Part 1 – Safe Vaping for Beginners
Vaping is usually defined as the act of inhaling vapor through a personal vaporizer (also called a vape pen, an E-cig, or an electronic cigarette). They use no tar or tobacco, and utilize no open flame. Instead, they use a small electronic coil to atomize the E-liquid – which creates the vapor. Vaping has been confirmed to be much less harmful than smoking. In fact, Public Health England released a statement earlier this year that described E-cigs as being about 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes – and that they may one day be licensed and used as smoking cessation devices.
But are E-cigs altogether safe, in general? They are, after all, electronic devices. Could they potentially explode? What steps can you take to ensure that you stay safe? Is there a proper way to charge, store, and transport them? What are the risks if you happen to do something wrong?
In this paper, we’re going to talk extensively about E-cig safety – from beginning to end.
If you want to learn how to safely use your electronic cigarette, and don’t want to find yourself in the middle of an accident or a malfunction, then you’ve definitely come to the right place and we strongly advice that you read the whole guide! So without further delay, let’s get to it.
Safe Use of Beginner E-cigs
Entry-level E-cigs are often affordable and easy to find, and you can buy them in kits that come with everything required to get started. Some E-cig starter kits can provide a lot of value for the money, but it’s also important to keep safety in mind when handling and using them.
Remember that electronic cigarettes are electronic devices, and that they should be treated with common sense and care. In general, vape pens are not dangerous items – but as with most electronic appliances and devices, they can cause accidental harm or injury if mishandled.
Here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re thinking about buying a starter kit or an entry-level vape pen.
- Read the instructions thoroughly. E-cigs almost always come with a user’s manual, which will probably contain step-by-step instructions for use and warnings about what you shouldn’t do. Always make sure to read this booklet completely before using the product – even if you’re an experienced vaper. Not all products are alike, and it’s important to understand all of the controls before attempting to operate the pen.
- The atomizer within your E-cig is essentially a small heating element that will need to heat up to atomize the e-liquid. If you notice that your E-cig is beginning to ‘get hot’ to the touch during or after use, set it down and consult the manual to see if something might be wrong.
- Keep E-cigs and E-liquid out of reach of children. Nicotine is toxic, so make sure that your kids can’t get it. Keep it stored in a child-proof place, and never forget to put it away when you’re done.
- Lithium Ion Batteries can be dangerous if they’re mishandled. Make sure to read your manual to find out exactly how the product was intended to be charged.
Safely Charging Your E-cig Batteries
Charging your vape pen or mod is definitely a big deal. Since E-cigs typically utilize Lithium Ion batteries, it’s very important to follow the charging instructions exactly as specified. Your user manual will probably come with all of the most crucial information required to keep your batteries charged safely – but here are some additional tips that you should always think about as you go about this relatively mundane, yet very essential and important process.
- Never use a charger that wasn’t intended to be used with your E-cig. Just because a charger has the same types of connectors doesn’t mean that it’s safe to use with your E-cig. For best results, you should only use the charger that came with the product.
- While charging your E-cig, do not leave it unattended. It might be tempting to plug it in while you run to the store, but this means that you won’t be close by to take action if something goes wrong. A failed lithium ion battery can result in a small explosion, flames, and excessive heat – so it’s important that you stay aware of the device while it’s plugged in.
- Never charge your electronic cigarette while you’re sleeping. One reason for this is because you can’t really keep an eye on it while you’re unconscious – but another reason is because you would be asleep if something were to go wrong. If it were to start a fire, for example, you might not wake up in time to take corrective action – and that would definitely not be a good thing!
- Try not to charge your E-cig in areas where it could be exposed to excessive hot or cold temperatures. Outdoors in the winter or indoors right beside the heater are two examples of areas that you should probably avoid.
