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Andrew Hall may not be the most competent vaper on the planet, but he’s not solely to blame.

You may have seen the media stories today about the Idaho man whose e-cigarette exploded. It seems he was using a hybrid mod. The vast majority of e-cig users use regulated mods containing inbuilt electronic safety features which mechanical and hybrid mods do not have. No reputable vendor will sell a hybrid or mechanical mod to a non advanced user.

NNA trustee David Dorn explains more below:

If you are not aware that Facebook managed to bring the notion of battery and mech mod safety to the fore on January 16th 2017, then you’ve missed a watershed moment in vaping circles.

Let’s precis:
Before the Deeming rules came into force in the USA, Andrew, apparently, was using a mechanical mod (that is to say a battery unit with no electronics to protect or regulate the power of the device). It seems to have been a hybrid mod. A hybrid has no 510 connector as we all know it, but simply has a thread to attach a dripper or tank, and relies on the centre post of the dripper (we’ll say) contacting the positive terminal of the battery cell when it’s pushed up by the bottom button.
Such a device is inherently unsafe unless a number of criteria are met:
1: The tank or dripper - the atomising device - MUST have a protruding centre contact.
2: The contact cannot be sprung or articulated in any way that would allow the battery’s positive terminal to make contact with the threaded section
3: No matter how far the atomising device is screwed into the hybrid connector, it must never make contact with the positive terminal of the battery unless the button has been pressed
4: Each and every battery used in the device can have no splits, tears or cracks
And that’s just the tube itself. If any one of those criteria are not met, there is a very much increased chance of a short circuit scenario occurring, and when a battery cell is short circuited, then thermal runaway is highly likely.
As I said, that’s just the battery tube.


Resistance is not futile
The next weak link is the coil itself. Generally speaking, in a regulated device, the resistance of the coil(s) is matterless. As long as said resistance falls into the range that the mod can handle, it will deliver regulated power at the user’s chosen level without any issues. If the resistance of the atomiser setup is too low, the electrnics therein will prevent any current from flowing.
Not so with a mech or hybrid. There is no intelligence.
Reports suggest that Andrew was using a 0.06ohm coil - and although this is far from confirmed, such resistances in coils are not unusual. And that would be fine if, and only if, the battery cell in the device was capable of handling the currents generated when the setup is powered up. In this case, Andrew was expecting an 18650 battery to produce something over 50 Amps (bordering on 200 watts).
Without wishing to alarm too many people (just the right ones) there is no 18650 on the market which will produce that much power safely and reliably. Many will do exactly what his did and vent/blow up.
In the scenario where a hybrid mod is used and the connector on the atomising device is either flush or recessed, a dead short will occur. In this case, the resistance of the coil is matterless - there is no resistance to the current, and thermal runaway can be almost instant, with little or no notice. It looks awfully likely that that is what happened in this case.


Avoidable?
Yes - this kind of thing is totally avoidable. The generality of users, as with all generally available stuff, ought not to need to know Ohm’s law in order to use an ecig safely. That it is not only possible, but also very easy to buy a battery unit which is fully protected, can produce high power and massive clouds, and will not allow you to put yourself in danger by mismatching bits of the setup. Not only that, but such mods will very often be considerably cheaper than boutique hybrids and mechs - it’s not difficult to choose a battery unit that will produce exactly what you need in terms of safely generated power - there are many on the market.


So where next?
This is the controversial bit. Look, there are folks out there who are unwittingly lead into purchasing hybrids and mechs. They are, frankly, sexy, “scene”, used by the top echelon of trick vapers and there is a level of kudos applied to users of the most sought-after units. I get that.
But they should NOT be the default “next step” in a vaper’s journey. Indeed, were it up to me, I’d be asking vendors not to display them or advertise them. The vast bulk of mainstream vapers are not competent to use them safely. (That’s not to say that those vapers are in any way second class or deficient. For instance, I am not competent to service a motorcycle - it’s not because I’m thick, it’s because I don’t have either the necessary skills or training to do so safely - and when it comes to hybrids, particularly, mistakes are all too easy to make).
So, my plea to vape shops”
1: don’t display hybrids and mechs - those vapers who understand them and know them will know you have them. Let them ask.
2: should someone wander into your shop with an ego or an iStick and ask for a mech or hybrid, ask the right questions to determine whether they know what they’re doing. The first one is “WHY?” the answer to that tells you everything you need to know.
3: If a customer constantly comes in for you to re-coil a mech or hybrid device, do your very best to take their setup in part ex for something regulated and safe. Please.

Think about it.

This unfortunate happening has resulted in massive publicity, has certainly resulted in people dumping their ecigs and going back to smoking, and that is, in fact, a net lowering of your customer base.

We have to do everything we can to prevent such things happening again. If we don’t “they” will, and regulations no-one wants will ensue.