Some people who are considering vaping as an alternative to smoking tobacco have been distracted by sensational news stories involving an e-cigarette that exploded in someone's face.
When I heard the very first story several years ago, I couldn't help but chuckle. Okay, I should be ashamed of myself, but being a former Cartoon Network executive I just couldn't get the Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd exploding cigar prank out of my head.
Now that I'm a respectable editor for several review sites, as well as a supporter of electronic cigarettes, I put on a straight face and directed our team to do some serious fact finding.
You're probably reading this article because the news story you read was inconclusive and did not contain information about the type of e-cigarette used by the vaper or whether the vaper used the device properly. It probably just focused on horror and misfortune, which is very effective at getting the reader's attention, but not very helpful.
Based on the evidence I uncovered, 99% of all electronic cigarettes explode because they are cheaply made, misused or modified. The first reported incident of an exploding ecig was actually a cigar; (how ironic); one that the user built himself, or modified, using parts purchased online.
Despite the media frenzy that follows all of these unfortunate incidents, subsequent reports do surface confirming that the exploding devices were either charged incorrectly, left in hot areas, or the ecig was a “home-made mod”; a term used in vaping circles for an electronic cigarette that has been modified by the user to create greater vapor production.
Why do vapers modify their e-cigarette? Many try to create a vaporizer that delivers enormous clouds of vapor – even greater amounts than the best vaporizers now available on the legal market.
The fact remains, life is not a cartoon and many would-be inventors and careless users wind up with the lethal personification of Bugs Bunny's exploding cigar.
Only in January of 2016 and November 2015 did news reports mention specific brands; Wotopho's Phantom (an advanced hybrid mechanical mod) and Kangertech as products that exploded. According to the reports the products were not used as directed. In the Wotopho incident, the user admitted to tampering with the battery.
That story also reported that fires or explosions caused by e-cigarettes are rare.
I also learned from another victim of an exploding e-cigarette that he used an Advken Kennedy “mod”. Kennedy manufactures rebuildable atomizers (RBA's).
While these isolated incidents are tragic, they should not be viewed as a reflection of the safety levels demonstrated within the electronic cigarette industry.
It is now confirmed that there are over 60 million vapers around the world. According to NicotineSurveys.org, between 2009 and 2014 there were 25 reports of an e-cigarette battery exploding (20 of those occurred while they were charging). 9 injuries were reported and there were no deaths. This means that the chance of an e-cigarette exploding while you're using it is roughly 0.0000001%.
Your chance of dying from a smoking-related disease is 50%.
E-Cigarette Common Sense
Commercial e-cigarettes are considered to be safe if used as directed. The same goes for ALL lithium battery products (including laptops, tablets, smartphones, Kindles, etc.) which can, (and do) explode if charged incorrectly or are placed in areas that may get very hot, such as on or near a cooking surface, iron, radiator or the dashboard of your car in summer.
Recently, (Feb. 2016) an ecig battery caught fire in a man's pants. It's been said that the battery ignited when it came in contact with metal keys.
According to technical expert Josh Kirschner:
Do not let a loose battery come in contact with metal objects, such as coins, keys, or jewelry. Metal objects can cross the electrical connections and cause an incident if the internal protection circuitry isn't functioning correctly.
Follow the instructions on how to use your e-cigarette and don't substitute the parts that come with your brand's kit! Don't buy “clone” brand e-cigarettes or cheap e-cigarettes from relatively unknown ecig companies! Cheaply made ecig batteries do not come with internal circuitry protection.
High-quality variable power devices (such as VaporFi's Rocket) will have built-in safety circuits to shut down the device in the event of issues.
Reputable e-cigarette companies self-test or use third party testing to ensure that they are safe to use for their intended purpose.
Dan Recio, co-founder of #1 e-cigarette manufacturer V2 Cigs, said in a statement.
“We took action against the possibility of electronic issues from the very beginning, with safeguards integrated into our batteries like automatic shutoff and smart chargers that prevent overcharging. We properly age all batteries before shipment and retest mAh to ensure the highest standards.”
Electronic cigarettes incorporate a microchip that prevents both over-discharge rates and under-voltage conditions of the battery. Safety chargers prevent overcharging and subsequent thermal runaway. Even the new high-powered, high wattage MODS used for sub-ohm vaping have safety features, although those come with higher risks of overheating if used incorrectly, or if they are damaged. They are more complicated to use and are designed for responsible users. Still, all batteries are electronic devices which can fail if short-circuited. It's wise to turn off your battery when it's not in use.
The greatest danger, according to reputable e-cigarette forums lies with modified ecigarettes, such as putting two lithium ion batteries together in a metal tube. This dangerous device, known as “pipe” or “tube” mod is counterfeit and definitely not available within the legal commercial e-cigarette market.
Equally dangerous is charging an e-cigarette with the wrong charger, (or a cheaply made one). Never use a regular car charger to charge ecig batteries.
Don't Mess With a Good Thing
It's good to know that the most reputable electronic cigarette companies test their product batteries and ingredients for safety and their instruction manuals include warnings. Check out V2Cigs Safety Measures which is typical of the practices larger ecig companies are taking.
In any event, if you are considering e-cigarettes as a smoking alternative, explore our website. You'll find honest reviews, plus detailed beginner and advanced comparison charts for the best, safety-assured brands on the market. The only thing to be wary of is politically driven media hype aimed at discrediting a competitive industry.