Soot can be will be deposited on the ceramic filter whenever the flame is put in contact with the ceramic. This causes some bad things to happen: 1) the incompletely burned flame components create disagreeable flavors, unhealthy particles and dirty vapor, and 2) the soot will eventually clog the ceramic filter, rendering it unusable. This is why we always tell people to never ever contact the flame to the ceramic. The flame does not crack, burn or in any way damage the ceramic. The underlying ceramic is fine, but the soot causes problems.
Soot buildup does not happen with normal, proper use of the VaporGenie, wherein the flame does not make contact with the ceramic. Soot appears as a pitch-black area on the dark gray ceramic. Soot will not damage the ceramic, but it will eventually clog the ceramic filter after repeated improper uses. When clogged with soot, the ceramic filter will be impossible to inhale through; therefore rendering your VaporGenie nonfunctional. Partially clogged filters will have impaired performance.
Removing soot from your VG filter is accomplished by one of two different methods depending on the style of VG you have. The easiest method is to remove the filter and heat it to red hot using a propane torch. Filters can be easily removed from all Glass VGs and from New Style Classics and Handcarved tops. Removing the filter is usually done only to remove soot (accumulated from improper use). Removing the filter and retaining ring also allows for a more thorough cleaning.
Note: This procedure is NOT normal or routine maintenance. With normal use, you will NEVER need to do this with your VG. This soot-removal process is ONLY necessary if your VG has been so thoroughly abused and misused for such a long period of time that the ceramic filter is clogged with soot.
First you need to determine if you have the new style top with a user replaceable filter. In the older VG classic and Handcarved products (manufactured before July, 2011), the filters are not removable. If your eyelet is round and not octagonal then you CAN NOT remove the filter from your VaporGenie. If you have an old style top, you can only remove soot by the vacuum cleaner method explained below.
1) Obtain curved or hooked tweezers or wire similar to the ones shown in the picture.
2) Place the hook in the retaining ring as shown.
3) Pull the retaining ring until it pops out; it should not require much force. In the glass bat, the other components (filter, wire support and screen) will fall out easily. In the classic top, you will need to gently tap the top or shake it until the filter falls out. Do not push or force the filter out (it's fragile).
Removing the internal components facilitates a more thorough cleaning. Also, with the filter removed, soot can easily be burned away from the ceramic filter by heating it red hot with a propane torch.
In the glass bat, screen replacement requires filter removal.
Do not crush or scrape the ceramic filter. So be careful, especially when replacing the filter and retaining ring. The ceramic filter is fragile and easily damaged. We sell replacement ceramic filters for VG customers ONLY (at reasonable cost: $10 including postage). The VG warranty does NOT cover crushed or eroded filters.
Remove the wire retaining ring with pliers or a tweezer (grasping the tiny wire tab), and remove the ceramic filter. Then, heat the ceramic filter with a propane torch to cherry red. This will completely burn off the soot. The heat will not damage the ceramic filter. Then, replace the ceramic filter and retaining ring. Do not crush the ceramic filter when handling it.
The best method for removing soot from old tops (tops with non removable filters) is the 'vaccuum clearner method'.