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I can't believe how these things have taken off. The streets are covered in discarded packets and the sealed inner sleeves. (Glycol is extremely hygroscopic, so they have to be shipped in an airtight pack.)
Aside from the ones I harvested from the streets of Glasgow, I also bought some others to check out their cell capacity. There are some very nice rechargeable cells in some of them.
Once I get back to my usual workshop I'll be doing some capacity tests on them.
Update - the cells all took a full charge.
I did notice that the number of discarded units was much lower than the discarded wrappers, which makes me think that technically inclined people may already be harvesting the lithium bounty from the roadside. (I can't resist scanning the ground for them.)
If you're doing the future-dystopian thing and harvesting these to reuse then I recommend thoroughly sterilising the mouthpiece, it's pad of moisture trapping material and also the outer tube. Then refill with a commercial liquid of your choice or just plain glycerol/glycerin/glycerine (three names - same thing) for maximum theatrical fog with no unknown additives.
If reusing the lithium cells they will need to be recharged properly, which means limiting the current to around 500mA for most and capping the charge voltage to 4.2V max. The classic TP4056 type PCB is perfect for this, although many items that already use lithium cells will have that charge circuitry built in.
I've tested several cells and they took a full charge, suggesting they are fresh cells and quite good quality. Not a surprise in the high turnover and high current application.
The larger brands of these products appear to be bracing themselves for a potential environmental backlash by offering similar units that use a rechargeable cell with replacement pods.
If you enjoy these videos you can help support the channel with a dollar for coffee, cookies and random gadgets for disassembly at:-
http://www.bigclive.com/coffee.htm
This also keeps the channel independent of YouTube's advertising algorithms allowing it to be a bit more dangerous and naughty.
#ElectronicsCreators

This video is a follow-up video to one i did earlier on showing how you can reclaim lithium cells fully rechargeable lithium cells from these items that are discarded on the streets of well every big city. I was really stunned when i came to glasgow first. I noticed that the packages that come in when people buy these things, i can't actually name them because youtube does not like their original intent purpose. But when you buy these devices they just the people buying them just throw the box into the gutter.

They just they were everywhere and then once they've got their device, they open up, take it out to use it and they just discard the foil as well, and then they discard the little silicone cap and then off. They go on their merry way with their vapor. So um i came across initially on. Like the first couple of days, i came across three.

This pink one had been thrown out of a car window and was lying um at the side of the road. This one, i think it was - was lying in a planter at the train station and this one was lying on the ground at park. I'm not sure how safe it is if a dog gets hold of these and actually manages to open them. I'd be more worried about the chemical that's used in these that they're the reason people use them, but anyway, let's get straight to the chase.

I'll show you what's inside these and how to reclaim that cell now i found that many of these are quite difficult to open, but it varies. Ideally, you want to take this end cap off and then take this one off and the best way i've found for the mouth end is to just do. This apply a bit of pressure, alternative sides until it comes off, and what you actually have, then is the mouthpiece with a little absorbent wick material in this can be sterilized if you want to use it for its intended application. This was much harder depends on the type, but you generally a spudger would be in handy.

I don't have a spudger here, but you can also use a pair of pliers rather destructively it's going to chew up, but if you're just getting the lithium cell and that doesn't matter, but you want to just wiggle it until it actually comes out. You could technically speaking, refill these if you wanted, let me shove a screwdriver up the end of this. Oh, that's not going to fit to shove the contents out, so here's the the bounty that we're looking for this is a generous 550 milliamp hour lithium cell. That is just a gold because uh these things tend to they use them and then they're disposable, which is shocking for something with a rechargeable cell, but they quite often have a a fair bit of charge.

It doesn't take them too low. It certainly doesn't go beyond the point. The cell is likely to be unhappy about it, so the actual circuitry, it's all condensed down in here into this tiny little thing. It looks like a microphone, but it's actually a dedicated chip and pressure sensor, and it does everything it drives a little led in the back of it to make it of light up and show statuses and when it's run out the batteries running low, but also detects The person inhaling through this to actually uh turn the mosfet on that brings on a heater in this and i'll show you the construction of these.

When you want to recharge these, you can either i mean if you're just wanting up the battery, you can take it out completely and and then de-solder the wires, because they've got little tabs on them that are solderable but as supplied in the unit. And supposing you were wanting to reuse it for its original intended purpose? There's a bit of captain tape over each end for insulation, sometimes a little foam pad, and i made a charger based on the classic tp4056 charging module. If you go on ebay and you search in usb tp4056, you will find just tons of these either just the dedicated chip in its own, or sometimes the protection mosfet as well, which is really good in the chip. The dw01.