Transporting Your E-cig Safely
One of the many benefits of e-cigarettes is how portable they are – but don’t make the mistake of thinking that there are not safe ways to transport them! As with any electronic device, there are definite guidelines that you should stick to when carrying your E-cig from one place to another. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
- If you want to carry it in your pocket, use a carrying case. This will keep your E-cig safe and secure, and will keep the components from getting damaged.
- Never carry loose batteries in the same pocket as keys, coins, or other metal objects that could complete a circuit and cause the batteries to overheat.
- Always turn your E-cig off when you carry it – and check it every so often to make sure that it hasn’t accidentally switched on. If it were to switch on in your pocket, and if the button were to get pressed down for a long period of time, then it could over-heat and cause an injury.
Handling and Using Cartomizers Safely
Cartomizers contain a heating coil and a polyfill wrap (or wick). This wrap soaks up the E-liquid and provides the user with a longer, better vape. Cartomizers are a super-important component for most E-cig designs, though there are definitely some things to keep in mind about safety as you buy, use, and refill them.
- If the cartridge is damaged or isn’t stored properly, then the E-liquid inside can sometimes go bad – so always check your cartomizer for damage (make sure there are no leaks, cracks, etc.) before use.
- Keep your cartomizer away from exposure to heat to keep the E-liquid inside from going bad and to prevent any damage that it could do to the cartomizer itself.
- Always store cartomizers in a safe place, out of the reach of children.
- Never just ‘throw your cartridges away’. Disposing of them properly is very important! Consult your user manual for specific instructions regarding cartomizer disposal.
- If you accidentally get a drip of E-liquid on your lips or in your mouth, spit it out and wash out your mouth with water. If you happen to drip E-liquid on your skin, you should wash that off too – as the nicotine, in concentrated form, is toxic and can cause irritation.
- Take longer, slower puffs when using automatic batteries, and make sure to continue to inhale for a moment after letting off the firing button on manual devices. This will help to keep drips from occurring, and will also help to reduce condensation.
- Remember that coils go bad, so if you’re cartomizer is a model that allows you to change this part, keep an eye out for signs of coil failure.
Clearomizers are basically like cartomizers, except that they usually contain a clear glass or plastic ‘tank’ that allows you to see the E-liquid inside. Most of the safety rules for clearomizers are the same as those for cartomizers – with a few extras.
- Always check the user manual to see exactly how you’re supposed to fill your clearomizer. Filling it the wrong way could result in dripping.
- Always check the glass tank before use to ensure that it’s clear of cracks or breaks.
- You should also follow the cartomizer safety rules listed above, as cartomizers and clearomizers are actually very similar in design and function.
Vaping Side Effects
The subject of vaping side effects is actually a bit controversial – mostly because there hasn’t been much of a chance yet for any long-term studies. However, with that being said, there is still some great side-effects information available out there. Being aware of this issue is definitely important, and while most E-cig users don’t experience any of the following, here are some of the most common side effects to look for.
- Dry Mouth
- Dry Skin
- Allergic Reactions (to flavorings, Propylene Glycol, or Vegetable Glycerin)
- Canker Sores (not from the E-cig itself, but from failing to keep the mouthpiece clean and sanitary)
Part 2 – E-Liquid Safety
How to use E-liquid safely
E-liquid is an essential part of vaping – but it is also capable of doing quite a bit of harm if it’s not respected and properly handled. E-liquid contains nicotine, which is toxic in concentrated amounts. Even a few drops of E-liquid can be very, very dangerous if directly ingested. In fact, just getting it on your skin can cause nicotine poisoning if you get too much on you! Of course, at lower doses (such as those used by most vapers), a few drops isn’t much of a problem, especially for adults. But children and small pets can be particularly susceptible to it due to their lesser body weight.
Always use these precautions when handling, storing, and/or using E-liquid.
- Always store your E-liquid well out of the reach of pets and children.
- Always store it with a childproof cap so that if your kids did get it, they wouldn’t be able to get into it.
- Don’t store e-liquid in direct sunlight or where it could potentially get hot.
