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You mentioned a small amount of crackle. This could still indicate a slight flooding of the coil which could be caused by not enough wick. If the wick is to loose inside the coil then it could be burning as not enough juice can get in. You want some resistance when you feed your wick through the coil. Pull it back and fourth once it's in to loosen the bit inside the coil.
For a comparison my wicks last at least a week in my subtank mini (I vape this with a Clapton coil at 40w) and my Bellus RTA (Dual clapton coil at 50w)
I've been making my own juices for a few months now with little success. All of my juice taste bland to me. I think part of the problem is I'm trying to make juice as rich in flavour as Element juice, which is by far my favourite brand.
I use EM and sucralose in my mixes and I can taste the flavour, but I just can't seem to make anything with the oomph that I crave!
Here's an Element pink lemonade clone that I found as an example -
7% Lemon TFA 4% raspberry CAP 5% Sweet tangerine CAP 0.5% champagne TFA 1% Sweetener
After 2 weeks of steeping my only word is meh. Get some flavour but, as with all of my other juice, it just largely tastes dry and bland and not juicy like Element's does.
My name's Joe. Been vaping properly for about 8 months. Started with an Ego setup and quickly moved onto a subtank/istick combo. Now I have 2 tanks, 3 drippers and a mech. Oh and I am trying to nail making my own juice. Specifically trying to clone Element e liquids as they're the best!