The lithium ion battery is a mature, reliable technology that has served the world well for many years. Practically every battery-powered device you own – your phone, your computer, even your battery-powered toothbrush – uses a lithium ion battery. Lithium ion batteries are so common, in fact, that it’s easy to forget about how much energy they can store. A lithium ion battery is not your average disposable AA battery; the chemistry is sensitive to overheating and short circuits. Lithium ion batteries can and do catch fire under unsafe storage, charging and usage conditions.
Now, let’s consider the typical portable dry herb vaporizer. It’s a small handheld device in which a lithium ion battery is installed right next to a heating element that reaches 400 degrees. Does that sound like a recipe for trouble to you? The good news is that dry herb vaporizers come loaded with safety features such as temperature monitoring and short circuit detection. If your vaporizer detects a potentially unsafe condition, it should automatically shut down to preserve the battery. Nevertheless, the best way to ensure that you can vape safely is by having a solid understanding of proper battery handling – and that’s what were going to discuss today.
This is your complete overview of battery safety for dry herb vaporizers.
Charging Your Battery Safely
A significant percentage of lithium ion battery fires happen during charging – and often, the charging equipment being used is generic or off-brand. Your vaporizer deserves better than a cheap generic charger from a convenience store. Learn how to charge your vaporizer safely.
Charging a Vaporizer With a Wall Charger
If you own a dry herb vaporizer with its own dedicated wall charger, you should never charge the vaporizer with anything but that charger – even if you have another charger that seems to fit. Wall chargers may differ in the wattage and amperage that they supply. Using a charger exceeding the charging characteristics that a battery can tolerate may cause the battery to overheat.
Charging a Vaporizer With a USB Cable
Things can get a bit tricky if you own a vaporizer that only includes a USB cable for charging. Your device should charge safely from any computer USB port. If you’d rather use a wall adapter, though, you should consult with the device’s manufacturer to determine the recommended specifications that the wall adapter should have. You should never use a wall adapter for a mobile phone or tablet; those devices have batteries that are designed to tolerate quick charging. Many vaping devices do not.
Never Charge Your Vaporizer Unattended
Regardless of the type of vaporizer that you own, you should never charge the device overnight or while you sleep. Any lithium ion battery has a small risk of sudden failure. A few such cases happen with laptops and mobile phones every year. If a battery does overheat and catch fire while charging, you need to be there to take quick action and put the fire out. Being available can make the difference between an incident that’s scary – but causes no real damage – and an incident that causes severe harm to your property.
Using Your Vaporizer Safely
The key way in which dry herb vaporizers differ from e-cigarettes – which also have battery safety concerns – is that the heating element of a vaporizer is a permanent part of the device. Since you can’t attach a different heating element, there’s no chance of connecting an attachment with a faulty heating wire that causes a short circuit. You do, however, need to monitor for signs of overheating while using your device. If your vaporizer ever becomes so hot that you can’t hold it without pain, you should stop using it until you can determine the cause of the problem.
Handling Your Batteries Safely
Dry herb vaporizers with removable batteries are becoming more common than ever. Having a device with a removable battery means that you never have to stop vaping when your battery is dead. You can simply install a fresh battery while charging the dead battery in an external battery charger. The drawback of that design, though, is that lithium ion batteries require special handling considerations.
Don’t Use a Damaged Battery
The exterior of a typical lithium ion battery – such as the popular 18650 cell – is a conductive metal can. On the outside of the battery is a plastic wrapper that helps to prevent other metal objects from touching the side of the can. The top part of the battery – separated from the rest of the battery by an insulating ring – is the positive pole. The rest of the can – even the side – is the negative pole. When a battery’s wrapper is damaged, it is possible that something conductive – such as a metal wall on the inside of your vaporizer’s battery compartment – could touch the side of the battery. In that case, you’ll have a potentially dangerous short circuit on your hands. Don’t use a battery with a damaged wrapper – even if the damage is a very small tear. It is possible to replace damaged battery wrappers. If you aren’t comfortable doing that yourself, ask an expert for help.
Do you have a battery with signs of more severe damage? If your battery is warped, bent or has a bulge or any other sign of structural damage, you should stop using it immediately and recycle it.
Don’t Carry Loose Batteries in Your Pocket
As you’ve just read, it is extremely dangerous for a metal object – especially one with no electrical resistance – to touch a battery’s positive and negative poles simultaneously. Now, let’s think about some of the things that you typically carry in your pocket: keys, spare change, a mobile phone – maybe even a lighter. All of those are metal items – or items with metal components – that could potentially touch a battery and cause a short circuit. You should never carry loose batteries in your pocket, or you could quite literally end up with a fire in your pants. Transport loose batteries in a dedicated carrier that protects the batteries from impacts, static electricity and other metal objects.
~ Jason Artman
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