back to article 'Exploding e-cig cost me 7 teeth, burned my face – and broke my sink!'

A man claims his e-cigarette exploded mid-puff, blew out seven of his teeth, gave him second-degree facial burns, wrecked his bathroom, and put him in intensive care. Andrew Hall, a Toyota car salesman in Pocatello, Idaho, says he was having a few drags on his cyber-ciggy while preparing to go to work when the gizmo erupted in …

  1. Grifter

    So...

    A faulty battery huh? Well shit, quick hurry up, let's ban everything that has batteries in them!

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: So...

      "let's ban everything that has batteries in them!"

      Your wife won't like that.

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: So...

        Silly Wolfetone, I'm not battery powered!

        Steven "even more obvious joke" R

        1. wolfetone Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: So...

          You sure? You looked like you could go for hours last time I saw you.

          1. Steven Raith

            Re: So...

            Ask yer dad, he'd know.

            Steven "On a roll. No, not your mum" R.

      2. PNGuinn
        Mushroom

        Re: Your wife won't like that

        ... Did the earth just move ...?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Your wife won't like that

          No, just the bed!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So...

      It was the hyperbole of being hit in the face by a drone last week, now it's mock cancer sticks. Life was so much easier when people were injured/killed by speeding cars and chip butties.

    3. Haku

      Re: So...

      A world without batteries? It would look something like this:

      Gas powered daily life (YouTube)

      We'd all die of carbon monoxide poisoning!

      1. Ogi
        Flame

        Re: So...

        > Gas powered daily life (YouTube)

        I must be one of the few people who saw that ad when it came out and thought "How awesome would that be". The ad of course, was about how awful it would be, lol. Thanks for the share, I actually forgot about it over time.

        Icon because I must have flammable liquids coursing through my veins or something.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: So...

          The problem is that people:-

          1) Buy the cheapest batteries from china. I have personally cut the wrapper on a cheap Chinese "protected cell" battery of a supposedly decent manufacture and discovered a second hand unprotected industrial cell inside. Not good.

          2) Buy cheap Chinese battery transformers, which are actually just step down transformers with a nice "status" light. Dissembling a couple bundled with something else was interesting, and dissuaded me from using lithium batteries or chargers from a Chinese manufacturer given that it seems that protection circuitry might be entirely missing, yet still "CE" marked.

          3) People who basically home make very high draw devices. They do so without reference to the safety guidelines (such as no sealed battery compartments) and then ignorantly do things like sticking a wire in the vent on the battery and soldering it on. Pointing out that this is fucking dangerous as it's covered the vent preventing the battery cell from becoming a terrorist cell and going "BANG" in contravention of the standard safety guidelines for lithium batteries tends to attract a cloud of abuse and cries of "we haven't had any problems so far..." To boast about how cheaply they've built their device they then tend to incorporate the cheapest batteries and chargers from eBay, see points 1 & 2 above.

          The result is that yep, your going to see things like this occasionally. It's more of an issue with shoddily made devices than anything, most of the communities playing around with these things have had things go "BANG" a decade ago and then started paying a lot more attention to safety. See Candle Power Forums and some of their LED torces for good examples and plenty of safety resources. :)

          So, is this putting you off vaping? Buy a decent factory device made to electrical safety standards and chill, as it won't be a problem with a device meeting the requisite electrical safety standards. This message brought to you by somebody who has never smoked or vaped, just for transparency purposes.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Damaged his sink?

    Looks nothing like any form of blast damage to me. And having wrecked a few sinks in my time, the explosive force to smash one...well, I wouldn't want to be withing fifty yards.

    Of course, he might have wacked the sink himself involuntarily as the e-fag went pop, but personally I'm not buying this tragic tale of vaping woe.

    1. Hey Nonny Nonny Mouse

      Re: Damaged his sink?

      I'm doubtful too as most batterys have some sort of overpressure vent but those e-cigs often encase the battery inside a well sealed metal sleeve, overpressure one of those and it'll go with a good bang

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: Damaged his sink?

        Twas a hybrid mod, and if it was a cheap one, there's a good chance that unlike a good one, there was not sufficient venting at the bottom, so when it popped, it blew the threads out at the top (Rather than venting out relatively safely), and forced the RDA into his face, rapidly followed by a plume of ignited fumes.

        It's rare that good quality batteries will vent that quickly, but if it was a freshly charged cell with a dead short, it's not impossible. Which is why you don't take a battery out of the charger and use it in a high current application - not even a high powered torch (which also use 18650s).

        Quite likely that he slammed the sink with the mod while trying to get it away from his face (rather than from the force of the venting/pressure buildup).

        It certainly fits with the injuries he sustained (and after that happened, it's quite possible he slammed the mech into the sink by accident as he reacted to what had just happened, while trying to get it away from him).

        Steven R

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Damaged his sink?

          Commenters on other websites suggest that the eCig he was using didn't have any controlling circuitry between the battery and the heating coil, leading to this situation. i.e he wasn't using the LG battery within specification.

          1. PNGuinn
            Mushroom

            Re: Damaged his sink?

            Where on earth did he carry the tank to hold all his poison flavour enhanced nicotine wug?

            5 gal tank in a backpack? That's some habit.

            Glad I'm not passive smoking courtesy of that jerk.

            Do him a favour. Plug him into a 400 V 3 phase mains supply, someone.

            Only possible icon >>>

          2. streaky

            Re: Damaged his sink?

            Yeah likely the mod is at fault. Don't use mech mods kids they hurt. I personally think they should be illegal because dumb people need protecting from themselves and I say this as somebody who was very vocal about the TPD's relevant sections.

            My well-versed theory on this is fake batteries given the model is commonly faked and the chemistry of HG2's (INR/NMC) is very stable. No kidding the HG2 is very commonly (and very well) faked. I just bought 4 of them coincidentally a few days ago (from a trusted reputable source) and despite testing them to prove they're legit I'm still slightly paranoid they might be fakes - because that's where the danger is. Reality is even when those specific batteries catastrophically fail they shouldn't fail in that manner.

