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The Ultimate Guide to Cannabis Vape Cartridges

If you’ve ever seen someone raise a sleek pen-shaped device to their lips and inhale, you know what a vaporizer (or “vape”) is. Because they emit a cool and gentle mist rather than smoke, they’ve fundamentally changed our relationship with cigarettes, in the process helping mitigate some of the worst health risks associated with smoking tobacco.

But the impact of vapes extends far beyond tobacco. The refillable containers known as vape cartridges are a highly effective way to deliver the benefits of cannabis, and as a result the vape cartridge has become a truly ubiquitous device. If you’re new to vaping—or you’d like to step up your knowledge—we’d like to offer a guided tour of vape carts. In this post, we’ll answer such questions as:

  • What are vape cartridges?
  • What are some types of vape cartridge?
  • How does a vape cartridge work?
  • What are some advantages of vaping and vape carts?
  • How to choose vape cartridges?

Ready? Let’s dive in.

What Are Vape Cartridges?

At the simplest level, cannabis vaporizers heat either ground cannabis flower or, more commonly, a cannabis concentrate or oil to the point that the volatile cannabinoids and terpenes are released as a mist (but before the flower or concentrate actually burns).

While vaporizers make use of some very high-tech components, the concept of vaporizing actually dates back thousands of years. We know that in ancient Egypt, various herbs and oils were heated over hot stones to create aromatic vapors. And roughly two thousand years ago, smokers in North Africa used the shisha, a pipe which draws tobacco or cannabis smoke through water to create a somewhat vape-like effect.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll ignore flower vaporizers for the time being. Nearly every other type of vaporizer uses a container called a vape cartridge to hold the cannabis concentrate or oil prior to its being vaped. As such, the “vape cart,” as it’s popularly known, is a critical piece of equipment. Let’s investigate a few of the most popular styles.

The Major Types of Vape Cartridges

Vape cartridges are designed to interface with specific styles of vape devices. The most popular and ubiquitous is known as the “510” or “510 threaded.” It’s used with the sleek pen-style vapes, which are also known as “510 vapes.” Portable, discreet, and rechargeable, most are designed to work with a highly purified cannabis distillate, a consistent and economical format of cannabis concentrate.

In addition to 510 cartridges, a number of vape manufacturers specify proprietary vape cartridges for use in their devices. One of the most popular is PAX, which produces a wide range of strain-specific pods for their PAX Era and other devices. Vireo Health offers many of them for sale; check the menu of the dispensary closest to you for details. There are also a number of alternatives to the PAX line of products, including those from KandyPens.

Another common type of vape cartridge are the “all-in-one” disposable units that don’t require a separate vape cart and are wholly disposed of when finished. Disposable vapes are convenient and may come in handy in a variety of situations, though reusable vape batteries are a wiser choice from an environmental standpoint. And in the long run, using a rechargeable vape battery—even with disposable vape carts—makes better economic sense as well.

How Does a Vape Cartridge Work? The Basics

When you insert a vape cartridge into the vape device—whether it’s a click-in-place fitting such as a PAX or a screw-on type such as a 510 thread—the cannabis distillate or concentrate can be drawn through a narrow duct by a heating element. Depending on the brand and complexity of the vape, the temperature of this heating element can be user-controlled or preset.

In either case, the cannabis concentrate is heated to the point at which the cannabinoids and terpenes are released as a cool mist. As the user inhales, this mist is drawn into the lungs. As we hinted earlier, the experience is far gentler than inhaling the smoke from burning cannabis. This is backed up by clinical studies, which have found that using a cannabis vaporizer reduces potential harm to your airways.

What’s Inside a Vape Cart?

As we referenced a moment ago, vape cartridges may contain a number of cannabis products. Let’s look at a few of the most popular in detail.

  • Cannabis distillate: A consistent, shelf-stable, and economical format of cannabis extract, distillate is a highly purified product that lends itself well for use in vape carts. Because the distillation process can remove the flavorful and medically impactful terpenes, some varieties have terpenes such as limonene and caryophyllene reintroduced after the distillation process.
  • Live resin and rosin cartridges: Because the cannabis used to create these cartridges is flash-frozen right after harvest, these specialized products preserve an unusually high proportion of flavorful and aromatic terpenes. While generally not the starting point for new cannabis users, they’re an intriguing and pleasurable way to interact with the cannabis plant.
  • Wax pens: Superficially similar to vape pens, these specialized devices work with solid cannabis concentrates such as wax. While some cannabis fans feel they’re an upgrade from standard vape pens, they’re generally not compatible with 510-style and other vape cartridges.