The one thing you may have to do with this: by default, they tend to come with something like a 1.2 000 ohm programming resistor. For setting the current that's about an amp. I prefer charging lithium cells at their uh at 1c, which is their basically the rate capacity. So, in the case of this one, i changed it to a 2.2 k resistor to bring it down to 500 milliamps.

The battery itself may have tape rounded to indicate the volt the which end is positive, which is negative. I think that's mainly aimed at the factory workers, and you can stick your crocodile clip on carefully making sure you don't short things out. If it's not get the tape in it double check anyway, by uh looking at the markings in the battery and you'll usually find that something like uh. It may be marked with a plus and minus symbol.

At each end, once you have connected your little recharging device grab yourself a usb connector plug it in, and this cell is now being recharged and it will terminate when it gets to about uh 4.2 volts. Well, i should hopefully terminate when it gets to 4.2 volt. You don't want to go in much higher and that will basically re-activate the cell and uh. Well, you can use it in your own projects or you could then use it for its intended purpose by refilling it.

This liquid is getting everywhere. This is something i've refilled. It with it's not noxious, it's not nasty like the original stuff. I've got another thing with these they're they're coming from china and they've got flavorings absolutely engulfing flavorings in them.

That are just like, basically airborne candy and i'm kind of concerned that the the chemicals they're using to do that, because many traditional devices and the little refill bottles of liquid you get have quite a coarse sensation. These do not have that core sensation. Are they using some sort of anesthetic for the lungs? It just seems odd, god, that's absolutely stinking the place. The whole place is stinking with my experiments.

It smells like a fruit factory exploded right. Okay, if you had a say, you had a solar rechargeable light that you wanted to put one of these cells in as an alternative to the original cell in it that had failed or you wanted to use it in a head torch. Keep in mind that these by default, don't come the little protection circuit board so make sure whatever device you use it in does have the charge regulation circuitry. That will limit the current and stop at 4.2 volts.

Let's take a look inside some other ones. While this is charging not that i'm really gon na, let it charge all the way during the video, because that could take some time depending the current state of charge. Here's another version called drag bar and when you pull it out, this one has a smaller capsule and a very ungenerous battery. It's one of the least generous batteries, a lot 400 milliamp hour.

Having said that, if you want a 400 milliamp hour battery, that is quite good. This was quite hard to open, very destructive opening, but then again, if you're, just looking for the batteries, that's fine. This smok novo bar is quite interesting in that it's no glue. It's entirely friction fitted, i mean these ones are friction fitted as well, but they're really pressed and hard.

This one is a very interesting construction and it's the first of these ones with the flat cell, so this one is marked 1.81 watt hour. A rough guide to that 1.81 watt hour, divided by the mid-range voltage say 3.6 means it's going to be about 500 milliamp hour, so a useful capacity um this one. The construction is the same, but it's just a rectangular as you may notice, and it uses that uh rectangular cell, i'm not sure. Ultimately, the shaper cell you choose you want, is going to be determined by your application other devices.

This is where it gets really huge. This one, if i pop the end off this, is unusual if i slide the guts out of this one, which opens in roughly the same way it's a much higher capacity, but look at the size of that cell, that is a 1.5 amp hour cell. That's huge, and likewise the actual reservoir in it is massive as well. These things are designed to last longer, i'm not sure, they're totally compliant with uk regulations.

I'm not sure why the regulations limit the the capacity of such things, but this one here the sensor just pops out easily and it shows the little microphony type thing. It's not actually like fun. It's a little membrane switch and it's got a little led in the back as well. Very neat, very clever uh compression of the design, but that's a very good sell, the other one i got just because i really wanted to know what rye bread taste.

Why would they even make this? This is partly because they're coming from china, some of their flavors, are pretty odd and this one tastes like someone described it as rice pudding. I couldn't place it toasted rice pudding. Why does that? Why is it called rye bread? Why would you even sell something called rye bread in the uk in this form, but again this contains that very useful uh, 1.5 amp hour cell 1, 500 milliamp hour not to be sneezed at. Let's talk about these little capsules here and if you're wanting to reuse them for theater applications, for instance.

So here is the construction of these. The clear body has a silicon end cap in each end, these silicone end caps. Here i could just pull this out. Couldn't i to reveal it what's inside that little wick thing this is going to make another mess and then this absorbent material here the silicone end caps, have a little spigot or hole to hold in place.

