vape detector with smoke

What Can Set Off A Vape Detector? (2024 update)

Vape Detectors are triggered when there is enough vape particles in the air. Vape is a liquid that typically contains nicotine, THC, CBD, flavorings, and other chemicals. The vapor produced by e-cigarettes can contain a variety of compounds, including nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerin, and flavorings. When vaped, they are in a vapor form, particulate form. The smoke vape particles that are visible to the human eye are in range from 0.5 to 100 microns and these are the particles detected by Vape Detectors.

Scientific Vape Detection Facts

The emission from vaping is an active scientific field of study with some very nice publications. Some key publications and take-home messages applicable to vape detectors:

  1. Pellegrino et al analyzed the particulate matter (PM) fraction yield when vaping. PM output was lower in e-cigarettes compared with the conventional cigarette – eg, PM1=14 vs 80 μg/m3 and PM10=52 vs 922 μg/m3. This means that a vape detector has to be more sensitive than a conventional smoke alarm, given the particles emitted when vaping can be lower by x10.
  2. In one study, it was shown that PM2.5 concentrations were correlated with the number of e-cigarette users present in a vape shop.
  3. Stanford University showed that PM2.5 concentration is high at close proximity to the vaper, and rapidly decreases, more so than smoking a conventional cigarette.
    • hildermanstandord
  4. East Carolina University showed that PM2.5 had a higher (absolute) concentration than VOC when vaping. PM2.5 incurred a max concentration of 3000 ug/m3 compared to VOC with a max concentration of 50 ppm. This shows that measuring PM2.5 is a more sensitive and reliable measure for vaping than using a VOC sensor.

Can a Vape Detector Falsely Alarm?

Yes, it can.

Vape detectors can be triggered by the vapor produced by e-cigarettes and may also be sensitive to other types of vapor or smoke. For example, some vape detectors may be sensitive to the vapor produced by other types of electronic smoking devices, such as vaporizers or hookahs. In addition, some vape detectors may be sensitive to smoke produced by traditional cigarettes or other types of tobacco products.

It’s important to note that vape detectors are designed to detect the presence of vapor or smoke, and not necessarily the presence of specific active compounds such as nicotine, THC, or CBD. In addition, it’s possible that a vape detector may be triggered by other sources of vapor or smoke, such as steam from a hot shower or steam from cooking.

image vape

How do Students Beat Vape Detectors?

There are several ways that one may attempt to outsmart vape detectors, including:

  1. Hiding the vaping device: Some students may try to conceal their vaping device in order to avoid detection. This could include hiding the device in a backpack, pocket, or other inconspicuous location. Vape is also breathed into the backpack to hide the vape smoke.
  2. Modifying the vaping device: Some students may try to modify their vaping device in order to make it less detectable. This could include using a device with a low-emission coil, or using a device with a built-in fan to disperse the vapor more quickly.
  3. Using alternative vaping methods: Some students may switch to alternative vape juices which emit less vape smoke.
  4. Using smoke filters. These are devices that a student can breathe into in order to eliminate vape smoke.

It’s important to note that while students may try to outsmart vape detectors, it’s unlikely that they will be able to do so consistently, and the detectors are still a useful tool to detect vaping. Additionally, a comprehensive approach that includes education, policies, and monitoring activities will also be important in addressing the issue.

Apart from Vaping, What Other Activities or Substances Can Potentially Trigger a Vape Detector in 2024?

While vape detectors in 2024 are designed to be highly specific to vaping, certain other activities or substances can potentially trigger false alarms. These include smoking cigarettes or cigars, using aerosol-based products like hairspray or air fresheners in close proximity to the detector, and cooking or burning food that produces significant amounts of smoke or vapor. In some cases, high humidity levels or condensation can also interfere with the sensors and cause false alerts.

Can Non-Nicotine or Cannabis-Based Vaping Products Set Off Vape Detectors in 2024?

Yes, vape detectors in 2024 are generally capable of detecting a wide range of vaping products, including those that do not contain nicotine or those that use cannabis-based e-liquids (where legal). The sensors in these detectors are designed to identify the common chemical compounds and aerosol particles associated with vaping, regardless of the specific substance being vaporized. However, some devices may be more sensitive to certain types of e-liquids or vaping devices than others.

Can Steam from Showers or Humidifiers Set Off Vape Detectors?

In most cases, steam from showers or humidifiers should not set off vape detectors in 2024. Modern vape detectors use advanced algorithms and multiple sensor types to distinguish between water vapor and the specific aerosol particles produced by vaping. However, if a detector is positioned too close to a shower or humidifier, or if the steam is unusually dense, there is a small possibility of a false alarm. Proper placement and regular maintenance of the detector can help minimize this risk.

Are There Any Known Household Products That Can Cause False Alarms in Vape Detectors?

Some household products that produce fine particles or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can potentially cause false alarms in vape detectors if used in close proximity to the device. Examples include certain cleaning products, paint fumes, scented candles, and insect repellents. However, false alarms from these sources are relatively uncommon with vape detectors in 2024, as the sensors and algorithms are designed to be highly specific to the signature of vaping aerosols.

Can a Malfunctioning Vape Detector Produce False Alerts Even When No Vaping or Other Triggering Activities Are Present?

In rare cases, a malfunctioning vape detector may produce false alerts even when no vaping or other triggering activities are present. This can occur due to issues with the sensors, electronic components, or firmware of the device. Regular maintenance, including cleaning the sensors and updating the firmware, can help prevent malfunctions. If a detector consistently produces false alarms with no apparent cause, it may need to be repaired or replaced. Users should consult the manufacturer’s troubleshooting guide or contact customer support for assistance in diagnosing and resolving any issues with their vape detector.


  • Vape emissions are made up of particles from 0.1 to 100 microns in diameter.
  • This means that a vape detector has to be more sensitive than a conventional smoke alarm, given the particles emitted when vaping can be lower by x10.
  • Detecting PM2.5 is a more sensitive and reliable measure for vaping than using a VOC sensor.
  • A vape detector may be triggered by other sources such as steam from a hot shower or steam from cooking.

About the Author

Dr. Koz resides in the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Los Angeles, California. He is a subject matter expert on vape detectors, gas sensor technology, gas detectors, gas meters, and gas analyzers. He has been designing, building, manufacturing, and testing toxic gas detection systems for over 20 years.

Every day is a blessing for Dr. Koz. He loves to help customers solve their unique problems. Dr. Koz also loves spending time with his wife and his three children going to the beach, grilling burgers, and having cold beer. Read more about Forensics Detectors here.

drkoz vape detector

Phone: +1 424-341-3886