1. If the Herbalizer was a fortune cookie what would it say? Tell us and win it!
  2. What does SSTB mean? See our glossary of acronyms.

Big discussion on Reddit re danger of ceramic heating elements in vapes.

Discussion in 'ABV' started by Qbit, Feb 17, 2013.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Qbit

    Qbit cannabanana

    Messages:
    1,030
    Location:
    Australia
    From a very busy thread, with 400+ comments and 1200+ votes, at the time of writing:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/trees/comments/18nk52/why_i_believe_vaporizing_can_be_more_dangerous/

    Here's the original post, by 'Greenwithenergy':

    I've owned every major brand vape you can think off. Years of use, and I found my lungs hurting more than ever. I mean, sharp pain. I'm an engineer so I started doing some homework (that I really should have done before hand.)

    99% of vaporizers you see today use the exact same ceramic heating element made in a factory in China. I googled the serial number on the element inside my Volcano and tracked them down. The on inside my SSV was exactly the same. The company I contacted produces the ceramic heating element for almost every major brand blow dryer, heat gun, and soldering iron sold in the US. I asked if there is potential health problems using them as a vaporizer. I had to spend a good 20 minutes just explaining what a vaporizer was, luckily the office I work in has more than a few people who speak Chinese. When I was done, they told me they should never be used that way. Ceramic elements crack over time, like 6 months to a year. For most uses, this isn't a real problem, but if you're breathing directly off them, you can get ceramic microscopic chips directly in to your lungs. They force anyone in their factory testing the elements to wear masks for exactly this reason. When I explained that Americans were using the elements to heat plant material and smoke it, they were dumbfounded and quite alarmed. There overwhelming response to me was don't use vaporizers with ceramic elements, which is most of them. The fact is, most vaporizers are cheap, overpriced pieces of metal and plastic that have zero health benefits whatsoever and are actually far more dangerous than smoking. None of them are FDA approved, and when marketing them, a business can say literally whatever they want without penalty.

    In theory, the concept of vaporizing is sound. The practice of using ceramic elements to get the job done, in my belief, is not sound at all, and I hope some of you do some homework of your own. I really do believe more than a few of us are probably doing or already have done permanent damage using these ceramic elements.

    edit: It's been pointed out that at least two companies are using glass wrapped tungsten elements. I would encourage people to consider those as options. They can be found in the comments, as I don't want to appear to be advertising. If anyone know of more, feel free to post it here.


    I know there has been plenty of discussion on airpath quality here at FC (and indeed I'd be very surprised if the OP, Greenwithenergy, isn't an FCer). Some of the discussion has been in relation to ceramic heating elements, but obviously no consensus has formed strong enough to dissuade too many people away from buying vapes that use ceramic elements in their airpath.

    So what's are the current opinions at FC on this matter?
  2. hoptimum

    hoptimum Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    720
    Every health risk should be taken seriously, particularly since many of us are patients whose health is already compromised. Saying its still better than combustion is not enough. I'd like to learn more.
  3. techandchess

    techandchess New Member

    Messages:
    8
    First post, just to talk on this subject.

    This post might be making a mountain out of a molehill. Millions have entered pottery classes with rooms filled with visible dust, and the concerns about inhalation are small enough people might not even bother with masks until they spend a lot of time in the pottery studio, and even then they might use paper masks. This is despite the fact that dust inhalation risks silicosis, a horrible disease. A ceramic element would give off a fraction of that dust.

    Still, one is inhaling deeply when using a vaporizer, and they inhaling through their mouths instead of their sinuses. Even if it might not cause something like silicosis alone, it could certainly be a risk factor for those already at risk of Silicosis, notably since vaporizing also irritates the lungs. There is no effective way to filter against the dust without filtering out the vapor either, even water filtration lets dust through via air bubbles.

    Like it's been said, it's still probably not worse for you then smoking, but I will be purposely avoiding vaporizers with ceramics heaters in the airpath, and this describes a LOT of vapes. Good excuse to buy a vapexhale cloud if I've ever heard one though.
  4. Dr. Plutonious

    Dr. Plutonious Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    555
    I wonder how this works in conjunction with a water filter. My lung health is quite important to me :/.

