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Enter the Vape-o-lanterns

Perhaps it is a sign of the entrance of the personal vaporizer into normative popular culture. Or perhaps it is the means for a do-it-yourselfer to create a disaster, which the vape-bashing press will gleefully blame on e-cigarettes. Perhaps both. But either way, one feels one has passed some kind of milestone as something we'll call the 'vape-o-lantern' enters the repertoire of Halloween aficionados.

The current issue of Popular Science, a magazine beloved of would-be-scientists and DIY enthusiasts gives instructions for rewiring a personal vaporizer to create an illusion of smoke wafting out of your Halloween jack-o-lantern this year.

"Want to put your neighbors to shame this Halloween?" queries the article. "Pimp your pumpkin with a miniature smoke machine. A modified e-cigarette can create a surprising amount of fog, giving your carving an extra eerie touch."

"Don't try this at home" would be good personal advice, given that all too many people can't even manage to recharge an e-cig battery properly, starting fires that are often blamed on e-cigs. But the story has been picked up by a number of news rags, including the Washington Post, so we are certain to see the attempt made, whether successfully or disastrously.

The invention is based on the fact that an electronic cigarette is basically a mini-fog-machine, like those used to create artificial smoke in theatrical presentations. But in order to use it as a fog machine, one must hook it up to some kind of air pump, in order to direct the vapor into the open air instead of into a vaper's mouth. The inventors suggest an aquarium pump, the kind that makes bubbles rise in your fish tank.

Next comes the part that worries me. They ask you to break open the e-cig battery case, separate the connector, cut away the battery, "taking care not to touch the wires and create a short circuit," and clean out the connector, removing additional parts. Then they ask you to solder some wires to the contraption, hooking it up to a standard AC adapter.

Then just connect the aquarium tubing, turn on the power, and notify the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will send reporters to photograph the charred ruins of your house, to be posted in a blog of the University of California at San Francisco.

To be sure, a low-tech version is also offered, using real smoke from tea-lite candles. "But, honestly," queries the Post, "isn't it cooler to use the e-cig?" Cooler indeed, signaling that vapes are now officially cool.

This technology is not limited to use with jack-o-lanterns. A tech-minded Halloween enthusiast on YouTube has used it to create a smoking mask – the "Hellboy Ectoplasmic Man Mask." Of course, YouTube being what it is, the inventor displays a video of himself building his "portable E-Cig Mini Fog Machine. "You can use it with any costume to give it a cool smoky effect," he exults.

The video has 45 replies and counting.