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Exploding Ecigs: What you need to know

Exploding Ecigs: What you need to know

Each time an e-cigarette explodes, the information is the object of alarmist reports in the tabloid press and the source of concern for the general public and especially for users. This creates a litigious climate around vaping that serves the cause of anti-vaping communities. Let's clarify the risk and see what can be done for more safety.

E-cigarettes do not explode, batteries do

First of all, and it is very important to notice that e-cigarettes do not explode. In contrast, batteries do, and particularly rechargeable batteries that are used in most electronic mods. And if an e-cigarette is damaged, it is because its battery or batteries have been damaged.

Secondly, it is more appropriate to talk about degassing rather than explosion because the latter is very rare. What happens, most of the time, is a gradual increase of pressure and temperature inside the body of the battery that may lead to a leakage, a blast of incandescent gases. The persons exposed to the jet may be injured and suffer from sever burns.

The last few issues involving e-cigarette batteries highlighted the fact that the batteries were not inserted into the device but carried out without protection in a pocket, where they entered in contact with loose coins or keys. The contact between the positive and the negative poles of a battery is, by itself, susceptible to generate a chemical reaction inside the battery and raise the pressure and temperature until a gaseous leakage happens.

An illustration of this phenomenon is shown in a video recorded by a security cam in Toulouse, France, on October 28, 2016. The poor guy confessed that he was carrying a spare battery, fully charged and unprotected, in his pocket.

The e-cigarette is not the only one concerned by battery explosion

It is important to point out that e-cigarette batteries are not the only ones to explode. Each year, many Lithium-ion batteries are exploding.
Smartphones, tablets, laptops… you probably also remember the cases of some Hoverboards, the electric skates consumed by flames. More spectacular even is the case of the famous electric vehicle Tesla that caught fire in Biarritz, during a promotional summer tour in France, last August 2016. The same story that happened a few months earlier in Norway.

The last in date is the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, last September. Just after its release and just before its main concurrent, iPhone 7, reaches the market, the press reported cases of spontaneous combustion and even explosion with blast. Each time the accident leads to the complete destruction of the device and, unfortunately, to some parts of its environment, including injuries to its owner or to bystanders.

How to avoid battery fire?

The most basic rule: Avoid keeping charged batteries with metallic objects (coins, keys,…)

Important The first rule, if you carry out batteries outside your electronic mod, is to never leave them in a bag or a pocket without protecting the poles. You MUST use a sleeve or a box dedicated to this use.

Keep an eye on your devices to make sure they are working properly. In particular, check your resistance coil very often, visually and physically. A coil that loses resistive capacity is very dangerous and shouldn’t be submitted to electric power.

You can find in shops protection sleeves at a very low price for your batteries. Here a plastic sleeve for a 18 650 battery

Technical aspects of batteries

Definition: The battery is a physical unit that stores and delivers the energy used to heat the resistance coil in your atomizer and vaporize the e-liquid.


Several indications are present on the battery. All of them are important:

  • Chemical composition (IMR, Li-Mn,…)
  • Dimensions, coded with 5 digits:
  • The first two digits give the diameter in millimetres, the following two digits are the height in millimetres and the last one characterizes its shape (0 for a cylinder, 1 for a rectangular box). A 18 650 battery is a cylindric one with a diameter of 18 mm and a height of 65 mm.
  • Nominal voltage (V)
  • Load capacity (mAh)
  • Continuous Standard Load (mA)
  • Maximum (Continuous) Discharge Current (mAh)

To what corresponds the Load capacity?

The Load Capacity is an indication of how much energy is embarked into the battery. It is proportional to its autonomy in Ampere-hours (Ah), the unit of electric charge which basically is the amount of electricity that crosses a section of a conductor submitted to a current of 1 Amp during 1 hour. It tells you how long a battery can provide a given current.

Manipulating Load Capacity values

A battery of 3 000 mAh is able to sustain a continuous current of 3 000 mA during 1 hour. If the current is only 1 000 mA, the battery will last 3 hours.