    Going to be really disappointed if this is true as it will take a lot of the excitement I still feel towards my SSV.

    EDIT:

    Ok, I think I can make you feel a bit better. I am a ceramicist. I deal with clay all day long.
    The word ceramic refers to any clay that has been fired in a kiln and is now a hard stone.
    Clay is not harmful at all to a person in wet form(what you sculpt with or make pottery out of.) When the clay dries, it can crumble easily into powder and become airborne. This is where clay is the most dangerous. Clay is an alumina silicate hydrate, what that means is it contains silica (glass.) When silica is inhaled into the lungs over a LONG period of time (I'm talking a lifetime), one can develop a disease called silicosis. Simply put it is a cancer of the lungs. The silica slowly crystallizes your lungs from the inside out and turns them to rocks. Being in a ceramic studio majority of my time I will have to wear respirators if the air gets too dusty, but with a little forward thinking it can be totally prevented.
    My point is, once the piece of clay is fired into ceramic stone, it is no longer any threat to your lungs. All of the silica has melted and helped fuse all the clay together. There is no more free floating silica. Even if you were inhaling silica while you smoked, you are dealing with a TINY, TINY amount. I breath in more ceramic dust in an hour of work, than you do in a month of smoking vaporizers, I guarantee that. If you inhaled all the silica, in all the ceramic heating elements you own, that would not give you silicosis.
    The only time I've ever heard of fired ceramic pieces cause health concerns(specifically lungs) was when an artist by the name of Ai Weiwei had a show at Tate Modern in London about 2-3 years ago. The show consisted of 100 Million sunflower seeds, which covered the whole floor of a gigantic room. The gallery visitors were invited to walk/sit/hangout on all the seeds. The show was called short because of ceramic dust and the gallery was concerned with people breathing in the dust. But it took 100 million pieces of ceramics all grinding together to even question it.

    That is also one of the first posts in there in regards to the OP.
  5. Nosferatu

    Nosferatu Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,044
    Location:
    California
    Real wake up call even if its not a significant amount. I had extreme lung tightness when I used Da Buddha and other health symptoms so I would believe it.(my element was cracked like no other) I have the cloud now and all is good but this really makes me want to be even more careful from now on how I inhale the herb. I have been getting an extremely dry throat even with the cloud now.
    vape4life and The_Algebraist like this.
  6. pakalolo

    pakalolo RoboMod v3.17 (ticking) Staff Member

    Messages:
    5,433
    Location:
    Other side of your screen
    With all due respect, you haven't established cause and effect. Your evidence is anecdotal. Of course you can believe whatever you like but you haven't given any reason to implicate ceramic heaters in general.

    I should also point out that there are many different ceramics, and the one generally used for heaters was chosen specifically because it resists cracking and deterioration after thousands and thousands of heat cycles.
    canj00digit?, ogcook, darkrom and 5 others like this.
  7. Tweek

    Tweek Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,142
    I get lung tightness from SSV. In my case, it was a combination of plant particles making their way through into my lungs and dryness from the heat. Now that I use plenty of hot water for filtration, it is almost a non-issue. I still get some mild irritation, but that is just my sensitive lungs and the THC.
    420GanjX, Roger D and The_Algebraist like this.
  8. The_Algebraist

    The_Algebraist Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    255
    Location:
    Alphaville V
    this is really interesting. i just ordered a ssv and sent a message to cancel my order. while i think it's probably safe i don't want to play games with these types of things, especially if there is another heating system that doesn't potentially raise concerns of this sort.

    are glass-based systems, like the cloud, known to be safe in terms of heating etc?


