Recently, alarms were raised on the heels of a Yale University School of Medicine led study that found that 25% of teen vapers have tried dripping. The teen dripping story was picked up by all of the major media outlets. How did the research team come up with these results? They identified teens that vape and asked them a simple question. They were asked “Have you ever used the dripping method to add e-liquid to your e-cigarette?” Teens were asked to answer “I do not use e-cigarettes, ” “yes, ” “no, ” or “I don’t know”. The results indicated that 1 in 4 teens that have used electronic cigarettes answered that they have tried dripping.
The sample size of teen vapers was quite large at 1,874 respondents indicating that they vape. I have been in communication with the lead researcher at Yale and she is indeed a professional earnestly searching for clarifying answers. With that said, there are a few concerns about this study that we will explain in this post. There is a legitimate concern about dripping but dripping is something that has changed over the years.
Dripping can be dangerous because of the risk of overheating the coils and burning the e-liquid. Three years ago ECCR reported on the potential dangers of dripping. At that time dripping was largely a much different practice than it is now. At that time dripping was a practice often carried out often with unsafe coil wire with unregulated mods. The term ‘unregulated’ mod can be confusing so I want to take a minute and explain dripping and dripping terminology.
Dripping Then And Now
To understand dripping then and now I want to explain a few of the terms that apply.
Dripping: Vaping by placing drops of e-liquid directly onto the heated atomizer coils. Typically a cotton wick is inserted through the center of the coil to absorb the e-liquid.
Unregulated mod: An unregulated mod does not have anything to do with regulations or laws pertaining to mods. An unregulated mod is simply a device that draws all available power from the battery. To better illustrate, a regulated mod lets the user control the wattage output of the device. An unregulated mod has no internal processor controlling power output.
Regulated mods and cigarette style electronic cigarettes have an internal processor that limits the length of time that a battery will discharge power to the atomizer. A 10 second cut off is the most common. The 10 second cut off is designed to prevent overheating or thermal runaways in the battery.
Mech mod: An unregulated vape mod with no internal processor controlling the power output and no limits of the length of discharge.
RDA: RDA stands for rebuildable drip atomizer. And RDA is the platform upon which a vaper will build and install a metal coil that will then vaporize the e-liquid. This is different than a vape tank. A vape tank holds a reservoir of e-liquid. Any RBA sold before late 2016 does not have a reservoir for e-liquid. Instead, the e-liquid is dripped onto the coil and then vaporized.
Thermal Runaway: A process where a battery can overheat and the cells may even explode if there is no venting available for the excess heat. See more about thermal runaway here. Many of the exploding e-cigarette stories that you hear about are a result of low quality mods, improper handling or mech mods. Dripping with a mech mod adds a layer of concern to the practice of dripping.
History Of Dripping
The practice of dripping developed relatively early in the evolution of vaping. Vapers found that using an unregulated mech mod allowed them to draw more power from a battery and generate more vapor. The first mech mods were essentially batteries connected to an atomizer. These were “modified” devices that became known as mods. The name mods has stuck but a current mod is not like the original improvised vaping devices.
This really brings us to the main concern of dripping. The greatest level of concern about any potential danger of dripping can be linked directly to the type of device being used. So it is not so much the practice as the hardware.
Dripping With A Mech Mod
There are a few dangers involved with dripping with a mech mod. As mentioned a mech mod in inexperienced hands can lead to very high coil temperatures. High temperatures may also actually vaporize metal particles from the atomizer. You don’t want to be inhaling metal particles. In addition burning the e-liquid itself can generate unwanted byproducts.
If you are vaping in a dangerous fashion with an overheated mech mod, the vapor will not be enjoyable. A burning coil, wick and e-liquid will be very unpleasant. For the sake of safety and enjoyment dripping the way it used to be done is not something that we recommend. Experienced vapers with a strong understanding of the materials they are using and how to use them notwithstanding.
Regulated Mods Like The X Cube Ultra Intricately Control The Power Output And Monitor Atomizer Resistance.
If you look at the best e-cig companies today, and vendors, you will not find too many mech mods. Old school dripping with a mech mod is not very common anymore. It was only a few years ago that mech mods and RDAs were very popular because of how much vapor you could get. Today, you can get more vapor from more advanced, regulated products,
The most popular mods today are variable power and variable temperature devices. Sub ohm and temperature control vaping vaping devices can satisfy the pursuit of huge vapor while simultaneously carefully and accurately controlling the power output. The dangers of old school dripping have been mitigated by the new technologies that have evolved over the last couple of years.
It is not only the mods that have changed, the RDAs have as well. Many of the RDAs coming out now, like the Digiflavor Pharaoh or the new Goon RDA actually have small e-liquid reservoirs. In addition, coil wires that people use to build their atomizers have come a long, long way. We know more about the wires and the power setting appropriate to a specific resistance. The mods will read the atomizer resistance so the user will know the appropriate power settings. We have come a long way in a short time.
Clarification Needed For Yale Teen Dripping Study
The bottom line is that while teens may be dripping, they are probably not dripping the way it was done a few years ago. When I asked the Yale teen dripping study researcher Dr. Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin if the study included any details about the type of dripping being engaged in they did not have that data. Given the overwhelming prevalence of regulated mods vs the scarcity of mechs in the market, it is likely safe to infer that teens that have tried dripping have not been using mech mods.
Dr, Krishnan-Sarin informed me that the research is ongoing. Details regarding the style of dripping will be evaluated going forward. We look forward to further details. This is potentially a valuable study and we are happy to see that researchers are differentiating the various styles of vaping.
Should You Drip?
For new vapers, there are many styles of vaping that you can enjoy. We encourage you to avoid common vaping mistakes and do not feel like the pursuit of more vapor is a contest. Don’t feel like you need advanced products as some sort of status. If you decide that you do want to try dripping, by all means use a regulated mod and an appropriate RDA or RBA. Make sure you have a working knowledge of the relationship between batteries, power output and your atomizer coils.
Dripping is one of many vaping styles available. If it is huge vapor clouds that you want then you should also know that you don’t necessarily need to drip. Today’s best e-cig vape tanks are amazing. You do not have to build your own coils and use a RDA dripper deck to get massive vapor. The pre-built, disposable coils on the market are fully capable of satisfying the cloud chasers.
Should you drip? It is up to you of course! We do not recommend dripping with a mech mod. It may seem edgy but at the end of the day there is no net benefit. The advanced regulated mods are much more efficient and will provide a better vaping experience.