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Thread: The "dangers" of silica wicks

  1. #81
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    People have reactions to different things. I don't know why silica would be the culprit either. Glad you were able to have an enjoyable day of vaping today.


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    Yeah, it really depends on the person I think!

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    It's the "crunchy vape" many experience from time to time. I usually rinse my mouth and spit it out. I don't think the particles can get past mouth unless one draws directly in to the lungs. But even if they did, I'd say that it would take a life time of vaping to get an amount of silica in to the lungs compared to cutting piece of fibreglass like PCB board or something similar. That said, silica wick still looks scary to me.

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    Well said. Leave no stone unturned. Really sucks getting that dry hit when the tip was not enough.
    Quote Originally Posted by 100%VG View Post
    OK. Here's my

    There really aren't many things about an e-cig that shouldn't be of concern, and that concern increases as one advances into Mods... safe Batteries, safe Chargers, safe E-Liquids, safe Wicks, safe E-Liquid Tanks, safe Coil materials, safe... everything. I am absolutely not an alarmist, and I certainly don't say this to scare you (or anyone else), but the Safety Factor is of great concern to me. ECF has been a great resource of information, and I have researched every area of concern to me, and start new research every time I hear of something new to me. Many of those concerns have been debunked, and others have been minimized by finding the Safest Alternatives I could find. Silica Shards are nothing new to me.

    I see nothing wrong with Litcube wanting to investigate, and either confirm or dispel this Silica Wick concern to his satisfaction. I see nothing wrong with his stated motives. I actually applaud him, and anyone else who wants to do a Scientific Study. But there are right ways and wrong ways to do it. A good Scientist sets a thesis (like Silica Wicks can be Harmful), and then sets out to disprove it, by any and all means possible. If he/she can't disprove it, then it would be prudent to initiate further study into how any harm could be minimized. Another excellent Scientific Practice is that the same study is repeated by many Scientists, and possibly (hopefully) Scientists from various Disciplines, to take into account the various methods (and budgets) that may be available to some and not others. So while one particular Scientist may reach a conclusion, it doesn't become Gospel until that same conclusion has been reached throughout the Scientific Community. All done by people who fully understand what they're working with, in this case, e-cigs; the actual e-cig products and various designs, the actual use of e-cigs, and the practices of e-cigs users, under actual proper use conditions. While we wait...

    To me, the Safety Factor where Silica Wicks are concerned is actually how bad the Silica Shards might get when the Wick gets too Dry. A Wet Silica Wick will most likely not produce Shards, but the Dry Burn probably will. The majority of E-Liquid Storage Systems do not allow one to see how much E-Liquid remains available to the Atomizer, which IMO greatly increases the likelihood of a Dry Silica Wick, and therefore, a Dry Burn that is inhaled. This is why I insist on having a Clear Tank that I can easily see through. I currently use the Vivi Nova.

    Before anyone decides to attack me, let me say that I fully understand that as the E-Liquid supply runs out, the e-cig user is going to notice the Vapor and/or Flavor is fading. And understand this. When the Wick is soaked, the Coil cannot get hot enough to glow red, but as the Wick starts to get Dryer, either from the Supply running out, or from the Wick not being able to keep up with the user, as it continues, the Coil is going to start getting hotter and hotter in the middle, and as the E-Liquid Supply continues to be diminished, it will start glowing red in larger and larger proportions, potentially scorching the Silica Wick. Will the user notice the diminished performance before this happens? Can any of you say, absolutely, every time, 100% of the time? I really don't think you can.

    So Litcube, do your study, but do it well, and don't disappoint us. It has been pointed out that there are different Wicking Configurations between the available designs that incorporate Silica Wicks, and while it's important to study the Wet Wick, I think it's just as important to study the entire range of wicking situations, from Fully Wet, to Fully Dry, with small steps in between, and to learn at what point any Shards begin to be delivered into the Vapor Stream, if at all. And... if you're going to do it at all, then do it with as many Atomizer designs as possible, including Cartomizers of various designs, and the various Tank designs that use Silica Wicks, like the Vivi Nova, and others. Big Wicks (2-3mm diameters), Medium Wicks (1-2mm diameters), Skinny Wicks (less than or equal to 1mm diameters), Multiple Stand Wicks, in any and all Silica Wick compositions (there can't be only one type of Silica Wick on the market). Then, it would have to be considered that any Shards found coming from Cartomizers will have to be further studied to see if they are emitted from the Wick, or maybe the Fiberglass Tube (in some designs) that covers and feeds the Coil, or the Filler Materials.