Here at Vireo Health, we offer a number of distillate vape carts as part of the Vireo Spectrum™, a line of cannabis products designed for specific and consistent medical outcomes. You’ll also find other popular brands such as Simple Cannabis and more.

How to Use Vape Cartridges

While vapes are high-tech devices, they’re simple and intuitive to use. once you’ve inserted the proper vape cartridge for your specific device, the unit can be powered on. Alternately, some vapes—such as most 510-style units—power on when the user inhales through the mouthpiece. Here are some top tips to ensure your experience is an effective and pleasurable one:

  • When you inhale, go slow. Some people like to imagine they’re sipping a hot beverage. Why? Small, gentle puffs allow for a fuller vaporization of the cannabis distillate or concentrate.
  • If your vaporizer uses a refillable cartridge, make sure you clean it regularly by disassembling the unit and cleaning it with a cotton swab moistened with running alcohol.

Safety and Usage Considerations for Vape Cartridges

In recent years there have been incidents of a lung condition called e-cigarette or vaping associated lung injury (EVALI) tied to unregulated and untested vape cartridges containing unsafe ingredients such as vitamin E acetate. To ensure you’re getting a safe, regulated and lab-tested vape cartridge, purchase from licensed dispensaries such as Vireo.

While using vapes is an intuitive and relatively hassle-free experience, there are a few safety and usage tips you should consider. These include:

  • Purchase vape carts from licensed dispensaries
  • Store vape carts in a cool, ventilated environment
  • Always store vape cartridges upright
  • Never leave a vape cartridge or pod in a hot or pressurized environment
  • If your vape pen has a temperature setting, start at the lowest setting on your device to ensure optimal flavor
  • Take one puff, then wait five to ten minutes to assess your reaction before taking another. Remember: You can always have more cannabis, but you can’t have less!
  • Make sure that vape carts—along with any other cannabis products—are safely out of the reach of minors (or anyone else who shouldn’t be accessing cannabis)

Vape Cartridges vs. Other Consumption Methods: How Do They Stack Up?

Here at Vireo Health, we believe that vapes fulfill an important need in the cannabis toolkit. Vaping is a fast-acting method of ingestion, typically taking at most a few minutes to achieve full effect. If you’re experiencing sudden or severe symptoms such as pain, anxiety, or any of the other symptoms cannabis is so effective at helping us manage, using a vape is the best way to stay on top of them in the moment.

Other formats such as softgels, tablets, oral solutions and edibles take much longer to take full effect, typically an hour or even two. If you’d prefer a faster-acting non-inhaled cannabis format, taking a cannabis tincture sublingually (under the tongue) results in a faster onset time, typically under 45 minutes.

Then there’s the sensory experience of using a vape. Users report that instead of inhaling harsh, burned plant matter, the mist released by a vape is gentle and cooling. In addition, we also believe there are health benefits to vaping as opposed to smoking. According to one study comparing vaping with smoking: “The use of a vaporizer predicted fewer respiratory symptoms even when age, sex, cigarette smoking, and amount of cannabis used were taken into account.” When you need a quick onset of effects, vaping may offer a gentler option than smoking.

Explore New York’s Best Vape Cartridges with Vireo

While we believe it’s important for you know about the potential risks associated with smoking and vaping cannabis, we believe using vape cartridges offer a safer, effective way to access the benefits of cannabis.

That’s one of the many reasons Vireo Health offers our proprietary Vireo Spectrum™ vape carts, including balanced options such as our Green line containing a balance of CBD and THC, our Red line, containing a high ratio of THC to CBD. And if you’re looking for strain-specific vape options, don’t miss our Vireo Selects Kilimanjaro all-in-one disposable vaporizer.

If you’d like to know more about the different types of vape cartridge or have any other cannabis-related questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! We’re here to answer any and all of your questions about this revolutionary and all-natural plant medicine, and the many ways it can start supporting your health and wellness today.

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