  9. Nosferatu

    Nosferatu Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,044
    Location:
    California
    With all do respect I wasn't coming here to make a scientific claim, just telling my experience. Every ceramic vape I have seen or used in person has had a cracked look, so this type of ceramics certainly doesn't withstand cracking at high heats. Once again, I'm not saying that ceramic dust was my problem, it would be impossible to prove, but every vape I have used based on a ceramic element(ALOT) has given me irritation no matter what if used daily. Now seeing this article I tried to put two and two together, but who knows, it could have been user error on my behalf back then.
  10. stickstones

    stickstones Wasted Staff Member

    Messages:
    7,575
    The safest way we know how.
    darkrom and t-dub like this.
  11. Tweak

    Tweak T\/\/34|<

    Messages:
    1,000
    Top comment on Reddit from a ceramicist:

    "once the piece of clay is fired into ceramic stone, it is no longer any threat to your lungs. All of the silica has melted and helped fuse all the clay together. There is no more free floating silica. Even if you were inhaling silica while you smoked, you are dealing with a TINY, TINY amount. I breath in more ceramic dust in an hour of work, than you do in a month of smoking vaporizers, I guarantee that. If you inhaled all the silica, in all the ceramic heating elements you own, that would not give you silicosis"

    Stay calm and vape on!!
  12. The_Algebraist

    The_Algebraist Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    255
    Location:
    Alphaville V
    At this point in time, if one were potentially interested in a cloud, should the interested party wait and see if a new model is coming soon or should thy jut go ahead and pull the trigger on one now?


  13. hoptimum

    hoptimum Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    720
    With all due respect, you are implying a cause (cracked ceramic) had an effect (sore throat) that may not be valid. Just because you observe the cracked ceramic does not mean it caused your sore throat. You need some scientific proof to validate your implicit claim.
    Roger D likes this.
  14. Egzoset

    Egzoset Vaporist v2.0

    Messages:
    2,263
    Location:
    Shawinigan/Qc, Canada
    Shoff likes this.
  15. Dr. Plutonious

    Dr. Plutonious Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    555
    I went ahead and emailed 7th Floor about this just to see what they would say, linking them to the Reddit post. Not that I believe that post 100%, it just be interesting to see how they would reply.

    I just don't buy it though. The people that sound at risk to silicosis are people who work with clay regularly as they are at risk at inhaling dry clay (before it is turned to ceramic) dust, which is very prevalent in the process of turning clay to ceramic. These are people designing many ceramic pieces of all shapes and sizes (and of different types of less stable clay) who are around it all day, and being involved with the process through all of it's "dangerous" parts (such as when the clay is drying and cracking). A small ceramic heater just doesn't seem to fit the bill. Even if these ceramic heaters crack at a microscopic level (assuming its true), you're getting a microscopic level of this ceramic dust in your airway. You probably inhale more crap walking on a sidewalk next to a busy street.

    Furthermore, the guy who posted this on Reddit linked no name to this company and seemed to refuse to despite people calling him out on this point. It seemed like he just told a story. He had no sources or anything. He basically said he had a pain in his lung and just randomly decided to put the blame on vaping with ceramic cores. There were just as many anecdotal stories on that thread saying it's harmless.

    I'm sure ceramic heating systems will be outdated in the upcoming years, especially with products like the Cloud making use of glass airways so well, but I just have a hard time believing that a ceramic heating core, something that is designed to be safe (I mean...many home heating systems use ceramic heaters) will cause that much damage. I feel this is reduced even less once you add in a water filter.

    I'm personally not that concerned. In 2 years this time I will probably have a new vape to use anyways.
    ogcook, Roger D, ShipDit and 4 others like this.
  16. SD_haze

    SD_haze MMJ Vaporist

    Messages:
    3,038
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    To: future vape makers
    Msg: separate your heating elements from the airpath!
    PS: good job VXC ;)

    ////
    One thing I didn't see get mentioned
    I'm not a volcano expert but he was saying the volcano had a ceramic heating element?
    The guy all this is coming from.

    I've always heard the volcano had an aluminum block heating element? Unless there's ceramic inside the block that I've never heard about (possible!) that makes me take him a bit less seriously.
    Roger D, Fully Melted and thesoloman like this.
  17. Dr. Plutonious

    Dr. Plutonious Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    555
    The whole post just seemed fishy.