A fiberglass sleeve the fiberglass sleeve is that typical woven fiberglass you'd normally find as a protection across a high temperature wires and uh about halfway down. That is a little hole with a diagonal line going up and the reason for the diagonal line is because they sit into that hole. A heater wire that looks like this heater wire with a little bond a little spot weld and then thin, uh beer, wire tails. Coming off, and in the middle of that is something like a sort of cotton wicking material that then gets squished over the side against the other padding material in here, the actual liquid holding material, and these wires then go down and they go through the silicone base And they're usually glued in place.

They are in this one they're glued in place. Another thing they do is want to stop that opening up or just to stop it snagging when they put the outer sleeve down. They slide another little sleeve of the material down the fiberglass material over that just to close up that little v-shape that little slot that lets them hook. The filament in it's quite interesting construction.

It's evolved greatly. The material around here is the wicking material. There's no loose liquid in these things, it's all soaked into that material and, technically speaking, if you recharged it like these ones, you could then get bottles of completely safe, none material. You could actually put just drizzle this in to make that soak that again or if you wanted a really good visual effect, you could actually use just pure glycerin, which is available from the local pharmacy.

This is from boots and that produces a thick fog, but without any of the chemical flavorings and without any of the other special chemicals. Anything else worth saying about these, not really just if you see them lying in the street uh pick them up, because i mean it just. I can't believe how widespread they are now i mean these are just everywhere. It just seems to have taken off i'm guessing.

It is the fact that they are using such strongly flavored materials in them, but that's a a handy source for these little lithium cells. I mean they seem to be decent cells. They can put a lot of current because they have to pour a lot of current to actually power a heating element in these. Oh, how does the heat element actually make the fog um, glycols and glycerin are hygroscopic.

They always have a certain element of water in them the water bowls faster at a lower temperature than the glycols and the glycerin, so that when the heating element heats up, the water boils and because it's mixed through it at a sort of like molecular level, it Shatters the glycol into lots of tiny droplets with the other elements, the flavors things and that's what creates the fog effect. So when you actually see this, it's not smoke, that's coming out. It is uh just a fog of tiny droplets, just like actual airborne fog, but there we go it's a useful source of cells. I did notice, though, for the number of rappers i saw knocking about.

I did not see as many of these are people putting them in the bins afterwards are, are other people picking them up from the side of the street. There's that certain element of blade runners to them that you know it's the future - and these are like these chemical sticks that people are partaking of, and i could see people pick them up the side of the street and recharging them with their own chemicals um. But they're quite unusual, very refined product dirt, cheap and ridiculous that they're just being basically bought and then discarded after a single use, when that cell could take many more charges.

18 thoughts on “More free street-lithium reclamation”
  1. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Maya Posch says:

    Absolutely disgusting that these disposable units exist and are so carelessly thrown out along with their packaging.

    Grateful for Clive and others demonstrating how easily the batteries in them can be reclaimed, and the rest (hopefully) responsibly recycled.

  2. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars MojoRadio says:

    I don't get why you would want to recharge one of these horrible plastic vapes when you could just spend a bit more on a good quality one and not have to pick up other people's trash that they sucked on. 😛 Probably an extra bad idea during Covid.

  3. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars twocvbloke says:

    Either they're not popular round here, or there are other people picking them up, cos I've yet to see any discarded, though I think if I were to salvage them they'd go into a plastic bag for later sterilisation, just cos you never know what germs are on them (especially the pandemic one)… :S

  4. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars FvckYoutube'sCensorshipAndTheirAdBuyers UseAdblock says:

    With the things I use lipos for (mostly powering 100kW+ inverters and dc-dc converters that provides power levels that you can't simply get from a wall outlet, and backup 120/240ac power when not used for that) I doubt I'd trust random mystery cells with unknown esr's and actual capacities. I normally use new 15AH ones in parallel and 32 in series (120vdc). Doing that with 30x more cells (thousands instead of hundreds) would be a pain for multiple reasons (matching and binning the cells/more complex internal battery layout and bms wiring, etc), far more than saving $400 per 32s 15AH in cells. Also tiny ones like those are usually only rated at maybe 3C (1.5A) and the 15AH ones I use are rated 20C/300A, so in fact I'd have to parallel not 30x but 200x of them, not at all ideal for size and weight (like maybe 5x more than the current ~8kg) even if I could gather that many.

