Vaping Dangers: Exploding Batteries?

Orange County Fire Authority spokesperson Capt. Steve Concialdi holds the broken pieces of a modified electronic cigarette that exploded in Chris Brookins' hands. During a press conference, Brookins recounts the incident on Tuesday morning in Santa Ana after he was burned by an exploded electronic cigarette late Sunday night. 

////ADDITIONAL INFO:  -   05.ecigexplosions.ks   -  Day: Tuesday - Date: 3/10/15  -  Time: 9:39:34 AM  -   Original file name: _KSA9878.NEF  -  KEN STEINHARDT, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER --  Chris Brookins, 29 and Sean Schoepflin

As vaping rises in popularity, as more and more ex-smokers shift to e-cigarettes, so too the number of its detractors. A simple Internet search will yield numerous articles that both espouse and condemn vaping.

Those that preach the benefits of vaping will tell you the same thing, it is healthier, it does not produce carbon monoxide, its ingredients are all food grade, etc. However, the articles that condemn it rely on misinformation and ignorance.

One of the favorite arguments for the anti-vaping groups is the exploding battery issue. First things first, out of the millions that use e-cigarettes, the only documented cases of a battery exploding are five. Two of those happened while the battery is in the charger. The other three were used in mechanical mods.

Time and again, vendors, retailers, reviewers, and all pro-vape people warn users of the dangers of mechanical mods. These are devices reserved only for the most advanced users. However, even then, it requires a high degree of abuse to make a battery explode.

The lithium ion batteries used in mechanical mods are the same as those used in cellphones. Yet, when cellphones explode, not much is written about them. It’s also a rare phenomenon to have cellphone batteries explode while in use, and this is because the phone itself is used properly. One can not pull more amps than a cellphone battery is capable of, unlike mechanical mods, where ignorant users try to pull the most they can without educating themselves of the maximum load a battery is capable of.

Some batteries can provide up to 10 amps, some by 35 amps, while a few can provide even more. But even so, this does not mean you can do it all the time. Stressing a battery is a sure way to make it explode. Which is why responsible mech mod users always make sure of what their batteries are capable of, and work their way around its limitations.

When it comes to chargers, the cases where batteries explode or leak in them are usually the ones where cheap chargers are used. There’s a reason why hardcore vapers spend as much on chargers as they do on their mods. A well-specced charger not only ensures safe charging, but it also prolongs the life of the battery. A good charge is one that automatically shuts off when the battery is fully charged, has trickle charging, and has independent channels. Cheap chargers feed power to batteries even when it is fully charged, and this is where problems occur.

If the battery doesn’t explode in the charger, an overcharged battery in an unregulated mech mod will.

While these vaping dangers exist, it isn’t enough to condemn vaping as a whole. There are safe chemistry batteries that don’t explode, and there are some that have built-in protection as well. If you choose to use other types of batteries, be sure you know the amp limit on these and use atomizers or build your coils according to these limits. Don’t use sub-ohm coils if your battery cannot handle it. If possible, use sub-ohm coils on regulated devices with the proper failsafes.

That said, everything that runs on electricity has its dangers. Just as you won’t plug in a 220 volt appliance in a 110 volt socket, or you don’t submerge a radio underwater and expect it to not get wrecked, know the limitations of your device always.

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