    1. He had no sources.

    2. Some of his facts were questionable (like the Volcano comment)

    3. He never mentioned who the company was despite people asking him.

    4. He claimed in a later post that these microscopic cracks released metal ions (or something like that, i read through the reddit last night), something he made no mention of in his original post. Also, in this post he described it as if these chemical releases were the danger and made no mention of the supposed ceramic dust. This theory was also dismissed pretty quickly after he posted it.


    Essentially, his opinion is based on an unknown Chinese company claiming that their product begins to splinter slightly after many uses. It just seems so odd. The SSV and other ceramic heaters are not new products, if there was serious health concerns with them there would at least be some cases that would have popped up by now.

    Not to suggest he is doing a smear campaign against vapes, it just seems like there are too many holes in his story to really believe it.
    ogcook, Roger D, Qbit and 1 other person like this.
  18. Tweek

    Tweek Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,142
    If you are worried about particles, use a water filter.
    darkrom likes this.
  19. pakalolo

    pakalolo RoboMod v3.17 (ticking) Staff Member

    Messages:
    5,433
    Location:
    Other side of your screen
    I completely forgot to mention that. You're right, the Volcano does have an aluminum block but wait! Aluminum is scary too! You could get Alzheimer's!!! :tinfoil:

    Lots of us (but not me) have SSVs or DBs. Who else has seen these cracks? I wish I still had my Extreme to check.
    ogcook, Roger D and JSteez4205 like this.
  20. Tweek

    Tweek Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,142
    I had a really good point I was going to make, but then I forgot. Oddly enough, this was just after hitting my Volcano. Must be the aluminum.
    Jeppy, Roger D, ugobo and 2 others like this.
  21. Enchantre

    Enchantre A short, pithy statement

    Messages:
    1,864
    Location:
    Even more green state
    Okay, thank you all, now I'm drooling over the Cloud, too. With the cool glass water system. Yup. It's all your fault.
    cellardoor and t-dub like this.
  22. hoptimum

    hoptimum Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    720

    From the Volcano FAQ:

    The VOLCANO Vaporization system is made of high-quality, food-safe materials:
    Heating Element: Steel clad ceramic
    Heat Exchanger: Aluminium alloy
    EASY/SOLID Valve: Steel; Heat tempered ABS polymer
    Balloon: 100% polythene (food grade)
    Insulation: Cellulose
    Air System: 100% silicone (food grade)
    Roger D likes this.
  23. OO

    OO Technical Skeptical

    Messages:
    1,167
    Location:
    Paraphernalia Museum
    If it is to be assumed that the exchanger is the only thing in contact with the air, and the ceramic portion is fully contained, then there should be no issue, aluminum makes the best, most cost effective heat exchanging material.

    Aluminum is not known to spallate under the temps considered here, and its vapor pressure at those temps is wholly negligible.
    http://www.powerstream.com/vapor-pressure.htm

    The vapor pressure of the aluminum oxide surface layer is drastically less, so really it is nothing to worry about.
    Roger D likes this.
  24. crawdad

    crawdad floatin

    Messages:
    1,010
    Location:
    potano territory
    fwiw, the ceramic heat diffuser in the glass vapor genie some have reported that it seems to shrink over time and the assumption of some was that inhalation of the ceramic was occurring. i did a little bit of google researching and the result was replied in the following thread :

    Vaporgenie Filter. Potential Risk?

    :peace:
  25. Vessel

    Vessel President Chief Commander of FC

    Messages:
    147
    This makes me wonder about my EQ. hmmm, after having the cloud I could tell the difference. When used dry I would feel some irritation on my scalp I think being most notable but nothing severe. My eq is from 2010 and has had the glass cover replaced once by me. I noticed the ceramic looked scratched but not cracked. I've been using my eq w/ the hydratube and it doesn't seem to bad but I can't wait to get my cloud back. After reading this though I am going to be really careful in what vape I get purchase - I've been wanting a gnome for practicality and cleanness.


    That being said I would be really interested to here SSV take, please post if anything comes up.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Support FC, visit our trusted friends and sponsors