Woman Vaping behind the wheel

Learn | 06.16.2023

Are Weed Pens Safe? What You Should Know

Is Vaping Marijuana Safe?

The question of marijuana use has expanded beyond traditional smoking to include various methods of consumption, with vaping emerging as a popular alternative. Vaping marijuana involves heating the plant’s cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, and then inhaling the heated oil through a vaping device, often referred to as an e-cigarette or vape pen.

When comparing smoking to vaping, the latter is thought to be the healthier option because it eliminates the combustion process, thereby reducing the inhalation of harmful substances like tar and carcinogens. Nevertheless, vaping is not without its risks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a series of lung injury cases have been associated with the use of vaping products, particularly those containing THC procured from informal sources like friends, family, or unregulated dealers.

Moreover, it’s essential to remember that vaping cannabis can result in a more potent high than smoking, which could potentially lead to adverse reactions such as paranoia, anxiety, and even psychotic episodes in extreme cases. Therefore, if you choose to vape, always start with small amounts, especially with THC-rich products.

As for CBD users, vaping can be a convenient method of consumption, but safety largely hinges on the quality of both the vape pen and the CBD oil. Users should ensure they purchase from reputable brands that provide third-party lab testing to verify the purity and potency of their products. Furthermore, users should avoid CBD vape juice that contains thinning agents like propylene glycol, which can break down into carcinogens when heated.

Heating Element: Aluminum Vs. Ceramic Vs. Glass

Understanding the makeup of your vaporizer’s heating element is crucial in ensuring a safe vaping experience. All vaporizers have a heating element, sometimes referred to as the bowl or oven. This is the part that houses your herb or concentrates before they are heated and transformed into vapor.

Aluminum heating elements offer excellent precision in temperature controls, providing an optimized vaping experience for various forms of cannabis, from dry herb to concentrates. However, these elements present certain health risks. Low-grade aluminum, when in contact with acidic material such as the leftover resin from dry herb or concentrates, can leach off and off-gas when heated. This is particularly concerning due to studies linking aluminum exposure to Alzheimer’s disease and other health risks.

In contrast, ceramic ovens are incredibly heat resistant, meaning they are excellent at retaining heat and offering a more consistent vaping experience. Their higher boiling point compared to aluminum materials drastically lessens the chance of leaching and off-gassing, making ceramics a safer choice when it comes to the heating element.

Of all the materials, glass is the safest. As the most inert material used in vaporizers, it poses no hazard. Usually, heating elements are not entirely made of glass but comprise ceramic or aluminum lined with glass for an extra layer of protection. This lining not only ensures safety but also preserves the flavors of cannabis better than any other material, providing a tastier, more enjoyable hit.

Air Path: Plastic Vs. Metal Vs. Ceramic

The heating element isn’t the only part of a vaporizer where material quality is a critical consideration. Every vape has what’s referred to as an air path – the route that air takes before it gets heated and delivered into your lungs. If this path is made from inferior materials, it can potentially leak toxic micro-particles into the vapor.

Plastics and cheap metals, often used in lower-end vaporizers, are more likely to leak these harmful micro-particles, which then find their way into the user’s lungs. Stainless steel, while safer than plastic and cheaper metals, also has its drawbacks. It requires regular cleaning to prevent the buildup of resin, which can become a tedious chore over time.

The safest materials for air paths are ceramic and glass. These substances are highly resistant to heat, reducing the likelihood of toxic off-gassing. Nevertheless, be cautious when choosing your device, as some vaporizers may claim to feature ceramic or glass air paths but still include cheap metals in their construction. An all-polished zirconia ceramic air path, like those featured in the DaVinci MIQRO or the DaVinci IQ2, is ideal for ensuring the cleanest, safest inhalation.

What To Look For When Buying Weed Vape Pens

When you’re in the market for a weed vape pen, there are several key factors to consider ensuring you’re purchasing a safe and reliable product. First, consider the materials used in the heating element and air path. The best options are ceramic or glass due to their heat resistance and inert properties, reducing the chance of toxins getting into the vapor. Avoid devices with plastic or cheap metal parts.

Next, consider heat control. Vape pens with adjustable temperature control are ideal because they allow you to manage the heat, preventing cannabinoids from burning and producing a harsh, potentially harmful smoke.

Third, consider the brand. Purchase vape pens from established, reputable brands with good reviews. These companies are more likely to prioritize the safety and well-being of their customers and less likely to skimp on materials.

Battery life is also an important consideration. A vape pen with a longer battery life will provide a better vaping experience, as you won’t constantly need to recharge it. Moreover, extended battery life often signifies better overall product quality.

Finally, pay attention to how the device feels in your hand. A well-constructed, sturdy vape pen will not only last longer but also offer a more enjoyable user experience.

What Is Off-Gassing?

Off-gassing, in the context of vaping, refers to the release of vapor from unwanted materials that can produce toxins or harmful chemicals. This can happen for a few different reasons. When you first get your vape, residual oils or factory residue may still be present in the device. Heating up your vaporizer without anything in the material chamber (a process known as an initial burn off) can help burn away or off-gas these materials.

It’s also wise to do a burn off cycle after each cleaning to remove any leftover cleaning solution. The last thing you want is to inhale remnants of cleaning chemicals along with your vapor. Off-gassing during a burn off cycle is normal and to be expected. 

What’s more nefarious is when your vape is off gassing during regular use due to sub-par materials. Manufacturers who skimp on the materials around the heating element or air path risk releasing toxins along with your herb vapor, negating any potential benefits of vaping and possibly causing more harm than traditional smoking.

Takeaway

Vaping, particularly cannabis vaping, has grown in popularity for a number of reasons: it’s more discreet, less smelly, and generally perceived to be safer than traditional smoking. However, as with any activity, vaping should be approached with a degree of caution and responsibility to minimize health risks. The key lies in understanding the intricacies of vaping, including the materials used in vape pens and the quality of the cannabis products used.

First and foremost, prioritize the quality of the vaporizer. The material choice in a vape pen’s construction can significantly impact the safety and quality of your vaping experience. Heating elements and air paths made of ceramic or glass are generally considered the best due to their heat resistance and inert properties, reducing the chance of off-gassing harmful toxins into the vapor. Avoid vape pens with plastic or cheap metal parts, which are more likely to leak harmful particles.

It’s also important to consider the temperature control offered by the vape pen. Look for devices that allow you to adjust the temperature to prevent burning of cannabinoids and the production of harsh, potentially harmful smoke. This feature will enable you to customize your vaping experience based on your preferences and the specific strain or type of cannabis you are using.

Another essential factor to consider is the brand. Established, reputable brands that have garnered positive reviews are likely to prioritize the safety and well-being of their customers. These companies are more inclined to invest in higher quality materials and more advanced technology, resulting in safer and more reliable vape pens.

Furthermore, don’t overlook the importance of battery life. A longer battery life ensures a better vaping experience, freeing you from the inconvenience of having to recharge frequently. Extended battery life often signifies better overall product quality and robust construction, adding another layer of assurance.

Apart from the vape pen itself, be cautious about the source and quality of your cannabis products. Purchasing from regulated, trustworthy sources helps ensure you’re getting a safe product that’s free from harmful additives or contaminants.

Finally, be mindful of your vaping habits. It’s recommended to start with small doses, particularly if you’re new to vaping or trying a new cannabis strain or product. Listen to your body, take regular breaks, and never vape to the point of discomfort.

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