Cannabis / Culture

What’s The Deal With Vape Pen Explosions? Is My Vape Pen Safe?

What’s The Deal With Vape Pen Explosions? Is My Vape Pen Safe?

There were at least 195 vape pen explosions between 2009 and 2016, some resulting in serious injury.

Jun 5, 2018 - Michelle Janikian

Photo by Lindsay Fox via Flickr

What’s The Deal With Vape Pen Explosions? Is My Vape Pen Safe?

Photo by Lindsay Fox via Flickr

Vape pen explosions have been in the news lately, but are vaporizers actually dangerous? With reports of vapes causing fires, injury, and even one death, it seems like our favorite new smoking device is out to get us. Let’s take a look at some of these recent vape pen explosions to see if your cannabis vaporizer is safe or not.

Vape Pen Explosions: The Data

FEMA, short for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, recently published a report examining electronic cigarette safety. They found that there were at least 195 vape pen explosions from January 2009 to December 31, 2016. Of those, 38 resulted in severe injury, which was defined as the victim requiring hospitalization. Some of those severely injured suffered a loss of a body part, third-degree burns, or facial injuries as well.

All 195 cases of vape pen explosions described in the FEMA report were caused by e-cigarettes not cannabis vaporizers, however, the two devices share much of the same technology. For instance, both types of vapes can use lithium-ion-polymer (Li-ion) batteries. These batteries seem to be the main cause of vape pen explosions, and they’ve also been known to cause fires in other devices that use them such as laptops, cell phones, and even hoverboards.

However, the Li-ion batteries found in e-cigs and other vaporizers pose a unique threat: they’re used close to the face. According to the FEMA report, this makes them particularly dangerous; if they explode while in use, they’re centimeters away from some of our most vulnerable body parts.

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What’s more, because of the design of many vapes, the Li-ion battery is in a precarious position. It’s often placed in the structurally weakest part of the vape pen, the end. If the battery ruptures, pressure can build within the vaporizer, leading to vape pen explosions that can propel broken pieces of the device across a room “like a bullet or small rocket,” according to FEMA.

After FEMA’s report was published, the U.S. saw its first death from a vape pen explosion. In May 2018, a man in Florida was killed when his Smoke E-Mountain Tech Works e-cig vaporizer exploded lodging a piece of shrapnel into his head which killed him and causing a fire. However, this brand of vaporizer, which is easily modified to give more heat and therefore create huge clouds of vapor “smoke,” lacks important safety features. Tampered and modified e-cig vaporizers become more dangerous and more likely to explode.

How to Avoid Vape Pen Explosions

The FDA recommends people store their spare Li-ion batteries safely to prevent such problems. That means keeping them away from keys, spare change or other metal objects, especially in close confines like in your pocket.

Plus, if you are using a vape with replaceable batteries, don’t use cheap, knock-offs. FEMA and the FDA recommend you only use Li-ion batteries meant for your specific device. Interchanging other brands’ batteries or salvaging batteries from other devices increases your chances of a vape pen explosion.

Also be sure to look for products that have the “UL” mark of approval. This mark indicates the battery has been tested and is safe for use, if used properly. It’s also important to use the charger that came with your batteries, and not charge them with another device.

The bottom line? If you want to vape safely and avoid a potentially dangerous vape pen explosion, use the device as directed: don’t modify your vape and treat the batteries with care. If you use a cannabis oil vape pen that you can’t take the battery out of, these problems are much less likely to occur. But if you have a vaporizer that can be used for dry cannabis flower or one that can be used for e-nicotine or cannabis oil with a replaceable battery, treat it well and it should reciprocate.


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