What is the Continuous Standard Load?

The Continuous Standard Load is the amount of current output that the battery can sustain for more-than-brief periods of time.

What indication gives the Max Discharge Current (MDC)?

The Maximum Discharge Current or maximum continuous discharge current is an important parameter to consider because it defines an upper limit beyond which a current can overheat and destroy the battery. The MDC is the maximum working current that the battery can deliver without risk.

Its value can be expressed as a function of its capacity (1C, 2C, 3C,…) or in Ampere. It strongly depends on the chemistry of the battery.

Manipulating Maximum Discharge Current values

2C indicates that the battery can deliver a current that is equivalent to two times its load capacity. And a MDC of 20 A for a battery of 2 000 mA indicates that the current can be 10 times its capacity (10C). A battery with a Load Capacity of 700 mAh and a MDC of 2C can produce a current of 1 400 mAh.


The chemical composition of the batteries used in e-cigarettes is variable. But most of the time, they contain Lithium. The presence of Lithium (Li) makes the batteries lighter and make them less subject to the “memory effect” that reduces the working life of the storage batteries.

Which battery for which Mod ?

The thumb rule to avoid damaging the battery is: never go beyond the maximum continuous discharge current.

For a mechanical mod:

For Mecas, mods without any circuitry (no settings, no display, no protection), the most appropriate batteries are IMR-type or hybride (NCR-ICR) with a high MDC. Otherwise, do prefer a battery with a built-in protection circuit.

For an electronic mod:

Compared to mecas, electronic mods have several electronic features with a display and are electronically protected for many failures. There is no need to use protected batteries because the internal chipset takes care of you for upsurge, low resistance, shorting… You can then use IMR or hybrid cells with a high MDC, at least 6 A.

How to buy batteries?

First of all, do not trust the attractive packaging of unknown brands, pictures are not a guarantee of reliability.

Do prefer the most famous brands like LG, Samsung, Sony, Panasonic or Sanyo, whose reputation is robust in this domain. The three cited brands are the most common. Other brands often market the same batteries under another name. The potential issue is that the rebranded batteries may have been discarded by the manufacturer for safety reasons and re-appear on the market under another name and no traceability. All rebranded batteries may not be defective but whenever there is a doubt, it is preferable to abstain from purchasing it.

Where to buy batteries?

Before purchasing anything, check the seriousness of the service because it is extremely easy to re-wrap old batteries. Avoid sites like Ebay or purchasing secondhand models because you can never know the history of its use. Some brands have “scratch codes” to address authenticity issues.

Where to dispose of a used battery?

Not in the trash!

Recycling the battery is an eco-citizen act to reduce environmental pollution. The metals present in batteries, noble or not, should not follow the same circuit as other consumables. Some of them can be recycled in order to reduce the impact of the humans on our planet. There are many centres where batteries are collected for recycling.

When to dispose of a used battery?

As all good things must come to an end, batteries also die. Best If Used By (BIUB) date is often an indication of the life expectancy of your battery. Use of a battery beyond the BIUB date may affect its performance. Rebranding (see above) may also re-market stocks of batteries purchased to a manufacturer at a date close or beyond their BIUB date.

A Li-ion battery can be stored at room temperature and in its original packaging for 10 years or more without affecting its load capacity. Bad Storage conditions severely affect the longevity.

When used, the number of charge/discharge cycles determines its life expectancy. The conditions of charging are also important to take into consideration since fast-charging repeatedly the battery will reduce its life span compared to the slow recharging process.

But some other conditions may lead to dispose immediately of a battery:

  • As soon as a battery has been damaged,
  • When a battery has been dropped, even if there is no apparent impact on the body,
  • If the wrapper is removed or scratched,
  • If the battery looks deformed,
  • If a visual inspection reveals “rust spots“,
  • If you notice charging issues or a fast discharge rate.
Source: vapingpost
Date: 30th November 2016

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