- When refilling your E-cig, be careful of spills. If you get E-liquid on your hands, rinse it off with soap and water as quickly as possible. If you get in on your clothes, change so that the liquid won’t be sitting against your skin.
Allergies and Other Health Conditions
Since E-cigs do introduce a few different ingredients and chemicals into your body, it’s a good idea to be aware of your allergy risk. The Propylene Glycol in E-Liquid is probably the most likely source of any allergic reaction, but flavorings or even nicotine itself could all affect you in a negative way if they react badly with a medical condition or allergy.
Here are some guidelines for dealing with E-cigs and the possibility of complications.
- If you’re pregnant, doctors agree that staying away from nicotine in-general is the best idea.
- An allergy to Propylene Glycol is probably the most likely reaction that you’ll experience. Symptoms of this allergy could include headaches, hives, rashes, wheezing, swelling, itchy eyes, and nausea.
- If you do end up suffering from a PG allergy, then you might want to buy E-liquid made from 100% Vegetable Glycerin.
- If you have heart problems, asthma, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, or any other chronic medical conditions, then you might want to talk to your doctor before vaping. You may be completely in the clear to start vaping, but your doctor will know best based on your specific case and medical history.
- If you do end up with an allergic reaction of some kind, it might be best to either discontinue vaping or to try an alternative product – like another flavor, brand, or type of E-liquid.
Nicotine and E-liquid
Nicotine is definitely a poison – and in its pure form, it can kill a human within minutes. Of course, in very, very small doses, it also acts as a stimulant – which is the form it takes in cigarettes and E-cigs. But how much nicotine is too much? How do you know what’s safe and what isn’t?
Here are some points that might help to shed some light on this very important question.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60 milligrams of nicotine is enough to kill an adult who weighs 150 pounds – though it is very, very possible that this figure is actually incredibly conservative, and that nicotine is actually not nearly as toxic as it suggests.
- If, by some chance, you were to ever ingest a large amount of E-liquid, then you should contact a medical professional for help and advice.
- A complete list of actual nicotine overdose symptoms can be found here: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002510.htm
- Generally speaking, it is estimated that it’s almost theoretically impossible to ‘vape yourself to death’ with your E-cig if you’re an adult vaping anything 24mg or less – though the same isn’t true for children or small pets! Keep your E-liquid and E-cig in a safe place so that they can’t be chewed up by your dog or handled by your children.
Safety Tips For Mixing Your Own E-liquid
DIY E-liquid mixing is semi-popular among some of the more serious vaping enthusiasts – but it’s not a simple process and should not be engaged in lightly. With that being said, simply mixing different flavors of E-liquid together is definitely a different thing altogether – and isn’t what we’re talking about here. What we’re discussing here is when people plan on literally making/mixing their own E-liquid – which is possible, but requires some rather dangerous components (possibly including E-liquid with higher-than-normal concentrations of nicotine) and a lot of experience. Here are some tips to help you understand this process and some of the safety risks involved. (We’re currently working on a DIY video guide for this, so do check back for a guide to mix your own e-juice.)
- If you’re new to vaping, then you should probably avoid this for now. Just buy commercial E-liquids and enjoy them until you learn more about vaping in-general.
- You should not even think about mixing or making your own E-liquids until you’ve spent 6 months to a year learning about vaping in-general – and even then, you’re going to need to thoroughly educate yourself so that you don’t do something wrong and end up mixing-in too much nicotine.
- Mixing generally requires special liquids that contain higher concentrations of nicotine. These concentrations contain dangerously high levels of nicotine, and are not supposed to be vaped until sufficiently diluted! They are for mixing only.
Safety Tips For E-Liquid In Tanks
E-liquid in a tank can be just as dangerous as E-liquid in a bottle. For best results, follow these guidelines to help avoid accidents.
- Always check your tanks for leaks or damage before using them.
- If your tank tends to drip, then check all of the parts thoroughly. There may be a crack or a loose fitting.
