What Causes a Vape to Explode? A Guide To Help Avoid It

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    Exploding vapes has been a hot topic for a while now. There is a lot going on about this topic, but it is crucial that you know all the facts and why it happens, not just believing what you see. Electronic cigarettes, E-Cigarettes, e-cigs, or vapes, all are the same thing under a different name. These are consumer products that are a new option for replacing traditional smoking options.

    The devices are vaporizers that are operated by batteries. When you are using a vape or e-cigarette, it is typically called “vaping.” The product used in electronic cigarettes is vaporized by the electronic cigarette and is not tobacco but contains nicotine. There are also options on the market that do not contain any nicotine.

    These products are often marketed as a smoking cessation device or claiming to be a more healthy alternative versus smoking a traditional cigarette. A lot of reports in the news have surfaced that indicated designs of these vape devices, not limited to the mechanical mod devices, have been involved in instances where batteries have caught fire or even exploded in some cases.

    Because of these devices being personal devices that are typically on your person, there is a possibility of serious personal injuries, if the explosion happens while being used. These products are sold to consumers with the intention of them being able to be modified.

    This type of electronic cigarette is known as a mech mod or mech mod vape. The word mod is used to the many various ways that it can be modified in being a vape. They are able to be taken apart, changed, have individual components removed or replaced in order to alter the original vape.

    Explosions with Electronic Cigarette Batteries

    Just like any other battery, a battery for an electronic cigarette or mod vape battery has limitations on what temperature it is able to handle and what power can be drawn safely from the device itself. When a device is constructed in an improper manner, it is more likely to fail, or if it is designed in a way that can make these failures to eventually become more likely.

    More often than not, the batteries for electronic cigarettes are lithium-ion batteries, or Li-On batteries, which can catch fire or explode if used in a way that was not intended to be used. Internal failure for batteries will doom a battery even if it is used correctly. More often than not, these products do not pair batteries and chargers, which leaves charges and batteries to be combined in aftermarket settings.

    If a battery is to overheat, whether it is inside the vape or electronic cigarette device or on a charging device, it is able to create a chain reaction that can lead to leakage of a liquid that is superheated, explosion, or ignition. This, of course, can cause severe damage to a person or possessions, which is why safety is key when using these devices.

    Battery Failure Can Result in Explosions

    Although they have been marketed for being a safer option for consumers in comparison to a traditional cigarette, electronic cigarettes and kits for vaporizers that are battery powered have had issues where they have failed and exploded or caught fire.

    Below is a list that has been provided by the distributors and manufacturers directly with recommendations that will help consumers to avoid issues with batteries exploding:
    • Do not allow your battery to overcharge.
    • Do not leave any batteries unattended when they are charging.
    • Do not allow for there to be any prolonged periods of undercharged status.
    • Replace and test batteries regularly that has a voltage that is low resting by using a multimeter.
    • Replace and test your coils and atomizers regularly.
    • Be sure to test mechanical mod devices to check the power draw.
    • Test the charging device you are using and ensure it is compatible with the batteries being charged.
    • Avoid short-circuiting the batteries while they are inside the device.
    • Avoid letting your batteries touch each other or touch other surfaces that are metal.
    • Avoid mixing and matching your electronic cigarette devices and chargers.
    • Determine the capacity for the batteries with milli-Ampere-hours, also called mAh.
    • Determine the maximum discharge rate, or the C-rate, using Coulombs.
    • Determine the discharge rate for the mechanical mod.
    • Be sure that the discharge rate that is tested is lower than the rate for the maximum discharge.

    If this seems like it is unreasonable to expect for a typical consumer, then you now understand what can make these devices so dangerous. The devices are created by engineers, but these engineers are supposed to develop the products in a way that makes them safe to use for the average consumers. However, if errors are made either in the manufacturing process or by consumers not following instructions, a battery fire or explosion can occur.

    FDA & U.S. Fire Administration Thoughts

    There was a report released by the U.S. Fire Administration as well as FEMA that related to electronic cigarettes and explosions as well as fires. In the report, the U.S. Fire Administration admitted that the accidents pertaining to electronic cigarettes causing explosions are actually pretty rare.

    The problem is that the market is growing and it provides opportunities for more vapes that offer modifications that the average consumer may not be capable to perform, but thinks that they can. This will lead to more incidents, along with the growing number of cloned products that are not as safe as the products themselves.

    There are new regulations that have been proposed by the FDA, or the U.S. Food Administration, which will help to make sure that these types of products are designed more with consumer safety in mind. With the FDA stepping in there is a timetable in place for the manufacturers to get their products approved which will assist in removing products that could be dangerous to consumers.

