Safety First: A Dangerous Duo – Using a Hybrid Mod with a Sub-Ohm Tank

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By Nick Bessette

Many of you already know the dangers of using a sub -Ohm tank with a hybrid- style mechanical mod, but on a nearly monthly basis, I hear horror stories about mods blowing up in people’s hands. Some of these stories may be made up, and some may be true; however, I do know there are serious risks of using the combination of any tank or atomizer that has a positive connection that sits flush with the 510 threads. Hopefully, the following article will shed some light on these issues, and possibly prevent any uninformed readers of risking their battery, mod or even hands while vaping.

First, let’s go over one of the most recent cases and why we have to try to avoid these situations in the future. On March 10, Chris Bookins from Santa Ana, Calif., was vaping normally when he noticed the battery in his mod began to heat up. According to photos, it appears as though his hybrid- style device with a sub- Ohm tank exploded in his face; the tank section even shot into his ceiling, lodging it there. He suffered minor injuries and, luckily, put out the accompanying fire with relative ease.

According to FEMA, there have been 25 cases of e -cigarettes exploding between 2009 and October 2014. Of those cases, two reportedly happened while using the device. Another tale of misfortune is the case of Travis Nummerdor in May. He was using a hybrid mod and tank setup when it exploded in his face, causing burns on his chest, face and tongue. Some skeptics say the injuries he received weren’t consistent with other, similar, cases, but rather a suicide attempt using blank ammunition. However, other members of his squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base back up his story. In any case, these stories are becoming more commonplace in today’s market as hybrid mods become the staple in mechanical mod technology.

I saw this happen first hand, when a customer purchased a brand- new, high -drain battery and walked out of the shop, only to return moments later complaining that his battery was getting hot and wouldn’t work. It turned out that he was using a hybrid mech with a sub-Ohm tank. I informed him that he was shorting out his battery, and he was lucky it didn’t vent or explode. He proceeded to take it out as slowly and carefully as possible. I explained to him why it happened, and offered to swap the mod he had for a safer alternative. He agreed, thanked me for the help and continues to be a faithful customer to this day.

Why do lithium -ion batteries fail in the case of e -cigs? FEMA says e -cigarettes are different from other electronic consumer devices, because the battery is installed in a cylindrical device that has its weakest structural point at the ends. When the battery seal ruptures, the pressure within the e- cigarette cylinder builds quickly and instantly ruptures, usually at the end. As a result of the battery and container failure, one or the other, or both, can be propelled across the room like a bullet or small rocket. What does this mean for our industry? We need to educate ourselves and others to prevent these types of accidents from happening in the future.

Now that you know what can happen, look at the mod in your hand. Is it a hybrid style mechanical? If you don’t know what that is, it’s a mechanical mod without a pin at the 510 that connects the battery’s positive terminal to the positive terminal of your atomizer. If it is, then look at your atomizer. Does the positive pin protrude further than the threads? If not, you may be taking a serious risk! The reason this is so dangerous is that the energy from the battery, which is intended to flow through the positive connection on the atomizer, to the coil and back out via the 510 threads, may end up causing a short at the connection due to the threads (the negative connection of your atomizer) coming in contact with your battery’s positive terminal. That may sound like a lot of technical terms but, to put it simply, imagine a race track with cars speeding down it. The track represents the circuit and the cars are the flow of electricity. Now, picture a shortcut, where the cars could drive even faster; that’s the short in the flow of electricity. Since the cars are moving faster, their engines heat up more and the corners of the track are sharp, which can lead to a catastrophe.

The reason I write these articles is to educate and inform the masses so that we can prevent accidents like these from happening again. Safety is crucial, and I hope to make these types of accidents a thing of the past. I usually tell people that about 90 percent of things that can go wrong with vaping are user errors. From using the wrong type of battery to ignoring a torn battery wrapper, these issues that are preventable. Hopefully, I can inspire some of you to be more mindful of the safety of the device that’s in your hand. It’s also imperative that shop owners and employees know this type of information so they can recommend to their customers the right types of products for their specific needs. So, remember, using a regulated mod with a floating positive pin with your tank will always be safer than risking your battery, mod or even your hand.

Nick Bessette works at Voltage Vape shop in Springfield, Mass., and he does video reviews for his own YouTube channel, Daily Vape TV, among others. He has been building for two years and conducting battery safety courses at VCC events over the past year. Teaching the safety aspect of vaping is his passion, and he believes that it’s an extremely important topic for every vaper to know about.

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