Vaping has become a trending alternative to conventional smoking methods, particularly among younger smokers.
Not only is it a shockingly healthier option, but this throwaway e-cigarette allows nicotine users to experience distinct flavors, thus adding to its popularity.
But disposable vapes have something cigarettes don’t, and it’s not always a good thing.
A disposable vape will only get you stopped at every secured entry point you meet.
Well, that’s where I come in.
As a self-proclaimed metal detector enthusiast, I’ll introduce you to the beautiful world where disposable vapes and metal detectors collide.
So, keep reading, and you’ll get all the answers you want.
Can Metal Detectors Detect Disposable Vapes?
In a rush?
I’ll be straight with you upfront. But if you want to truly understand how disposable vapes react around metal detectors and what you can do about it, don’t stop here.
The answer to your question is a complex one.
It’s possible that your disposable vape can go through a metal detector without setting it off, but it’s not a given.
Your success comes down to the amount of metal in your vape and the sensitivity level set on the metal detector.
What Is a Disposable Vape?
To understand why metal detectors can’t detect disposable vapes 100% of the time, you have to know the inner working of your vape.
So let’s begin with some general background details.
Disposable vapes are battery-operated devices that heat a nicotine-containing liquid to produce an aerosol vapor.
They’re developed to give you a satisfying nicotine taste with half the harmful chemicals in smoking tobacco.
The nicotine liquid in disposable vapes is stored in a small cartridge or cart and comes in various flavors, which is one of the reasons they are so popular.
In fact, a University survey found that of the students who currently smoked, 86.1% preferred using a vape.
As for the disposable variety…the one-time intended use makes them less costly and accessible, as you don’t have to recharge them or replace the internal coils.
Each lithium-ion battery in disposable vapes comes with enough charge for about 400 puffs (give or take), after which you should throw it away.
Granted, this can change depending on the model. For instance, Elf Bar disposable vapes allow an average of 600 puffs.
Are Disposable Vapes Metal?
Each brand or style of vape is slightly distinct, and individual companies will use other materials like plastic or metal during manufacturing.
While many disposable vapes use plastic cartridges that a metal detector cannot pick up, their interior components are absolutely detectable.
But to know for sure, you’d have to consult your disposable vape’s manual or manufacturer to see which materials are used in its construction.
Some higher-end producers of vaping products choose to create carts made of zirconia ceramic.
What’s remarkable about zirconia ceramic is that it’s made to look like metal but won’t set off a metal detector.
So, if you’re using one of these, your odds of sneaking through a metal detector are far better.
But let’s get back to those metal components inside your disposable vape.
As I said, each disposable vape can vary in materials and parts.
Generally, the disposable vape parts made of metal inside the casing will be the battery, the atomizer, and the coil.
A disposable vape lithium-ion battery contains lithium metal, often found in cell phones, among other electronics.
Lithium which includes a little more than a tenth of a gram, is just one of the metals in a disposable vape.
The atomizer is what holds the e-liquid to create the smoking vapor. Often, the metals used to make an atomizer are a mixture of nickel, iron, and chromium.
And as for the coil that heats the atomizer, usually, stainless steel is utilized because of its conductive, heat-resistant properties.
How Do Disposable Vapes Work?
Disposable vapes differ from most reusable vapes because they have no button to activate the heating process.
Instead, disposable vapes are draw-activated, meaning the act of inhaling will trigger the battery to power up the coil and heat the e-liquid in the atomizer.
You throw the disposable vape away when you’ve used up all the e-liquid, but do your best to dispose of it safely.
There’s still some chemical residue inside that you don’t want leaking out.
Can a Disposable Vape Go Through a Metal Detector?
Congrats! Now you’re better informed about how disposable vapes work and what materials are used to make them.
So let’s apply all that info to metal detectors and their operation.
Here’s the deal…
The answer is, unfortunately, more complex than you might hope. Metal detectors work by detecting metal objects.
Specifically, they detect a change in the electromagnetic field created by a disturbance from the metals’ conductive properties, leading to an audible alert.
If you’re looking for a deeper explanation, head to my article on the various metals a metal detector can detect.
Uncertainty about disposable vapes getting through a metal detector, with or without setting it off, comes from the size and type of their metals.
A vape is relatively small, and the metal parts inside a vape are even smaller.
Have you ever been to an event and set off a metal detector just by the zipper of your overcoat?
What about getting into an amusement park but being delayed by security and their handheld wand?
Is that some hidden body jewelry?
In actuality, this rarely ever happens. But why?
A metal detector is purposefully calibrated so small metal objects aren’t picked up.
Otherwise, metal detectors would go off all day long, making it difficult for security professionals to do their job.
More metal would be required to hit that threshold on a metal detector that triggers the alarm.
Although not much metal, but enough electrically conductive material to alter the magnetic field.
So, along with your vape, you might have a cell phone or lighter in your pocket. That has a good chance of being detected.
In the end, I’ll go back to the beginning.
A disposable vape can go through a metal detector and remain hidden, but that scenario depends on the present metal consistency and a device’s responsiveness.
How Do You Hide a Vape With a Metal Detector?
First, I’ll say that I don’t support or even recommend secretly trying to hide a vape from a metal detector.
Whether it’s a school, concert, festival, or someplace else, you should believe there’s a good reason your vape is prohibited.
Plus, it takes work to get by a machine built by brands at the top of their industry.
While the metal parts in a vape are small enough to avoid detection, you can’t rely on that working every time.
But with that said, here are a few ways you could theoretically hide a disposable vape from a metal detector:
- Getting through a metal detector should be easy if your disposable vape uses a zirconia ceramic or plastic cartridge.
- If there is a cart made of metal in your vape, try to remove it and store it separately from the rest. This attempt may not work since the detector could still detect the lithium battery.
