, you want the flavor of your juice to really pop out with every puff. But sometimes, apparently without reason, the flavor you’re getting suddenly diminishes and doesn’t come back with subsequent puffs. There are a few possible causes for this, but it’s generally down to what’s known as “vaper’s tongue” or “flavor fatigue.” But what does this mean and what can you do about it?


What is Vaper’s Tongue/Flavor Fatigue?


Vaper’s tongue or flavor fatigue describes a sudden apparent loss of taste from your e-liquid during ordinary vaping. You may feel like you can’t taste your e-juice at all. However, it usually just leads to a diminished sense of taste, so you just don’t feel like your juice tastes as strong as it did previously. Most vapers experience it from time to time, and it can last anything from less than a day to a few days.


The double name of vaper’s tongue or flavor fatigue reflects some differences in how the issue is explained. The term “vaper’s tongue” refers to the fact that many vapers feel that their tongue is coated with something when they are experiencing the loss of flavor. Whether this is directly related to vaper’s tongue is questionable, though, and the term flavor fatigue is a little broader and potentially more accurate. It’s more like your senses get exhausted as a result of continually vaping one strong flavor in particular, and in practice the most important sense involved is probably your sense of smell, since it’s intricately linked to your perception of taste.


The most common explanation for vaper’s tongue / flavor fatigue is that you’ve been vaping the same flavor for too long. In short, your senses get accustomed to the flavor so you don’t notice it as much as you originally did. However, there are other possible reasons you may experience it…


Other Potential Causes of Vaper’s Tongue


In their post on the issue, E-Cigarette Direct lists other possible causes of vaper’s tongue, and it’s worth considering these as possibilities if you’re experiencing the issue regularly.


Firstly, various things can damage your tastebuds, and this could lead to an apparent case of vaper’s tongue. If you both smoke and vape – or if you have an occasional cigarette despite being a vaper most of the time – this can lead to vaper’s tongue because smoking damages your tastebuds. Drinking alcohol can also have the same effect, as can eating very spicy or sour foods. Medicines including lithium, drugs for thyroid conditions, captopril, penicillamine, rifampin and some cancer drugs can lead to the issue, but unfortunately in these cases it’s unlikely you’ll be able to do much about the problem.


Dehydration and a dry mouth are common side effects of vaping, because both PG and VG suck moisture from their immediate environment. The dehydration this causes a loss of your sense of taste, and is likely one of the most common causes for vaper’s tongue.


Colds and flus are also potential causes of vaper’s tongue because they can lead to a blocked nose, but other issues including gingivitis, vitamin B12 or zinc deficiency and injuries to the mouth, nose or head could also be responsible. Get a doctor to check you out if you have persistent vaper’s tongue and have reduced taste for food and drink too, because one of these conditions or something else could be responsible. Even stress and anxiety can lead to changes in your sense of taste.


How to Fix Vaper’s Tongue


The main thing to remember is that vaper’s tongue is generally a temporary issue, and you don’t necessarily have to do anything if you’re experiencing it. Your sense of taste will return to normal quickly enough. However, vapers have found that many different approaches can reduce the length of time you experience it for, so these are worth trying if you want to get your sense of taste back to normal sooner.


Change Your Flavor


The easiest and most widely-recommended solution to vaper’s tongue is to switch to a different flavor. You should switch to a different type of flavor if you’re getting flavor fatigue and you’ve been vaping the same juice for most of the day. Change from a dessert e-juice to a sharper fruity flavor, or from a pure tobacco flavor like Legato to a brighter menthol option like Solo. Solo in particular is a great choice for tackling vaper’s tongue thanks to the powerful, minty nature of the flavor.


Drink More Water


Drinking a lot of water is a good idea for a vaper anyway, because PG and VG will dehydrate you throughout the day. But if that dehydration is leading to a reduction in your sense of taste, staying well-hydrated could bring back the flavor of your juice much more quickly and even prevent you from getting vapers’ tongue in the first place.


Cleanse Your Palate


A few of the widely-suggested solutions to flavor fatigue revolve around cleansing your palate in the same way you might do between courses of a meal. You can do this with many different things, but wine tasters often smell fresh coffee grounds to reset their tastebuds, and others recommend sucking on a lemon (or eating lemon sorbet) or even using some mouth wash.


Stop Smoking


This may be a bit of an obvious suggestion, but since smoking damages your taste buds, if you still have a cigarette regularly or occasionally, quitting as soon as possible will help you get the most out of your e-liquid flavors. Reducing the amount you smoke may help a bit, but your tastebuds won’t really have time to recover until you stop altogether.


Check Your Device


Although it isn’t technically related to vaper’s tongue, it could be that you’re having trouble tasting your e-liquid because of an issue with your device. If the e-juice tastes “burnt” or if you’re just struggling to pick out the specific flavors, your coil or wick may need replacing, especially if you’ve been using the same one for a over a week or two. A good way to test this is to try the same juice in a different tank or atomizer and see if the problem clears up. If it does, changing the coil or wick on the original tank will likely solve the problem.  


If All Else Fails: Wait for Vaper’s Tongue to Clear Up


Unfortunately, while you can sometimes get rid of vaper’s tongue a little quicker, sometimes the only thing you can do is wait for the problem to clear up on its own. It might not be ideal, but the good news is that vaper’s tongue is usually temporary. Stay hydrated, keep changing up your flavor and avoid smoking, but know that time might be the only thing that will help you. In the same vein, taking precautions like drinking plenty of water can make it less likely that you’ll get vaper’s tongue, but you will probably still experience it sometimes. All you can usually do is reduce the issue or make it less likely to strike; avoiding or “curing” it entirely isn’t often possible.

Lee Johnson is a writer and vaper from the UK. He started vaping in 2012, and since then has contributed to E-Cigarette Reviewed, E-Cigarette Direct’s Ashtray Blog and Vaping360. He strongly believes smokers need accurate information about vaping and other reduced-harm alternatives to smoking. He has a degree in physics from the Open University and a passion for all forms of science.

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