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By Dr. Dabber

Can Vapor Set Off a Smoke Alarm? What to Know - Dr.Dabber®

Can Vapor Set Off a Smoke Alarm? What to Know - Dr.Dabber®

Can Vapor Set Off a Smoke Alarm?

can vapor set off a smoke alarm - Dr. Dabber®

Oh, would you listen to that… your neighbor’s smoke alarm is going off again. They’re either attempting to cook, or they forgot to open a window while smoking a blunt. Perhaps you’re in the same boat. If it’s not your neighbor’s smoke alarm going off, it’s your own for the same reasons. As you probably already know, alarms and smoke detectors are designed to detect any particles of smoke in the air and alert everyone in the neighborhood (at least the immediate residents of the house or apartment) that there could potentially be a fire close by.

Some smokers wonder whether opting to vape instead of smoking indoors might lower the chances of the smoke alarm going off — which is a reasonable thought process. Vapor from electronic cigarettes or portable vaporizers is quite different from cannabis or traditional cigarette smoke. However, the fact of the matter is, vapor can set off a smoke alarm just like ordinary smoke can. This may be a disappointing fact to smoking and vaping enthusiasts but don’t worry.

The likelihood of vapor setting off your smoke alarm largely has to do with the type of smoke detector that’s installed in your home. There are also plenty of ways to vape indoors without setting off the smoke alarm (or, at the very least, you can lower the chances of this happening). Let’s explore the ins and outs of whether or not can vapor set off a smoke alarm.

How Do Fire Alarms & Smoke Detectors Work?

Before we dive into answering the question of whether or not vapor can set off a smoke alarm, let’s get into the exact science of how fire alarms and smoke detectors work. Most smoke detectors detect smoke particles in the air through the use of photoelectric sensors or a process called ionization. When smoke enters the detector, it disrupts the atmosphere, thus triggering a false alarm and waking up your neighbors.

Let’s take a look at the different types of smoke alarms below and how effective they are in terms of detecting vapor:

Photoelectric Smoke Detectors

photoelectric smoke detectors - Dr. Dabber®

This type of smoke detector uses a beam of infrared light as the trigger for the alarm to go off. When the smoke particles in the air get so thick that they interrupt this light beam, the photoelectric smoke detector senses the change and reacts accordingly. This type of smoke alarm is pretty sensitive (which is good, all things considered). However, a lot of people don’t realize that vapor can easily trigger a photoelectric smoke detector.

Even steam from a hot shower can set off this type of smoke alarm, which is certainly a bit of an inconvenience. That said, it’s better than an alarm that doesn’t go off at all when there’s the potential for a fire to start in your home.

Ionized Smoke Detectors

ionized smoke detectors - Dr. Dabber®

An ionized smoke detector works by shooting charged ions back and forth between the plates within the detector. Hey, if you feel like you’re back in tenth-grade chemistry class right now, you’re not alone. Anyway, this effect creates an electrically charged atmosphere, which allows the detector to identify the presence of smoke.

If enough smoke particles are floating around in the air to disrupt the flow of ions, the alarm will go off. It’s worth mentioning that this type of smoke detector tends to be less sensitive than the aforementioned photoelectric smoke detector. That said, it’s still possible for ionized smoke detectors to detect vapor, especially if the vapor happens to be dense enough.

Heat Detectors

heat detectors - Dr. Dabber®

Heat detectors are quite different from the two other types of smoke detectors mentioned here. Rather than detecting the presence of smoke or vapor, heat detectors are designed to respond to extreme changes in temperature. As you may have guessed, heat detectors are specifically made to identify exceptional rises in temperature.

For this reason, they tend to be used quite often in industrial kitchens, as it requires a whole lot of thick smoke or open flames to trigger a heat detector. In contrast to ionized smoke detectors and photoelectric smoke detectors, a heat detector is extremely unlikely to get triggered by vapor alone. It’s also highly unlikely that you have a heat detector installed in your home, so you may just want to put a pin in this one.

Which Type of Smoke Alarm Is Most Vulnerable to Vapor?

Photoelectric smoke detectors tend to be the most sensitive type of smoke detector in general, so it’s no surprise that these bad boys are more vulnerable to vapor than the other types of smoke alarms discussed above. Even your smallest puffs will likely disrupt the beam of infrared light and cause the alarm to start going off.

Ionized smoke detectors may also cause false alarms, especially if you blow your vapor directly at the detector (hey, it happens). This is far less likely, though, since ionized smoke detectors aren’t nearly as sensitive as photoelectric smoke detectors are.

How Can I Vape Indoors Without Setting Off the Fire Alarm?

Vaping has become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional smoking, but it can still, unfortunately, set off your smoke alarm, which is understandably frustrating for those who’ve made the switch from smoking to vaping. If you live in an apartment with shared walls, this can be an especially irritating problem — not just for you, but for your neighbors, too.

It’s okay if the smoke alarm goes off sometimes (after all, everyone makes mistakes), but there are thankfully plenty of ways to enjoy a good vape session without setting off a false alarm. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular indoor vaping tips and tricks below:

Blow the Vapor Outside

Instead of exhaling your vapor into the room, try opening the window and blowing it outside. This will cause the vapor to quickly disperse, so the concentration of particles shouldn’t trigger the smoke detector. Now, the idea of running to the window to blow your vapor outside every time you hit your vape pen or electronic cigarette may not sound like the most relaxing thing in the world, but you know what’s even less relaxing?

Having to deal with your smoke alarm going off for no reason. You can always just vape near the window or enjoy a session out on the back porch, too.

