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Are THC Vape Cartridges Dangerous? What You Need to Know

THC in the vape pen and with cannabis buds

THC vape cartridges — also called vape pens — may be dangerous if they contain vitamin E acetate, an ingredient that has been found to cause acute vaping illness and lung injury. Yet, vaporizing or vaping marijuana is seen as the healthier alternative to smoking cannabis. Even though cannabis smoke differs from tobacco smoke, inhaling any burning matter is probably not ideal from a medical perspective.

Learn what makes some THC vape cartridges dangerous and tips for a safer experience vaping marijuana.

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Smoking vs. Vaping Cannabis: What’s the Difference?

The main difference between smoking and vaping marijuana is that smoking delivers cannabis by burning the plant, whereas vaping delivers cannabis by heating a liquid, like THC oil.

There are thousands of different vaping devices and vaporizable products, from the disposable to the aesthetic, where cannabis is heated to an inhalable, mostly-odorless vapor. Moreover, vaporizers also tend to be a more efficient method of cannabis consumption than smoking, as fewer cannabinoids and terpenes are burnt off in the decarboxylation process, and less cannabis needs to be used overall for symptom relief.

However, vaping products are of variable quality, with some being even harmful, leading the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue warnings. However, other vaping products may be better, and a high-quality vape pen can make dosing and ingesting cannabinoids much simpler.

What Does Vaping THC Do?

Essentially, what vaping does boil down to is “What precisely is being vaped”? Many flavored vape products contain an organic compound called diacetyl. This compound is found in foods and beverages and is generally safe to consume in low doses. However, when heated and breathed in, it can cause many problems. One of these problems is “popcorn lung,” aka bronchiolitis obliterans, which is a scarring of the tiny air sacs in the lungs, resulting in the thickening and narrowing of the airways.

There may be hundreds of chemicals in vapable products, especially flavored ones. Given that there are few long-term studies on the dangers of vaporizing, learning which chemicals have what effect when vaporized is crucial but challenging. Some products contain traces of heavy metals from cheap heating coils and propylene glycol and glycerin, which, alongside many other polycyclic hydrocarbons, are linked to the development of cancers and lung and cardiovascular diseases.

Many concerns surrounding nicotine-based cartridges and “e-cigarettes” also apply to cannabinoid-based oil cartridges, but not all of them. Vaporizing a well-made extract or cannabis flower using a high-quality vaporizer may be one way of avoiding the problems associated with using vapable cannabis oils. Another concern is that some cannabinoid-based vape oils contain synthetic cannabinoids, which are not necessarily as well-tolerated as their naturally-occurring counterparts, and should ideally be avoided.

How to Safely Use THC Vaping Cartridges

Vaping marijuana is not necessarily hazardous if you use high-quality products. You may be able to have a safer vaping experience if you choose the right vaping cartridges.

Use Safer Vaporizers

The safest vaporizers use ceramic heaters or titanium coils to heat the extract or flower and have no loose parts inside the vaporizer (i.e., one that is well-made and sturdy). Disposable vaporizers are of variable quality, and as many are cheaply made, they could mean breathing in hot, heavy metal particles with high toxicity levels.

The lack of regulation of disposable vaping products is a concern. Even some of the “best” ones start to produce smoke rather than vapor at high temperatures. High temperatures may also burn plastic or some of the vaporizer’s internal electrics, a potential health and explosion hazard.

High temperatures also burn the lining of the throat and lungs, which increases the chance of developing cancer. If you want to vaporize cannabis extracts, be sure to find a vaporizer that can contain the extract. Many vaporizers require special chambers to do this, as many high-quality vaporizers are made to vaporize both cannabis extracts and flower.

Use Quality Vape Cartridges

Use a high-quality vape cartridge, or make your own at home. Making cannabis oil can be a complicated process. There are various ways of making extracts of various potencies, from live resin (where live flowers are frozen and then pressed to extract the resin) and “bubble hash” (using dry ice to separate trichomes from the plant) to rosin extraction (using heat and pressure to separate the trichomes from the plant) and the full-on Rick Simpson Oil (using a solvent to “strip” the cannabinoids from the plant, leading to a highly purified product).

Some extraction methods are relatively safe at home, others less so. While there are many advantages to making your own cannabis extracts (i.e., likely to be fewer impurities and additives if made correctly), it can be expensive, complex, and time-consuming. Other than doing it yourself, the only way to get high-quality, solvent-free cannabis oil is to find a trustworthy supplier who tests their extracts.

Due to some of the above problems, alongside the fact that, for some, vaporizers are not their preferred or ideal method, many people have moved away from vaporizing in favor of other ingestion methods. For medical purposes, ingestion methods like tinctures, topicals, inhalers, transdermal patches, and suppositories may be ideal. Other people stick to tried-and-tested pipes or bongs, but this does not remove all of the harmful effects of smoking, even if no papers and/or tobacco are used.

Therefore, should you decide to vaporize, it is probably worth finding a high-quality vape pen, sticking to vaporizing cannabis flower and extracts alone (no additives or mixtures), and avoiding premade vaporizer cartridges that may contain many hazardous chemicals.

Consume cannabis responsibly with a medical marijuana card. Leafwell’s doctors are here to help you apply for your MMJ card online through our virtual clinic.

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