How to Avoid and Educate Yourself About the Potential of an Exploding Vape Pen

Vaping

In this day and age social media is at our fingertips. Our phones are literally glued to us and now more than ever, we are seeing news stories popping up everywhere…..they are in our browsers, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and the stories spread like wildfire whether they are true or not. In the last year there have been several cases in the news of ecigarettes and vape pens exploding and causing serious damage. Given the severity of damage I understand why it’s made the headlines. However, the details surrounding these incidents are usually overlooked causing the whole vaping industry to be put in the hot seat. Now don’t get me wrong, I feel terrible for the people who’ve suffered injury but I don’t believe 100% of the blame should be directed towards the industry. In fact, most battery explosions are caused by user error. That being said, I do think there is a responsibility of the vape shops selling ecigarettes in Canada to inform their customers on battery safety. We will discuss battery safety and educate the Vapers and non-Vapers on the potential harm of using lithium ion batteries to hopefully ease the hysteria of vape pens in Canada exploding.

First let’s talk about the different types of vape pens and their batteries.

Types of Batteries:

In vaping there are 3 styles of vape devices that use a lithium ion battery; vape pens with an internal battery, box mods with an external battery or a mechanical mod that also uses external batteries.

  1. Vape pens such as an eGo, or 510-T are starter devices that most people who are just trying to quit cigarettes are more likely to use because they’re simple and easy to use. This style of ecigarette provides the mouth to lung draw that you would associate with how a cigarette is smoked. These devices have smaller lithium ion batteries with typically built in safety features and I can assure you that none of the explosions you’ve seen in the news are caused by these.
  2. Most box mods usually have an external battery as well as a micro USB port for charging. These bigger batteries can also be removed from the device and charged on an external charge, which is optimal. However, you can get away with never removing the battery and charging only with the micro USB port. Most box mods on the market are regulated so they have over-charge, over-discharge, reverse polarity, dual circuit and overcurrent protection. These regulatory features make box mods safe.
  3. Mechanical mods are where its gets a bit tricky! These mods should ONLY be used by advanced Vapers who know what they’re doing as these mods usually involve customization and tinkering with its internal components to push the device to its limit. And that doesn’t mean you can watch a few YouTube videos and call yourself an expert. You really need to have a great understanding of electricity (ohms, amps, volts) and electronics before using one of these bad boys. These mods are not regulated meaning that there is not any internal safety features allowing for a greater chance of failing with user error.

Basic Battery Safety when it comes to removable lithium ion batteries

Storage and Transportation:

When batteries are taken out of the device you can’t just put them anywhere. They are powerful batteries and need to be treated with care. You should never put lithium ion batteries in your pocket, purse or bag unless they are protected. The problem with this is that if the batteries come into contact with metal such as your keys or coins and metals touch both the positive and negative parts of the battery they may complete a circuit and generate a charge which could possibly cause an explosion. For this reason it’s important that you use a plastic battery case, silicone cover or soft cover when transporting batteries. While it’s the responsibility of the vape shop selling ecigarettes in Canada to discuss safe battery handling, it’s ultimately up to the Vaper to follow through and be responsible by asking questions if needed.

Battery Wraps:

Each lithium ion battery has a wrap on it that protects the positive and negative parts. Never use a battery if it has rips or tears because it’s just plain dangerous. There is a ring insulator on all batteries which is very important. It covers the negative end of the battery and separates it from the positive end. The two are very close together so if the ring is missing or ripped which exposes both the negative and positive portion of the battery it can cause serious damage causing an explosion. If your battery is ripped you should dispose of it properly or you can buy wraps and rewrap the battery yourself. Some vape shops selling ecigarettes in Canada will even do it for you! Although it is very easy to do, you need to be careful that you still have the ring insulator otherwise the battery is useless.

Inserting Batteries Properly:

This isn’t an issue for vape pens as they use internal batteries so you’ll never have to worry about it. Most box mods on the market in 2017 have reverse polarity protection. This safety feature protects the batteries and devices from shorting when you put the batteries in the wrong way. If you do this in a box mod your device won’t even power on. However, if you’re using a box mod with removable batteries you really should know which end is the positive and which is the negative… that’s just basic battery knowledge 101.