            When these events come up the people involved never completely list their gear publicly very conveniently.

          3. Ally 1

            Re: Damaged his sink?

            What actually happened was that he usually got the coils for his device wound at the store. The US government recently passed regulations that people in stores couldn't assist customers, so he had to wind the coil himself. He didn't have an ohmmeter, so made a mistake and wound it with a much lower resistance than the battery could take..almost a short circuit.

      2. illiad

        Re: Damaged his sink?

        " **most** batterys have... " except the cheap ones????

      3. entropyk48

        Re: Damaged his sink?

        @Hey Nony-I own 3 mas produced models, (finding a perfect smoke). They are all vented, I also have a recommended charger for multiple batteries that charge and balance them. I think there is more to this story, like a gleam of lawsuit in his eye. (Have quit a 50 year pack a day + habit, my lungs no longer squeak and wheeze, nor produce constant phlegm). Even if I were to take a hit in the face, well it may improve the face, I will still be ahead of the game without burning tobacco.

    2. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: Damaged his sink?

      the explosive force to smash one..

      Is Tiny when applied right. I smashed our sink with one of those draw-string crackers. Just fill with water, submerge firecracker, pull, and "Crack" goes that porcelain. Didn't expect that to happen, and my mum made me pay for a new one.

      There are plenty on BoobTube on firecrackers and toilets.

  3. redpawn Silver badge

    Stored Energy

    Put enough energy into a small place, a battery, and put it next to something fragile while pulling a good current from said battery, it is only a matter of time before some units experience catastrophic failure. They don't allow them on aircraft for good reason and storing it in your pocket near your....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Meh

      Re: Stored Energy

      Put enough energy into a small place, a battery, and put it next to something fragile while pulling a good current from said battery, it is only a matter of time before some units experience catastrophic failure. They don't allow them on aircraft for good reason and storing it in your pocket near your.....

      I don't think they are banned from aircraft because of the risk of a battery fire, otherwise laptops wouldn't be allowed to be used either. They are banned for the same reason as in pubs etc, which is to pander to stupid people.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Stored Energy

        It's not batteries IN devices they completely ban (as long as they're hooked up, the device can regulate; also charging batteries BUILT to travel loose are OK, too). It's twofold:

        First, they ban ALL lithium batteries of ANY type in cargo holds unless they're carried in special containers; due to confirmed stories of lithium batteries spontaneously combusting. This is because many cargo holds are unpressurized and unattended; ANY in-flight fire is an serious issue, a fire out of human reach is a Mayday.

        Now, lithium batteries in the carry-on area, they can be more lax. Not only would many people not be able to fly without being able to take their stuff with them (don't laugh, they could be traveling to a not-spot or simply can't have confidential data out over the air, even encrypted), plus in the event of a fire, at least the offensive device can be pulled out and a fire extinguisher taken to it. They only ban loose batteries not meant to travel loose (usually with exposed contacts, a short-circuit risk).

      2. GruntyMcPugh

        Re: Stored Energy

        "They are banned for the same reason as in pubs etc, which is to pander to stupid people."

        Nope, they are banned because smoking is antisocial.

        Nicotine might be a drug you choose to ingest, but unfortunately you exhale it. If I were to squirt my drink of choice into your glass, and my beer got into your white wine spritzer, I doubt you'd be happy. Same goes with my lungs and your drugs.

        1. Steven Raith

          Re: Stored Energy

          A: it was banned, ostensibly, for health reasons

          B: If you're affected by the tiny amount of nicotine in second hand vape, then never, ever touch a member of the nightshade family again - you'll get a damned sight more nicontine in your bloodstream from that, than you will from sitting in a room with a cloudchaser - not just because they tend to use zero nic (to avoid a niccy rush).

          There is no toxicological or public health based reason to ban vaping in public places. There is an argument about ettiquette, but not about health.

          It's not a case of there being no evidence of harm from second hand vapour, it's a case of there being good evidence of a lack of harm from second hand vapour.

          A subtle, but important distinction.

          Steven R

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Stored Energy

            "If you're affected by the tiny amount of nicotine in second hand vape, then never, ever touch a member of the nightshade family again - you'll get a damned sight more nicontine in your bloodstream from that"

            Seriously? I get more nicotine from touching a tomato? I'd love to see where this is backed up.

        2. ColinJ

          Re: Stored Energy

          guess your are not the tolerant type then.

          I hope you don't drive a car or travel in planes, I should not have to breath in the fumes resulting in your selfish form of travel...

          First people complain about passive smoking, now passive vaping even though there are no negative health effects and the level of nicotine exhaled is miniscule.

          I guess some people like to complain.

          1. Steven Raith

            Re: Stored Energy

            The only real issue with passive vaping is etiquette; there's no evidence found of anything to worry about with regards to health (never mind toxicologically significant, second hand vapour is barely biologically detectable in people).

            Etiquette is a concern however, because people cloudchasing on buses and the like is what engenders that kind of negative attitude towards people who have given up smoking, like we've been told to for years, in record numbers.

            I've been given shit before for saying that the "snap-back and mech mod" crowd are, by a wide margin, the biggest problem that vaping has besides puritanical regulatory issues; I stand by that, to be blunt.

            They're a tiny minority of users, but when most people think 'vaper', they think of someone who puffing a massive cloud and annoying people; whereas the reality is, the average vaper is Mildred Overfinch, from just down the road from you, who's given up a thirty year habit and can now walk up the hill without having to stop twice on the way to catch her breath. And who stealth vapes on the bus so well you don't even notice it....

            The issue is that the puritanical arm of public health has tried to:

            Find notable harm from e-cigs to the user; this has failed.

            Find any harm from e-cigs to bystanders; this has failed

            Find notable harm from nicotine to the user; this has failed

            Find any harm from nicotine to bystanders; this has failed

            Find a verifiable (IE non-random) gateway from e-cigs to lit tobaco; this has utterly failed, to the extent where research is deliberately misconstrued to try to show otherwise.

