Let me start by saying that I am not an expert on any of these areas. The following post/rant is based on my own personal observations, from 7 years of vaping, while living in the great white north.
Here’s a short video I recorded up north this past weekend. It pretty much sums up my thoughts on this matter. Or read the full post 🙂
Way to often I hear reviewers on YouTube or read posts and threads online that praise certain tanks for never leaking – I call BS! Every tank leaks. Just because you may not have had any leaks after a long period of use does not mean that this tank will not leak for someone else.
The cause of leaky tanks is manifold, from user error (poor maintenance) to quality (poor design). But, in this post we are specifically going to look at how weather can affect your vape.
I live in Montreal, Canada. I spend my weekends at my chalet in the Laurentian’s. We have what is referred to as a “Continental Climate”. Essentially we experience every season to its fullest: hot and humid summers, chilly falls, freezing cold winters and rainy springs. We get the gamut.
So, what does this mean for your vape?
In terms of spring to fall there are typically very few issues. It may be tough to vape when it is raining. Your mech mod may heat up a bit more on hot summer days. But, in general your vape will function as it should. However, when the temperature starts to drop – everything changes.
First, some basic info on Quebec temperatures. Average winter days are around -20/25c (-4/-13f) and during the deep freeze – January to February – we can see temperatures drop to as low as -40c before the windchill. It’s damn cold!
The fact is most vape accessories and devices are not produced in cold climates like Quebec. When companies are designing and testing new tanks, rdas, mods, etc., they are not going through the riggers of use in temperatures lower than usually 10c. There’s no assurance that your product will work the way it is intended at lower temperatures.
This goes for reviewers as well!
Most reviewers don’t live in cold climates like Quebec. If you live in California, or even New York, you have no clue how your gear will function on a Quebec winter day. And, this leads to misinformation. My two biggest pet peeves “This tank never leaks” and “The battery lasts forever”. This may be the case for you, but have you tried to use that tank or mod at -10c? No!
Look, I’m not trying to be obnoxious, nor am I hating on reviewers, but please make an effort to be honest in your feedback and let viewers/readers know that this is ONLY the case for you. Bold statements that are definitive should never be made in any review for any product. There are some pretty standard specs that the majority of reviewers feedback on: cloud production, quality of design and durability, battery life, flavour, etc. Why not include some other basic information like where you live and average temperatures. This, for me, is a ESSENTIAL factor.
Case in point – I recently purchased an Athena. And, just about every single review I read and watched stated that this squonk never leaks. Wrong! On the 3rd day of owning this device I took it up north with me for the weekend and it leaked like a faucet. We’ll get to the why further down in this post.
I get we’re not all experts on all topics, and reviewers are basing their “thoughts” on their own personal observations, but vaping is global. Let’s try to be a bit more scientific about it.
The Scientific method
As a vape reviewer, the Scientific Method should be at the heart of everything you do. It’s a simple method that has been around forever and is used professionally in most fields when it comes to gathering data, quality assurance and testing. Professionally I’m a marketer, to be more precise a conversion scientist. And, I use this model every day. It is the simplest way to derive intelligent outcomes from real data.
I know, a whole lot of big words. But, trust me, it is way easier than you think.
What is the the Scientific method? It is a set of principles that has served as the foundation for scientific inquiry since the 17th century. This process of systematic observation, measurement, and experimentation is the framework behind every great scientific and engineering breakthrough in humanity since the 1600s.
The basic principles
- Define a question
- Gather data
- Form explanatory hypotheses
- Test each hypothesis by performing an experiment and collecting data in a repeatable way
- Analyze the data
- Interpret the data and draw conclusions
- Publish results
- Retest (frequently done by other scientists)
This can easily, and should be, applied to anything reviewed and tested in the vape world. It would help vapers tremendously in making decisions in terms of what gear they purchase for their own personal and unique situations. Granted, it will never be perfect and you will need to experiment a bit, but at least you won’t end up buying a tank “that never leaks” that ends up leaking on you all the time.
Take a look at any vaping forum online and you will find thousands, I kid you not, of threads where vapers are complaining about leaky tanks. And, that is only the tip of the iceberg.
Common cold weather issues
Here are a just a few of the most common problems you can run into in cold weather. I have broken them down in their appropriate categories.
Tanks – They leak!
- As the temperature drops, usually below 10c you start to see more juice escaping from your tanks around the AFC and pin. Sometimes juice can escape from the top and bottom of the tank barrel, depending on what the material is. Glass is the worst. It contracts in cold and expands in hot. No o-ring will stop some juice getting out when your are moving from warm indoor temperatures to cold outdoor temperatures.
- Top filling is a nightmare. In colder temperatures forget about it. It is better to bottom fill it.
- Don’t leave a tank full in cold temperatures. Better to have just over half to a 3rd. This will help prevent leaking.
*The above is the same for RTAs
- Unlike tanks RDAs are far less likely to leak, even in cold weather.
- Wick more often. Juice sitting in the cotton can thicken and clog your RDA or not vape as well if it is high VG. If it is high PG it may become more runny and the potential for a leak is increased.
- Purge, blow on your coils, on every vape to warm up the coils faster.
*Tip – I recommend blowing on your coils 2-3 times before your first draw.
- High PG will get very runny.
- High VG will thicken more.
- Juice will not fully freeze.
- Juice can leak from the top cap do to expanding and contracting as you move from warm indoors to cold outdoors.
- Switches can stick and misfire.
- Electronics do not handle cold well and the boards on your device can malfunction, freeze, or simply shutdown.
- Although mech mods are made from materials like: brass, copper, stainless steel and titanium, all of which hold their surrounding temperatures, when heated up from use they will retain the heat a little longer.
- Because these mods are mechanical they are less likely to fail do to not having a board, chip, lights, etc.
- The tube in the bottle can expand and contract when moving from warm indoors to cold outdoors causing leaks inside your mod.
- The bottles can also expand and contract, though less likely, when moving from warm indoors to cold outdoors causing leaks.
*As mentioned earlier in the post my Athena ended up leaking like crazy in -10c because of the tube expanding and contracting.
- Can take longer to charge up when they get cold.
- Batteries discharge much quicker in cold temperatures. Like your car battery in winter, they may not generate a current.
*Tip – fire your mod at quick intervals for a few seconds to drain some on the ‘juice’, this will help your battery warm up quicker and gain a charge and stay warmer longer. Also, charge your batteries frequently even if they are not fully drained.
Casings – mech or regulated
- Wood casing, like stabwood, can change shape in cold temperatures. It tends to curve or bend and can end up having an affect on how your mod functions.
- Resin will contract in cold temperatures. This can have an affect on how your mod functions.
- Metals and alloys: brass, copper, titanium, stainless steel, etc., all of these materials will warm or cool based on their surrounding temperatures. This will not necessarily have an affect on mod functionality, but it can affect battery functionality.
Where does this leave us?
Overall I have found that mech mods are the best in cold temperatures. They are rugged and will adapt to pretty much anything you throw at them. I typically tend to bring my mechs out with me more often in the winter if I know I will be spending at least and hour outside, or half an hour in really, really, cold temperatures.
I understand mechs are not for everyone, and they require more experience and maintenance. I’m not recommending that you go out and buy a mech mod because you live in a colder climate, but if you do, you will certainly have far less problems while vaping in the winter.
As mentioned at the start of my post, this information is based on my personal experiences over the past 7 years of vaping in cold Canadian winters.
If you have any other suggestions for winter vaping or have come across scenarios not mentioned here, I’d love to hear them.
Keep on vaping!