If you accidentally fail to insert your batteries correctly in an unregulated mod or mechanical mod and try to fire it you will have serious problems. You could vent the battery which will damage the battery, device and possibly hurt yourself or others if it explodes. Basically you need to be VERY careful when using unregulated and mechanical mods.

Battery Chargers:

The best advice I can give is use the chargers that came with your device. Why? Because they were in the box when you bought it and are meant to work with that specific device. The vape pens that use a micro USB for charging may look very similar to the ones you might use with any other micro USB plugs like your phone or camera, but they may be different. Some micro USB cords have Quick Charging like the Samsung phone chargers and this may cause overcharging of your ecigarette which will deplete the batteries life overtime. Now this doesn’t always happen because in most cases the battery will short out before you see any damage but there is a POTENTIAL for this to create an electrical fire.

For box mods and mechanical mods it’s best to charge externally. You will want to invest in a quality branded external charger as they are faster and most high end chargers have built in safety features such as over-charge and discharge protection and reverse polarity protection such as the Nitecore D2. The more expensive chargers will automatically detect the battery and select the appropriate voltage, charge mode and stops when charging is complete. The Nitecore D2 is even digital and tells you exactly how long until your battery will be finished charging. These will extend the battery’s life cycle unlike the cheaper external chargers which do not have these regulatory features and can cause your battery to overcharge, shortening their lifespan. If you’re new to vaping and own a box mod because of its longer battery life, you can simply charge using the micro USB port. The newer box mods have overcharge protection and will stop charging when the battery is full.

Over Discharging:

Over discharging your battery is just as bad as overcharging your battery. If you let your battery completely drain, you may find that the battery has been depleted and will never hold a charge as well as it did when you first bought it. With most vape pens and newer box mods there is built in over discharge protection. This means that it will not allow your battery to get dangerously low, instead it will not fire your vape device. This isn’t the case for mechanical mods. They do not have over discharge protection. The only way to tell is by a decrease in vapor production. Remember it’s always better to charge a battery before it is over-discharged than afterwards.

For the Advanced Builders:

Now if you’re building, you are likely using an RDA (Rebuildable Dripping Atomizer) and you should be fairly educated when it comes to ohm’s law and electricity. RDA’s aren’t compatible with smaller ecigarettes and vape pens in Canada such as the Ego or 510-T batteries because they require more power than vape pens are capable of. For that reason, RDA’s are used on box mods or mechanical mods. When building your own coils it’s important to know what the lowest resistance your device is capable of. For example, most box mods have a minimum resistance of 0.1ohm. As mentioned earlier, the newer box mods have built in safety features that will prevent damage because the device will read “ohm to low” and not fire off. However, with mechanical mods you will not have this luxury. To reiterate, it’s very important to know what you’re doing when using an unregulated mod, as it’s definitely not for the beginner and possibly too complicated even for an intermediate Vaper. To break it down in the simplest technical terms, the ohms you build (ex. 0.2 ohm) and whether you’re using a dual or single battery determines the amp pulled from the battery. If you build too low and do not have a strong enough battery, you will exceed a safe amp output. This is only a factor in unregulated mods like mech mods. When the battery is pushed beyond its limits it will cause a battery to vent, which means that hot chemicals are expelled from the battery under very high pressure and can cause the battery to explode. It is as dangerous as it sounds and should not be taken lightly which is why you should never push a battery above its capability. To avoid this you should ALWAYS check the resistance of your coil and calculate the amps the coil will pull from a battery. You can do this by using either the volts for mech mods or watts you will use on your box mod.

Don’t Fear the Vaper:

Now that we have gone over battery safety, it’s clear that mechanical mods are not for beginners as they require advanced knowledge. If you’ve been scared off vaping because of the cases with exploding batteries in the news, hopefully it is a bit clearer that although lithium ion batteries are powerful, beginner vape pens and regulated box mods are safe to use. If you’re currently smoking and are interested in vaping you should begin with a starter kit. Something that is simple, easy to use and not designed to be manipulated like mech mods. Any good vape shop selling vape pens and ecigarettes in Canada would never sell a beginner Vaper a mech mod. Visit a vape shop in your area to get some recommendations on appropriate devices for you. It’s best to check reviews first to make sure the staff is educated and are going to set you up with a device that is best suited for you.