E-cigarettes became very popular because of their ability to be used in places where smoking was banned. This helped people who were affected by smoking bans continue to get the nicotine they were addicted to without gums, patches or other treatments.

E-cigarettes also had the benefit of being ideal for curing the smell of smoke. They pose less threat to those around the smoker (though this does not make second-hand smoke “safe”), and they don’t produce the smell of cigarette smoke that so many people don’t like.

For these reasons, e-cigarettes were extremely popular. However, not long after they became an everyday staple for some, they started to have issues. Some burned victims. Others outright exploded.

Why do e-cigarettes explode?

With all e-cigarettes, there are batteries and oils that could come into contact. Heating elements are used to aerate the e-cigarette liquid, producing the inhalant that contains nicotine.

The devices are small, with some shaped and designed to look like cigarettes. Smaller sizes have a lesser chance of exploding due to having lower wattage. Larger e-cigarettes are more powerful, so overheating or overcharging can lead to electrical shorts causing explosions. If the explosion happens when a person is using the e-cigarette, it’s possible that they could suffer serious burns or lacerations. Some have even been killed due to the projectiles produced upon detonation.

Are e-cigarette explosions common?

No. In fact, they’re very rare. That doesn’t negate the fact that explosions that do happen are dangerous to victims. For example, one man in Naples suffered burns to his face, hands, lungs and chest when his e-cigarette exploded. Several men in Michigan have suffered third-degree burns when the devices exploded in their pockets.

What can you do to avoid life-threatening explosions from e-cigarettes?

There are a few easy things you can do to reduce the risk of an explosion. To start with, always use the charger that comes with your e-cigarette. This is the correct power supply for your device, so it’s less likely to result in overheating or overcharging. Try to choose a device that has an automatic shutoff when it’s done charging, so there’s not a risk of an explosion in your home while you’re asleep or away. Finally, don’t carry batteries outside their cases, since contact with metal can lead to electrical shorts causing explosions.

If you are hurt, remember that the battery manufacturer, importer or retailer may be responsible. They must provide safe designs or warnings of the threat that these cigarettes can pose, so that you can stay safe.