    Recommendations by the FDA to Help Avoid “Vape” Battery Explosions

    Until all the vapes and vape batteries conform to reliable & consistent security criteria, your perfect protection against vape battery explosions might be knowing as much as possible about your device & how to correctly manage and control its batteries.

    • Be sure you read & understand the company’s recommendations for the use & care of your device. If your vape did not come with instructions or you have further questions, contact the maker
    • Don’t remove or disable security attributes –like fire button locks or portholes–which are designed to prevent battery overheating & explosions.
    • Only use batteries recommended for your device. Don’t mix different brands of batteries, use batteries with varying amounts of control, or use old & new batteries together.
    • Charge your vape on a clean, flat surface away from anything which could easily catch fire & someplace you can see it. Not on a sofa or pillow at which it is more prone to overheat or get turned on accidentally.
    • Safeguard your vape from extreme temperatures by not leaving it in direct sunlight or in your automobile on a cold night. A sudden explosion while driving can cause deadly wreck requiring the need of a knowledgable car accident lawyer experienced in these types of cases.
    How Do I Report a Vape Battery Explosion to FDA?

    FDA is aware of explosion events & is collecting information to help address this issue. Please describe a vape explosion, or some other unanticipated health or security issue with a vape, to the FDA through the Safety Reporting Portal. When you fill out the form, please be sure to include:

      • The title of the vape manufacturer
      • The brand name, model, & serial number of the vape
      • The brand name & version of the battery
      • Where it was purchased
      • Whether the item was used differently than intended by the manufacturer
      • Whether the item was modified in any way


    How Common are Incidents Involving Vape Explosions?

    The real question is, just how dangerous are electronic cigarette products? Well, the answer is complicated. To put it simply, if a person uses the product as intended, does not attempt to modify the product in a way that it should not be modified, for example, one case of a vape exploding was due to a consumer attempting to modify their mod to hold AA batteries, this is not an intelligent or safe decision.

    The lead officer for product safety at Chartered Trading Standards Institute, Mark Gardiner, has said that it is common for an enthusiast to try and experiment with various batteries, e-liquids, and other things that produce a bigger and better vape, and this is what can lead to explosions in vapes. This is not saying that products that are not modified cannot fail, as with any product, there are possibilities of failure due to manufacturing issues and more. 

    Most issues relating to vape explosions and fires, however, can be pinpointed to using an improper charger, charging a battery too much, or improper storage, according to most fire service reports. It is not the electronic cigarettes that are unsafe on their own, stated West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service’s station commander, Gary Asquith, he says that it is mainly the misuse of the batteries that the products use that is the real problem.

    One incident where a vape exploded in a man’s pocket was actually due to his carrying the vape batteries in his pocket without a case, and it made contact with his metal keys and a coin. It is important that if you are carrying vape batteries that you keep them in a protected case. Buying a cheap charger can also cause issues for a vape as it can cause you to overcharge your batteries by mistake.

    Friction between loose e-cig batteries and a U.S. Air Force Airman’s dog tags causes them to ignite

    In another similar event, in October of 2016, simple friction between loose e-cig batteries and a U.S. Air Force Airman’s dog-tags that were in the pocket of his flight-suit caused them to ignite.

    Luckily, he was able to avoid serious burn injuries when his instructor immediately noticed the smoke and was able to help remove them from his pocket.

    The health experts have said on multiple occasions that electronic cigarettes are at the least 95 percent less harmful to a person’s body than traditional smoking is and it has assisted many people in being able to give up their habit completely.

    Numerous hospital staff has said that two or fewer cases come in a year for electronic cigarette cases. It is mainly only minor injuries, such as small burns when they do.

    There may not be an issue of vapes exploding in the future. There are new formulas coming out and in development that will replace the liquid electrolyte that is flammable inside the lithium batteries with an electrolyte that is stable as well as solid and made from glass. There is another design in the works by researchers that will be resistant to fire in between the negative and positive poles for the battery.

    Exploding vapes are in the news again, and not for any good reasons either. On New Years’ Eve 2020, a woman suffered burns on about 20% of her body after a vape device exploded in her backpack at a Rite-Aid in Yucaipa, C.A. 

    The incident unfolded at about 6 p.m on December 31st, 2019. at the store on Yucaipa Blvd., Calfire Battalion Chief Josh Janssen said. “We received multiple reports of a female on fire in a local Rite Aid,” he said. “While responding to the incident, we received updated information that the fire was caused by a vape pen that had exploded inside the female’s backpack.” The woman was taken to a burn center for care. Firefighters discovered the lady suffering from first- and second-degree burns on her back, covering about 20 percent of her body. 

