We’re all seen them. The headlines of “man’s vape explodes in his pocket” or “nicotine causes X, Y and Z.” It’s often a bit confusing when you see those kind of news stories when the likes of Public Health England and the NHS are supporting vaping as a means to quit for smokers. While mistakes can happen, they’re largely down to incorrect use. There’s a few simple things you can do to make sure you have a safe (and enjoyable) vaping experience. We’ll also cover all the safety features that you’ll find in most vape kits so you know what they mean (and what to look out for).
GUIDE TO VAPE SAFETY
BUILT IN SAFETY
Most kits (read: the regulated ones) come with a whole host of safety built in. There’s a chipset inside, next to the battery, to prevent mishaps. You’ll find these kinds of chipset in everything from the smallest of pod kits through pen vapes up to the biggest box mods.
- Reverse battery protection: If you’ve got a mod with external batteries, you have a positive terminal and a negative terminal. If you put them in the wrong way (and there isn’t reverse battery protection) you can damage your mod and battery. Essentially, it can create negative voltage and cause a short circuit. Reverse battery protection prevents your vape from firing if you pop your battery in the wrong way. Usually you’ll get error message on the display or, if you don’t have a screen, nothing will happen when you press the firing button.
- Overheat protection: This little function is there to make sure things are firing at a safe temperature for you to use your vape. Sometime if you’ve been chain vaping a lot, have just charged your e-cig or have been sitting out in the sun, it can get quite warm. While a bit of heat is nothing unusual, too much can make it unsafe to use. Overheat protection will give you an error message and prevent the coil from being fired until the mod and battery have cooled down again.
- Cut-off protection: Often you’ll find something like firing cut-off protection included. It can be anywhere between 3 and 10 seconds and basically means if you forget to turn off your e-cig, put it in your pocket and the button gets pressed, it times out. While you might get a warm feeling tank and a burned out coil, that’s about as bad as it gets.
- Over-current and short-circuit protection: Current is measured in Amps and in layman's terms tells you how many electrons flowing through a circuit (in this case, your e-cig battery). When you look at a mod, you’ll often see the Voltage level listed (which relates to your coil). The reason for this is Voltage = Current (volts) X Resistance. So, that fixed voltage level also caps your amps meaning nothing gets too hot and can’t overload your battery.
- Over-charge: Over-charge protection is less of a safety thing and more a “protect your battery” thing. When you charge a battery for too long, it can reduce the amount of power it can actually hold. Over time, this means your e-cig will give you less and less vaping hours and lasts less time between charges. By shutting off charging when the battery is full, you’ll maintain its lifespan for longer. With that in mind, it’s still best to keep an eye on your vape when it’s charging and unplug it once it’s fully charged.
- Over-discharge protection: This one relates back to Ohms, voltage and amps. Essentially, when too much power can flow from a battery you put yourself at risk of overheating and catching fire. Over-discharge stops all of that - meaning it’ll cap output from your battery and keep it firing but within a safe limit according to your coil resistance.
WHERE MOST PEOPLE GO WRONG
Mech mods, RDAs and batteries (oh my).
When you see the headlines of someones vape “exploding” when they use, we can almost always attribute that to a mech mod. Unlike regulated mods and kits, mech mods are the most simple design you can get. They’re literally just a positive terminal and a negative terminal inside to fit a battery inside a metal case with a connector up top to fit a tank onto. There’s no chipset, meaning you won’t get any of the safety features you do in regular kits.
Why do people use mech mods you ask? Well, a few reasons. For one, you can pair mech mods with RDAs with insanely low resistance coils. The lower the resistance, the more vapour you get. So, for those looking for atomic sized clouds, mech mods are the way to go.
The problems arise when people are combining something that’s too low in resistance with a battery that fires through too much current. Combine those factors together and you can get a battery that’s got an outlet to put out so much power it can start to vent.
The other factor is loose batteries. Sometimes, we see someone with a burned pair of trousers because something went off in their pocket. Often, this isn’t their vape mis-firing but a battery that’s come into contact with something metal (like loose change or keys) and shorted.
To avoid this, you’re going to want to keep your spare batteries insulated. Whether that’s in a little plastic case or a rubber sleeve, making sure the metal terminals on each end are covered is very important. It’s a small thing to remember, but makes a big difference on safety.
E-LIQUIDS AND NICOTINE - GETTING IT RIGHT
The last thing we’ll mention relates to your e-liquid. This one is as much a factor on how you’ll enjoy your e-cig but links back to safety too.
E-liquids and your nicotine level: You’ll probably know this one already, but making sure you get the nicotine level right is pretty important. While nothing bad is going to happen if you have too mild a nicotine level, too much can make you feel a little unwell. If you find yourself feeling light-headed or a bit nauseous, stop vaping immediately. You’ll want to drop your strength right down. If you’re not sure where you should be, we’ve got a whole guide dedicated to your nicotine level. You’ll also want to make sure to keep your e-liquids away from little prying hands and pets. While e-liquids by law needs to come with child-proof caps, extra caution is always a good idea to make sure no one mistakes a sweet smelling e-liquid as a drink.