Many people hail vaping being a safer substitute for cigarettes, arguing that there’s no tobacco smoke, so it’s got to be safer. It remains to be noticed if that’s true, there is some evidence 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 of this? Some pretty gruesome reports are starting to accumulate. In November, a person in Colorado broke his neck, lost some teeth, and suffered burns and facial fractures when his electronic cigarette exploded. A 15-year-old California boy lost half a dozen teeth within a similar mishap recently. In Tennessee, another teen is recovering from the severe burns caused each time a vape pen starter kit with juice caught fire in their pocket several weeks ago.
Statistics outlining just how prevalent this can be remain thin, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency, of all things, identified 25 cases of electronic cigarette explosions in the usa between 2009-2014. However, that list is situated only on incidents reported by the media. Provided that vaping’s seen a surge in popularity since that time-a year ago, the CDC reported a three-fold increase among middle- and high school students alone-the amount almost definitely is rising. A simple Google search shows at least a dozen explosions in 2015 alone.
Rather than burning tobacco, vape pens and e-cigs use a small lithium-ion battery to heat an aerosol cartridge to release a vapor that’s inhaled. As with any device which utilizes lithium-ion batteries, you are able to come upon problems if the battery is damaged or put through extremes in temperature. A brief circuit could cause the battery to overheat, catch fire, or perhaps explode. These problems have a tendency to happen in cheap consumer gadgets that are quickly churned away from factories. Overall, it’s relatively rare, but obviously it happens-most recently, in hoverboard scooters.
“With lithium-ion batteries on the whole, if 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 would be best kept between 50 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s February, and all of but four US states are averaging temperatures below 50 right now.
Occasionally, the problem is compounded by cheap lithium-ion batteries that “don’t have the luxury of utilizing sophisticated management systems,” Viswanathan says. That can result in dangerously over- or under-charged batteries. Dendrite is yet another potential problem. Dendrite is really a conductive filament that may form over the course of boxmmod charge/discharge cycles, specifically if the battery is rapidly charged. These things can spread such as a weed, eventually bridging the electrodes and resulting in a short circuit. “You have basically something equivalent to gasoline inside your lithium-ion battery,” Viswanathan says, “so immediately it catches fire.”
Lithium-ion batteries power a great deal of gadgets obviously, and quite often do this without trouble. But such things as mobile phones and laptops and electric vehicles typically are created to exacting specifications and rigorously tested, both with the company and outside experts. The Smoke-Free Alternative Trade Association, which represents for vape-makers, said it “cannot talk with user error or for a manufacturer with regard to their device” and, “If there is truly a challenge by using a specific device, similar to a lap top or cellphone manufacturer, that company should use the appropriate action.”
And also to be fair, it’s not uncommon for users to modify their best box mod vape, and numerous websites offer guidelines on how to do exactly that. The business 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 relating to this. Most regulatory discussions about e-cigarettes and vapes focus on the Food and Drug Administration’s critique of your chemicals located in the devices. The FDA is going to introduce rules regulating the market, a move that can classify electronic cigarettes and vaping products just like tobacco. Products would carry warning labels, sales to minors could be banned, and you’d see restrictions on stuff like offering free samples. But little is considered concerning the safety in the devices.
The Smoke-Free Alternative Trade Association says it supports “reasonable science-based regulations,” but opposes whatever might “stifle innovation.” Nevertheless it argues “e-cigs and vapor items are technology products, separate and distinct from combustible tobacco.” They liken those to electronic products.
That’s where things get tricky. Asked when it has any safety concerns regarding the devices, the individual Products Safety Commission deferred for the FDA, saying it will be the federal regulator in control there. The FDA does claim responsibility for ensuring the security of the parts inside the devices that are used in the intake of cigarettes and tobacco products. But there aren’t a lot of safety rules for manufacturers to adhere to, and the FDA is encouraging customers to report any problems.
Viswanathan carries a recommendation for companies making what is sub ohm vaping and also other gadgets that use lithium-ion batteries: Crib from automakers making electric cars. They’ve developed sophisticated systems for minimizing the potential risks of problems. “Lithium-ion batteries fundamentally are inclined to catching fire,” he says, “and car makers have found efficient ways to create zones where these batteries are safe to function.”
Granted, the percentages that your particular vape pen will blow up like an exploding cigar are slim. However it is possible, so your best bet is to purchase a quality vape pen from a reputable manufacturer. Check the parts-should they look and feel cheap, they probably are. Viswanathan suggests making certain it’s got some form of battery management system to stop shorts and thermal runaway. Be sure you’re while using right battery and charger, and don’t modify anything.