Some individuals hail vaping as being a safer substitute for cigarettes, arguing that there’s no tobacco smoke, so it’s got to be safer. It remains to be seen if that’s true, and there is some evidence how the stuff inside vapes and e-cigs is toxic. But beyond that, there’s the actual fact these items occasionally blow up.
You hadn’t heard about this? Some pretty gruesome reports are beginning to accumulate. In November, a person in Colorado broke his neck, lost some teeth, and suffered burns and facial fractures when his e-cigarette exploded. A 15-year-old California boy lost half a dozen teeth inside a similar mishap recently. In Tennessee, another teen is dealing with the severe burns caused each time a vape pen starter kit no nicotine caught fire in his pocket a few weeks ago.
Statistics outlining just how prevalent this is remain thin, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency, of all the things, identified 25 cases of e-cigarette explosions in the usa between 2009-2014. However, that list is based only on incidents reported through the media. Considering that vaping’s seen a surge in popularity ever since then-last year, the CDC reported a 3-fold increase among middle- and school students alone-the quantity certainly is rising. A quick Search on the internet shows at the very least 12 explosions in 2015 alone.
As an alternative to burning tobacco, vape pens and e-cigs make use of a small lithium-ion battery to heat an aerosol cartridge to discharge a vapor that’s inhaled. Like any device which uses lithium-ion batteries, it is possible to run into problems when the battery is damaged or subjected to extremes in temperature. A quick circuit may cause the battery to overheat, catch fire, and even explode. These issues have a tendency to appear in cheap consumer gadgets which can be quickly churned from factories. In general, it’s relatively rare, but obviously it happens-recently, in hoverboard scooters.
“With lithium-ion batteries in general, whenever you operate one outside its safety window, there’s a tendency where things will go wrong,” says Venkat Viswanathan, who teaches mechanical engineering Carnegie Mellon University. That window is startlingly small: Viswanathan says batteries are best kept between 50 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s February, and but four US states are averaging temperatures below 50 today.
In some instances, the thing is compounded by cheap lithium-ion batteries that “don’t possess the luxury of using sophisticated management systems,” Viswanathan says. That can result in dangerously over- or under-charged batteries. Dendrite can be another potential problem. Dendrite can be a conductive filament that could form during the period of boxmmod charge/discharge cycles, particularly if the battery is rapidly charged. This stuff can spread such as a weed, eventually bridging the electrodes and creating a short circuit. “You have basically something equal to gasoline inside your lithium-ion battery,” Viswanathan says, “and so immediately it catches fire.”
Lithium-ion batteries power a whole lot of gadgets needless to say, and sometimes do it without trouble. But things like mobile phones and laptops and electric vehicles typically are produced to exacting specifications and rigorously tested, both from the company and outside experts. The Smoke-Free Alternative Trade Association, which represents for vape-makers, stated it “cannot speak with user error or with respect to a manufacturer for device” and, “If you find truly a challenge having a specific device, similar to a lap top or mobile phone manufacturer, that company should use the appropriate action.”
And to be fair, it’s not unusual for users to change their box mod vape, and numerous websites offer easy methods to do just that. The market trade group duly notes that hacked and modded devices can pose a safety risk.
All of these begs the question what, if something, is being done concerning this. Most regulatory discussions about e-cigarettes and vapes pinpoint the Food and Drug Administration’s critique from the chemicals in the devices. The FDA is about to introduce rules regulating the industry, a move which could classify e cigarettes and vaping products just like tobacco. Products would carry warning labels, sales to minors would be banned, and you’d see restrictions on things like offering free samples. But little has been said in regards to the safety of your devices.
The Smoke-Free Alternative Trade Association says it supports “reasonable science-based regulations,” but opposes everything that might “stifle innovation.” Nevertheless it argues “e-cigs and vapor goods are technology products, separate and distinct from combustible tobacco.” They liken these to electronic products.
That’s where things get tricky. Asked if it has any safety concerns about the devices, the buyer Products Safety Commission deferred on the FDA, saying this is basically the federal regulator in control there. The FDA does claim responsibility for ensuring the security of your parts from the devices that are employed in the consumption of tobacco products. But there aren’t a great deal of safety rules for manufacturers to follow along with, and the FDA is encouraging people to report any problems.
Viswanathan includes a recommendation for companies making what is vaping? and also other gadgets that utilize lithium-ion batteries: Crib from automakers making electric cars. They’ve developed sophisticated systems for minimizing the risks of problems. “Lithium-ion batteries fundamentally are given to catching fire,” he says, “and car makers have realized efficient methods to create zones where these batteries are secure to work.”
Granted, the odds that your vape pen will blow up such as an exploding cigar are slim. Yet it is possible, so the best option is to find a high quality vape pen from the reputable manufacturer. Look at the parts-should they look and feel cheap, they probably are. Viswanathan suggests ensuring that it’s got some sort of battery management system to prevent shorts and thermal runaway. Make sure you’re making use of the right battery and charger, and don’t modify anything.