Vaping study: Devices can reach red hot 158 degrees

Published: Feb. 13, 2020 at 2:51 PM EST
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(2/13/2020) - It's a question that dumbfounded our community -- How hot is the vapor from a vape device as it enters your mouth?

At the Chemical Engineering Lab inside the University, Dr. Mary Gilliam, an associate professor of chemical engineering, helped us get to the bottom of it.

Together with a few of her students and the lab technician, Dr. Gilliam created a special contraption.

“The contraption that we have here is designed to mimic what a puff would be. And, we designed it based on the study we found in a scientific journal,” she explained.

Our ABC12 team brought in two different vapes for her team to test -- a Juul device & a Mr. Vapor device.

So how does it work?

Dr. Gilliam attached the vape device to a tube. It's connected to a machine that, when turned on, will draw out a puff, just like if a person were using the vape

The red tube coming out of the side is called a thermocouple. And as the pump draws out the vapor, it takes the temperature of that vapor to find out how hot vaping really is.

Each time we did the test, our results showed right around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. That's the temperature of the vapor as soon as it hits a person's mouth.

But, it's not the hottest the device can get.

Dr. Gilliam showed us another demonstration. This time testing how hot the coil inside the vape device can get. That's, she said, where the real danger comes from.

“The coil temperature gets hot enough to a point where it actually breaks down these chemicals into these harmful byproducts. Some of them have shown to be carcinogens, some of them have been shown to cause developmental disorders and so forth. So it's actually the temperature of that coil that produces these harmful byproducts,” she explained.

In this test, we watched the coil temperature quickly climb to 158 degrees Fahrenheit.

“The temperature of the coil gets very hot, some studies have shown it gets upwards of 900 degrees C -- that's dry temperature,” Dr. Gilliam said.

So why are some devices hotter than others?

Dr. Gilliam said the user can actually control that because some devices can be altered.

“The voltage can be modified,” she explained. “As the voltage increases, then the temperature inside gets hotter and a higher concentration of those harmful byproducts have been shown to exist.”

Those byproducts are not shown in the liquid itself, Dr Gilliam said it's the heat of the coil that produces them.

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