            Now they are pushing to use e-cig relate fires and battery venting injuries to push their agenda (ignoring the fact, of course, that everyone who vapes is someone who doesn't smoke, reducing the number of cigarette related fires as it goes - and they aren't uncommon), and if (a small minority) of vendors and users don't stop pissing about and taking risks with these devices, it'll only take a few pictures like the ones in this article to get a WASPY, puritanical public health minister and the foaming-at-the-mouth kind of press to push for further restrictions on e-cigs (And of course they won't make a distinction between mech mods and regulated mods) to 'protect the children' and it'll fucking work.

            As I've mentioned in these sorts of threads before, I've been neck deep in the public health, political and advocacy side of e-cigs for a good while now (As have many others) and we see these patterns repeat, time and time again. And it often works.

            Steven R

            1. GruntyMcPugh

              Re: Stored Energy

              .. except Steve, your rights end where mine start. You can exhale all you want, as long as I don't have to inhale it. It's really that simple. If someone with bad personal hygiene stood next to you, I doubt you'd be so welcoming of the odour. It's the same deal. You can make arguments that it's not harmful all you like, that in no way implies the non-smoking population are obliged to put up with it. I refer you back to my original analogy where I pollute your drink with some of mine. You wouldn't put up with having to imbibe what someone next to you chose, so why should anyone else?

              1. Steven Raith

                Re: Stored Energy

                I'm pretty sure I stated, quite clearly, that etiquette can be a problem with some people.

                Etiquette is not something we typically base legislate on, because that would be utterly bloody barking, however.

                Also, regarding your analogy, do you have your own personal air supply everywhere you go? Because the only difference between from a health standpoint between breathing in vapour and breathing in someone elses breath is that you can see it. Do you also hide indoors when it's frosty outside? All that vapour coming from peoples lungs! How rude of them to breath on me!

                I will say again, to be utterly clear for you as you seem to have such poor reading comprehension, that if someone is blowing clouds in your face, that's an issue of manners - nothing else.

                Steven R

              2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Stored Energy

                "You can exhale all you want, as long as I don't have to inhale it. It's really that simple."

                No, it isn't that simple. You are basing your argument on a tiny minority of vapers who make themselves highly conspicuous with home made mixes that produce large clouds of vapour. Our local news uses the same clip every time they mention e-cigs. It's three old(ish) geezers in a pub pumping out mahoosive clouds of vapour. Personalty, I have never met anyone like that. They do exist, but are rare. Most vapers produce no more vapour than you'd see someone breathing out on a cold morning and it dissipates almost as quickly as warm breath in cold air.

          2. GruntyMcPugh

            Re: Stored Energy

            .. and I guess some people don't think their behaviour needs moderating when in public. But exhaling vape all over somebody else's clothing is anti-social, there's really no excuse.

  4. ma1010
    WTF?

    Was that vaper built by Samsung?

    Just wondering.

    Sounds like a hell of a lot of force to get from a small battery explosion. Perhaps it somehow shorted and dumped a bunch of energy into the heating element all at once, but even then it's hard to imagine getting that powerful a steam explosion from a tiny bit of liquid. Curious to see hear more about how something like that could happen.

    1. Steven Raith

      Re: Was that vaper built by Samsung?

      I posted a surmisation of what likely happened above - see here:

      clicky for the deviod of scroll wheels or patience

      Long story short, more likely a buildup, then rapid release, of pressure (thanks to a badly maintained mod/coil causing a dead short), rather than the coil doing anything weird.

      Steven R

    2. Triggerfish

      Re: Was that vaper built by Samsung?

      Depends some don#t seem that small couple of guys at work have ones with massive battery packs, one takes 4 18650 batteries, the other guys pack is a fair bit larger, there must be a fair bit of energy stored in something like that fully charged.

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: Was that vaper built by Samsung?

        There is, but I very much doubt the four battery one is a mech. If it's got a screen on it, it is, basically, perfectly safe unless abused - and they're very, very hard to abuse by accident in a manner likely to cause problems.

        That's why pretty much every incident like this you see invovles:

        Loose batteries in a pocket with change

        A misconfigured mechanical mod

        Badly made, market stall crap with shitty, badly made chargers (normally using a 510 connection, not USB - USB chargers are mature, you see....)

        Steven R

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: Was that vaper built by Samsung?

          Oh the ones the people have at work look like decent made ones, with all the bells and whistles I'm not expecting them to go bang. But just in terms of sheer energy stored in those batteries there's a fair bit.

          Just thinking of some of the chats they have about people on youtube showing their home made mods.

          1. Steven Raith

            Re: Was that vaper built by Samsung?

            With home made mods, it's a bit like home made firearms - typically the person making it will have a good idea what they're doing and will know the risks (if not, I'm sure there are plenty of slots left in the Darwin Awards) as making even a mech mod requires a reasonable amount of engineering knowledge to turn the tube, thread the caps, etc.

            With box mods, you typically have a MOSFET in there that will tend to burn out before the batteries pop; although that's not guaranteed, it's generally a truism that 'series/parallel' mods (without full protection circuitry) are less of a risk than a pure mech, particularly if they're in parallel rather than series.

            I'll hold my hands up and say I've been out of the MOSFET game for a while though - I'm sure there are people more experienced than me who could wax on about that in more detail if they feel like it.

            Steven R

    3. streaky

      Re: Was that vaper built by Samsung?

      400% chance whatever happened it was nothing to do with heat in the place it's supposed to be created.

  5. Herby

    Sounds like me to be a good reason....

    to stop inhaling toxic heated substances. Like those that contain nicotine, or THC (take your pick).

    If you want oral gratification, a nicely formed wooden dowel will probably do the trick. Paint the end "red" and the body white, and let everyone complain at your inert oral fixation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sounds like me to be a good reason....

      "Stop enjoying things I don't want you to enjoy"

      Fuck off with that puritan nonsense.

    2. Triggerfish

      Re: Sounds like me to be a good reason....@Herby

      When you remove your own dowel from your bum mate.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Sounds like me to be a good reason....@Herby

        "I tried to see things from his point of view,

        But I couldn't fit my head up his arsehole too"

        - The GLC

        1. Pax681

          Re: Sounds like me to be a good reason....@Herby

          I doff my hat to the GLC reference sir!