Invest in a Quality Vape Pen

It may also be a good idea to invest in a quality vape pen, like the ones over at Dr. Dabber. The highest quality vape pens come with adjustable airflow settings, and this can help you control the amount of vapor that gets produced. Sometimes, the issue is that you’re creating too much vapor at once during your sessions. If you have a particularly sensitive smoke alarm installed in your home, we’d recommend investing in a vape pen or e-cigarette of higher quality.

Clean Your Vaping Device Regularly

Not many people know this, but the residue that builds up in your vape device over time can cause the vapor it produces to be heavier. This, of course, will increase the likelihood of setting off your smoke alarm. It’s good practice to clean your vaping device regularly anyway, but reducing the chances of setting off your alarm should give you a good reason to do so. Not only will it help prevent false alarms from happening, but it should also improve how your vape pen performs (as well as how long it survives).

Rearrange Your Living Space

This method might not work so well if your smoke alarm happens to be smack in the middle of the room, or if the room you typically vape in is relatively small; but if you have a lot of space to work with, simply blowing your vapor away from the alarm could prevent false alarms from happening. If you frequently find yourself setting off the smoke alarm during your vape sessions, you might want to rearrange the layout of the room you vape in.

For example, if you usually like to vape on the couch — but the couch is located directly below the smoke alarm — it would probably be a good idea to move the couch to the other side of the room if you can.

Blow the Vapor Away From the Smoke Alarm

You should also try to direct your exhales away from the smoke detector if you’re able to. This might seem like common sense, but it’s not something most people tend to think about, especially when they’re excited about getting their vape on after a long day of work. If you’re able to blow your vapor in the opposite direction of your fire alarm, the vapor will more than likely dissipate before it reaches the detector. You can also try blowing your vapor into your shirt, as this might help to prevent it from floating around the room.

Final Thoughts: Vape Responsibly

We would highly encourage any smoker to take up vaping, as it’s a much healthier alternative. It also tends to be more discreet, but that doesn’t mean vapor can’t still set off smoke alarms. Having a vape session indoors with your friends is much less likely to set off your alarm than having a full-on smoke session under the smoke detector, but you should still take precautions.

If you can, try vaping near an open window or rearranging the furniture in the room you usually vape in to prevent false alarms from taking place. Your neighbors will certainly thank you, not to mention any roommates or furry friends you might have living with you!

Try to keep in mind that while vaping in your hotel room or airplane seat might be tempting, it’s probably not the best idea. Vaping isn’t likely to cause a fire in these situations (or in any situation) but vaping illegally is a great way to get fined, so we don’t recommend it.

As long as you’re able to be mindful while you vape, and keep your vaping sessions limited to relatively well-ventilated areas, you shouldn’t have too much trouble keeping the smoke alarm from making a lot of racket.

Frequently Asked Questions

how to vape responsibly - Dr. Dabber®

Will a Vape Set Off a Smoke Detector in a Hotel Room?

In general, yes. If you vape in your hotel room, it will probably set off the smoke alarm. Most hotels tend to have the most sensitive type of alarms installed because they don’t want people vaping or smoking in their rooms. You can, however, vape in a designated smoking area if that option is available to you.

Or, if you really must vape in your hotel room, you might be able to get away with doing it in the bathroom. If you don’t want to risk getting fined, however, it might be a better idea to go for a walk around the block and take your vape pen or e-cigarette with you.

That said, if it’s cold and rainy outside, you might not want to take a walk, in which case you can just… not vape for the night? Or, if that’s not an option, you can try the old shower-cap-over-the-smoke-detector trick. All you have to do is secure it with a rubber band, and it should prevent the alarm from going off… maybe.

In general, we wouldn’t recommend that you smoke or vape at all in your hotel room. Not only is it not the most considerate thing to do in the world, but if you get caught, you’ll almost definitely have to pay a hefty fine for it. You’ll be much better suited to booking a smoking room or simply going outside to vape.

Should You Vape on an Airplane?

No, you should not do this. There’s a reason smoking and vaping are against the rules on airplanes and sneaking a puff here and there while your aisle-mate sleeps ultimately isn’t worth it. As you can imagine, most airplanes are equipped with incredibly sensitive smoke alarms — both in the cabin and in the bathrooms.

If you disrupt the plane’s smoke detector by vaping, this could cause the plane to essentially go into emergency mode. It might even have to make an emergency landing, which your captain and fellow passengers will not be too happy about.

Could Vaping Cause a Fire?

If you enjoy vaping with a dry herb vaporizer, you might worry about the potential of starting a fire. Don’t worry, though, because the likelihood of a dry herb vape causing a fire is incredibly low. This is especially the case for convection vapors, as they heat the air around the herb to create vapor — so no actual burning or combustion occurs. Unlike smoking traditional cigarettes or smoking weed in a bong or pipe, dry herb vapes don’t create any smoke. Therefore, there’s not much to worry about in terms of starting a fire.

The main reason why dry herb vapes are so safe is that they have an enclosed heating chamber where you’re meant to load the herb. This heating element only comes into contact with the air and the herb itself, so there’s virtually no risk of your vaping device getting too close to anything flammable — like paper or clothing, to give a few examples.

When it comes to vaping, some people might worry about the possibility of the battery exploding, but this is honestly super rare. You should make sure that you're buying your vapes from a reputable source for sure, but in general, your phone or computer battery is more likely to explode than your vape battery is.

Should You Turn Off Or Disconnect Your Smoke Alarm While Vaping?

As tempting as it may be, you really shouldn’t turn off or disconnect your smoke alarm for any reason. While having your smoke alarm go off during a vape session can be annoying, you’ve got to keep in mind that your alarm is there to protect you. The last thing you want to do is disconnect your alarm before a vaping session only to forget to reconnect it after the fact.

You can tell yourself that you won’t forget to reconnect it, but if you’re smoking a dry herb vape, chances are, you’ll be too high to remember this particular responsibility (it happens to the best of us). You just never know what could happen, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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