Vape pens are popular when used to consume THC or CBD concentrates. Its main selling point is portability and discreetness. With that, cannabis concentrates account for about 70% of the market shares in Colorado and Oregon.
But as with any industry, vape pens had had to deal with controversy. After all, vaping technology had some recent health and safety concerns. That’s why in this guide, you’ll learn some tips on how to check whether your vape cartridge is safe.
What’s in the Vape Cartridge?
Lots of vaporizers allow you to consume both flowers and concentrates. But the most popular device emerging from the vape industry is the vape pen. It’s portable with its pen-like design, making it easier to vaporize cannabis oils as well as distillates.
Vape pens will have two main components: the vape cartridge and the battery. The latter is at the bottom part of the vape pen. It gives the power to the heating element, which in turn, makes the cannabis oil stored inside the cartridge into vapor.
Most manufacturers will let you know the right voltage compatible with your cartridge of choice. Take note, these will have a variety of sizes, styles, and shapes. Some pens will have buttons used to activate the vape cartridge while others only need you to start taking a draw.
The vape cartridge will have three components: the mouthpiece, chamber, and the atomizer. The chamber contains the concentrated cannabinoids as well as the terpenes. The concentrates can either be CBD- or THC-derived.
Atomizers get activated when it comes into contact with the battery. It heats the chamber and turns the cannabis oil into vapor.
This is the process that makes the cannabis vape oils used in vape cartridges. Its main purpose is to strip the cannabis molecules to its cannabinoids. It strips down the flavors defined by the cannabis plant’s terpene profile.
Some manufacturers will get the terpenes from cannabis during distillation. They will reintroduce these into the cannabis oil. With that, your cartridge can become more strain-specific.
But at its core, oil producers use terpenes from other plants when flavoring their distillates.
Does Your Vape Pen Have Contaminants?
The illegal vape market is problematic due to its concentrate cartridges. These counterfeit products will have pesticides mixed in with the cannabis oil. When you inhale these concentrates, you’ll most likely get into serious health problems.
If you don’t want vape cartridges to contain pesticides, you need to be careful. Make sure to only buy your cartridges from reputable sellers. These producers will always disclose their test results, including third-party screenings for possible pesticides.
Manufacturers use cutting agents as a means of enhancing the vapor cloud’s intensity. It also helps improve the mouthfeel of these vapors. Here are some of the most common cutting agents infused with cannabis oil:
- Polyethylene glycol (PEG)
- Propylene glycol (PG)
- Vegetable glycerin (VG)
The FDA labeled these cutting agents safe when ingested by humans. But most concerned people question the result of inhaling these compounds. Studies found that PG can worsen asthma and allergies when inhaled.
More studies find that PEG and PG will break down into carcinogens when vaporized using high levels of heat. The good news is that most cannabis oil makers are starting to avoid using cutting agents for their products.
A good way to avoid cutting agents is to look for raw products. These will only have cannabis distillates and terpenes. That way, you’ll have a lesser risk of encountering contaminants like pesticides.
Sadly, cannabis oil isn’t the only component at risk of contamination. Studies found unsafe levels of toxic metals leaking out from vape heating coils. This includes lead, and it can seep into the aerosol that you inhale from.
The FDA is still finding ways on how to deal with vape pen regulations. That’s why it falls to the manufacturers and testing labs to prevent dangerous products. This includes low-quality cartridge components that put trace amounts of lead into the feedstocks, which help improve its malleability.
Heating coils are no exception to these materials. Upon heating the cannabis oil, the coil might transfer these toxic metals into your vapors. The good news is that several states are bolstering their lab testing requirements, allowing scientists to identify high lead levels before releasing them into the market.
How to Identify Counterfeit Vape Cartridges
The rising popularity of vape pens brought about some negative effects. The most common consequence is the steady supply of counterfeit THC cartridges. Major brands are fighting against their fake counterparts since the latter flooded the market in recent times.
Counterfeiters sell these cartridges using similar logos, packaging, and branding. They imitate the top brands, making it harder for you to recognize that they’re fake. Regardless, these products have a lot of potential dangers when used.
It’s impossible to tell the chemical composition of the liquid inside the cartridge. To determine its contents, you’ll need to do some lab tests. These fakes aren’t following state testing regulations, so they may contain contaminants.
Ask Cannabis Oil Manufacturers
Most cannabis oil producers took the initiative amidst the surge of fake products. They’re proactive in helping their consumers identify whether the products they bought are legitimate. Most will often list their authorized retailers on their website.
Some will even go for the extra mile and have online forms that allow you to report potential fake products. If you’re not sure whether you’re buying a legitimate product, check the manufacturers’ website. In most cases, they’ll also have social media accounts that contain information for raising your awareness.
Buy from Authorized Retailers
There’s no excuse for you not to buy products from authorized retailers. A safe way to get legitimate products is to buy from dispensaries. This option isn’t viable if you’re living in localities that ban the use of recreational cannabis.
Regardless, you can try browsing online directories and look for verified products. These directories will show you the storefronts and delivery services that sell legitimate vape cartridges. It will come from reputable brands, which guarantees quality and safety.
Check the Product Price
If you’re looking at online sellers, make sure to look for your vape pen’s average market price. If it’s way below the usual price tag, it can be a sign that the listing is counterfeit. Most online sellers will often use this tactic to lure in people easily swayed by a discounted price.
Remember, if the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Real products can get expensive, even when bought at a discounted price. Don’t get tempted by the dirt-cheap price tag.
You also need to avoid buying cartridges that don’t come with packaging. If you suspect that it’s fake, make sure to go to the manufacturers’ website. Compare the cartridge with their legitimate product listings.
Another precaution you can do is to make a quick Google search. Look for the specific vape pen you’re trying to buy. That way, you’ll find some articles that allow you to differentiate real cartridges from fake ones.
Look at the Packaging
The easiest way to fool consumers is to use authentic-looking packages for fake products. Lots of popular cannabis vape pen brands have this serious problem. After all, you can always go to online shops and buy packaging for dirt cheap.
Try to avoid vape packages that come with popular characters from cartoons or video games as part of its design. These are often questionable at best since there’s no way of determining whether they’re real. To preserve your safety, stay away from these packages.
If you’re lucky enough, you might find packages with obvious mistakes. The most common flaw counterfeiters make is misspelling the brand name and other words. Some mistakes might be subtle, but a close inspection of the product can highlight it.
Examine the Cannabis Oil
If you already bought the product, make sure to check the oil first. As a general rule, the oil’s density should be strong with a clear gold color. Fake ones will often have this orange or dark color, which you should steer clear from.
At that point, don’t even hope for a refund. These people will most likely have fake contact information, so your chances of recovering the money you spent are close to none. When you’re in this situation, the best course of action is to throw away the fake product and do better next time.
Get Legitimate Vape Products Today!
When you’re doubting the legitimacy of your potential vape cartridge, move on. Your best bet for legitimate products is to avoid shady online marketplaces. Always stick with authorized retailers or the licensed dispensaries in your area.
Take note, your health is on the line. It’s not worth sacrificing it just to save a few dollars. If you end up with a counterfeit, low-quality vape cartridge, you can endanger your life with the possible pesticides it contains.