    3. streaky

      Re: Sounds like me to be a good reason....

      But.. nicotine is safe (on the scale of things) to vape. You're in more danger eating a salad than vaping. Not that I'd suggest people just take up vaping who aren't already smokers because why bother but lets find a grip.

      1. hmv

        Re: Sounds like me to be a good reason....

        You'll probably also pick up a surprising amount of nicotine from the salad (not a great deal, but the fact there is any in tomatoes, potatoes, ... was surprising to me).

        Take an unfortunate fool, an unregulated mod, a damaged battery, poor maintenance, and mix with a quantity of bad luck, and you'll get something like this happening. Given the number of these sorts of accidents, the number of people who vape, and the number of house fires caused by smoking, and it's still a good bet to switch from smoking to vaping. Just don't go down the mech and hybrid routes without knowing what you're doing.

        1. Mike Moyle

          Re: Sounds like me to be a good reason....

          My god...! Can you imagine how some people's heads would explode if someone could market a certified nicotine-free GMO potato?

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a sinking feeling this is just another dodgy lawsuit. You may think that cynical but I'm basin it on the sue everyone culture.

    1. Allonymous Coward

      basin it

      I see what you did there.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    L-Ions are powerful and dangerous

    And these have been around for a few years now. I use the THC based units, but they are essentially the same kind of thing; a smallish unit, and a LI battery with some timing and charging logic circuitry, and the 514(?) threaded connector. I had a "fancy" but cheap unit dressed up to look like a Sherlock Holmes pipe, only the bowl was the battery compartment, and had a fat LI battery in it. Trouble with that one was the spring under the battery was not up to the task and when shorted out the battery "smoked" itself. No fire or explosion, but once you catch even the slightest whiff of burning battery that was it. I got rid of it straight away. Anyway, I'm not going to stop using them just yet, but will monitor them for odd behaviour. Never had a cell phone catch fire either, but it can happen and I'll keep using them hoping I'll catch any problems before they blow up. :) This kind of this can happen to other burning stuffs. I had a joint blow up once, but that was from a pot seed, so not as dangerous as it is unpleasant.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: L-Ions are powerful and dangerous

      You need a pestle and mortar to grind your joint material to avoid seed pops (or alternatively remove the seeds and cultivate them, use them as bird food etc.)

  8. Steven Raith

    The actual problems here...

    ...well, actually, there are a few.

    First of all, he took a battery fresh from the charger, and chucked it into a low-resistance mech - that's not a great idea as the battery is a bit chemically volatile following a fresh charge. This is fine in most cases, but in high current devices, it can be dangerous. This is the nature of lithium based batteries in near-capacity-draw situations.

    Secondly, his mech was a hybrid - where the positioning of the posts at the bottom of the atomiser are critical to prevent a thermal runaway from a dead short. Hybrids are a fucking stupid design, because it's stupidly easy to get a dead short. You can probably work out how from this image.

    Third - and this is the second worst kicker - up until recently, his shop had been maintaining his mod, including building his coils to a safe resistance, checking the clearance of the RDA pin, etc.

    They had recently stopped doing this because the upcoming US FDA regulations say that if they do that, they become a tobacco products manufacturer, which would either bankrupt them, get them shut down, or both. So to avoid this risk, they stopped servicing e-cigs, just selling them - leaving the customer to DIY it. The FDA has only recently clarified that yes, shops can change pre-made atomisers, but the wording of the rule means that it's technically impossible for a shop to work on a mech like this due to it using handmade coils, and not be in breach of the letter of the law.

    And the joint biggest problems here - by his own admission (later in in the postings on his FB page), he wasn't entirely sure what he was doing when it came to the maintenance of the device, because he'd left everything for the shop to sort out; he thought he was doing everything correctly, but sadly wasn't.

    The other side of that, is that when customer comes in asking for a hybrid mech mod, the shop didn't ask "Why?".

    Like kit cars, sporting rifle shooting and motorbike track days, hybrid mods are something that are always - without exception - best left to those who can seek them out, and demonstrate that they understand the risks.

    Sadly, some shops really don't seem to give a fuck.

    Which pisses me off, because if you look through that FB post (where all of the above info comes from) you'll see dozens of people inferring that they'll go back to ciggies, and sharing it saying they're going back to smoking because it's 'safer'.

    So a slow handclap to the shop for failing to do any due diligence on their sales (if you're having to rebuild someone's mech for them because they can't do it, then they shouldn't have the mech, and that goes doubly so for a hybrid - end of story) and a slightly more sympathetic one for the unfortunate user for not doing the research on a device that in normal use basically runs as a near dead short on a cell that has about as much kick as a 4/10 shotgun shell if you get it wrong and pop it.

    There's a good argument that mechs are, these days, irrelevant even in the low-ohmage world, just as they became a few years ago for e-cigs that had a resistance of >1ohm - yes, you used to get mech mods for 1.8ohm devices, before pocketable 20w regulated mods made them look pointless.

    These day it's quite easy to get a three or four cell mod that will (just like in the >1 ohm world a few years ago) make any mech look like a complete waste of time, while also being effectively unbustable in normal use - short circuit protection, undercurrent protection, etc - while also being able to kick out 300w, more than most mechs can safely provide, regardless of what anyone tells you about their 'pulse' current.

    I fully expect that we'll see pictures of this chap plastered all over the news for a while (because the rarity of such events is still newsworthy), all while every day three house fires are started by normal cigarettes.

    In London alone....

    Steven R

    PS: If you're interested in seeing what informed people other than me have to say about this, I'd recommend this video from VapourTrails.tv on Monday, where this was covered in detail, by people extremely familiar with the tech and the risks involved.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: The actual problems here...

      Awesome thanks.

      Personally, I don't neither smoke nor vape, but it's always good to know more. It pleases the evil goddess Knollij.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The actual problems here...

      Honest question from a non-vapour non-smoking person -

      A couple of comments seem to mention that charging up a battery, then using straight away is a "bad thing". Never heard of this before and curious, should I be letting the battery cool down a bit before using it? Is it only certain type of batteries?

