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Introducing the E-Cigarette
Smokers who are trying hard to give up the dangerous habit now have the option of a new nicotine replacement therapy that gives them the experience and satisfaction of smoking without the harmful chemicals, the offensive odors and the humiliating sense of becoming social pariahs. The "burning" question, though, is the disposal of e-cigarette cartridges.
The E-cigarette is controversial because there aren't enough conclusive tests regarding its longterm safety, but users agree that it is the best aid they've tried in efforts to wean from their dependence on the so-called cancer stick.
The e-cigarette usually comes in three parts: the battery, the atomizer and the cartridge. The lithium ion battery looks like the part of the cigarette that contains the tobacco. The atomizer nestles between the battery and the cartridge that contains an absorbent material soaked in e-juice--the liquid nicotine solution. The cartridge is made to look like the filter of a cigarette and fits neatly into the atomizer.
When a smoker pulls on the cartridge, the e-juice reacts with the heat created by the atomizer, and with the help of energy from the battery produces steam. This steam mixes with the e-juice and enters the smoker's mouth as smoke, giving them the simulated feeling of pulling on a normal cigarette. Most e-cigarettes also have a light at the end of the battery that "smoulders" just as the tip of a cigarette would, giving the smoker the additional psychological crutch of the visual "feel" of an actual cigarette.
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The Cartridge and its components
The cartridge comes plugged with a small plastic tip and contains a polyester filling that is soaked with e-juice, or liquid nicotine. Although most people discard the cartridge after it dries up, it can be reused. You can buy the e-juice separately and use it in a drip method (similar to the way fountain pens were filled in the early part of the 20th century) to soak the "filter" for a few more uses before it needs to be trashed. However, you must take care to optimize the liquid and not over-fill the cartridge.
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Correct Disposal of E-cigarette Cartridges
When y ou have recycled your cartridges to the point when they cannot be further used, it is time for you to discard them. There is no doubt that e-cigarettes cause less pollution than the traditional cigarette--no harmful smoke in the atmosphere, no butts littering the ground, the waters and even inside the digestive tracts of birds and fish--however, some used e-cigarette parts need to be treated as electronic waste and discarded carefully.
The cartridge itself should be disposed of properly. Under no circumstances should the filler inside the cartridge be accessible to children and animals, as the nicotine in it may be dangerously toxic for them.
In order to ensure proper disposal of e-cigarette cartridges, you must:
- Take the filler material carefully out of the cartridge
- Wash it in running water until all the nicotine is washed off
- Wrap the filler in a scrap of biodegradable material before you trash it
- Wash the plastic cartridge under running water
- Plug it with the original plug
- Dispose of it as you would any other plastic waste
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All you need for the propar disposal of e-cigarette cartridges, thus, is running water, a piece of biodegradable material to wrap the polyfill in and a healthy concern for the environment.
Please do remember to reuse all the components of your e-cigarette for as long as you can and to discard the lithium ion battery, the charger and the atomizer just as you would any of your other electronic waste.
photo credits: author
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References and Resources
You can read the article at earth911.com/news/2010/12/15/are-e-cigarettes-better-for-the-environment/ for more information on e-cigarettes and their effect on the environment
The article on this website seems to suggest that e-cigarettes are a good idea because they deliver negligible nicotine to the smoker. You can read the complete article at www.healthline.com/blogs/smoking_cessation/2010/02/e-cigarettes-deliver-almost-no-nicotine.html
Cartridge disposal method based on author's experience