What Are Vape Cartridges? Are They Safe?

Explaining the popular consumption method.

what are vape cartridges iStock / grinvalds

If you’re interested in trying out new methods of using cannabis, you may be wondering: What are vape cartridges? More importantly, in the midst of this vaping scare, are vape cartridges safe to use? We’ll help answer all of your questions and equip you with everything you need to know to find high-quality cannabis cartridges.  

What are Vape Cartridges?

Vape cartridges are small cartridges of concentrated cannabis oil that are used in conjunction with vape pens and other types of batteries. The pen heats up the oil in the cart, forming vapor which you then inhale. Vaping has become increasingly popular with young adults in recent years, but this option may also be a good choice for people who want the instantaneous effects of smoking with less odor and lung irritation.

How do Vape Cartridges Work?

Vape carts work much the same way e-cigarettes and other tobacco-vaping products do. In most vape devices, an atomizer is activated by a button or by the user drawing a puff. The atomizer heats the air in the chamber. The heated air passes through the liquid in the cartridge. In the case of THC oil vapes, the heated air converts the oil into an aerosol that can be inhaled. The heating element does not come in direct contact with the cannabis concentrate and is not hot enough to cause combustion, which is why vaping may be preferable to smoking for people with respiratory conditions.

How to Find Safe Vape Cartridges:

You may have seen vapes trending in the news lately and want to know how safe these products are. Despite the sensational stories you have likely read, it is possible to find high-quality vape cartridges when you know what you’re looking for. Here are some tips for finding the best vape and wax carts:

  1. ALWAYS purchase your cartridges from legal, regulated vendors. These products should be lab-tested for purity and have their results readily available. Homemade vape cartridges run a much higher risk of containing unhealthful contaminants and cutting agents.
  2. Make sure you ask your budtenders for vape oils that are additive-free. Some common additives include propylene glycol(PG) and polyethylene glycol(PEG). These are often used to thin the consistency of THC and hash oils but are generally regarded negatively in the health community.
  3. Go organic. Choose cartridges that are made with organically-grown cannabis. These plants are cultivated without pesticides and harsh chemicals that may be harmful to your health. 

Types of Vape Cartridges:

There are three basic options when it comes to vape cartridges:

  • Disposable pens: This type of vaping device is perfect for beginners because there is no assembly and no charging required. These pens are meant to be thrown away once you’ve used up the cartridge. If you’re unsure about vaping and want to try it out, this is a great option for you.
  • Pre-filled cartridges: Perhaps you already have an e-cig or other vaporizer with a 510-thread connection. These cartridges are compatible with many other devices you may already own, or they can be bought at a reasonable price from a reputable vape shop. They’re also rechargeable and can be used repeatedly.
  • Refillable chamber: This type of device is typically for the more advanced cannabis user who may want to combine different strains or one who simply prefers an added degree of control over vape temperature and their serving size. These chambers require regular cleaning to work optimally and can be expensive.

What are the Benefits of Vape Cartridges?

They’re convenient: Vape pens and cartridges are lightweight, portable, and easy to slip into your purse or pocket. They are more discreet than many other methods of consuming cannabis. Vaping has become overwhelmingly popular, so vape carts are easy to find at many legal dispensaries. Like smokable cannabis, make sure you use your vape products in private. Despite their portability, it’s still illegal to use vape carts in public.

Vapor, not smoke: There are many reasons why smokeless options may be better than more traditional inhalation methods. You may live in a smoke-free apartment or have household members who do not want to be exposed to secondhand smoke. Vaping THC oil does not produce smoke, and the vapor has only a light odor that dissipates quickly. 

Controlled servings: Pre-filled cartridges are great for finding your sweet spot when it comes to THC. Unlike smoking joints or out of glass pieces, you only have to take a light pull from your vaporizer to enjoy its effects, and it won’t keep rolling after you take a puff. Vapes make it especially easy to micro-dose throughout the day.

May be safer than smoking: A 2015 study of cannabis users found that “After controlling for other known risk factors, using a vapourizer was associated with fewer reported respiratory symptoms overall relative to other burning techniques.”

Another study of cannabis users suggests that “the respiratory effects of cannabis can decrease with the use of a vaporizer. The data reveal that respiratory symptoms like cough, phlegm, and tightness in the chest increase with cigarette use and cannabis use, but are less severe among users of a vaporizer.”

More research is needed on the long-term effects of vaporizer use.

Vaping can be a great option for users looking for an easy but potent method of enjoying cannabis. As vaping continues to grow in popularity, so will your options for THC vape cartridges. Remember to choose your device wisely and use only high-quality cannabis products from reputable sources. 

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