  5. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Tim Sutton, Lovin Life says:

    It’s disgusting the amount of these things that are just thrown on the floor! You can literally stand next to any bin in my town, turn around 360 and spot them lying all over the place!! I think because it’s connected to smoking cigarettes when we finish a cigarette we naturally just flick it somewhere or drop it and stand on it to put it out so psychologically when the battery runs out we just throw it away ANYWHERE! I I ever see these from now on I’m going to collect all the batteries and make a power storage unit

  6. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Humanist Writing says:

    Hot tip, put playback speed to 1.25x and it sounds like Clive has absorbed too much of the desired chemical from the original use of these free lithium batteries..
    😅
    (Edit: dyslexic misspell)

  7. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars kingofcosmos says:

    Maybe the ones that are less harsh on the throat are Vegetable Glycerin or at least a higher percentage of it. Or something more exotic like PEG which should be sort of safe too. But honestly I would never put anything made by a sketchy Chinese manufacturer in my body (especially long term). Also menthol works to do that numbing stuff too (also in cigarettes) but you would probably notice that pretty easily.

  8. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars MoseyingFan says:

    Here in Gothenburg, Sweden, I suspects they are aware of the battery inside as I have found several that someone jumped onto, trying to puncture the battery.

  9. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Mark Pitt says:

    Amazed and disappointed that the design is literally to chuck a perfectly good battery away after a single use, worst still is people just discard batteries on the street.
    A note about charging using a TP4056, taking a load (ie using the cell to drive a circuit) while charging the battery with this chip defeats the protection so the chances are it wont switch off when capacity is reached as under load it gives a false reading. You should use a load sharing circuit if you plan to use the device while plugged in to charge, risk of overcharging is a possibility.

  10. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Aurthor Thing says:

    The homeless problem in my area is so bad…. our goodwill and resale shops are picked clean.
    I live near a university and at the end of each semester the students would toss EVERYTHING in the dumpsters and I could find treasures. Now there are people with trucks and trailers waiting to grab everything and sell it at yard sales or scrap yards.

  11. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars andymouse123 says:

    I too have been finding these and taking the cell's out, at first it was a bit of a novelty but now its getting fucking silly as they are everywhere and I'm in a medium sized town, if I see somebody chucking one their gonna get a torrent of expletives or if they are smaller than me a boot wrapped round the heid….cheers.

  12. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Sarg Fowler says:

    You got me started doing this! I've picked up a few so far and quite pleasantly surprised at what's inside. Just need to think of something to make with all the batteries!

  13. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Steve Fox says:

    I found one of the first type taken apart here and the device had cut off from low battery rather than being empty. when i checked the battery voltage it was at 3.05v so they will take the batterys right down to the low charge limit but just about within tolerances.
    i charged the cell on my big charger and it put 602mah into it so the claimed capacity is actually genuine for a change!

  14. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Janus Kobain says:

    I tried these batteries as makeshift power supply for powering small DIY projects temporarily, and they work really well.
    I wonder what's the catch.

  15. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Janus Kobain says:

    In these PoD devices, they put salt nicotine; and it limits the variety of flavourings to those which are compatible with nicotine salts; therefore, you won't have random (and rubbish) chemicals in them.

  16. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars beartastic says:

    Would be nice if you showed adding a thermistor to the pin 1 on TP4056 to also monitor the battery temperature. Depending on layout of the module its not too hard

  17. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Janus Kobain says:

    I have salvaged more than ten cells from such devices. My friend is sure the Chinese put in them cells which can't be as reusable as a proper rechargeable Lithium battery is.
    Also, the only other thing that can be actually salvaged from the circuit is the tiny SMD LED on it, it's possible to desolder it with a generic soldering iron (I succeeded with that), if you want to. And a switch, in case it's a dual-flavour vaping stick.

  18. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Novashadow115 says:

    Im an apartment maintenance technician, I clean these off the parks and roads every freaking day and I hate it. MAkes absolutely no sense. Why would you waste your money on a product that you just have to throw away? Fucking buy a normal cigar at that point. You buy a smoking device and yet you cant refill it, you cant recharge it, so you cant re-use it? Ive heard some of these jerks says its for convenience but I cant believe them or take that seriously. Convenience? Its convenient to throw your trash all around the city and to waste 30 bucks every week? Why cant these people buy ACTUAL refillable products? The market has tons of low cost options for e-cig devices, yet these kids keep wasting their cash I guess, more like their parents cash

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