The vapour produced by e-cigarettes, including popular disposable vapes like Elf Bar, Lost Mary vapes, and Crystal Bars, can set off smoke alarms. This can be a problem in places like hotels, hotel lobbies, hotel rooms, airports, airplanes, hospitals, offices, pubs, and restaurants, where smoke detectors are commonly found.
Three main types of smoke alarms are relevant to vapour detection: ionisation smoke alarms, photoelectric (optical) smoke alarms, and heat alarms. Each detects the vapour a vape produces differently, as summarised in the list below.
- Ionisation Smoke Alarms: These alarms are the most common type of smoke alarm. They use a small amount of radioactive material to ionise the air in an internal sensing chamber. When smoke, or in this case, vape particles, enter this chamber, it disrupts the ionisation process, triggering the alarm. The vapour produced by a vape can set off ionisation smoke alarms like smoke from a cigarette or fire would.
- Photoelectric (Optical) Smoke Alarms: These smoke alarms use a light source and a light sensor. When smoke or vapour enters the chamber, it scatters the light beam, causing some light to hit the sensor and trigger the smoke alarm. It only takes a small amount of vapour to set off a photoelectric smoke alarm causing it to beep and flash red.
- Heat Alarms: These alarms are triggered by a rapid rise in temperature rather than by smoke or vapour. They are typically used in kitchens where smoke and steam can cause false alarms. Vaping is unlikely to set off a heat alarm unless the temperature of the vapour is significantly high, which is typically not the case with standard vaping devices.
The vapour from a vape can set off fire alarms because the particulates in the vapour can disrupt the ionisation process in ionisation smoke alarms or scatter the light beam in photoelectric smoke alarms, thus triggering the alarm.
Smoke alarms are sensitive to vapour. The degree of sensitivity varies based on the specific type of alarm and the vapour density. Ionisation and photoelectric smoke alarms are generally more sensitive to vape particles as they are designed to detect small particles in the air, which are present in vapour. Heat alarms are generally not sensitive to vapour from a vape unless the vapour is exceptionally hot, which is not typical for standard vaping devices.
To vape without setting off a fire alarm, try ventilating the area and adapting your vaping style by taking shorter puffs to reduce vapour output. Modify your setup by using low VG e-liquids, which produce less dense vapour. As a last resort, you can change your device to a more discreet option, such as a Mouth to Lung (MTL) vape kit or a vapourless vape, to minimise visible vapour and lower the risk of setting off the alarm.
Here is a list of seven ways to vape without setting off a smoke alarm.
- Ventilate the Area
- Produce Less Vapour on Exhalation
- Move Further Away from the Smoke Detector
- Use a Low VG, High PG E-Liquid
- Use a Low Power Setting
- Use a Mouth to Lung (MTL) Vape Kit
- Use a Vapourless Vape or E-Liquid
1. Ventilate the Area
Turn on the air conditioning, turn on a fan, or open a window or vent to improve ventilation. This allows the vapour to dissipate into fresh air, minimising the chances of triggering a smoke alarm. Vaping in a space with good airflow disperses the vapour more quickly, reducing the likelihood of it reaching and setting off the smoke alarm.
2. Produce Less Vapour on Exhalation
Exhale less vapour by taking shorter puffs when you vape. Emitting less particulate reduces the likelihood of detection by smoke alarms. Avoid chain vaping, which produces a large amount of vapour quickly. Controlling how much vapour you expel can significantly decrease the chances of setting off a smoke alarm.
3. Move Further Away from the Smoke Detector
Position yourself further from the smoke detector when you vape. The further away you are, the less likely the vapour is to set off the smoke alarm. Walk to a different area, sit next to an open window, or simply maintain a greater distance from the detector to prevent the vapour from reaching it and setting off the fire alarm.
4. Use a Low VG, High PG E-Liquid
Vape a low VG, high PG e-liquid. Vegetable Glycerin (VG) is known for producing dense clouds of vapour, while Propylene Glycol (PG) produces less vapour. By using an e-liquid with a higher PG to VG ratio, you can reduce the density and volume of the vapour, making it less likely to set off a smoke alarm.
5. Use a Low Power Setting
Vape at a low power setting. Reducing the wattage or voltage of your device decreases the amount of vapour produced. Less vapour means there's a lower chance of it reaching and triggering a smoke alarm. The higher the power setting, the more vapour is produced, so keep your device's power as low as possible to avoid setting off the smoke alarm.
6. Use a Mouth to Lung (MTL) Vape Kit
Use an MTL vape kit for shorter, more controlled inhales and exhalation compared to Direct to Lung (DTL) vaping. The shorter inhales in MTL vaping produce less vapour, reducing the chance of triggering a smoke alarm. MTL vape kits often have higher resistance and lower power output, contributing to less vapour production. MTL vape kits typically use higher PG e-liquids, which produce less visible vapour. Using an MTL kit can significantly reduce the amount of vapour you exhale, thereby decreasing the likelihood of setting off a smoke alarm.
MTL vaping involves drawing the vapour into your mouth first and then inhaling it into your lungs, similar to the way one would smoke a traditional cigarette. DTL vaping involves inhaling the vapour directly into your lungs in one long draw.
7. Use a Vapourless Vape or Vapourless E-Liquid
Consider using a vapourless vape like the Aspire Minus Disposable Vape or a vapourless e-liquid like the JAC Vapour Clear Steam E-Liquid. These products are designed for stealth vaping, which is vaping in a way that produces little to no visible vapour.
Vapourless e-liquids are formulated to evaporate quickly once exhaled, reducing the amount of visible vapour. Using a vapourless vape or e-liquid can significantly decrease the amount of vapour in the air, thereby reducing the likelihood of the smoke alarm being set off.
Can Vaping Set Off Carbon Monoxide Detector?
No, vaping will not set off a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide detectors are designed to detect the presence of carbon monoxide, a poisonous, colourless, and odourless gas that is produced when fuels like wood, coal, charcoal, gasoline, kerosene, natural gas, or oil burn incompletely. Vaping does not produce carbon monoxide, so it does not trigger carbon monoxide alarms.
Can a Vape Set Off Fire Sprinklers?
No, vaping will not set off fire sprinklers. Fire sprinklers are designed to activate when they detect a significant increase in temperature, typically caused by a fire. Since vaping does not produce flames or a significant amount of heat, it does not trigger the heat-sensitive mechanism in fire sprinklers.
Can Airplane Smoke Detectors Detect If You Vape?
Yes, airplane smoke detectors can detect if you vape. The smoke detectors on airplanes are extremely sensitive to vapour and smoke. According to the Boeing Fire Protection guidance, the following three types of fire alarms are certified for use in the lavatories and crew rest compartments: ionization-area type, photoelectric-area type, and photoelectric-ducted type. Each of these detectors is easily triggered by vapour or smoke.
In relation to the question, "Can you take vapes on a plane?", while you are allowed to carry vapes in your carry-on luggage, it's important to remember that vaping on board is strictly prohibited. The sensitive smoke detectors installed in airplane lavatories are capable of detecting vapour.
Can You Vape Indoors?
Vaping Indoors is not illegal, but policies vary between establishments such as pubs, restaurants and stores. It is always best to ask the management staff if you can vape indoors if it is not clear that you are allowed to do so.