    3. fajensen Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: The actual problems here...

      The other side of that, is that when customer comes in asking for a hybrid mech mod, the shop didn't ask "Why?".

      Everybody should ask "Why?"

      Why is it necessary, through dedicated effort, to make a simple vice really complex, expensive, high-tech, high-maintenance and much more risky than it totally needs to be?

      I don't get it, it's a thing to deliver ones drug with, its not an altar nor an advertising column. It doesn't attract the opposite sexes. Just like the Oakley Time Bomb (well, Ok, Anything Oakley), carrying a big lump of batteries and tubes does NOT look "cool" on anyone. Not even Rappers, who might get away with the Time Bomb.

      Some of my pot-head friends did the same "back in the day": Made up this huge ritual out of just getting a few puffs of whatsit. Why? Just get ON with it! Simplicity.

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: The actual problems here...

        AC, a freshly charged battery is still 'stressed', especially if it's been charged at high current; current in/current out stresses the cell so it's best to give it a bit of time to settle. In a multi-cell regulated mod running moderate power (say, 50w/12A over two cells) it's not a problem; pulling 50A from a freshly charged cell increasing the risk of overstressing the cell and raising it's internal temperature to the point where it can hit thermal runaway, though.

        I'll grant you, I'm no chemist, but people with more experience than me in these matters have raised this as a danger point and I tend to trust them.

        Fajensen, most e-cigs aren't *that* complex, and mechs are the exception, rather than the rule; normally you have

        a battery or power source (most of which are simple 'select the power to suit your taste and capabilities of your atomiser)',

        A tank to contain the liquid,

        this tank contains an atomiser, that wicks the liquid and heats it to a vapour,

        A charger (be it a USB cable for a device with a built in battery, or a seperate 18650 charger),

        A liquid you like the taste of and has an amount of nicotine you're happy with (even zero nic)

        This is barely any more of a faff than rolling cigarettes (papers, baccy, filters, lighter, ashtray) and only slightly more complex than buying a packet of fags. Once you find a setup that works for you, you just set and forget with 95% of devices; the only thing most newbies change over time is nicotine strength/liquid flavour as they wean off the fags and get their sense of taste back.

        Mechs are like a Meccano set of customisable parts, so they appeal to a certain type of hobbyist, sadly not all those who find them appealing (nor those who sell to those types) actually understand the electrical forces involved; hence we get problems like that in the article.

        Thing is, (outside of user error, which is rare, hence newsworthy - I'll grant you that shrapnel to the face ain't exactly ideal) it's nowhere like as bad for you as the fags. In fact, evidence of notable harm to end users of these device, even after a decade of use, is effectively non-existent; the risks appear to be comparable with many a lifestyle choice like having a strong coffee or having a predeliction for fried, rather than grilled foods etc - that is, minimal in the grand scheme of things.

        Three months of cigarette use would show a laundry list of negative side effects. Side effects of e-cig use after several years are negligible, and in existing smokers (who are the vast, vast majority of users) they're getting health benefits over their extant condition.

        So you stop smoking, without 'stopping smoking', as other than not killing you, the usage is pretty similar. So the slight extra complication is totes worth it.

        Steven R

  9. goldcd

    A "Twisted Vapers RDA" is just the "tank"

    i.e. bit where the eliquid is heated up by a bit of wire.

    Whats of much more interest is the unmentioned "mod" - the bit your screw the tank to, provides the current, and actually contains the battery.

    1. AIBailey
      WTF?

      Re: A "Twisted Vapers RDA" is just the "tank"

      I know nothing about vaping. Do they really call it "e-liquid"?

      That's almost as corny as people trying to make tech things sound modern and cool by putting "cyber" in front of anything internet-y.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A "Twisted Vapers RDA" is just the "tank"

        Yes, they do. Everybody I know just calls it "liquid", but it only makes sense in context.

        1. AIBailey

          Re: A "Twisted Vapers RDA" is just the "tank"

          Could be worse I suppose. Mentioning to your mates that you were off to get 20ml of fag juice wouldn't survive trans-Atlantic translation too well.

      2. Ceiling Cat

        Re: A "Twisted Vapers RDA" is just the "tank"

        ** Do they really call it "e-liquid"? **

        I call it "e-juice", or often just "juice". I have a co-worker who refers to it as "oil", but he often gets a lot of sideways looks when he does so, as "oil" generally implies a THC-containing product.

        I use a 150w Joyetech Cuboid along with "The Troll v2" RDA by MoToFo. My coils are VapeGeek clapton pre-builts @ 0.6 ohms, and my wick is Shiseido cotton. Batteries are "married pairs", my collection of which comprises Samsung, LG, and EFest brand batteries, all around 30A 2600mAh range. The "Juice" is a special blend at 1.5mg/ml, which I make from several different flavors.

        I used to use mechs, but after two near-nasty fuckups caused by me forgetting to set the lock-ring on the fire button, I abandoned them in favor of regulated mods. Not because mechanical mods are "unsafe", but because I'm a fucking idiot.

        1. Steven Raith

          Re: A "Twisted Vapers RDA" is just the "tank"

          It started getting called 'juice', but then certain more puritanical public health wonks - with absolutely no sense of perspective - started claiming that devices and consumables that were almost without exception are (and always have been) being sold to adult smokers, were somehow marketing to children.

          Because it was being called juice. And they still claim that because some flavours are sweet, that is also marketing to children.

          I'm not even joking - that's literally how pathetic and utterly, unforgivably desperate to demonise these products many in the public health world are.

          Of course, some liquid manufacturers will do fucking idiotic things like infringing copyright on Pokemon and suchlike, but they typically don't last very long; no-one in the industry will stock that stuff, because - oddly enough - most vape shops don't want a visit from trading standards/the feds for even being perceived as possibly trying to attract kids; it's not like they need to, there's plenty of smokers and they're a far easier sell.