    Help with an E-cig Battery Explosion Lawsuit in California

    At Arash Law, we will handle your lawsuit regarding electronic cigarette battery explosions. Just as you have seen by reading above, the lithium-ion batteries in electronic cigarettes have been known to explode, or even catch fire. There are at least 134 cases that were reported to the FDA, or the Food and Drug Administration, but there are thousands that have gone without being reported.

    There is a product liability law in California that is there to protect the consumers from products that are faulty and will provide the means legally for a person to pursue a responsible party for injuries that are caused by a faulty electronic cigarette.

    If you have dealt with an explosion that has caused a loved one or yourself an injury, then you may be able to be compensated for property damage, pain and suffering, and your injuries. Here at Arash Law, we will go after the distributor, retailer, manufacturer, and any other entity responsible in order to pursue your financial recovery. Call our expert injury attorneys now at (888) 488-1391


    Known E-Cig-Battery Explosions in California since 2009

    August 2018 in Anaheim, CA

    Details: A man’s e-cigarette in or possibly a spare e-cigarette battery in exploded in his pants while he was shopping at a local electronics store. The report states that the man was able to walk out of the store on his own, but he was seriously burned. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: Unknown.
    Possible Cause: Unknown.

    January 2018 in Glendale, CA

    Details: A man’s spare e-cigarette battery exploded in his pants pocket as he was preparing to come home from work. The man’s legs and genitals were severely burned. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: Not applicable. The battery was made by LG.
    Possible Cause: Most likely the battery shorted after coming into contact with other metal objects in the man’s pocket.

    January 2017 in San Diego, CA

    Details: A man’s spare e-cigarette batteries exploded in his pocket while he was relaxing at home. The man was hospitalized for the treatment of second-degree burns. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: Not applicable.
    Possible Cause: The batteries most likely shorted after touching each other or other metal objects in the man’s pocket.

    January 2017 in Santa Rosa, CA

    Details: A man left several e-cigarettes and e-cigarette components on the bed in a motel room before leaving to use the restroom. Shortly after, a fire started on the bed. No injuries were reported, but the fire caused extensive damage to the motel room. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: Unknown.
    Possible Cause: Unknown. Possibly, the e-cigarette components were arranged on the bed in a way that caused a metal item to short a battery.

    December 2016 in Fresno, CA

    Details: A man used his e-cigarette on a public bus until he was asked to put it away. He put the e-cigarette in his pocket. Shortly after, the battery vented and exploded. The man was treated for minor injuries. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: Unknown.
    Possible Cause: Unknown. Most likely, the man was using a mechanical mod, and placing it in his pocket caused the fire button to be held down until the battery overheated.

    September 2016 in Murrieta, CA

    Details: A vaping device exploded in a mother’s purse while she was riding with her toddler in the back of a car. The toddler was badly burned and was still undergoing skin graft operations in 2018. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: Unknown.
    Possible Cause: The report doesn’t share details of the explosion’s circumstances, perhaps because a lawsuit is pending.

    June 2016 in Tustin, CA

    Details: A man’s e-cigarette exploded in his mouth while he was using it. The explosion shattered his teeth and left a piece embedded in his mouth that had to be removed surgically. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: Mechanical mod.
    Possible Cause: According to the e-cigarette’s owner, the battery was nearly dead. It may have vented because it was over-discharged.

    April 2016 in Irvine, CA

    Details: A man’s e-cigarette exploded in his hand, starting a fire and badly injuring his face. The explosion caused him to lose his left eye. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: Unknown, but it looks like a mechanical mod.
    Possible Cause: Not known

    April 2016 in Paso Robles, CA

    Details: An e-cigarette exploded in a 17-year-old’s mouth while he was using it in a car. He lost several teeth in an incident that also left him with a hole in his tongue and requiring breathing assistance. As of the date of the report, he was also unable to speak. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: Unknown.
    Possible Cause: Unknown. Some have suggested that the teen might have been using an unregulated or homemade mod, but we have found no reports to confirm those statements.

    March 2016 in Arroyo Grande, CA

    Details: A man’s e-cigarette exploded while he was using it. The incident caused burns to his face and required surgery to repair the damage. A lawsuit is pending. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: Unknown, but it was a device with a removable battery.
    Possible Cause:  Not sure but the man had been using the battery for about a month apparently without incident.

    January 2016 in Los Angeles, CA

    Details: An Air Force veteran had an e-cigarette explode while he was using it. The man sustained burns to his face and shoulder. The explosion happened after the e-cigarette’s owner put in a new battery. He pressed the fire button a few times, and nothing happened. The e-cigarette exploded when he held it near his ear to hear whether the atomizer was firing. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: The device appears to be a mechanical mod with a rebuildable atomizer.
    Possible Cause: Unknown. The atomizer might have had a short, or the battery might not have been able to handle the load.

