Objectives: To determine the effect of applied power settings, coil wetness conditions, and e-liquid compositions on the coil heating temperature for e-cigarettes with a "top-coil" clearomizer, and to make associations of coil conditions with emission of toxic carbonyl compounds by combining results herein with the literature.
Methods: The coil temperature of a second generation e-cigarette was measured at various applied power levels, coil conditions, and e-liquid compositions, including (1) measurements by thermocouple at three e-liquid fill levels (dry, wet-through-wick, and full-wet), three coil resistances (low, standard, and high), and four voltage settings (3-6 V) for multiple coils using propylene glycol (PG) as a test liquid; (2) measurements by thermocouple at additional degrees of coil wetness for a high resistance coil using PG; and (3) measurements by both thermocouple and infrared (IR) camera for high resistance coils using PG alone and a 1:1 (wt/wt) mixture of PG and glycerol (PG/GL).
Results: For single point thermocouple measurements with PG, coil temperatures ranged from 322 ‒ 1008°C, 145 ‒ 334°C, and 110 ‒ 185°C under dry, wet-through-wick, and full-wet conditions, respectively, for the total of 13 replaceable coil heads. For conditions measured with both a thermocouple and an IR camera, all thermocouple measurements were between the minimum and maximum across-coil IR camera measurements and equal to 74% ‒ 115% of the across-coil mean, depending on test conditions. The IR camera showed details of the non-uniform temperature distribution across heating coils. The large temperature variations under wet-through-wick conditions may explain the large variations in formaldehyde formation rate reported in the literature for such "top-coil" clearomizers.
Conclusions: This study established a simple and straight-forward protocol to systematically measure e-cigarette coil heating temperature under dry, wet-through-wick, and full-wet conditions. In addition to applied power, the composition of e-liquid, and the devices' ability to efficiently deliver e-liquid to the heating coil are important product design factors effecting coil operating temperature. Precautionary temperature checks on e-cigarettes under manufacturer-recommended normal use conditions may help to reduce the health risks from exposure to toxic carbonyl emissions associated with coil overheating.