If you’ve been reading the vaping news over the years, you’ve probably noticed occasional reports of fires and explosions that have occurred with vape batteries. Thankfully, if you’re paying attention, you’ve likely also noticed that incidents of overheating and thermal runaway with vaping batteries are much rarer today than they once were. A large part of that is probably a gradual change in equipment preferences, with many vapers around the world moving away from inherently dangerous mechanical mods and switching to devices with full power regulation instead.
If you’re new to vaping, though, reading a report of even a single vape battery explosion might concern you deeply since you may not have previously been aware that battery explosions are even possible.
The first thing you need to know about lithium-ion batteries is that they are infinitely more powerful than, for example, AA batteries. Although it’s possible for any battery to overheat in the event of a short circuit, a short circuit is potentially much more violent with a lithium-ion battery than with an alkaline battery. Considering the fact that vaping means holding a lithium-ion battery next to your mouth, using your vaping batteries safety is incredibly important.
This article is your definitive guide to safety with vaping batteries. Thermal incidents with vaping batteries are incredibly rare, and they almost always occur as a result of user error. If you know what you’re doing, you shouldn’t ever have anything to worry about. These are the battery safety tips that you need to remember as a vaper. Follow these instructions to the letter to get safe and reliable performance from your batteries.
If your vaping device has a USB charging port, it’s designed to be charged with a computer. You shouldn’t charge a vaping device with a USB wall adapter unless you’re certain that the adapter supplies the amperage that the device expects to receive. In most cases, a vaping device will work fine with a USB wall adapter that supplies a 0.5- or 1.0-amp charging current. You can confirm the charging specifications of a device by checking its instruction manual. In some cases, the manufacturer may also print the charging specifications on the device itself.
Don’t ever attempt to charge a vaping device with a mobile phone or tablet charger. A modern mobile device charger supplies a higher than normal charging current to get dead devices to the point where they’re usable as quickly as possible. Your mobile device can handle the higher current without overheating, but your vaping device hasn’t been tested by the manufacturer for fast charging support. You want to charge it with a low-amperage current.
If your vaping device has removable batteries, you need to transport those batteries with the utmost care. Don’t ever carry a loose battery in your pocket. If it touches other metal objects like keys or loose change, a short circuit can occur – and if that happens, you’ve got a potential fire in your pocket. Even if you’re savvy enough to know that you shouldn’t carry a battery with metal objects, a discharge of static electricity could be just as bad – so don’t even take the risk. Keep your batteries out of your pockets.
The only safe way to transport loose batteries is by placing them in a dedicated battery carrier. A battery carrier surrounds your batteries in padding, preventing the batteries from touching each other or other metal objects. Don’t ever transport your batteries without a carrier.
If a battery has any detectable damage, stop using it immediately. Visible bulging is a sign of a serious internal chemical problem, and denting can also lead to internal damage. In both cases, there’s no way to recover the battery, and you need to dispose of it in accordance with local laws.
If a battery has a tear in the outer wrapper, you also need to stop using it – but in that case, it may be possible to repair the battery and put it back into service. It’s important to realize that even a small tear in a battery’s wrapper is a serious problem because the battery’s entire metal enclosure conducts electricity. The top of the battery is the positive pole, and the rest of the battery’s enclosure is negative. A tear in the battery’s wrapper creates the possibility that a metal object – like the inside of your vaping device – could inadvertently touch the side of the battery’s conductive enclosure. In that case, a short circuit would occur.
It is possible to replace a damaged battery wrapper yourself. You’ll find replacement battery wrappers on eBay or at electronics stores. When you warm the wrapper with a low-heat hair dryer, the wrapper will shrink to fit the battery. After you’ve replaced a damaged wrapper, it’s safe to use the battery again.
In this day and age, a mechanical mod is the last type of vaping device that you should use. In the past, mechanical mods were very popular with experienced vapers because they offered plenty of power and battery life in a package that was very durable and affordable. Mechanical mods made perfect sense in the days when all vapers still used above-ohm atomizer coils. In addition, mechanical mods offered dramatically superior performance compared to the cigalikes or simple eGo vape pens that were available at the time.
Over the years, though, people have come to demand more from their vaping devices than ever before. When mechanical mods first became very popular, the average atomizer coil had a resistance of 1.5 ohm and would draw a current of 2.8 amps from a 4.2-volt battery. Today, though, it’s common for a sub-ohm tank to have an atomizer coil with a resistance of around 0.15 ohm. In that case, the coil would draw a current of 28 amps from a 4.2-volt battery. That’s really pushing the limit of what a vaping battery can safely deliver.
Here’s the difference between a mechanical mod and the fully regulated mods that most vapers use today: A mechanical mod has no electronic components and is little more than a tube with a switch. If you’re using a mechanical mod in an unsafe manner, it has no way of warning you – and almost everyone who uses a mechanical mod with a modern sub-ohm tank is using their mod in a potentially unsafe manner. A regulated mod, on the other hand, automatically detects unsafe currents, short circuits and overheating. It’s the only type of vaping device that you should use.
If you have a vaping device with removable batteries, it’s a worthwhile investment to grab a good battery charger. That’s partially because having an external charger allows you to charge a pair of batteries while using another pair, which is obviously a very useful feature – but it’s also because a good battery charger is a safe one.
Consider the fact that a high-end vaping device costs around the same amount of money as a high-end battery charger. Given that, the charging circuitry must comprise a very small portion of a vape mod’s overall value. When you buy a good standalone battery charger, you’re getting a device that can monitor, balance and charge multiple cells simultaneously. You’re getting a device that can often warn you when a battery has reached the end of its useful life. Another great feature of a good battery charger is that it can allow you to select the amperage of the charging current. If you charge your batteries with a 0.5-amp current, for instance, you may find that the batteries last longer because they experience less heat-related stress.
Every modern vaping device has the ability to test the resistance of the connected coil and detect a short circuit. Why, then, would you want to buy a standalone resistance tester if you build your own coils? The reason is simple; you want a resistance tester because the only way to test the resistance of the coil with most mods is to press the fire button.
Now, let’s suppose you build a coil that has a short. What should happen in that case is this: Your mod should refuse to fire, and the screen should display a message like “Check Atomizer.” If you’re going to build your own coils, though, would you want to trust your safety to a device that has several thousand mAh of power under the hood? It’s much better, we think, to test your coils with something designed specifically for that job.
A resistance tester is a standalone device with 510/eGo threading, and you can screw your RDA directly into it. Since it holds your RDA in an upright position, it also doubles as a convenient platform that makes it easy for you to build your coils. Just build a coil and flip the switch; the resistance tester confirms that your coil is within the expected range and is safe to use.
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