Suppose you have an old disposable vape pen that you’ve just found in the back of a drawer. You’re not entirely sure how long it’s been there, but you’re certain that it’s been quite a while. Can you still use it? Do vapes expire?
The short answer to the question of whether disposable vapes expire is “yes” – all e-liquid is meant to be used within about a year of its manufacturing date. As to whether you can still use your old disposable vape, the answer is “maybe.”
If a disposable vape is more than a year old, it’s definitely safe to assume that your experience won’t be as good as it would have been when the device was new. That’s because e-liquid changes over time – something we’ll describe in greater detail shortly – and eventually becomes less pleasant to use. That’s why almost every product that contains vape juice – whether it’s a disposable vape, a bottle of e-liquid or something else – has an expiration date on its package.
If your old disposable vape is still in its original box, you can just look for a date. If the expiration date has passed, you can still use the device but probably won’t enjoy it very much. Since you’re reading this article, though, there’s a good chance that you’ve already removed the device from its box and thrown the box away – and in that case, you’re going to need a little more information.
So, is your old disposable vape still safe to use? Here’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about what happens when a vape gets old.
What Happens When the E-Liquid in a Disposable Vape Gets Old?
As a disposable vape age, the e-liquid in the device undergoes changes that affect the flavor and the nicotine. We’ll discuss the changes to the e-liquid’s flavor first.
The E-Liquid Degrades as a Disposable Vape Ages
The ingredients that give an e-liquid its flavor are volatile, which means that they’ll undergo molecular changes over time. We discuss this in greater detail in our article about the expiration of vape juice. In short, though, the changes that occur within an e-liquid’s flavor components cause some of those compounds to meld together and others to degrade into new compounds. People sometimes talk about this as a sort of “mellowing,” but what’s really happening is that the individual flavor notes are beginning to degrade away. Every vape juice has a peak, and that peak is always within about the first year of the e-liquid’s life. After that, the flavor profile will slowly degrade into a sort of generic unidentifiable sweetness.
The Nicotine Degrades as a Disposable Vape Ages
Nicotine is perhaps even more volatile than an e-liquid’s flavor compounds. If you have an older disposable vape that’s still sealed in its plastic or foil pouch and still in the original box, it’s protected from air and light and will probably still have much of its original potency if it isn’t too old. If you’ve removed the device from the package, though, the nicotine will degrade very quickly – even if the device is still less than a year old. If the nicotine in a disposable vape has undergone significant degradation, you may notice that it no longer has the throat hit it once did. You may also notice a slightly bitter flavor that wasn’t there before.
In summary, while there’s no reason not to use a disposable vape that’s a little past its best-by date, it definitely won’t taste the same and won’t be as satisfying as when it was new. If you can tolerate the degraded flavor, you should expect that you’ll need to vape more often in order to maintain the same level of satisfaction.
What Happens When the Battery in a Disposable Vape Gets Old?
Next, we’ll discuss what happens to the battery in a disposable vape as the device ages. A lithium-ion battery self-discharges in storage, which means that the energy stored in the battery dissipates over time even if it isn’t being used. The good news is that the typical self-discharge rate of a lithium-ion battery is usually about 2-3 percent per month, which means that even if the device is more than a year old, the battery probably still has plenty of life remaining. Plus, you can always recharge the battery if the device has that capability. If a disposable vape isn’t rechargeable and has been stored for so long that the battery no longer holds a charge, the device is probably so old that you wouldn’t have wanted to use it anyway.
If you have an old disposable vape with any outward sign of potential battery damage – the device is bulging, for instance, or it’s dented because you accidentally squashed it inside a drawer or stored something heavy on top of it – you should recycle it immediately and should not use it. Physical deformity is both a potential cause and a symptom of permanent internal changes within a battery. It’s a sign that the battery is no longer safe to use.
What’s the Best Way to Store a Disposable Vape?
Let’s suppose that you’ve found some disposable vapes on sale for a great price. You’d like to buy a large supply of the devices, but you also want some assurance that they’ll still be safe and enjoyable to use after you’ve stored them for a while. What’s the best way to store a disposable vape?
If you’re going to store a disposable vape for some time, the first thing you need to know is that the primary things that cause an e-liquid to degrade more quickly are exposure to heat, light and air. Since most disposable vapes are opaque, you probably won’t need to worry about light exposure but will need to worry about heat and air. Heat also increases the rate at which a lithium-ion battery loses its charge. Lastly, you’ll want to avoid any situation that could cause physical damage to the devices.
Protect Disposable Vapes from Air
To ensure that a disposable vape will last as long in storage as it possibly can, you always want to keep the device in its original package until you’re ready to use it. A disposable vape is usually sealed in a plastic or foil pouch, which provides protection from air and helps to ensure that the e-liquid in the device will degrade as slowly as possible. If you’ve broken the seal, you shouldn’t expect a disposable vape to last long at all in storage because the e-liquid is directly exposed to air.
In addition to the foil or plastic pouch, a disposable vape will often ship with a silicone plug in the mouthpiece. If you think there’s a chance that you might want to store a disposable vape for a while after opening it, you should keep the plug and replace it when you’re done using the device. The device’s vents will still allow the e-liquid to come into contact with the outside air, but using the plug will at least reduce the exposure somewhat.
Protect Disposable Vapes from Heat
Along with keeping your disposable vapes in their original packaging, it’s also important to maintain some form of temperature control if you’re going to be storing the devices for a while. The self-discharge rate of a lithium-ion battery will be slowest if the battery is stored in a cool environment. With that in mind, you don’t want to store disposable vapes in an environment such as a garage that might get hot during the day. It’s best to store the devices in an air-conditioned environment that you’d find comfortable.
Protect Disposable Vapes from Physical Damage
The last thing that you’ll need to think about if you’re going to store disposable vapes for a long time is how you’re going to ensure that there’s no risk of physical damage. You don’t want to store the devices in a place where they’re likely to be bumped or jostled, and you also want to avoid putting heavy items on top of them. A disposable vape’s box only offers a little protection, and it’s easy to squash the box – potentially damaging the device in the process – by adding just a little weight.
Check the Boxes for Expiration Dates
If you’re planning to store some disposable vapes for a while, the final thing that you need to do is check the boxes to see if they have expiration dates printed on them. If they do, you’re all set – you just need to use the devices before their expiration dates if you want to have the best possible experience. Remember that even if a disposable vape is stored perfectly, the device’s performance and flavor quality definitely won’t be the same after more than a year of storage as they were when the device was new. If the boxes don’t have expiration dates, make a note of when you purchased them and try to use the devices within a year.