Defusing Vape Explosions: Facts vs Fiction
Vaping and e-cigarette use has been climbing rapidly in recent years. In fact, the number of global vapers has gone from seven million in 2011, to 35 million in 2016. Due to its popularity, it’s only natural that there’s some hysteria anytime there’s a vape explosion.
It’s time to cut through the madness and actually get to the root of what causes vape mods to explode.
What is a vape explosion?
As the name implies, a vape explosion is any case in which a vape mod or kit erupts into flames or explodes. Much like phone explosions, a vape explosion is generally given substantial media coverage due to the fact that it’s rather rare and completely unexpected.
This isn’t to downplay the severity of vape explosions, as they can absolutely be incredibly dangerous. Anytime an electronic device detonates near your head it can be dangerous, as was the case with the series of Samsung Note 7 explosions in 2016.
With so many millions of people vaping, are these explosions something to be concerned about? First, let’s look at lithium-ion batteries.
Lithium-Ion Batteries 101
Nearly all vaping devices and e-cigs use lithium-ion batteries. These are the same type of batteries used in smartphones and many other rechargeable devices.
To understand why some vape explosions occur, it’s important to understand how lithium-ion batteries work. A lithium-ion battery is filled with lithium ions that move when the battery is plugged in. As they move from the cathode to the anode the battery is recharged.
Over time, lithium-ion batteries begin to degrade. This degradation impacts how long they hold a charge and also affects them on a chemical level. As they degrade their safety takes a hit, the battery becoming more unstable over time.
In this sense, nearly any lithium-ion battery has the potential to be dangerous if it’s used for too long. This is why it’s important to replace your lithium-ion batteries once you notice them declining in quality.
The Causes of Vape Explosions and Best Safety Practices
So, what causes these to explode in the case of vaping explosions? A number of things, but a few stick out.
According to one FEMA report, spare batteries in someone’s pocket were a big factor in many explosions. In most of these cases the user had a spare battery in their pocket without a plastic cap on it. This let the terminals contact any change or keys in their pocket, resulting in a short circuit.
Use battery caps when carrying spare batteries.
While data is inconclusive about which explosions occurred using a modified device, it’s worth pointing out that many stock devices are regulated and come with various safety features. Some of these features include circuit boards that regulate the voltage and prevent overcharging or firing malfunctions.
A big feature many devices have is an overcharging function. This prevents a battery from being overcharged, something that can cause an explosion. If you want to tweak your device, do it safely and with approved parts, not custom-made kits.
Lithium-ion batteries have come a long way. Most don’t develop memories as the old myth goes, and most of them know when to stop charging. Despite this, it’s still a great idea to avoid leaving your batteries on the charger overnight.
Even batteries with overcharge protection can wind up getting additional charge if left on the charger for too long. This can result in the battery taking a hit to its performance, and also result in overheating. As you can imagine, overheating is bad for both the longevity and safety of a lithium-ion battery. The batteries used in vaping devices are being revolutionized, so we’re likely to see an influx of new and safer alternatives.
Don’t Fear the Vaper
There are tens of millions of people vaping all around the world as we speak. To date, there have been roughly 274 vape-related explosions. Yes, vape explosions are scary and potentially very dangerous. Yes, they happen. No, you shouldn’t throw your vape mod or e-cig pen into the trash.
There are lithium-ion batteries in numerous types of devices, each of which has the possibility of exploding. As is the case with all things, following best practices and being smart can greatly reduce the likelihood you ever face the unfortunate scenario of a vape explosion.
About the author:
Ali Anderson is a freelance writer across prominent sites, most notably, vaping.com. She is a passionate vapor and lover of all things tech. Many of her articles are focused on providing an honest portrayal of the vaping industry through the illustration of data to support her opinions and comparison of the best devices to hit the market.