          Steven R

          1. Speltier

            Re: A "Twisted Vapers RDA" is just the "tank"

            Using pretty colors and pictures that may attract children is dangerous because the liquids with nicotine can be lethal in relatively small quantities. You may be a responsible user, and as an adult you should have the right to imbibe/inject/inhale any chemical you want, but others leave this stuff laying about as an attractive hazard.

            In this case the numpties are right with the "its for the children" refrain.

            1. Steven Raith

              Re: A "Twisted Vapers RDA" is just the "tank"

              No, they're not. Kids are not using these devices, with the exception of existing and former smokers. That is backed up by all the population level data, without exception, so if the way e-cigs are being marketed is 'attractive to children' then it's spectacularly failing.

              That, and reports of laundry/washing up capsules poisoning children with their pretty colours are several times higher than reported poisonings from e-liquid across all age groups.

              But yet, I don't see demands for plain packaging and no marketing of 'summer breeze' and 'glade forest', after all, that sounds like some sort of fantasy land that kids would want to visit, which is just as stupid an argument as restricting sweet flavours because The Kids might like them.

              It's a mostly empty argument completely diverts from the absolute fact that more children have died from ingesting laundry tablets (two in the last couple of years, dozens of extremely serious issues like respiratory failure and coma), or have died from cigarette related fires last year than have ever died from accidental ingestion of e-liquid - because the latter number is, at the last count, one in a decade; reportedly caused by someone storing a nicotine based liquid in a non-childproof bottle, within use of a one year old (!), which appeared to be being used for self-mixing - not a retail bottle.

              You can try to regulate for stupidity, but I think one incident in a decade (and fractional amounts of reported poisonings compared to other perfectly accepted consumer goods) suggests that this is less of a problem than you'd like to believe it is.

              Are there risks? Yes, everything has risks. Are they even remotely justifiable in banning flavours or seriously restricting marketing to adults, especially when compared to the unintended consequences, which is less people cutting down or giving up smoking - which I remind you, kills millions a year, directly?

              When you look at the big picture rather than focus on the minutiae, not even fucking close.

              Steven R

  10. wolfetone Silver badge

    The problem here is that these eCig things is that smokers - who quite rightly are pissed off for all the taxes they've been paying for cigarettes that have ever decreasing amounts of nicotine in them - find them online for cheap.

    Any old clown can buy a batch of devices and liquids from AliExpress/AliBaba for cheap and set up an online store or shop on the high street for less than what a supermarket or other store could sell them for. The problem is the cheapo owner is buying the stock cheap, because the devices themselves are cheap, and the smoker will buy the cheap devices from the cheapo owner because they're smoking ecigs for the price point.

    This also applies to phone chargers and other things that manufacturers try to sell at extortionate prices. The users will want a second phone charger, go on Amazon/eBay/AliExpress and buy one for £2 instead of £25. But the quality of these things is questionable. I watch a chap on YouTube called bigclivedotcom (don't Google it, just YouTube it) and he tears these things down and shows the quality of them. Some are OK, but is your house really worth putting a £2 charger in to your mains and hoping it doesn't explode and cause a fire?

    1. Steven Raith

      BigClive is awesome, and I thoroughly recommend him to anyone who has a curiousity about how things that are vaguely electrical work (and, occasionally, can be made to go pop).

      The irony in this instance is that the guy bought the mod from a shop, and had the shop maintain it for him - until the regs came along that said that if the shop changes the coils for him, they become a tobacco manufacturer (because it's the FDA, so of course that makes sense to them).

      Shop refuses to service device, device gets poorly maintained, device goes pop.

      Problem is, mech mods are, by their nature, extremely cheap to make. They're literally a tube of metal with threaded socket for the RDA ('tank' part that isn't actually a tank yadda yadda) and a threaded cap with a button at the other end to make contact with the battery. So you'll likely never see them disappear from the interweb bargain bizarres; best we can hope for is they end up as under the counter devices; that is, if someone really wants one, they can ask for one.

      But Average Joe/Jane Smoker (who are, statistically, >90% of users) can come in and still buy a perfectly safe regulated mod that will perform just as well, without the risk of a faceful of industrial blowback.

      Steven R

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The guy used to have his coils made for him by his vape shop because he didn't have the knowledge to do it himself. The FDA prohibited it, so he had to.

    Apparently he somehow made a 0.06 ohm coil. That's 50 to 70 amperes drawn from the battery. No 18650 battery can withstand this for more than a few seconds. Add a hybrid mod to the mix (with the high possibilities of short circuit) and a dreadful accident is bound to happen when the user doesn't have enough knowledge.

    Hardware/manufacturers faulty? Not.

    User faulty? Hardly, if only by ignorance.

    Reseller faulty? Perhaps. They might have seen he was clueless.

    FDA faulty? Sure. This one's definitely on them.

    1. Steven Raith

      When people talk about the unintended consequences of bad regulation, this is exactly what they're talking about.

      Steven R

  12. DougCDN

    Your charging an IMR 16850 battery off of USB and you wonder why the battery exploded? Get a Nitecore Charger to charge IMR 18650 batteries, end of.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Explain!

    2. butmonkeh

      Like this?

      http://www.nitecore.co.uk/Shop/Products/Chargers/12990-Nitecore-UM10-Single-Bay-Charger.html

      Charges from USB.....

    3. DougCDN

      USB has no protection, period. I.E. high voltage into the USB ports , NO PROBLEM. Charging a vape that has an IMR 18650 battery via USB is just asking for trouble.Why again USB has zero protection. With the NiteCore Chargers you have under voltage, over voltage, short etc etc protection that you don't get with plain USB. Charging with USB is an afterthought not a design concept. The posted NiteCore USB Charger works because it moves the intelligence to the charger, NOT the USB port. It is constantly monitoring all aspects of the charged battery and adjusting accordingly. What happened in this case is thermal run away. The battery was overcharged via USB because USB is not designed for charging. When he went to take a draw off the e-cig he drew a hefty current and the battery failed.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    3000 mAh battery?

    Can anyone tell me WHY this would be necessary? Is it so you can smoke for a month without recharging? Surely it doesn't draw more juice than a cell phone, which can easily last all day on that much power! What could it possibly be doing that it needs a battery like that?

