The cartomizer or tank is where the action happens in your e-cig; the e-liquid inside being heated by the coil and transformed into a delicious vapor. However, that also makes them one of the most important things for beginners to consider when it comes to safety.
Aside from the advice regarding external heat covered earlier, the main concern when it comes to cartomizers and tanks is the fact that they contain e-liquid. Nicotine is a poison, so it makes sense to exercise some general caution when you’re dealing with it – although the main way you’re likely to come into contact with it when you’re getting started is when a bit of juice seeps up through the tip and you get a nasty taste!
Here are some tips for minimizing this risk and dealing with any spills.
There is little risk in accidently tasting a small amount of juice as a result of a leak, but it should ideally be avoided!
Taking longer, slower puffs, storing your e-cig with the tip upright and – for manual batteries – continuing to draw after releasing the button minimizes the chance of leaks.
If you get e-liquid in your mouth – spit it out and rinse your mouth with water. If you get it on your skin, wipe it off and clean the area with soapy water.
Clean up any spills with a cloth, mop or paper towel, ensuring that whatever you use is disposed off safely or thoroughly cleaned afterwards. Clean affected surfaces with soap and water, and allow it to dry before letting children or pets near it!
I can remember the first time I got a little e-liquid in my mouth. My post on the ECF was… “Am I going to die?”
Luckily we live in a world where leaking isn't much of a problem anymore. Most of what you get in your mouth at this point is condensation. This can be minimized by continuing your draw AFTER you release the fire button. This will clear out any vapor in your device and minimize condensation as much as possible.
As far as “Is it anything to be concerned about”… I'm not a doctor or a chemist so I really can't comment, but I can tell you that it's happened to me, and I'm still here. – Phil Busardo(TasteYourJuice.com)
As a vaper you always understand the risk of nicotine e-liquid coming in contact with your skin, but we also know to simply wash it off quickly and everything will be fine. As a new vaper, you're most definitely concerned about many things, and e-liquid leaking out of the mouthpiece or tip of your e-cig is an understandable concern – a very common one as well.
Many vapers mistakenly assume e-liquid is leaking from their tip, when it's actually the condensation built from your e-cig vaporizing the e-liquid. This condensation I wouldn't think to ever be enough to cause you any harm. If actual e-liquid is leaking from your mouthpiece or tip as you may call it, you should first figure out why this is happening.
[…] If a little e-liquid has gotten into your mouth, don't be alarmed. A small amount of e-liquid getting into your mouth shouldn't be enough to cause you any harm, but if you feel uncomfortable with the amount that did enter your mouth, I would consult with your local doctor. Getting small amounts of e-liquid into your mouth is something common for new vapers. If you feel that the amount was small enough, simply spit out any of the taste, do not swallow, and be sure to rinse your mouth out. – Blake Brown (GuidetoVaping.com)
Most pre-filled cartomizers don't have this issue, so the stuff you find in the entry level kits isn't of much concern. With refillable gear, if you get liquid down the air tube, assemble the clearomizer, then gently blow through the mouthpiece into a paper towel to remove excess liquid from the airway. Don't panic if you do get liquid in your mouth, it's not going to be enough to have any long term effects, just swish some water and reflect upon your experience. – Steve K (Steve K’s Vaping World)
Avoiding Leaking Cartomizers
No matter how mouth-watering your juice is in vapor-form, you can rest assured it will taste absolutely disgraceful in liquid form. Nobody likes it when some e-liquid seeps out of the tip of an e-cigarette and you accidently get some in your mouth.
The situation has improved, but it’s still likely to happen to you at some point. Thankfully, it’s nothing to worry about. It isn’t nice, but the quantities you come into contact with from a leaking cartomizer or tank aren’t much of a concern.
Nicotine is toxic in high quantities (more on that later in the series), but you’ll only be exposed to a drop (about 1/20 ml) or two through a leaking cartomizer or drip-tip, so unless you’re vaping something so strong it would give an elephant a nicotine rush, you’ll be absolutely fine.
Regardless, you want to avoid contact with nicotine in non-vapor form as much as possible, because it’s unpleasant to taste and a needless (if small) risk.
Firstly, if you’ve just switched to an e-cig, be aware that you don’t need to inhale sharply or strongly to get a good hit of vapor, and doing so can lead to leaks. Take slower and longer puffs than you would on a cigarette to minimize this risk; even automatic batteries don’t need hard drags, just give it enough to activate the battery and the vapor will come.
Additionally – as Phil Busardo points out – condensation is the most likely cause of an accumulation of juice, and “this can be minimized by continuing your draw after you release the fire button. This will clear out any vapor in your device and minimize condensation as much as possible.”
Blake Brown (Guide to Vaping) suggests that that problems with refilling may also be the cause of a leaking mouthpiece, “If you've refilled your cartridge/cartomizer or any other atomization accessory and accidently got a little e-liquid into the center hole where you draw your outside air from, that could be a very possible reason of your mouthpiece leaking e-liquid. Turn your cartridge/cartomizer upside down and blow through it into a paper towel. What you want to do here is remove any excess e-liquid that may be caught in the airhole.”
Simply storing your e-cig with the tip upright can also help, because gravity isn’t really your friend if you lay it on its side. As well as making leaks more likely, it will also shift your juice around to one side of the cartomizer, meaning you’re more likely to get that horrible burnt taste from overheated wicking material.
If you do get some liquid in your mouth, spit it out (situation permitting) and rinse your mouth out with water. It’s unlikely to do you any damage (as many vapers can attest to) but it will take the taste out of your mouth as well as minimizing any risk. You may also want to try using a drip shield, especially if you are using a dripping cartomizer.
Cleaning Up E-Liquid Spills
A final – and important – point is that nicotine can be absorbed through your skin, as it is in nicotine patches. This means that coming into direct contact with nicotine-containing e-liquid is the same as consuming it, so you should exercise the same sort of caution.
If you spill any liquid or have some seep out of the tip of your cartridge, clean it up with a cloth, mop or paper towel. If the spill is a big one, wear gloves and make sure you dispose of or clean whatever you use to soak it up responsibly.
If you’re throwing away a juice-sodden paper towel, put it in a zip-lock bag first so nobody will accidently come into contact with it, and make sure any cloth or mop you use is thoroughly washed afterwards.
If you get any on your skin, rinse it off immediately and clean the affected area (in e-liquid form, it takes a little longer for nicotine to absorb into your skin, so your exposure will be minimal if you clean it off quickly).
Additionally, if you’ve spilled e-liquid on a surface, clean it with soapy water and keep children and pets away from it until it’s dried.
Caution is the name of the game when it comes to nicotine, so the best advice is to not take chances. Leaking e-cig cartridges and drip-tips can be avoided much of the time, and it’s always worth going a little overboard when it comes to cleaning up spills!