    I have no doubt that you can create a situation where Shards can be released. It's already been done. But how does that relate to actual e-cig use?, in current Atomizer designs?, under normal usage situations? If it relates, then yet another area of study is required. It's also already been asked (considering the possibility that any Shards are released as related to e-cig use) if this would actually be enough to cause a problem, and if so, then over what kind of time frame. Yet another study. Though I'd be satisfied for the time being with an unbiased professional opinion, from someone who's an actual e-cig user, while we wait and wait for these studies.

    So, if this first kind of project is too big for you (let alone the continued follow-up studies), then maybe you should accept the previously established results and pass the torch to someone else. But don't let me stop you. Do what you can to satisfy your own curiosities.

    No matter what, we're better off with e-cigs than their traditional brethren. But that's me.

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    This a truly a great thread. Been lurking and searching, and my current conclusions are that silica wicks, because they are a glass, and thus by definition amorphous and not crystalline, are not at all likely to cause the lung illnesses that crystalline silica causes. The amorphous nature of silica glass allows small particles to be absorbed, essentially because the bonds in glass are not permanent, rather will simply fall apart in tissue, or else be coughed out. Crystalline silica has much more permanent bonds and structure, and are much more inert, and get stuck. The danger is not that it is silica, the danger is it is almost entirely inert, and the body does not know what to do with it chemically, and if it is not coughed out, it stays and can form a nodule. I do not think this is a problem for the vaping world. That said, wick particles when inhaled can be rather irritating and produce coughing.

    While I am looking into an RBA with either natural fiber wick or unoxidized SS wick, I use Boge LR cartos and DCTs exclusively now. Lately I have found that new cartos, which used to be the best vape I could get, now cause a lot of coughing, especially when first filled. At first I didn't correlate coughing with a new carto. I thought it was a flavor I was using. But then I started to find that rewashed cartos with the same juice did not produce coughing.

    It occurred to me that the filler material, like silica-based rope, is not necessarily washed of free fibers at production time. Yes, perhaps the hot coil does produce fracturing and shards, but maybe stray fibers are simply there already. So I did the experiment: filled a fresh carto, vaped, yep, coughing and throat tickle. I marked the carto, opened the rest of the box of 5, marked them, and washed them along with the rest of those that needed a bath. I do the boiling water, 15 minutes, drain, rise, repeat 5 or 6 times, method (works quite well for removing most gunk and juice).

    The improvement to the new cartos was dramatic. I would not say the irritation was zero, but it was maybe 1% of what it was before washing. This holds for my regular length Boge LRs, and also for my XL DC cartos for my tanks. Before washing, it was not good at all. So much better now, including much less phlegm from my all-VG juices, no more voice cracking at inopportune times, clearing the throat constantly, etc. I believe new cartos have a lot of silica (and maybe coil) particulate from production now when new, but clearly the majority of this can be boiled out.

    This particulate may well be the majority of what Pru Talbot found in that cartomizer study, that is, production-sourced particulates, rather than heat-produced particulate. To me this is a significant argument against those that would prefer we have only prefilled, tamper-proof, cartomizers. If possible, I won't use a brand new unwashed carto again. OT, but I also take issue with her use of the term "nano particle" since I doubt she has the experimental funds to actually identify particles at the nanometer scale (way smaller than any visible microscope can see). But that's another topic completely.

    I would like to see my washing experiment quantitatively duplicated. I don't know if this is something people have found with the silica wicks used in RBAs, but it seems the fear of possible silica health issues has pushed most towards a non-silica wick material. I personally am enjoying my carto vapes much more now.
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    Well, besides, did anyone say or does anyone claim that vaping is healthy? No. But it certainly is much less damaging to my body than cigarettes. And that's good enough for me for now.
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    Forgive me for jumping pages here, but I have to break down this comparison. The reason that wet asbestos isn't dangerous is because when wet it doesn't become an airborne particulate that one would breathe into the lungs. Though the silica wicks may be wet, this doesn't satisfy the same safety standard as wet asbestos because we are in fact breathing the vapor that comes directly off of the wet wick.