    I have to say there's an element of YDI here for being such a tool that he can't just vape like a normal hipster, but has to go three steps further than the crowd to try to differentiate himself.

    1. Steven Raith

      Re: 3000 mAh battery?

      Some very basic research would show you that mechanical mods particularly, but most e-cigs that provide moderate levels of power (to allow for a good replication of smoking - or a better experience than smoking, the more likely to get someone off the fags) draw rather more current than a cellphone, which over it's SOC will try to draw less than 10w at any time.

      A mech mod sitting at 0.1A will try to pull 40A from the cell.

      3000mah doesn't last long in one of those.

      The flipside is, my 'daily' device, a 4000mah regulated device with an atomiser that is perfectly happy (for my usage - not everyones) at 13w, will last the better part of two days before it needs charging.

      Horses for courses, and one of the reasons why these things have a very high conversion rate with smokers; everyone has their particular brand (Marlboro, Lambert and Bambert, Lucky Strike), everyone has their favoured 'device' (premade smokes, tobacco, perhaps a nice pipe?), something NRT and inhalators simply can't replicate.

      The question is, is the risk wort...oh, for gods sake, fags kill half a million a year and start 90,000 fires in the US alone, it's worth it.

      Steven R

      PS: If you want to boggle the mind, you can get a 300w (max) regulated mod that can take four of those batteries - so 12,000Ah. Apparently capable of regular use for two days straight at 120w....

    2. butmonkeh

      Re: 3000 mAh battery?

      Just registered with El Reg to answer this.

      A modest sub-ohm coil, which is common in this kind of setup, of .25ohm will draw ~20amps from an 18650 cell at 4.2v (voltage drop applies, so it will be less). I have parallel 2500mah 18650's (so 5000mah capacity, also lessens voltage drop), at 0.25ohm. My batteries last about 24hours before they reach 3.6v (which is the point i decide to change them).

      It draws *much* more power than a cell phone, but at more sporadic intervals.

      I think labelling someone a 'tool' for vaping with a method that suits him is a little unfair. Unfortunately, things went wrong for him. Having unregulated mech mods in the hands of people that don't understand ohms law, and amp limits of batteries isn't a good thing, especially when a hybrid mod is more prone to a dead short from a 'flat' 510 connector setup (as stated in previous comments).

      If the the vape shop had sold him a box full of electronics to make him safer, none of this would of happened. If he'd learnt what he needed to to make his unregulated mech safer, it wouldn't have happened either. If some ruling meant that he couldn't get assistance from his local vape shop for fear of breaking the law meant the he injured himself, then that perhaps is the fault of the lawmakers.

    3. inmypjs Silver badge

      Re: 3000 mAh battery?

      "Surely it doesn't draw more juice than a cell phone"

      Not on average but vastly more for a couple of seconds now and then which is why a larger battery is required to provide the high peak power.

      That said there is something wrong with this story. No battery device ought to be able to create a violent explosion. Any containment which would explode with sufficient build up of internal gas pressure ought to have a venting mechanism to prevent it

    4. hmv

      Re: 3000 mAh battery?

      Smoke?

      Setting light to an 18650 battery and inhaling the result isn't recommended.

      As to _vaping_ (which generates a "mist" that chemically resembles smoke about as much as a table does), it can require surprising amounts of power - it does after all resemble an incandescent light bulb in operation if not result.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 3000 mAh battery?

      All these type of ecigs ( including the safe non-mechanical ones ) use 18650's. 3000mAh will last about a day of use.

  14. Hoe
    WTF?

    Going for a Darwin Award?

    LI Batteries and water don't mix, so laddies & gentlemen, DON'T TAKE YOU VAPE IN THE BATHROOM!

    Bet he just had a hot steaming shower, Vape & Battery sitting nearby soaking it all up, then he goes for a puff, BOOM!

    If the batteries were properly sealed it should be ok, but with steam it would only require the slightest of gaps for the moister to seep in! :/

    Either he didn't know this or he was going for a Darwin!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Going for a Darwin Award?

      LiI Batteries and water don't mix, so laddies & gentlemen, DON'T TAKE YOU VAPE IN THE BATHROOM!

      That's just so much fucking bullshit because we are not talking about slabs of metal here. At all.

      Indeed, if your Li batteries are a-burning, the best way to keep them calm is TO POUR WATER ON THEM.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Going for a Darwin Award?

        Even though lithium (being an alkali metal) reacts to water? You have to make sure your battery is Lithium-Ion or Lithium-Polymer first, as pouring water on a Lithium- primary fire is a BAD idea.

  15. John Geek

    1st, Chinese off-brand (UltraFire, etc etc etc) 18650s that claim 3700 mAH or whatever rarely even have 1000mAH. I've tested several batches of these and found no more than about 800mAH discharging to the 2.5V minimum safe voltage at a one hour discharge rate.

    2nd, ANY device like this should be using the slightly more expensive PROTECTED 18650, NOT the unprotected ones. these usually have a button on the + end instead of a recessed contact, and are slightly longer. Unprotected LiIon batteries are only safe if they are permanently installed in a system with a integral protection circuit. the protection circuit prevents overcharge, over-discharge, and limits the max current output.

    1. Tachikoma

      Most devices won't accommodate the protected batteries which are slightly longer, plus the protection kicks in when using them in a lot of vape devices as the battery thinks it is having a hard short (which essentially it is in a mech)

  16. Haku

    ecig explosion in mans face caught on cctv (different person than this story)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKm0Hz70OdU

    Apparently he got 12 stiches in his face.

    1. Steven Raith

      Re: ecig explosion in mans face caught on cctv (different person than this story)

      There's always a man,

      There's always a mech,

      There's always a lighthouse.

      Wait, what?

      Steven "still making stupid jokes" R

  17. SpeedEvil

    e-cigs hurt several people.

    But cigarettes are the leading cause of all house fires leading to death - a rather more significant number. (neglecting any deaths due to normal operation of cigs).

