Let’s say we were to go back in time 10 years. Back then if you saw someone drawing on a vape pen it would make you look twice and think ‘what on earth is that thing’? You might think it was a portable thermometer or something similar until you saw the person exhaling a cloud of vapour.
Nowadays of course vape pens are very common, and they’re a good alternative if you want to enjoy ‘smoking’ without actual smoke and all the tar and / or carcinogens that come with it. You insert a vape cartridge, activate the battery-powered atomizer, and in a few seconds you’re able to enjoy a puff that doesn’t come with all the odour and conspicuousness of smoking a cigarette or a marijuana joint.
Vapes are popular these days because they are a healthier alternative to smoking and allow the user to enjoy cannabis more discreetly. They’re also popular because vaping THC vape juice is a very efficient way of achieving the high users are after. You can often medicate yourself nicely with one or two draws on a vape, whereas it might take several tokes of a joint comprised of similar-quality cannabis bud to get there. Plus, there’s less of that telltale pungent odour on your breath and clothing.
So now that we’ve touched on the benefits of vaping cannabis oil briefly, let’s have a look at what makes a better vape cartridge. It’ll make you a more informed buyer if you decide to go smokeless and choose to enjoy the marijuana and hash oils that are commonly referred to as THC vape juice instead.
Benefits of a Vape Cartridge
There are different kinds of vape pens, and the ones that do use a vape cartridge will generally take one of the many kinds of vape pen cartridges. Some are more recommended than others. We’ll get to that, but for now let’s look at the general benefits of all vape cartridges:
- Easy to use – you insert the cartridge, activate the vape, and enjoy
- Portability – the cartridges themselves are tiny, and you can have one pretty much anywhere and carry it discreetly
- Dose Consistency – Pre-filled vape cartridges provides you with a consistent and controlled dose. You can become accustomed to your response to a specific number of draws on the vape pen
Types of Vape Cartridges and Concentrates
As mentioned, there’s more than one type of vape cartridge. Some vapes won’t have a cartridge and you load your product directly into the atomizer chamber. Others will take only one type of cartridge or be compatible with different cartridges.
Refillable tanks with a ‘510’ threaded standardized vaporizer battery insert – almost all vape pens have this type. Refillable vape pen cartridges are a good choice because they’re refillable so you don’t discard them and create waste.
Disposables – disposable vape pens contain a pre-charged battery that continues to function until you empty the tank. The pre-filled vape cartridges are built into the pens and cannot be removed or replaced.
CO2 –CO2 distilled vaporizer cartridges are a good choice because their formula provides viscosity levels that are ideal for vaporizing. Often these oils keep some of the natural plant terpenes that are natural thinners for the THC vape juice. They also make it more flavourful with flavours specific to the source strain of cannabis. Food-grade terpene flavourings are the most common, and while they serve the purpose they don’t enhance the experience much.
Distillates – Cannabis distillates are highly-refined oils containing all pure cannabinoids. You can make them from almost any type of hash oil. However, the distillation process removes all of the residual terpenes and natural terpene thinners found in the source hash oil. Thinning agents like polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, or medium chain triglycerides like coconut oil are common.
The PG and VG thinners don’t mix well and there are some health risks associated with their use (including the fact that they can have carcinogenic ethylene oxide). MCT oils mix well with cannabis oils but they tend to leave an unpleasant aftertaste.
Cannabinoid specific cartridges – These are rarer, but you can find vape pen cartridges identified by the specific cannabinoid concentration found in the oil. Some people like the efficiency they can enjoy from a pen that provides a THC to CBD ratio at higher levels for their THC vape juice. Some are as high as 20:1
Full-spectrum cartridges – These are the best cartridges. Full spectrum means the oil has every one of the different bioavailable molecules found naturally in that strain of cannabis. All active compounds remain, and this improves flavour and potency. They are hard to come by though, and always pricier.
Keep in mind that ‘pure’ products are uncommon because it requires better equipment and complex extraction processes to create them. That means more expense and less profit.
Tips for Choosing the Best Vape Cartridges
- Avoid any vape cartridge indicating the oil is processed with any of the cutting agents listed above (polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, or MCT oil)
- Choose oils with full spectrum cannabis-derived terpenes when possible
- Avoid hydrocarbons (residual solvents) by choosing distilled oils only, and with brands that can claim to have a clear product that ranges between 85-95% total cannabinoids and is distilled using carbon dioxide only and a ‘fractional distillation’ process
- Choose cartridges made of higher-quality materials – no plastic or low-grade wire. Plastic oil vape cartridges are often low-quality and best suited for buttonless style vape pens that have a lower voltage. Higher voltage from a more powerful battery may burn the wick and deliver impurities or toxins and an unpleasant taste
- Wickless oil vape cartridges are a better choice – they have a heating plate vaporizes the liquid instead of a wick. May leak however, and better suited for lowed voltage vape pens
- Glass tank and ceramic cell oil vape cartridges are best. Glass tank cartridges feature heat resistant glass and are great for THC vape juice of any consistency. Ceramic cell oil cartridges have a vertical ceramic rod that absorbs and heats oil within the cartridge. They promote much more efficient vaporization and are ideal for thick distillates and oils.
Finally, only take your business to reputable dispensaries where staff can answer specific questions regarding vapes and vape cartridges.