    Amirite?

    Quote Originally Posted by RobertY View Post
    Mmm... I would put this in the same category as stripping and having to rewax asbestos containing floor tile.
    Huh? You say what has this got to do with that? I have to say that I am no expert in this field, but in a way it looks similar to me.
    I spent many many years as a school custodian, then head custodian, then custodial supervisor. Many of the schools had the older asbestos containing floor tile. It is a very expensive process to have the tiles replaced and has to be done by professional crews. But the school system was having them replaced as they could afford to.
    Now here is the indirect correlation. Asbestos while in the tile is not dangerous. What/when makes the asbestos dangerous is when it becomes airborne. Then it is dangerous and a known carcinogen. The floors still had to be taken care of and kept waxed. Waxing helped seal the asbestos in, plus of course gives you that nice shine. Wax yellows with age so stripping and rewaxing is a given. The key to safety was while stripping with a buff machine it was important to keep the floor tile WET. If wet, the asbestos cannot become airborne to become a danger. You keep it wet even while rinsing and cleaning the stripping solution off. Then with the machines off the floor area being done you let it dry. Then you immediately apply new coats of wax using a mop, keeping the heavy machinery away. Keeping the tile WET is the key.
    I hope I have not lost anyone with my analogy. But by my thinking are you not keeping the wicks wet? Does not that help with keeping the shards from becoming airborne? Would the majority of the shards remain suspended in the liquid and gotten rid of when you rinse your carto out?
    If a study is ever done they would need to do it properly as someone pointed out. Do NOT test the wicks. But the vapor itself. Of course if you break a DRY wick apart it becomes friable and airborne. Test the VAPOR only with the cartos with liquid in it with the wicks wet.

    Just something for peeps to think on and my two cents.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mjolnir07 View Post
    Forgive me for jumping pages here, but I have to break down this comparison. The reason that wet asbestos isn't dangerous is because when wet it doesn't become an airborne particulate that one would breathe into the lungs. Though the silica wicks may be wet, this doesn't satisfy the same safety standard as wet asbestos because we are in fact breathing the vapor that comes directly off of the wet wick.

    Amirite?
    You are right, but in addition, asbestos particles are crystalline and relatively inert, similar to crystalline silica, and thus can create nodules and further disease. Silica glass does not seem to have these properties, but it can be quite irritating.

    As for the other comment about ecigs being less damaging to the lungs, and that is good enough, great, glad that is good enough for you! There are a great number of people here, however, that are very interested in the possible risks from vaping, and how to minimize them. This includes wick materials, flavors, PG vs VG, wattage, battery health, etc. I personally have never seen such a massive focus on new technology development, especially one that is essentially a chemical engineering problem. I often wonder how much chemistry some people here have learned from just getting involved with the details of vaping. Gotta love chemistry!
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    Math becomes rather important too. especially when you are trying to figure out how much nicotine to add from a bottle that contains enough of the stuff to kill a horse in seconds.

    And just to recap. The chances of getting Silicosis from silica wicks is Zero (or a number so close to zero that it might as well be zero). This has been the primary concern of vapers who are leary of using a silica wick. Non-permanent minor lung irritants from silica particles are not really high priority issues to someone who has the better part of a pound of tar in his or her lungs from 30 years or more of smoking.
    Last edited by PLANofMAN; 04-10-2013 at 07:12 AM.


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    Quote Originally Posted by PLANofMAN View Post
    Non-permanent minor lung irritants from silica particles are not really high priority issues to someone who has the better part of a pound of tar in his or her lungs from 30 years or more of smoking.
    But what about a person who has been vaping for nearly four years?
    Such a person (myself) has no more tar in their lungs.

    And what if that person has been using nothing but standard 510 atomizers the whole time?
    Such a person (myself) would like to continue using said atomizers, given that he has about 65 of them left.

    I want to know if I am doing damage to myself using these atomizers.
    And that is why this thread is important to me.

    I have tentatively concluded that I probably am not doing any damage, thanks to this thread.
    But I will continue to watch any further developments, since my life is somewhat important to me.

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