I thought it timely we have a bit of a chat about battery safety as you’ll no doubt come across a few incidents, doing a cursory search on the internet, where someone has done a bit of damage to themselves due to an exploding battery.
We never get to hear the details of how such a thing happens and we’re sometimes too quick to dismiss the dangers and become complacent or lazy about the batteries used in vaping equipment.
Battery manufactures are these days quick to point out they are not designed for vaping use. Especially those of us vapers pushing the boundaries of battery current/amp limits with low ohm builds requiring high watts and amps to quickly glow the coil for an instant large burst of vapour. Usually in an unregulated mechanical mod (Mech Mod).
Mech mod users are generally very experienced vapers and don’t shy away on proper maintenance of their batteries and equipment.
We’re also too quick to wave about our understanding of Ohm’s Law. Ohm’s Law is an algebraic formula that can be used to calculate four aspects of an electric current when you know any two of the factors. So, for example. If you know your coil resistance and the voltage you can use Ohm’s Law to work out how many watts and amps drawn from the battery for that given resistance to heat the coil.
The problem with Ohm’s Law is that it doesn’t tell you what that limits of the battery are…or how many amps can be drawn from the battery.
You have to know the capabilities of the battery BEFORE you can apply Ohm’s Law to know when you are pushing the limits. Going beyond the limits of a battery can cause internal stresses causing the battery to vent. Even if we’re taking short bursts of current through a short puff.
So the first rule of battery safety is only buy batteries from reputable stores where vaping devices are sold. Why? Because a few in the vaping community have taken the trouble to thoroughly test batteries limits and vapour vendors will only stock these known batteries.
The second rule of battery safety is no two 18650 or 21700 are the same. These numbers only explain the size of the battery not how it was built. Ask your vapour vendor what they stock and get them to explain why. Don’t be tempted to buy cheap batteries from eBay or electronics shops. It’s not worth it and they are not as known as the batteries from vape vendors. Vapers use particular brands and amp ratings.
The internationally renowned vape guru battery tester is called Mooch. If you are keen to know more about which brands and types deliver the performance and capacity vapers prefer to look him up. He’s got a great new series on Youtube now. It gets technical but it’s very educational and he breaks it down in easy to understand language.
You’ll hear a lot about how regulated mods are safer than mechanical mods. To an extent this is true. Regulated mods are installed with a circuit board and display screen. Electric currents are regulated and programmed with safety features and warning signals for ease of mind. Some of these warnings are 10-second puff draw timers, short circuit warnings & low resistance limits. Maintenance is important here. Juice can get into the circuit boards. Dropping or getting the mod wet can cause an unseen fault if the circuit board is damaged. Keep your mod clean and check it regularly. Read the instruction manual that comes with your new mod. Safety features are listed, warning displays are explained and maintenance tips included. While safety is increased it’s not 100%.
Batteries are a metal tube packed with chemicals that generate electricity. Batteries come in an outer plastic case covering the entire sides leaving the bottom (negative) and the top (positive) exposed.
In a vapouriser, basically, the electricity flows from the positive terminal of a battery to the negative. In regulated mods, the circuit board has read the resistance of your whole circuit and the state of your battery and circuit and regulate the power going to the coil.
A short circuit is where an electric current completes a circuit without any resistance. If it continues to draw power at this rate the battery gets too hot, the internal chemical compartments breakdown and you have a thermal runaway which leads to venting.
Venting in a metal tube, encased in mod is the basics of how bombs are designed. It can get that bad.
That plastic casing around the battery prevents the inner metal casing of the battery (the entire metal outside of the battery is the negative terminal) from touching a conductive object which might connect the positive terminal to the negative creating a short circuit. Conductive bits are metal or anything wet. Even a wet piece of paper can conduct electricity.
Any damage to the plastic casing, particularly up near the positive terminal can increase the chances of a short circuit. We want to avoid short circuits.
The plastic wrapping are easily replaced and your vendor can help you with that. If in doubt just dispose of them properly. Don’t try and break or open them. It’s worth mentioning the plastic wrapping also holds down an extra plastic ring of insulation around the positive end of the battery. Don’t remove that bit or lose it.
The plastic wrapping can get damaged from dropping them or more commonly rough handling when replacing, inserting or removing batteries from mods. Be gentle with them. Decent mods come with spring-loaded electric terminals. Push the battery at the spring end first then gently push in. Make use of that strip of material to pull out batteries gently.
With respectful handling, the plastic wrapping should last a very long time. I have a couple of batteries I started with 9 months ago and not a scratch on them. It’s possible to keep them in top condition.
Dropping the mod heavily can cause battery concussion. If you drop your mod, carefully remove the batteries and inspect for dents especially at each end. If for example your positive end is dented in the battery must not be used. A dented battery casing may have caused internal bleeding and a slow leak may start thermal runaway hours later.
Damaged batteries must not be used. Best err on the side of caution and dispose.
Last but not least. Batteries should not be carried loosely in your pockets where you also keep your keys or coins. The latest incident reported as a vaping accident was actually someone carrying batteries lose in their pocket, it short-circuited and vented causing burns. His vape was back at home.
Battery cases are easily obtained and commonly given away free from vape vendors. There is no excuse for not transporting batteries in proper cases.
So, that’s battery safety in a nutshell. If I have missed anything or you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Following some basic care and maintenance can significantly reduce risks of battery issues. Proper respect to the battery is needed and so is some common sense. Batteries are not expensive and if you are in doubt replace your batteries and use your Plan B.
Cheers for now!