- A strategy used a lot is to tuck your disposable vape inside your shoe. You can hope the magnetic field doesn’t stretch to the floor. Although, if you think you’re in for a pat-down, you should try something different.
- What metal is your disposable vape made of? You might be lucky if it’s stainless steel. Stainless steel is not as conductive as other metals, making it harder for a detector to find.
Most importantly, a disposable vape by itself will have a good shot of going undetected if your other metal property (belt buckle, cell phone, keys) isn’t on you.
So do yourself a favor and remove any metal before you walk through a metal detector.
Will TSA Confiscate My Vape?
Another way to try and get a disposable vape through a metal detector (if at an airport) is to keep it in your carry-on luggage and declare it to a TSA agent.
This is the best and safest way to go about it, as the TSA does not prohibit carrying disposable vapes as long as you follow special instructions.
That’s right. If it’s airport security you’re worried about, don’t be.
The TSA may take out your vape from your bag or request it from your pocket so they can inspect it, but it’s doubtful they would keep it from you.
Believe it or not, the TSA’s official stance on disposable vapes is that they are not restricted if you keep them in your carry-on luggage during a flight.
So, what are the special instructions you need to follow?
You can read about them here, but you must take precautions against unexpected activation of your vape.
This includes placing your vape in a protective case and withdrawing the battery.
But since you usually can’t remove the battery of a disposable vape, keeping it secured in a separate receptacle will be enough.
If you’re traveling with multiple disposable vapes, the FAA asks that you keep them in independent plastic bags.
Can You Put a Disposable Vape in a Checked Bag?
Before you decide to hide your vapes in a sock and pack it, take a moment to consider the consequences.
Checked bags are screened without physical contact. However, they can still be searched by hand.
Officially, the TSA has the right to search your luggage. Your disposable vape might be found during a routine check if they do.
If your checked bag is inspected, you’ll find a notice inside from the Transportation Security Administration.
And after the disposable vape is found in your checked luggage, it will be confiscated by TSA, and you’d be subject to a fine.
I’m not saying you would be fined, but they’d have the right to impose one.
Breaking TSA rules can be punishable by a penalty of up to $13,669 per violation.
However, most of the time, your vape will only be confiscated.
These rules exist for checked baggage only because of flight safety.
You see, lithium-ion batteries have the potential to cause a fire or explosion if defective or exposed to heat.
And I don’t know about you, but fire is the last thing you want under the belly of a plane.
FAQs About Disposable Vapes and Metal Detectors
I know you’ve read a lot of misinformation about vapes and metal detectors.
Let me clear up some of your questions.
Why Do Disposable Vapes Explode?
The lithium-ion battery inside the disposable vape has the potential to explode if it excessively overheats.
Yes, your vape can explode, even on a plane.
Is it likely this will happen? No.
The probability of an explosion occurring on a plane because of a disposable vape are rare.
To be clear, it’s not the vape itself that is the problem, but the battery.
If a lithium-ion battery is defective or overcharged, it has the potential to overheat and explode.
Once the flammable liquid inside the battery is exposed to oxygen, the surrounding area is vulnerable to hazardous combustion.
For reference, between 2012 and 2017, four hundred different kinds of products powered by lithium batteries overheated or led to a fire in over 25,000 cases.
Will a Vape Pen Set Off a Metal Detector at a Concert?
A vape pen, like a disposable vape, will set off a metal detector at a concert because of the metal properties of its components and how they react to the magnetic field of a powered metal detector.
Granted, the metal detectors used at concerts aren’t as advanced as the ones you see at an airport. But they’re plenty capable of detecting a vape pen.
And that goes for both walk-through and handheld metal detectors.
Can You See Vape in an X-Ray at Airport?
TSA officials use cabinet x-ray machines at the airport to screen luggage for contraband, including successfully identifying vapes.
If you’re concerned about an x-ray seeing the vape in your pocket, don’t bother because x-rays are only used on luggage items, not passengers.
Instead, the TSA uses advanced imaging technology (AIT) to scan people as an alternative to the traditional walk-through metal detector.
I cover these AIT machines in more detail if you’re interested.
Will TSA Take My Vape if I’m Under 18?
TSA will not take your vape just because you are under 18.
The Transportation Security Administration is in charge of securing passenger safety, not upholding state and federal legislation that mandate the legal smoking age.
However, if you leave your vape inside your checked baggage, TSA could confiscate it for flight safety precautions.
How Many Disposable Vapes Can I Bring on a Plane?
The number of disposable vapes you can bring on a plane will range based on the airline company you fly with.
TSA summarizes the regulations of a single lithium-ion battery in a disposable vape.
According to their vaping device rules, each lithium-ion battery must not exceed 100 Wh (Watt-hour).
As for each airline and their limitation of disposable vapes you can bring on a plane, you’ll have to contact them for details.
I’ve checked with a few established airlines, like Delta, but they fail to identify the number of disposable vapes you can bring on a plane.
If you go by the FAA’s guidelines, as long as you have no intention of selling them, there is no set amount on lithium-ion batteries as long as they’re under the 100 Wh limit.
Disposable vapes are a rising trend in the smoking world.
But unlike standard cigarettes, vapes contain metals that different metal detectors can detect.
So, it’s no wonder they’d provoke multiple questions about going through a metal detector with a disposable vape in hand.
If there’s one thing you can take away from what I’ve shared, it should be that the chances of you setting off a metal detector with a disposable vape are a roll of the dice.
You can lower the odds in your favor by picking your vape carefully and being mindful of the other metals on your body.
But the one thing you can’t control is the metal detector’s acuity.
I hope you’ve gotten the answers you needed. If not, check my archive, as I cover other vaping topics related to metal detectors.
Until next time!