Many a True Word is Spoken in Jest

contributed by George Robertson

Anna has previously posted a story telling of our early encounters with disposable vapes. One fine day, walking along a very rural road in Dumfries and Galloway, we found a partly squashed mettle tube with some wires hanging out of the end, and the remains of some kind of wadding. What could it be? Is it a detonator? Later the mystery was resolved. It was a disposable vape, which we now find everywhere, as does Laura Young. However, in our jocular fashion, we continued to refer to them as detonators, and speculated whether anybody would be allowed to carry one onto a plane.

It turns out that our joke was not so far-fetched. The batteries in disposable vapes are (rechargeable) lithium ion cells. These are necessary in order to generate the required heat quickly enough to vapourise the nicotine solution. Lithium ion batteries, however, are prone to combustion if punctured, broken, crushed or exposed to sudden changes in temperature or pressure. It was reported in May that vape batteries were suspected of causing more than 700 fires in bin lorries and recycling centres. More recently the Local Government Association is calling for a ban on disposable vapes, citing, amongst other concerns, the risk of fires starting in bin lorries when discarded vapes can be crushed in with other waste.

As for boarding planes, there have been various reports of vape batteries combusting during flights.

I guess the lesson here is that I’m just not as funny as I thought I was.

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