Nasty NiCr

Scientists have found a new scare to monger.

This time it’s NiCr as coil material they claim to cause lung damage. There are a lot of omissions that cast doubt on the scientific quality of this latest click-bait.

First of all, it’s not a proper peer-reviewed study, but just an article raising alarms based on conjecture.

On the other hand, the peer-review process has shown itself to be not fit for the task on the subject of vaping. Time and time again it failed to weed out obvious junk before it was published. Maybe it’s time to involve people from outside these scientific echo chambers.

Press release

It begins with the press release. As seen in media like The Mirror the press release / news article from the University of California, Irvine (UCI) keeps talking about “subjects exposed to vapors”, “affected subjects showed …”, “analyzing lung tissue from subjects in the study”, but completely fails to mention even once that the “subjects” are


You have to read the article itself (JAHA) to get this information. When you do, you find that other important informations are totally missing. They talk about “using a stainless‐steel atomizer (SS) heating element” and “The eC device we were using went off market and a substitute device was offered as an alternative. The new device was physically compatible with our exposure system, but the heating element changed from SS to a nickel‐chromium alloy (NC).” They fail to mention make and model of the devices, coil resistance, power range the atomizer and coils were designed for, and battery settings. “Physically compatible” is a pretty useless information, as a lot of atomizers are designed to be used with a wide range of batteries. But that’s not all. They even had to speculated about this being the major cause for the deceptively named

“EVALI epidemic”

They even write “It can mimic many of the manifestations of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19).” Talk about click-bait …

“the possibility that certain heating elements may be deleterious; and that E‐cigarette or vaping product use–associated lung injury may not be dependent upon tetrahydrocannabinol, vitamin E, or nicotine.”

It was very irresponsibly unscientific by the CDC right from the beginning to blame regular vaping for the cases of what they called “EVALI”. The probability of such a regionally and temporally exclusive cluster of cases appearing out of the blue to be associated with something that has been used all over the world for over a decade is vanishingly small. After months of endangering lives of consumers of black market drugs by issuing inappropriate warnings, they finally closed the case. ALL biopsies that were taken from affected victims showed Vitamin-E-Acetate, whether they admitted taking illicit drugs or not.

So, the claim that NiCr could be responsible for that is just as unlikely, as NiCr has also been in use all over the world for a coil material the whole time. Although Kanthal is more wide-spread for regular coils.

The likely cause

for the poor rodents’ suffering is ignorance. The assumption that simply exchanging one “device” (what exactly: coil head or complete atomizer?) would work shows a complete lack of basic knowledge about the way vaping works and is used by human vapers.

As I detailed in Specious Similarities the physics are totally different from the combustion of cigarettes and there are a lot of parameters to control for proper operations. Human vapers have a bio-feedback that instantaneously prompts them to adjust them — taste buds.

Temperature Control

in the battery settings is often used in conjunction with SS and titanium coils. So it seems reasonable to assume that is the way the battery is configured. For the TC to work correctly, the setup includes a configuration of the coil material used. The device measures the current resistance of the coil while heating and calculates the actual temperature based on the metal specific temperature gradient. It automatically cuts down the power supply once the configured operating temperature is reached, thus avoiding the excruciating taste of burned wick and liquid that comes with creation of Freaking Formaldehyde and acrolein.

But that only works if the correct material is selected. The battery has no way to measure the actual temperature of the coil directly, but has to calculate the approximate value based on the current resistance. Once the user has adjusted the cut off temperature using his bio feedback for an individual coil to compensate for production tolerances he’s guaranteed to avoid the nasty experience of a so-called “dry hit”.

If you simply exchange the coils with another material all the calculations are totally off. For a material with a steeper temperature gradient the assumed cut off temperature will be reached way before any vapor is produced. Annoying, but not a health problem.

Kanthal and NiCr are not used for TC since their gradient curve is rather flat and the changed in resistance are not big enough to calculate the actual temperature reliably with the simple circuitry. If you use them anyway it is almost inevitable get the coil to overheat and create all the nasty stuff that injures the lungs of defenseless rodents. Unlike human vapers, they can’t just cough, stop and swear.

With the rather limited this is what I assumed happened. If the authors care to provide more information, I’ll be happy help them steer the science away from the junkyard it’s heading for.

Disappointment Bias

seems to have tainted the scientific view. I can understand that they have been trying in vain for a long time to find anything harmful to report about vaping: “using a stainless‐steel atomizer (SS) heating element. None of these rats (>30 experiments) developed respiratory distress.” And now they suddenly find what they were looking for. Unfortunately they jump to conclusions and post an article that displays an appalling lack of knowledge, aggravated by a press release / news article from the university that created scaremongering click-bait that already did harm all over the world by creating fear, uncertainty and doubt in smokers preventing them from switching to an actually FAR less harmful alternative. Even some less certain vapers might be lured back to smoking because of this irresponsible piece of propaganda.


Other Opinions

Clive Bates:

I did review the paper a couple of weeks ago, but despite digging deep I could not anything nice to say about it:

“Idiot sadists write the worst paper yet on EVALI”

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Posted in Details, Public Review, Studies & Surveys, Vaping
6 comments on “Nasty NiCr
  1. Luc Van Daele says:

    What you are saying is wrong : NiCr was the 1st wire for TC-vaping, Ti and SS came only a couple years later (in that order). I’m still using a device from those days that has 3 settings : Watt (no TC), NiCr and Ti.

    Furthermore when I tried TC-vaping for the 1st time (with NiCr since it was the only wire available for it), my mouth and tongue were covered in small blisters, probably due to a nickel allergy. I had a bleeding mouth for days, just by vaping on NiCr for just one hour. I did put out a warning on the vaping fora that people with nickel allergy should stay away from it.

    But surely, if you ignore all the warning signs, one could do serious dammage to the lungs as well, by overdosing rats to it.


  2. mario says:

    At least they didn’t figure out that stainless steel also contains nickel and chrome.


  3. Luc Van Daele says:

    You’re right, I looked it up and it was indeed Ni200. But similar reactions were reported with NiCr as well as with Ni200. Since my mishap I stay away from anything that has Nickel in it for my coil wire. There’s plenty of good alternatives that never ever posed any problem to anyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. befrits says:

    Norbert, excellent as usual. Getting small notifications of your contributions are one of the very much more welcome parachutings into my cluttered inbox. Good for you and hope you are well! (If you manage to speak to the other ones – from me a 10 minute wonderfully musty and creative string of expletives, invectives, derision and opprobrium in general to them in their professional capacity for this piece of “work” they’ve published (in actual fact its train-wreck intellectual, not scientific at all. Moralistic feces in a faux science Fez that reaches readers’ bloodstreams and far too often causes or exacerbates intellectual sepsis. Not too different in that sense I suppose to when courts, like the ECJ, take a really nasty and completely illegal political ruling, making it legal simply by saying so with a few coats of legal paint and some varnish. No ordinary person without expert insights will ever know the difference and then most will trust the click-bait, or the court, or whatever entity in a position of authority and high credibility chooses to lie through their teeth that day. Nothing out of the ECJ, nothing whatsoever ever ever ever, will I heed or comply with if possible, until I find out if it is simply our field that has been exempted from normal rule of law, or infinitely worse, the whole thing is pompous ass political sham of epic proportions….

    Liked by 1 person

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