- If a tank becomes damaged, then either replace it or repair it. Do not continue to vape with a broken tank.
- E-liquid in a tank can be very dangerous if consumed in its concentrated form, so make sure to keep your E-cig and any E-liquid away from pets and/or children, and to store them in a safe place.
- As a general rule, glass, Pyrex, PETG plastic, and/or metal tanks are the safest, because they tend to be less-affected by the acid in some types of E-liquid.
E-Liquid Expiration Dates
Most bottles of E-liquid have expiration dates printed on them – though many people wonder whether or not these really mean anything. If the expiration date has come and gone, can you still vape the E-liquid?
Here are some tips to help you figure out what to do in such a situation.
- Most people seem to agree that the exact expiry date/shelf life of E-liquids isn’t really technically known. Therefore, most people go by the shelf life of the primary ingredients – which happen to be VG, PG, and nicotine. With these as the primary components, it’s safe to assume that most E-liquids could be expected to last 1 to 2 years without going bad when stored under the proper conditions.
- If the E-liquid smells or looks weird, then it might be a good idea to avoid using it. But otherwise, if it looks normal and doesn’t taste bad, it’s probably alright.
- Some E-liquids may tend to go bad sooner than others due to the specific flavoring ingredients used.
- If your E-liquid container has some sediment in the bottom, then try shaking it up. If it goes back to normal after shaking it, then you’re probably fine. If not, then you might not want to use it.
Buying E-Liquid From Trusted Sources
E-liquids are available all over the internet and in every vape shop – so how do you know which sources to trust?
Here are some tips that’ll help you to navigate this problem.
- Look for E-liquids that are produced in the UK or the US. These will typically be more expensive, but their standards of quality may be more likely to be higher as well (this may or may not be the case with some manufacturers – as UK or US companies can still create E-liquid from cheap imported products).
- Try to look for E-liquids that contain only high grade or pharmacy grade nicotine.
- As a general rule, you get what you pay for when it comes to E-liquid. Remember that E-liquid isn’t really regulated in the UK – so try to buy from reputable sources that are well-known for quality and safety.
- The AEMSA has a set of guidelines for E-liquids made in the US, so you can check their website (http://www.aemsa.org/) for information on member manufacturers that qualify and follow their standards.
- EL-Science hosts a very, very good page about this topic on their website – which you can visit here: https://elscience.co.uk
Part 3 – E-Cigarette Mod Safety
Avoiding the Risk of Mod Explosions
Mods have an especially bad reputation where explosions are concerned. In fact, some people have even decided not to buy them because they’ve heard that they can blow up, causing injuries and damage. Thankfully, this is mostly a myth. This almost never happens, and when it does, it’s almost always because someone didn’t follow simple safety guidelines.
Here are some steps to take that will reduce (or eliminate) the chances of your mod exploding.
- Only use the charger that was built for your mod, and follow all of the rules for safely charging your E-cig (you can view these in the ‘Safely Charging Your E-cig Batteries’ section, which can be found earlier in this document).
- Never stack batteries! This has been responsible for several E-cig explosions in the past. Always use your mod the way it was intended. If you want to build your own mod, then do your research and make sure that you understand the electronics and calculations involved.
- Higher quality batteries may be less likely to experience failures, so try to shop for ‘quality’ over ‘cost’.
- Always allow your E-cig room for ventilation, so that the battery doesn’t overheat.
- If your mod or the battery gets hot, get it away from yourself and other people until it cools down. If at all possible, try to remove the battery and get it out into the open where it can’t do damage if it starts on fire. Your mod, and most definitely the battery, should not get too hot. If it gets hot to the touch, then there is probably something wrong. At the very least, you need to take a break and allow it to cool down.
- Buying mods that come with built-in overload protection is a great idea. Many box mods come with safety features that will help to prevent accidents.
- The more safety features that are built into the mod, the better.
