I saw such a blinking LED and found out exactly what it was.
If you’ve come across this blog post, you probably saw a blinking LED or tiny light, flashing repetitively in a totally random spot. Chances are that spot was on the side of the road, in the middle of some shrubbery exiting McDonald’s, or like, me, in the middle of an empty field.
Your thought pattern is probably like this tweet.
This is a weird one – has anyone else been driving around at night and seen a blue flashing LED light on a random place on the road, like somebody has dropped their phone? I've seen about 5 different ones in odd places and I can't make out what they are but daren't stop to see.— Hirst 𝟜𝕎𝔻𝕚𝕤𝕔 (@garagehirst) November 27, 2021
It’s happening a lot lately, and there’s a perfectly logical explanation for it.
Here’s a video I took earlier this week of just such a thing happening, an LED blinking in the middle of an empty field.
This is the third time it’s happened to me. I’d spotted the blinking light driving by, coming home, so I decided to walk out to that exact location and find out once and for all exactly what it is.
The blinking light did indeed turn out to be a blinking LED attached to the end of a lithium-ion cell. After a quick google, my suspicions were confirmed, the randomly thrown LED light attached to the battery probably came from a vape pen or e-cigarette.
Vapers and e-cigarette users are, for some reason, disassembling their vape pens, ripping out its internal electronics, and chucking it out their car windows.
Vapers littering? Why am I not surprised.
Here’s what’s inside a typical e-cigarette.
That giant lithium-ion battery is used to heat the tiny heating element inside and to power on that LED every time an e-cig user “takes a hit,” imitating a real cigarette.
The LED also blinks to indicate a low battery, complete charge, or various other error codes.
Now that we know what those blinking LEDs are, if you do see one and can reach it, be a good citizen, pick it up, and dispose of it properly.
Batteries, including lithium-ion cells, are classified as hazardous waste and shouldn’t be thrown out with regular garbage.
If the thought of driving to your city’s designated e-waste recycling center sounds like too much of a chore, know that most home improvement centers, like Lowes, have places you can dump old batteries.
If you see your friend chuck their vape pen battery out the window, tell them, “Bro!?” and maybe drive back and pick it up.
Consider recycling the guts of your vape pen, instead.
Did you see a blinking LED in the middle of nowhere? Let me know in the comments below.