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For most of us the vape experience delivered by a regulated vape mod is perfect, however for those who enjoy tricking and chasing massive vape clouds the mod of choice is a mechanical mod.
But be warned, the use of a mechanical mod comes at a price in terms of potential danger and battery safety is paramount if you want to go down the mechanical mod road.
So today we explore the world of mechanical mods and offer some serious advice on mechanical mod vape battery safety.
A mechanical vape mod is an unregulated device. In simple terms it's basically an atomizer connected to a battery with no chip in between to regulate the voltage and the wattage.
On an unregulated mod when the button is fired it completes a circuit causing the current to flow through the coil. The wattage is controlled by the level or resistance to which the coil is built whereas the voltage is dependent on the charge of the battery.
So lets talk about batteries.
Vape batteries come with two different types of tops; flat top batteries and button top batteries.
As the names suggest a flat top battery has a top that is flat or flush while a button top battery has a button that extends out from the top of the battery.
When using flat top batteries it is important to pay close attention to which end of the battery is which, as, if you put the battery in upside down the reverse polarity will cause the battery to fail.
The standard vape battery used in most mods, including mechanical mods is an 18650, but what do the numbers mean?
The answer is pretty simple. The numbers are actually a set of 3 different numbers that describe the battery with each set of digits having a very specific meaning.
Let me explain.
The first two digits refer to the diameter of the battery in mm, the second two digits refer to the battery length in mm and the last digit refers to the battery shape with a 0 representing a round shape.
Apart from this set of 3 digits that describe the battery, a vape battery should also display
Vape batteries also have a c-rating and this is important for calculating the continuous current drawn from the battery. To calculate the continuous current simply multiply the milli-amp hour rating by the c rating.
So using the example battery above which has a ma/h of 2500 and a C rating of 14 the equation would look like this.
mA/h X C Rating
3000 x 14c = 35 000 m/A
Now divide the answer by 1000 to convert to amps: 35000 \ 1000 =35A.
While this is shown on the battery and represents the maximum continuous current that can be drawn safely from the battery this figure is a little misleading. Sure the battery can draw at 35 amps for short bursts but a much safer amp draw for continuous current would be around 20 amps.
Our advice- C rating for batteries can be found using various sources online so it pays to do a little research and know your battery's true c- rating.
The next part of the information contained on a vape battery is the lettering and this refers to the battery chemistry.
If you're using a mechanical mod the recommended battery chemistry is IMR. / but what does IMR mean?
The I in IMR stands for lithium ion with the M representing the component in the cathode which is manganese and the R represents battery shape which is round.
IMR batteries are considered safe chemistry batteries which means in the event of battery failure they fail a lot less harshly than other types of batteries.
While they still vent gasses and can produce flames the probability of this happening or even worse explosion is much lower than with standard lithium ion batteries and for this reason they are good for mechanical mod vaping.
The other feature of IMR batteries that make them ideal for vaping and mechanical mod vaping is that they have a higher draw. This essentially means they have a higher current to flow.
While this is good for sub ohm vaping the downside is that the batteries will drain faster than other types of batteries.
Battery failure occurs when your vape battery overheats. When this happens the battery can rupture or vent causing a build up in pressure which in turn causing gasses to leak with the possibility of fire.
Here's what actually happens:
When your battery fails it undergoes a process known as thermal runaway.
image courtesy of enovix.com
Thermal runaway is basically a cycle where a reaction in the battery is triggered causing the battery temperature to increase. The increase in temperature then causes the battery to react more which in turn increases the heat more and more. This heating builds pressure inside the battery leading to venting.
Venting is the release of gases and liquid from the electrolyte in the battery which relieves the pressure inside the battery.
There are many ways for a battery reaction to be triggered which we will outline but first and most importantly
once a reaction in your battery has been triggered it must be removed from your mod immediately as a pressurized overheated battery has the potential to vent violently and in most case batteries vent through the top.
Thermal runaway can occur when the battery is damaged or punctured. In the event the battery is damaged gases and liquid can vent from both the puncture site and the ends of the battery.
While battery venting itself is dangerous if this occurs inside a device like a mechanical mod the results can be deadly.
There are many things that can cause your battery to fail inside your device, here's a list. You can also check out our vape battery safety infographics.
Coil resistance - using a coil whose resistance is too low will pull a current that the battery can't handle. For more information check out our mechanical mod safety resistance chart.
High Wattage - if the wattage of the battery it too high heat can trigger thermal runaway inside the battery
Exposing your mod to extreme temperature - if your mechanical mod is left in the car on a hot day or near a stove or fire in your home this heat can cause the battery to fail.
Overcharging - if the battery is overcharged the excessive voltage can increase the wattage and current to dangerous levels
Extending triggering - if the button to fire your device is held down too long the current draw can cause it to fail
Device or battery short - if there is a short in your device or a fragment of metal this will draw the current.
These are just a few of the many scenarios in which your battery could fail so it pays to be vigilant as many of these things are easily overlooked and the consequences could be deadly.
Here's why ...
When a battery fails inside your mechanical mod device the venting will build up pressure inside your mod and with both ends of your mod screwed down the pressure builds up inside basically creating a pipe bomb. This pressure can cause the ends of your mod to blow off and that's why vent holes in your mechanical mod are so important.
Vent holes allow gases from a venting battery to escape so the pressure wont build to deadly levels and explode.
Always check your vent holes to make sure they are not covered.
Don't carry batteries in your pocket with your car keys as this can cause a battery short
Don't overcharge your batteries. Where possible use a charger with over-voltage protection and a voltage reader.
Invest in a multi-meter. This can used to check the exact voltage of your batteries and can also be used to check the resistance of your coils. The maximum capacity for a fully charged battery is 4.2 volts, anything higher and the battery is overcharged which can be dangerous.
Check the insulators of your mechanical mod regularly. With excessive heat your insulators can potentially melt leading to a short that will cause the battery to fail.
These tips can go a long way to helping you vape safety but remember a battery is never 100& safe and battery failure is always a possibility.
Our advice always buy your vape batteries from a reliable source and only ever use recognized vape battery brands. In the event of damage remove and replace your battery immediately.