The major avoidable causes of exploding vapes
When you use a battery in a vape device, the power button causes a circuit to compete between the positive and negative poles of the battery, and power flows to the device. Any conductive material that connects the two poles will do the same thing — however, if there’s nothing drawing power from the battery, it causes a short circuit and the energy loops into the battery, which causes it to rapidly overheat and possibly catch fire or explode.
Often news stories with headlines like “Vaporizer explodes!” are really about loose batteries exploding — or overheating and venting, and sometimes catching on fire. The major source of such events is batteries carried loose in a purse or pocket with keys or change. The metal objects accidentally connect the positive and negative poles of the battery, and boom! Most of the viral videos we see of fires in vapers’ pockets are loose batteries — not mods or pens.
There are inexpensive plastic cases and thin rubber or silicone sleeves available to protect batteries, or more precisely to protect the user. Anyone carrying extra batteries should always use one of these. Please don’t become the subject of “Vape explodes! News at 11.”
Batteries have a limit to the amperage they will supply, and the numbers are often exaggerated. Sometimes also, the manufacturer will mark the battery as “30 amp,” when in reality that is only a rating for a brief period (a pulse, or peak, rating), rather than a limit for continuous use.
This is crucial when building low-resistance coils, and it’s especially important with mechanical mods, which have no electronic safety protections. If the atomizer you use needs more amperage than the battery can supply, the battery overheats and can go into thermal runaway. If the battery can’t vent when it overheats, the energy can be powerful enough to cause a fire or explosion.
Don’t take the word of the guy at the vape shop who said it’s cool.
If you are building low-ohm coils, you must understand how the battery works in conjunction with the resistance of the atty, and you must understand battery amperage ratings and how they apply to vaping. If you don’t understand that, stick with known products. Frankly, there are so many inexpensive, high-quality variable-wattage mods nowadays, it’s hard to see why anyone wants to take even small risks with mech mods.
Aside from batteries that don’t provide enough current (amperage) to support some atomizers, there is the issue of counterfeit batteries. These are often very low-amp batteries that are wrapped to imitate well-known models (with higher amperage ratings) that people trust. Almost every popular battery on the market has been counterfeited.
How to avoid counterfeits? Buy only from reputable dealers –and not from a no-name eBay seller — and choose known batteries made by original manufacturers. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Saving a couple dollars on a battery isn’t worth the risk. If you choose one of the best batteries, they won’t be the cheapest, but you may make your money back in long-term performance. High quality battery models have more lifetime capacity; they’ll take more charges than low-end cells.
Hybrid mech mods and improper atomizers
The growing number of stories about a vape exploding in someone’s face tend to come from a pretty unique cause. Some atomizers, especially some sub-ohm tanks, have a very short positive pin on the 510 connection. When screwed into a so-called hybrid mech mod — a mod that allows the positive battery connection to make direct contact with the atomizer pin — the battery contact can push hard enough so that both positive and negative contacts on the 510 connection meet the battery at once. That causes an instant dead short and potentially an exploding mod.
When the force of the battery’s energy is released, it takes the path of least resistance and the atty (or part of it) flies off the end of the mod. Right in the mouth. Those pictures of people with bloody mouths and missing teeth aren’t fake. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids didn’t plant them, despite what conspiracy theorists may tell you.
The bottom line is that there’s no real reason for anyone to use this style of mod anymore. But if you do, you had better be an expert. You need to know what kind of 510 connection is safe — and I mean you need to know it. Don’t take the word of the guy at the vape shop who said it’s cool.
A rare cause of exploding e-cigs is improper charging. It’s possible in rare cases for the wrong kind of charger to overcharge a battery. Sometimes people use chargers that are meant for higher capacity batteries to charge small pen-style vapes or cigalikes. Overcharging can create instability in the cell.
Likewise, a defective battery charger can overcharge 18650 or similar cells creating a similar dangerous situation. Vapers often advise letting batteries rest for a while after charging to let the volatile electrolytes settle after charging — though it’s debatable whether that is necessary.
The best chargers have safety features. Some even have digital readouts that show when the battery has reached full. Common vape batteries are designed to put out 3.7 volts, but they usually charge up to 4.1 or 4.2 volts.