The removable battery cells we use for vaping are powerful and should always be treated with the care and respect they deserve. The most common type used is an 18650, that number simply refers to the size of the cell and outside of vaping they are commonly found in your laptop’s battery pack and power packs for power tools such as drills. Some devices may use a different sized cell, 26650, an 18350 and more recently 21700 and 20700. But other than being a different size, when it comes to safety and looking after them they should be treated in exactly the same way.
Your batteries have a positive and negative end and it’s very important that these are not connected without a circuit board or a resistance load between them. To connect them directly would be a direct short of the battery and that would cause a massive temperature rise inside the battery and can lead to the battery venting or in worse case scenarios cause the battery to explode. This is not something we need to be scared about however providing we take the correct precautions. This is true of the battery in your car, a sharp knife or a wall socket in your house, most of the dangers can be eliminated with proper use and care.
The positive end of your battery is the smaller raised section on the top of the cell that is surrounded by an insulating ring (Sony use a black insulator, Samsung and LG use white) the negative end is the flat metal bottom which is exposed by the tubular shape of the wrap. This means that underneath the wrap the whole metal can of the cell is negative. This is important to realise as you may think that the positive end is well away from the negative end, but in reality at the positive end they are right next to each other. This is why you must ensure that your outer wrap and top insulator are in perfect condition at all times, if they aren’t, don’t use them.
Thankfully damage to the wrap can easily be repaired by re-wrapping using pre-cut shrink wrap tubes from companies like ODB wraps, these are available in a range of designs and often thicker and better quality than the battery’s original wrap. Re-wrapping is a simple process that can be done with nothing more than a common hair dryer, there are many videos on YouTube showing how this is done and it’s probably better seen than explained here. Just be careful not to lose the insulator ring as they are held in place by the wrap.
Damage to the metal structure cannot be repaired and if there are any signs of physical damage, replace them. It’s impossible to know if a dented or dinged battery is ‘safe’ to use, it’s impossible to know if it has caused any damage to the internal structure, so just don’t take that risk. Buy some new ones.
It’s important to keep your batteries in a safe place when you aren’t using them. Many of us will have several batteries or sets of batteries, when they are not in your vaping device they should be stored in a safe manner. One of the cheapest and best options would be a hard plastic box specifically designed to hold them. These can be bought for as little as a couple of pounds and they are not only perfect for storage at home but are also useful if you wish to carry spare batteries in a bag or purse. They will stop the outer wrap getting damaged and will stop any chance of your batteries shorting out on something conductive or each other. Another option is a silicone sleeve for your battery, commonly referred to as a ‘battery condom’ these are also very inexpensive and can be found easily. Never carry loose batteries in a bag, rucksack or pocket.
It is highly recommended that if you are using a vaping device with removable batteries that those batteries are charged outside of the device in a dedicated battery charger. Onboard charging in devices can be used occasionally if you need to but it can cause problems. The charging is only as good as the charging circuitry itself and in a lot of cases this is far more accurate and reliable in a good quality battery charger. It also means that when your batteries are getting low you can charge up another ready to switch in. Don’t leave charging batteries unattended and charge away from flammable materials. Obviously you don’t need to sit and watch them like a Hawk for hours as they charge but put your charger on a kitchen counter or similar and don’t go out and leave batteries on charge it’s also not a good idea to charge them over night while you sleep for obvious reasons. All we are trying to do again is minimise risk in the event of some kind of failure, either with the cell or charger.
If you are using a device with 2 or 3 cells then using a dedicated charger is really essential as it will ensure that all the cells in that set are charged evenly. These sets of cells should always be used together, vapers use the term ‘married’ and it’s a way to keep batteries of the same age and type together. Don’t use batteries of different ages and types together in a multiple battery device.
Buying batteries for your device does not have to be complicated, always buy from your local reputable vape shop that you trust, they will have sourced them from trusted suppliers, or direct from a specialist battery vendor, if in doubt ask them which they would recommend, which would be most suitable for your device or will meet the demands of your vaping style. Staff are experienced and knowledgable in these areas and will be happy to supply you with the most suitable cell, so don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t buy from unknown sellers on Ebay or similar.
If your batteries start to loose the ability to hold a charge, if you notice that they are lasting a considerable less amount of time or show any signs of damage that can’t be fixed by re-wrapping then it is time to dispose of them and buy new ones. Please dispose of them in the correct manner, we don’t want these batteries in landfill. Many supermarkets have battery bins and a lot of vaping shops will take your old cells off you, your local recycling centre may also have a place to dispose of them. Put a some of electrical tape over the ends as an extra precaution before disposal.
Look after your batteries and they will look after you.