  18. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Meh

    Battery problems aside..

    ..I wonder how 'healthy' it is to superheat the vapor beyond what unmodified e-cigs do, and suck down mass quantities of same superheated vapor. When you go to that extreme, it sounds like you're not really improving over regular smoking.

    1. hmv

      Re: Battery problems aside..

      High powered devices don't really superheat the liquid - that's not to say it doesn't get a bit hotter than lower powered devices. What does happen is that you'll be inhaling more "e-liquid" (dumb phrase but we're probably stuck with it), which definitely increases risk.

      But to the level that smoking causes? Not a chance. You could probably drink the e-liquid (assuming it's zero nic) by the gallon and still be at a far lower risk than smoking.

    2. Steven Raith

      Re: Battery problems aside..

      Unicornpiss, it's not a 'health' aid; it's a harm reduced way of getting nicotine. A vastly harm reduced way.

      Also, nothing is superheated; airflow cools the vapour as it leaves the coils. If you don't get enough airflow, the vapour tastes fucking acrid, and that's something you do once or twice, then rapidly learn how not to do it.

      You can think what it 'sounds' like all you want, but I'd recommend having a good skim through the summaries in this report, and reading back to any that catch your eye.

      Royal College Of Physicians - Nicotine Without Smoke - a 200 page report citing more than 180 papers discussing the pros and cons of e-cigs on personal, regulatory and population level, etc.

      In all seriousness, despite being quite weighty (and by a wide margin, the most comprehensive report of it's kind) it's surprisingly readable and accessible.

      Steven R

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Battery problems aside..

        it's not a 'health' aid; it's a harm reduced way of getting nicotine.

        As a matter of fact, there are discussions about using the technology as a delivery method for certain types of medicines that are more efficient when inhaled, using plain propylene glycol (without flavourings or other additives) as the carrier.

        And this makes perfect sense: vaporized propylene glycol is perfectly safe to inhale as long as it's not overheated, and furthermore it has some light antiviral and antibacterial properties (to the extent that at some point PG vapor has been tried out in some hospitals to reduce infections, but apparently it wasn't as efficient as hoped).

        Vaping is indeed not an health aid, what with the flavourings and nicotine, but the technology itself could (and probably will) be used in that domain.

  19. Pat 11

    Cloud chasers, subohm

    There's an aspect to this sad tale that hasn't been mentioned here. His device seems to have been a non-regulated unit firing a very low resistance coil. People do this to get denser vapor, it tastes better and looks cool when you blow out the clouds. I think this is a worrying trend aside from all the electrical danger. Vaping looks a lot safer than fags, but that density of vapor tastes nice because it is carrying a lot more of the flavorings. Of the ingredients in vapor, the flavors are the unknown and potentially dangerous ones. Thousands of compounds are used, and they are approved for food use on the basis that there isn't evidence to ban them. Nobody has much evidence at all what long term inhalation might do to the lung epithelium. My guess is that some will be harmful, and heating them may exacerbate this. So I would not be a sub-ohm cloud chaser, I stick to simple flavors like menthol and low wattage. Each to their own, but that's my take on it.

  20. MJI Silver badge

    Still costs less than cigarettes

    Cost me two grandparents

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Priorities

    OK you have a socially acceptable addiction, I get that and you need to supply the craving. However therein lies your first and foremost problem, you have a serious addiction to a chemical that does nothing good for you and you need to address that rather than finding ever more daft, and it would seem dangerous electronic gadgets, to satisfy it. Health risks aside for a second, apart from Humphrey Bodgart no one ever looks cool smoking, you look like a junkie with a infantile fetish for sucking on a dummy!

    1. Tachikoma
      Pint

      Re: Priorities

      So I take it your body is a temple, you don't have a cup of tea/coffee in the morning, you don't have a bar of chocolate in the afternoon or don't have a swift shandy in the evening?

      Cigarettes contain thousands of chemicals, a lot of them cause addiction, nicotine is only a small part of why people smoke, and since switching to vaping, once the initial itch has gone from all the other shyte they put in cigarettes, my nicotine intake has dropped substantially as I find I just don't like the aftertaste and I don't wake up a quivering wreck until I have had a puff, unlike with cigarettes. I could probably drop to zero nicotine and not notice, but I still enjoy the social aspects, fiddling with bits of wire and mixing my own (often horrendous) flavours of juice at home like some mad scientist.

      What started as a way to get off the cancer sticks has turned into an enjoyable hobby that is no more or less cool looking than a middle aged man in spandex with a reinforced gusset riding a £5000 pushbike through the morning gridlock trying to convince himself people are staring out of jealousy.

      1. lukewarmdog

        Re: Priorities

        I'm not sure it should have turned into an enjoyable hobby.

        I stopped smoking with patches, I didn't start getting into different coloured ones, maybe try new shapes. I completely agree with anything that gets people to stop but vaping seems to be an excuse to never have to actually stop, in which case you're being ruled by your need for nicotine.

        If you google "health risks from vaping" there's usually a new study each month explaining what they are. I'll accept some are probably written by the tobacco industries PR guys but google "health risks from not vaping" and there aren't any. If you're going to stop smoking you should also stop vaping, not find your favourite flavour and build a better way of consuming it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Priorities

      Nicotine might be beneficial to the brain.That sounds like "something" and "good" to me. Even though the neo-puritan church will be against.

      http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/20031012195753data_trunc_sys.shtml

    3. Triggerfish

      Re: Priorities

      you have a serious addiction to a chemical that does nothing good for you and you need to address that r

      I think you will find thats why a lot of people vape, it is a way for people to come off the cigs, you silly self righteous AC.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A guy hurt himself while vaping? Not feeling a lot of sympathy here.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What is wrong with you? Psycho.

  23. MarkElmes

    Mech Mods are stupid and dangerous

    His fault for running .6 ohm on a standard battery, destined to blow up.

  24. comprehensible

    millions of batteries sold by Tesla. not a single batter fire. a battery is not just a battery. opt for a supplier that has industrial liability, i.e. makes batteries for laptops and cars. if they blow the makers cough up.

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