What are the take away points from the exploding e cig mod in Wigan last week?
What can we learn from it and how do we prevent it happening again.
On Wednesday 8th October, at 7pm, the emergency services were called to Woodcock House following a report of a fire. During use, a mechanical mod became hot. When it dropped to the floor it exploded causing damage to the room and the legs of the user. The story was sensationalised in The Sun newspaper. And followed up by numerous other ‘news’ papers.
Who did it happen to?
David Aspinall, a 48-yr old vaper who had previous experience with mechanical mods, making his own e-Liquid and coiling atomisers.
What was he using?
A cloned Chinese version of the Mutant mechanical mod; it takes large 26650 batteries and has two small vent holes in the switch. He frequently used cloned Kayfun-like atomisers on it and had removed a portion of the insulator on the mod so that they would make contact due to their short 510 connections.
What is a clone?
A clone is a cheap copy of the genuine version. A company called ‘Fall Out Mods’ makes genuine Mutant mechanical mods and there have been no incidents of this happening with them.
Has this happened before?
Yes. In August at a public vaping event in San Antonio a cloned Mutant mod was dropped to the floor and exploded, the owner ran off after it exploded and third parties sustained minor injuries.
Is this a problem with the clone mod then?
Yes. Original copies had no venting at all and the second generation have holes that can’t be used when a battery vents.
What is ‘venting’?
When a battery fails it gives out gas, this is called venting. Read more about this in our article on ‘Why E Cig batteries Explode’.
Why can’t the gases get out?
A venting battery frequently expands, if the gap between the mod and battery wall is very tight then the body of the battery seals the tube leaving a small space at the top of the mod.
Is this what causes the explosion?
Absolutely. Like blowing up a balloon, if gas is pumped into a space it can’t escape from something will eventually go pop. Try to imagine bursting a balloon made from metal and you can see the huge force that builds up inside a mod.
What caused Aspinall’s battery to fail?
The battery was bought from eBay, although some vendors have a great reputation it is always best to go with a recommended supplier rather than looking for the cheapest option when sourcing lithium-ion cells.
The damage caused to the insulation on the battery may have been a factor. The coil build could have been the source of an electrical short. The mod could have been continually firing; it does not have a lock mechanism on the switch.
Quote from UKV forum
Is there anyone campaigning to stop things like this happening?
Yes, the UK trade body for the vaping industry, ECITA.
What do they say?
“ECITA recognises that vendors are legally obliged to provide full and explicit instructions to consumers, concerning safe storage, handling, charging and operation of the devices they place on the market. We have incorporated such a recommendation into our PAS 54115, for which we have provided Technical Authorship to the British Standards Institute.”
“However, since PAS 54115 is not scheduled for publication until March 2015, we are currently working on some generic information/advice for vendors to supply to their consumers. We intend to publish this on our blog, as well as ensuring our members have it.”
And what about venting in mods?
“It is a matter of the utmost concern that it appears to be the case that many of the mech mods are designed with inadequate venting provision, and many have vents of insufficient size located at the wrong end of where the battery may vent.”
“We believe it is imperative for anyone engaged in designing and manufacturing mech mods to ensure that if a battery fails inside their mech mod, it will not fail catastrophically, i.e. that the gases venting from the battery have an escape route, and will not build up to dangerous levels inside the mod.”
I have a cloned Mutant mod, what should I do?
If there are no vent holes in the switch then you need to return the item to the seller and ask for a refund, as it is not safe to use and not fit for purpose.
Why are lots of vapers angry about this incident?
A number of people believe he ought to have kept this ‘in-house’ and not gone running to tell his story to The Sun. They believe it was his mistakes that caused the problem. They feel the explosion and the resulting bad publicity for vaping damages our reputation.
But everyone makes mistakes, why don’t people cut him some slack?
It is true that many learn from their errors or the mistakes others make. The vendor has reported that Aspinall misused batteries on more than one occasion and used coil builds he was advised against. He was informed where to obtain reliable e cig batteries from and ignored it.
What will happen to David Aspinall?
He faces years of reconstructive surgery on his legs and plans to sue the Chinese makers of the mod.
Will he succeed?
No, Chinese companies are not bound by British law. By buying a cheap cloned product and then damaging the insulation he has no redress against the vendor either.
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