Locked & Loaded: A Deeper Look Into Oil Cartridges
In honor of oil month at Lightshade (don’t forget to check out our awesome specials) we thought it would be great to explore one of the most popular forms of cannabis consumption: oil cartridge vape pens.
A Deeper Look Into Oil Cartridges
The use of oil cartridges is on the rise. While flower still remains the consumption method of choice for the majority of consumers, every year the market share of oil cartridges is increasing as oil extraction methods continue to create purer products and consumers look towards cartridges for their ease of use, discreetness, portability, and style.
What Are Oil Cartridges and What’s Inside Them?
Oil cartridges are essentially the “product” part of a vape pen. These pre-filled cartridges are filled with THC and/or CBD oils and distillates and then attached to the ‘pen’ which is actually a battery that powers the heating element. Cannabis-derived or food-derived terpenes can also be added, not only for flavor, but also because ‘terps’ can affect the type of experience vaping the product will provide. The vape pen, or battery, uses a hot coil system to heat the oil at low temperature to produce vapor, which is consumed by the user when inhaled. In modern pens, this is most commonly done simply by pulling through the mouthpiece to activate the coil, however, some pens are fitted with custom temperature settings and activation buttons.
The oil within the cartridge is where the main event takes place. There are many ways of extracting the active ingredients from marijuana plants, namely THC and cannabinoids, to convert them into an oil form. Oil cartridges utilize what is known as solvent-based extraction. Without going too much into the science behind extraction, which can be highly complex and even dangerous, essentially the solvent will dissolve the solid form of the plant, leaving a highly concentrated oil. Some of the most common solvent extraction methods include CO2, BHO (Butane), and EHO (ethanol) based processes. Since all the plant material has been removed, what you are left with is a compound that can be upwards of 90-100% THC, compared to the original flower that usually falls between 15%-25%.
Additives: The Good and the Bad
Depending on the type of extraction method used, some manufacturers choose to use ‘cutting’ agent additives in their oils. Controlling viscosity is essential in creating cannabis oil. If the oil extract is too thick, it will not be able to burn within the pen and turn into vapor. These agents are used to thin out oils to achieve proper viscosity for smoother burning. Some common cutting agents include coconut oil, vegetable glycerin, and polyethylene glycol. As advancements in extraction technology continue to make leaps and bounds, manufacturers and oil producers are beginning to steer further away from the use of such additives as they have come under a great deal of scrutiny for potential health concerns. A good rule of thumb: the purer, the better.
However, not all additives are created equal. Take terpenes for example. Extracts from cannabis plants are raw, stripped oils, meaning in their purest form they no longer have unique strain specific effects and flavors. Enter terpenes. Strain specific cannabis terpenes can be added to oil cartridge extracts to achieve desired effects, whether it’s the energy of a sativa strain or the mellow of an indica, and everything in between making oil extracts highly customizable. It doesn’t stop with effects either. Natural terpenes from fruits and other plants can be added for flavor, such as blueberries. While some manufactures may choose to add synthetic terpenes for flavor and effect enhancements, its best to always choose a cartridge with natural additives and fewer cutting agents.
If you’re unsure about what ingredients are in any oil cartridge, just chat with one of Lightshade’s experienced budtenders. We’re always happy to explain our product line and we strive to provide a consistently excellent shopping experience.
Oil Cartridges Are Taking Over. But Why?
As for why cannabis consumers are turning to oil cartridges over other methods, there are plenty of reasons why vape pens are a great alternative to traditional flower, edibles, or dabs.
For one thing, oil cartridge vape pens offer easy functionality. As mentioned before, many pens only require the user to pull, or breath in, on the mouthpiece or simply press a button to activate the coil. And since the pen heats the oil at lower temperatures, you’re inhaling vapor and not smoke, unlike the combustion process of smoking flower in joints or bowls. This results in a less harsh inhalation experience for the user, often making oil cartridges the perfect choice for more novice users or beginners. Variable voltage batteries, or pens, are becoming the standard for many popular cartridge brands and usually provide 3 levels of heat, which can vary the ‘robustness’ of the hit.
Speaking of vapor, oil cartridges make consuming cannabis discreet and easy when you’re on the go. The vapor produced typically has little or no odor, dissipates quickly and doesn’t require major rigs or flame to be able to consume.Cartridge vape pens are becoming quite sleek and stylish. Companies like PAX are taking pen design to the next level, making carrying a vape no more noticeable than holding an actual pen or USB drive.
Oil cartridges also make dosing very simple–another plus for those new to cannabis consumption. With quick onset times and mid-level duration, oil cartridges allow users to gauge their intake to match their desired effect, much the same as smoking or vaping flower.
At Lightshade, we carry a full array of your favorite cartridge brands. We expertly curate to make sure only top manufacturers make their way to our shelves, including brands such as PAX, O.PenVape, Willies, LucidMood, The Lab, Craft, and Spherex. So whether you’ve never tried oil cartridge vaping and are looking for a discreet consumption method – or you want to learn the latest and greatest battery/cartridge combination, we’ll have you covered. Stop by one of our eight Denver-metro locations and see why the Lightshade difference really is like night and day.