Article written by
Where's WeedContributing Author
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
There is a lot of controversy surrounding smoking devices like e-cigarettes and cannabis vape pens.
Some herald vape pens as being a cleaner way to inhale compared to joints or cigarettes, while others warn of the dangers and unknown side effects of vaping devices. So, what is in a cannabis vape cartridge?
Let’s take a look at what’s really in a vape pen, plus what to look for when buying a pen or vape cartridges.
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What Is a Cannabis Vape Cartridge?
Vaporizer cartridges are small vessels that contain smokable cannabis oil. As the cannabis industry grows, so do the options for cannabis and THC oil cartridges.
The first important thing to note is that not all vape carts are the same. The of the most common types is a 510 thread cartridge, which is quickly assembled by screwing the cart your vape pen that powers it. These are universal vape pens are so popular because they offer a wide range of cannabis products and attach to reusable batteries (often labeled as a “510-thread battery”).
Other types of cannabis cartridges include:
- AiroPro carts: These vape pens offer all sorts of flavor profiles and products. You can also get AiroPro carts as a rechargeable, refillable device. The accompanying AiroPro pens are popular for their durability and functionality.
- Pax Era pods: Fairly inexpensive as far far as cannabis vape cartridges go, Pax Era pods utilizes a carbon dioxide extraction process. This facilitates more temperature control, allowing for a higher-end smoking experience.
How Does a Vape Pen Work?
The whole process is pretty simple: the vape pen acts as a battery, and the cartridge contains the cannabis oil. The vape pen battery automatically controls the temperature of the oil, so all the user has to do is press a button and inhale.
Some vape pens have one temperate setting, and other products have multiple temperature settings. What temperature you choose depends on the smoking experience you’re looking for. Lower temperatures yield a flavorful, less impact hit, while higher levels mean less flavor and more impact.
Some vape pens are only compatible with specific cartridges, so make sure to buy a pen that uses cannabis cartridges you’re familiar with. If you’re unsure, ask a budtender at your local cannabis dispensary about your options and which weed pen is right for you.
If you’re looking for a cannabis vape cartridge, the good news is there are no shortage of options. You can find THC oil cartridges and high-quality CBD products that can help with everything from sleep issues like insomnia to chronic pain.
Each brand of cannabis concentrate has its own unique flavor and compound profile. Weed concentrates are split up into three main categories: distillates, CO2 oils, and full-spectrum oils.
In order for the heating element in the pen to work, vape oil must meet a certain level of viscosity or thickness. Each of these cannabis oil types have specific benefits and meet this viscosity level in different ways.
Distillates are refined oils that can be made from almost any cannabis product. That means just about any strain or flavor profile you’ve heard of can be turned into a smokable product designed for a vape pen.
However, in the refining processes distillates lose most of their original plant-based terpenes. This affects the viscosity levels in the cannabis concentrate, which is why additives are needed to have the oil meet the right consistency for use.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) oils are compatible with vape cartridges and don’t require additives to vaporize properly. During the production process, CO2 concentrates maintain their terpenes, meaning they keep much of their original plant-based flavor and provide a rich smoking experience.
Unlike distillates or CO2 concentrates, full-spectrum oils capture the full diversity of the cannabis plant. These high-quality products contain a much wider variety of cannabinoids including THC, CBD, CBN, and other chemical compounds responsible for the plant’s therapeutic effects.
Additionally, full-spectrum concentrates almost directly replicate the original flavor profiles of the cannabis plant, making them much more complex and enjoyable to smoke. The downside of full-spectrum cannabis oils is they are much harder to produce, therefore they are often more expensive and difficult to find.
Are Vape Pen Additives Dangerous?
You may have seen news stories of vape carts chockful of harmful chemicals that stay in your system long after you inhale. Yes, many vape carts contain products other than cannabis oil. Why?
Take the 510 thread cartridge for example. This type needs additives to thin out thick cannabis oil, so it’s suitable for vaping. There are some potentially harmful additives out there (which is why it’s important to read product labels and only purchase products with labels that have been third-party lab tested), but many are natural ingredients. Examples of additives include polyethylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and coconut oil.
Due to the health concerns related to additives, terpenes are being turned instead as these powerful plant products are also a natural thinning agent.
Why Use a Vape Pen?
There are several reasons you might consider a vape pen over cannabis flower or other consumption methods. One is price. Vape pens are fairly affordable (between $20-$70) and reusable. The only thing you need to continually purchase are cannabis vape carts, which you can get a lot use out of. (Be sure to buy THC vape cartridges that have been tested by third-party laboratories.)
Vape pens are also very portable and easily fit in a pocket or purse. These THC products are also discrete. Cannabis vape pens don’t smell nearly as potent compared to a joint and the smoke clears quickly. This makes it easy to use without drawing attention to yourself.
While there is little to no proof that moderate THC use has negative, lasting impacts on human health, there is plenty of evidence that smoking is harmful. One big benefit of vaping THC is the heavily reduced smoke intake. Instead of inhaling pure smoke into your lungs, you’re inhaling the vapor produced by the heated cannabis oil.
THC vape pens also offer easy dosage control. The downside is cannabis vape pens produce a less prolonged high, making them easy to overuse. As can be the case with edibles or high THC carts, overconsuming cannabis oil can cause negative side effects and an unenjoyable high.
If you’re learning how to use a weed pen, the golden rule is to take it low and slow to learn your limits and how different products affect you. A little often goes a long way!
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