Sub Ohm Vaping and Ohm’s Law
An E-cig battery can only supply a certain amount of current. If this limit is exceeded, then the risk of a battery failure is increased drastically – which could result in a dangerous accident. If you plan on using a mechanical mod, then this is especially important to you because mechanical mods are often not outfitted with the same types of regulating circuits as box mods – so the current isn’t as controlled and there is, in essence, a greater potential for problems. Sub ohm vaping can also compound this danger by causing you to pull an even stronger current from your battery.
Here are some tips that you should follow if you’re thinking about getting into sub ohm vaping.
- According to Wikipedia.org, Ohm’s law states that “the current through a conductor between two points is directly proportional to the potential difference across the two points.” Sub ohm vaping, therefore, is vaping with a resistance of anything less than 1 Ohm. The point of sub ohm vaping is to draw more current from your battery, though this isn’t always the best idea – especially if you don’t have a thorough knowledge and understanding of Ohm’s law.
- Before you even think about sub ohm vaping, make sure to thoroughly educate yourself on the topic of battery safety. You also need to have a basic understanding of electronics, resistance, and current.
- The safest and easiest way to get into sub ohm vaping is to buy a regulated box mod with a sub ohm tank. Many of these are outfitted with safety features that will prevent electrical accidents.
- Make sure that you NEVER exceed the AMP limit on your battery when putting together your sub ohm mod.
- If in doubt – do more research or ask a professional. Someone in a vape shop who is experienced in this niche could probably tell you a lot that you don’t already know. An electrician or an electrical engineer could probably also give you some great advice on how to avoid accidents!
Most atomizers can be used safely by simply following the directions. Of course, some people build their own atomizers, which is a bit more difficult. As a general rule, you’ll want to follow the guidelines above in the ‘Sub Ohm Vaping and Ohm’s Law’ section, as well as the following.
- If you’re building or re-building your own atomizer, always disconnect the atomizer from the mod so that you don’t get electrocuted or burnt while working on it.
- Using a voltage meter can help you to identify short-circuits – which are pretty dangerous. Learn how to use these tools and make sure that you know what you’re doing.
- This is a pretty advanced activity to be engaging in. If you’re going to be building your own atomizer, then make sure to educate yourself first. If it’s your first time, you might want to have someone more experienced oversee the project – just to make sure you’re not putting yourself at risk or doing something that will cause an accident later.
- Never dry-fire your device when you have cotton or silica wicking materials installed.
Mechanical Mod Safety
Mechanical mods are basically unregulated mods that use direct current from the battery to power the atomizer. Some vaping enthusiasts really enjoy this aspect of vaping, and building mechanical mods can be a fun hobby – but it can also be dangerous, and should never be approached lightly.
Here are some tips to help keep you safe if this is something that you’re thinking about getting into.
- Anything that we’ve already talked about regarding batteries, current, or atomizers applies here.
- Never carry around a mechanical mod without locking the firing button. This will keep it from accidentally overheating in your pocket.
- It is highly recommended that you use safety fuses if you’re thinking about vaping with a mechanical mod.
- Check your resistance regularly with a meter to make sure that everything is working correctly. This will help you to figure out if your mod is short-circuiting, and will also tell you what your current resistance is – which is incredibly important for keeping your mod safe.
- Vapefox.com.au has published a pretty good article about mechanical mod safety. You can view it here: http://www.vapefox.com.au/mechanical-mod-guide-ezp-15.html. It might help to provide you with some more in-depth information on the subject.
Advanced Wick Safety
Keeping your wick clean is pretty important! A dirty wick could hinder the performance of your device. Plus, most wicks that are used in E-cig mods need to be prepared in some form or fashion before they can be used – so there may be a little bit of work required before you can put the wicking material to use.
A lot of people have a lot of different opinions about what does and doesn’t make a good wick – but here are some tips that should be able to help get you started off in the right (safe) direction.
- Buying wicks from a reputable E-cig supplier is probably the best and safest option at your disposal.
