What Am I Vaping? Making Educated Vape Purchases

Cannabis 2.0 brings a lot of exciting new products to the industry, the stars being edibles and concentrates. Vape distillate is really having its moment, arriving amidst reports of illicit-market cartridges causing health issues. A regulated system for the high-demand product came right on time. Many people are taking kindly to vaping; we wonder how many people know what they are getting when they purchase cartridges. We figure a guide might help some folks.

There are two primary cannabinoid-extraction methods for distillate: CO2 & Ethanol extraction. What’s the difference?

CO2 Extraction isolates specific cannabinoids (i.e. THC & CBD) at specific temperatures. So, a CO2 cartridge’s cannabinoid make up is hypothetically precision-designed. However, it’s possible the cart may not contain the entire family of cannabinoids & sub-compounds at the same ratios that were in the cannabis before the extraction process. Ethanol extracts the full entourage of cannabinoids in one process, which renders a more balanced distillate. So, an Ethanol cartridge should contain the source cannabis’ original family of cannabinoids at similar ratios.

This brings us to the other primary options for carts : “full spectrum” & “botanical” terpene-extraction. Terpenes are the compounds in cannabis and other plants responsible for aroma, flavor, and in cannabis’ case – effect. After extracting cannabinoids, terpenes are extracted and introduced back into the distillate to curate its flavor & effects. Bear in mind that all terpenes are the same, no matter where they’re from.

Terpenes are generally extracted using CO2, but isolating them requires a lower temperature than cannabinoid extraction. So, CO2-based carts still go through this additive process. Ethanol extraction almost completely eliminates most terpenes. An ethanol distillate is therefore essentially flavorless & odorless after cannabinoid extraction. For this reason, most edibles use ethanol-extracted THC/CBD as to not present a “weedy” taste to your snack.

So, terpenes. “Full-spectrum” carts have the source flower’s original terpenes re-introduced, to create the a ‘true’ distillate for that strain. It should taste & feel like the original cannabis. Botanical terpenes are specifically curated and introduced to create a desired flavor & effect. This essentially renders a brand new, intentionally designed experience. Botanical terpene carts could taste nothing like cannabis. Other botanical carts can be a play on their original strains, presenting a creatively ‘enhanced’ version of them.

When you browse a menu and you see a cart that’s Ethanol-Extracted/Full Spectrum, you can assume it’s an honest representation of the strain. CO2-Extracted/Botanical Carts are the opposite: intentionally rendering the effects & flavor they produce. The other two permutations sort of sit in the middle; either the terpene profile (Ethanol x Botanical) or the cannabinoid profile (CO2 x Full Spectrum) are purposefully designed, the other left honest to the source.

On a final, important note, let’s quickly talk about thinning agents. Pure, distilled THC or CBD would be too viscous to vape, so terpenes act as a natural dilutant that allows distillate to vaporize properly. Be aware that some companies use additional thinning agents in their cartridges; substances like propylene glycol (commonly abridged to “PG”) & phytol are also present in some vape options on the market. These materials have proven to be volatile at high temperatures, and can potentially be dangerous depending on the device or heat settings you use. At Evergreen, we make sure not to carry any vape cartridges that contain these substances. So, make sure to be informed of which options are safe and which contain potentially harmful additives if you are shopping elsewhere.

Hope this all helps you make educated decisions when it comes to vape distillate!

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John’s Guide to Using Electronic Vape Cartridges (510)

Some of the things I like about these new-ish devices:

  • The convenience of having them always ready to go
  • Very little smell
  • Never dry out or go “bad”
  • Unlike a joint, they won’t get squished inside your pocket
  • Pretty cool and “futuristic”.

Once you figure out how to get them out of the puzzle box they call a “child-proof package”, the first thing to do, before even attaching them to the battery pen (most people don’t realize this yet) is to take off the rubber coverings and take a long, strong pull on the cartridge (again this is before threading it on the battery) to pull lots of air through the cartridge and thereby saturating the atomizer coil with the concentrate liquid. This will ensure that the metal coil does not get scorched by the heat source first time your cartridge is connected. There’s a chance that your cartridge will taste burnt (or at least not as good as it’s supposed to taste) if you forget to do this crucial step. We call this “Priming the Cartridge”.

Now that it’s good and primed, carefully thread the 510 Vape Cart onto your 510 battery pen. Never force the cartridge onto the threads as this can strip the threading. Occasionally, if the cartridge is screwed on too tightly, it can case connection issues so if you’re not seeing any smoke from your draws, loosen the cartridge slightly and try again.

Some other issues that could be causing your 510 Vape device to stop working properly are as follows:

  • If you’re getting airflow but no smoke, it’s likely a power issue. Make sure your battery is charged (they are sold with a partial charge).
  • If you’re positive your battery is charged and you’re not seeing smoke from a draw, make sure your battery is turned on (if there’s a button, usually clicking it 5 times quickly will toggle it ON/OFF. Often a light will come on while drawing.
  • If you’re positive it’s charged and turned on, there may be a connection issue with the battery. Unscrew the cartridge and clean both contacts with a q-tip and isopropyl alcohol, then let both parts dry and reconnect.
  • If you draw and no air is flowing through, it’s likely just plugged with dried oil. Just draw extra hard and the blockage should release.

Now that you’ve got it all working properly, please remember: This is concentrated THC oil. You won’t need to inhale as much as with dried flower to get the effect you want. I understand that these devices are fun, extremely convenient and really tasty, but if you use it too often you can raise your tolerance level for THC, thereby eventually needing to use more to gain the same effect.

My advice is to take only one small pull and wait at least 5 minutes before deciding if you really need another one. Sometimes the effect seems light at first but will increase after a few minutes. Please use these responsibly. Thanks!

Here’s a link to our current menu of Vape Carts