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Vaping cannabis is a common consumption method, second only to flower in the state of Utah in terms of product sales. Vaping has also had its fair share of media attention over the past couple of years, which may make some people wary of using them for their medical cannabis needs. We’re here to give you all the facts you need to determine if vape is right for you.
For those who want the cliff’s notes, here’s a short summary of the basic reasons you might choose a vape product:
- It’s a convenient, discreet way to use cannabis. Essentially, a vape allows you to inhale cannabis vapor through a device that we’ll dive into the anatomy of below.
- With a vape, the cannabis is not combusted so it’s perceived by many as a healthier inhalation method alternative.
- Because the cannabis is not combusted, you can receive more of the benefits of the cannabis flower.
- Most notably, when you vape, the onset of effects is nearly instant, so you don’t have to plan hours ahead as you would with an edible for example.
- Finally, vapes allow you to easily manage dosing. So if you inhale and don’t feel anything after about 15 minutes, you can inhale again and quickly know if you’ve reached that perfect level of effects for your individual needs.
Now we’ll dive into more detail for our patients who love a good research session. By the time you’re done, we hope you have all the vaping facts you need to decide if it’s the right method of consumption for you in your cannabis wellness journey.
What is a vape cart and what’s the best way to use it?
Let’s get to the fundamentals of what a vape actually is, and how to use one. In this section, we’ll talk about the basic components of a vape, cartridges, and batteries, and how they work together to deliver cannabis medicine to your body.
Vape cartridges work in conjunction with vape pen batteries. When you put them together, the battery powers an atomizer in the cartridge that heats up the oil, activating the cannabinoids in it. Cannabinoids are then absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the lungs upon inhalation.
Sometimes a vape cartridge will come with a battery (pre-loaded), but most of the time you’ll have to purchase the battery and cartridge separately. The threading on the vape pen battery provides the connection to the cartridge, so make sure they are compatible before purchasing one. One of the most common pen batteries is 510 threaded which works with most vape cartridges on the market today.
Here’s a diagram of the vape and all of its components below.
Tip: To get the most out of vaping cannabis, we recommend using a low temperature from 280F - 350F so most of the beneficial terpenes and cannabinoids are preserved. If you vape using higher temperatures of 446F or more, you are actually burning the cannabis oil and risk losing more of those great cannabinoids.
In Case You Didn’t Know: Cannabinoids are substances found in the cannabis plant like CBD, THC, and CBG that give patients relief from symptoms ranging from pain relief to muscle relaxing and anti-nausea. See the chart below for the benefits of different cannabinoids.
How do I use a vape cart?
When you purchase a vape cartridge, it comes with a mouthpiece so all you have to do is connect it to your battery to begin use. The vape cartridge contains the distillate or cannabis oil with the cannabinoids and terpenes (the good stuff!), but you’ll always need the battery in order to properly use the cartridge.
Patients have a lot of options for vape pen batteries, and all of them work just a little bit differently. Here are the directions below on how to use the reusable Vessel vape pen available at WholesomeCo:
Using the Vessel Vape Pen
- Make sure the battery is charged
- Attach the cartridge to the battery
- Inhale...Hold for 3 seconds...Exhale (you’ll notice you exhale a mist with very little odor)
- Repeat inhalation as needed. For newer patients, we recommend starting with one inhale, and waiting 15 minutes or so before inhaling again.
- Once you’ve reached your desired level of effect, you can leave the cartridge attached to the battery until your next use.
Most vape cartridges allow for multiple uses, it all depends on how much you consume per session.
How does a vape compare to other consumption methods?
Vapes are fast on, fast off. Typically, onset is within 30 seconds to a minute and will peak in 15-20 minutes. Effects tend to wear off in about 90 minutes. This method of consumption is great for breakthrough pain and anxiety where quick relief is needed.
Since vaping is much more concentrated, we recommend starting slowly with one, one-second inhalation, especially if you’re used to using flower. Low and slow is the best method when vaping cannabis.
How is vaping different from a flower vaporizer?
It boils down to length of onset, and potential availability of cannabinoids and terpenes. Vaporizing flower can take longer to have an effect (typically a few minutes). It peaks in roughly 20 minutes, and effects tend to wear off in 2 hours. Flower’s effects typically last longer than a vape cart because there are waxes, plant matter, and a host of other molecules along with the cannabinoids, terpenes, and terpenoids when vaporizing the whole flower.
Here’s a quick pros and cons list comparing Vapes to Flower Vaporizers to make it a bit simpler to understand:
Advantages of Vape
- More convenient & easier to use compared to using flower in a dry herb vaporizer
- Onset is immediate
- Dosage is easy to monitor and adjust
- No harmful byproducts from smoking
- Cooler and less irritating mist instead of smoke
- Less messy compared to vaporizing flower
Disadvantages of Vape
- Depending on the processor and extraction method, there may not be as many cannabinoids and terpenes compared to vaporizing flower
- Inexpensive batteries can clog or malfunction cartridges
- There may be additives that can cause irritation
What are the different types of vape formulations?
Vapes come in a variety of formulations:
- High THC: 80 to 90%
- Ratio products: Ratio of THC to other cannabinoids. We see a ratio of 1:1 most often.
- Full-spectrum: Has a myriad of cannabinoids at higher ratios. At WholesomeCo, we carry cartridge options that have all the cannabinoids in relatively high ratios and a little lower in THC.
Our favorites for patients are ratio and full-spectrum formulations because they offer a broader range of benefits. Patients can use these types of formulations throughout the day for breakthrough relief from symptoms, while still being functional.
In Case You Didn’t Know: Ratio products are formulations that combine THC with other cannabinoids to deliver additional effects associated with other cannabinoids. To learn more about how cannabinoids work together through something known as the entourage effect, check out our Cannabis 101 booklet.
How do I ensure my vape product is safe?
In the past, there were concerns about vaping because of carrier oils like Vitamin E that were added to cartridges, which are harmful to ingest. While some carrier oils have been found safe to ingest, there are still concerns about safety when they are heated and vaporized.
To double-check your vape cart’s safety, make sure there isn’t any Vitamin E acetate, PEG or PG on the ingredients list, or ask for a certificate of analysis. If you're concerned about the potential harm, seek out raw products that only contain cannabis distillate and cannabis-derived terpenes or purchase from a licensed, reputable pharmacy.
Rest assured, all vape cartridges at WholesomeCo do not contain any Vitamin E or harmful ingredients.
More Questions on Vaping?
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of vaping and if it’s right for you. If you have further questions, schedule a consultation with a WholesomeCo pharmacist to discuss what method of consumption is right for you. Schedule a free consult here.