- Always follow the instructions when installing a new wick.
- If you’re putting together your own wicks, remember that many believe it to be better to use Ekowool silica, though it’s also recommended that you don’t heat your stainless steel mesh to the point where it glows red – as this could possibly lead to problems with contaminants, hexavalent chromium formation, and issues like silicosis.
- There is a lot of information out there about making your own wick – so make sure to do a lot of research before you get started! This is a very important part of the mod, so don’t skimp out and use something that you’re not sure about!
Drip Tip Vaping Safety
A drip tip is basically a design that requires the E-cig user to drip E-liquid directly onto the atomizer. Instead of being held in a tank or cartridge, the liquid is applied manually to the wick, and is then atomized to create a vapor cloud. Drip tip vaping is usually practiced by more experienced E-cig users, and is considered a bit of a hassle by most beginners and casual vapers – mostly because it requires them to continually ‘drip’ E-liquid onto the atomizer.
Here are some drip tip safety tips that should always be taken into account – even by the most experienced E-cig users.
- Drip tips can definitely get messy, so make sure to clean your device regularly to avoid a buildup of residue.
- If your mouthpiece or device starts to get too warm, either take a break or consider switching to a bottom-mounted coil. You could also possibly find a longer drip-tip so that your mouth isn’t as close to the atomizer.
- Using heat resistant materials will be safer and more comfortable in the long run, as these will help to reduce heat.
- If you’re looking for more information on what drip tip vaping is all about, here is a fantastic piece on the subject: http://spinfuel.com/art-drip-guide-vaping/.
Avoid Accidents When Vaping
You could talk a long time about e-cig safety and still never cover everything that there is to talk about – but the important thing to keep in mind is that most E-cig accidents can be avoided by following a few simple do’s and don’ts. Believe it or not, vaping isn’t that difficult. Actually, it’s much easier than most people realize.
With a few simple rules and some common sense, you can almost completely avoid any dangerous accidents – which is definitely a good thing.
On that note, here are some do’s and don’ts that every vaper should follow to help avoid catastrophe while enjoying this safer, healthier alternative to analog tobacco cigarettes.
E-cig Safety Do’s and Don’ts
- Buy your E-cig from a respectable E-cig manufacturer.
- Always read the instruction manual before using an electronic cigarette, and heed all of the provided steps and warnings to the letter.
- Keep your E-liquid in a safe place.
- Use the charger that was specifically intended for your device – not another one that looks or seems similar.
- Never leave your E-cig unattended while charging, and don’t charge it while you’re asleep.
- If you plan on using mods, building your own atomizer, sub ohm vaping, crafting your own wicks, or drip tip vaping, then do a ton of research and become an expert before getting started! These activities are much more advanced, and should be approached carefully and only when you thoroughly understand what you’re getting into.
Great Additional Sources of Information
- US Library of Medicine page on Nicotine Poisoning (https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002510.htm)
- American E-Liquid Manufacturing Standards Association Website (http://www.aemsa.org/)
- eLiquid Science UK website (https://elscience.co.uk/)
- Vapefox Australia’s Mechanical Mod Guide (http://www.vapefox.com.au/mechanical-mod-guide-ezp-15.html)
- Spinfuel.com – The Art of the Drip, Guide To Dripping E-Liquid (http://spinfuel.com/art-drip-guide-vaping/)
- Public Health England study showing that E-cigs are up to 95% less harmful than Electronic Cigarettes (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/e-cigarettes-an-evidence-update)
So What Have We Learned?
Believe it or not, the majority of E-cig accidents can be avoided by reading your manual and storing your E-liquid in a safe place. To be honest, vaping isn’t that difficult. With a little bit of common sense, some research, and a willing-to-learn mindset, anyone can become a vaping expert in no-time.
Information! So keep reading, keep studying, and vape safely! Please like, share and follow us if you have found this guide useful! There might be more people who don’t realize many of the safety issues when it comes to vaping!