    January 2016 in Orange County, CA

    Details: A man’s e-cigarette battery exploded when he was carrying it in his pants pocket. The resulting injuries were so severe that the man required multiple surgeries and skin grafts. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: N/A
    Possible Cause: The explosion may have occurred because the battery shorted after touching a metal object. No details are given in the news story, however. The man has filed a personal injury lawsuit against the two shops that sold him the battery and charger.

    January 2016 in Windsor, CA

    Details: An e-cigarette exploded in a 15-year-old boy’s mouth when he attempted to use it. The explosion caused severe injuries and resulted in the loss of several teeth. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: Unknown.
    Possible Cause: According to the report, the boy modified his e-cigarette. However, the exact nature of the modification is unknown.

    January 2016 in Ladera Ranch, CA

    Details: Two e-cigarette batteries exploded after touching keys that a 19-year-old shop worker was carrying in the same pocket. The explosion blew the batteries several meters down the market aisle and injured the man’s leg. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: Not applicable.
    Possible Cause: The batteries exploded upon coming into contact with another metal object.

    December 2015 in Pismo Beach, CA

    Details: A man’s e-cigarette exploded in his hand immediately after he pressed the fire button. Apparently, he was using a device given to him by the manager of a local vape shop along with a Kennedy rebuildable atomizer purchased at the same shop. The man sustained injuries to his hands, face, and eye. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: Unknown.
    Possible Cause: Although the exact cause is unknown, it seems likely that the atomizer’s center pin, threading or coil created a short.

    December 2015 in Clovis, CA

    Details: An e-cigarette exploded while being stored in a 17-year-old boy’s pocket, causing severe burns to his leg. The explosion apparently occurred spontaneously while he was sitting in class. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: According to the article, the e-cigarette was made by SMOK. It is unknown whether the mod was regulated or mechanical.
    Possible Cause: Unknown.

    November 2015 in Newport Beach, CA

    Details: A man heard his e-cigarette make an unusual sound while he was using it in bed. He pulled the e-cigarette from his face shortly before the battery vented and exploded. His hand was badly burned. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: It looks like a mechanical mod with a rebuildable atomizer, but the specific model is unknown.
    Possible Cause: The atomizer may have had a short or could have generated a load that exceeded the battery’s capabilities.

    October 2015 in Bakersfield, CA

    Details: An e-cigarette exploded in a man’s face while he was using it. He suffered damage to his mouth and lost part of his index finger. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: Unknown.
    Possible Cause: Not available – The article provides no other information.

    March 2015 in Santa Ana, CA

    Details: A man’s e-cigarette exploded during use. According to the article, he pulled the e-cigarette away from his face after hearing a noise, and the e-cigarette exploded shortly thereafter. His face and hands were burned. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: From the picture, it appears as though the man was using a hybrid mod. In this design, the post of the atomizer directly touches the top of the battery. However, it seems that the man replaced the original atomizer with a different type of tank which isn’t intended for use with hybrid mods. Most likely, the incompatible center post of the aftermarket tank caused the battery to short.
    Possible Cause: Incompatible tank used with a hybrid mod.

    February 2015 in Ramona, CA

    Details: An e-cigarette exploded in a man’s pocket while he was at a liquor store, causing burns and shattering store glass. Details are scarce, but the article does mention an “e-cigarette,” not an e-cigarette battery. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: Not Known.
    Possible Cause: Not known

    February 2015 in Los Angeles, CA

    Details: An e-cigarette exploded during use, injuring a former professional soccer player. He suffered a broken cheekbone and a concussion, and he was left with a hole in his cheek. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: Unknown.
    Possible Cause: Unknown. Little information has been released about the incident.

    February 2015 in Anaheim, CA

    Details: A teenager’s e-cigarette exploded in his hand while he was using it. His hand was badly burned. Otherwise, the article provides no details. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: Unknown.
    Possible Cause: Unknown.

    March 2014 in Lompoc, CA

    Details: An e-cigarette exploded while charging in a kitchen. Reported by television station KSBY.
    E-Cig Model: Unknown to this date.
    Possible Cause: Still unknown.

    March 2013 in Corona, CA

    Details: A woman suffered burns to her legs, rear-end, and hand when her e-cigarette battery exploded while connected to a universal car charger. She was awarded $1.9 million in a lawsuit brought against the e-cigarette’s distributor, wholesaler, and seller. (News Source)
    E-Cig Model: The e-cigarette was from VapCigs, which means that it could be either a 510 or eGo e-cigarette.
    Possible Cause: Although the VapCigs battery is a 4.2-volt battery, it seems that it was being charged with a 5-volt charger. It is unknown whether the car charger was also distributed by VapCigs.

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