I am constantly seeing posts by distressed Illinois medical cannabis patients who are having problems with their vape pens. In response to your cries for help, this article is about the care of vape pens. It will include information on the types of vape pens that are available and some care instructions as well as troubleshooting.
Rechargeable Vape Pens
Many people prefer the rechargeable vape pens because they are reusable, which is ecological, AND it saves them money. They come in 2 parts; a thin, rechargeable battery and a pre-filled, disposable cartridge containing between .25 to 1 gram of cannabis oil. The battery is extremely portable and can be reused multiple times. Different cartridges can be used and replaced throughout the day using the same pen.
Disposable Vape Pens
The disposable pens, which look like e-cigarettes, are designed for convenience, especially for those who are travelling. However, the fact that they are one-use items makes them wasteful and expensive. There are companies now that will take back the pens and recycle them. The disposables consist of a pre-filled tank of cannabis oil and a pre-charged battery sealed within the device. Since it is a sealed unit, you cannot exchange a new cartridge for a used one. Once you use up all the oil, you throw it away.
Additives in the Pens
Some companies use only 100% oil in the cartridges. Others use additives for a number of reasons; flows better, adds to its shelf life, pads out the product to be more profitable, but diminishes its quality, produces a lot of vapor which makes it appear more effective.
- Propylene Glycol (PG)
- Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
- Vegetable Glycerin (VG)
- Coconut Oil or MCT Oil (Medium-Chain Trigycerides)
Studies by the FDA indicate that these additives are not harmful. You must decide for yourself it you want to avoid them. Ask your Patient Care Specialist at your dispensary which pens contain additives and which do not.
Supercritical CO2 Method
The consensus of opinion in the industry is that using the proprietary supercritical CO2 extraction method is the cleanest and safest way to produce the highest quality concentrates. This method also preserves the very beneficial terpenes contained in the cannabis plant.
Not All Batteries Are Equal
The batteries that typically come with rechargeable vape pens are not of the best quality. It is recommended that you invest in a better battery which will cost from $10-$15. The other consideration is the threading. You want a 510 threading rather than 601 threading. If you are having a problem, be sure to ask your Patient Care Specialist or the vape expert at your local smoke shop.
Vape Pen Troubleshooting
- Be careful not to overtighten when screwing the cartridge onto the battery. If you twist it too far, you may have connectivity problems.
- The result of overtightening is that the metal rings that conduct electricity get pressed too deep and fail to make contact with each other.
- Use a straightened paper clip to pry up the metal ring in the cartridge….gently does it!
- It is crucial not to break off the metal ring. Lift it evenly by a small amount.
- If this fails, you can do the same to the metal ring in the battery. This ring is smaller, so it will require a thinner paper clip.
- If that still doesn’t work, look to see if some of the oil is coating the contacts. Use alcohol and a Q-tip to remove it.
- If that doesn’t work, it may be defective or the battery was incompatible.
Caring For Your Cartridges
Keep cartridges out of direct sunlight, in a cool, dark place. Don’t leave them in your car on warm days. Elevation changes will affect your cartridges. Once the pen has been ignited, keep the cartridge upright. It is highly recommended that you purchase a case for the device. Don’t put it in a pants pocket or leave it loose in your purse. Some people even refrigerate them.
When you can no longer pull any more oil out of the cartridge but can see there is still oil inside it, cut the cartridge open and scrape out what is left. You can dab it or spread it on flower.
On a final note, most seasoned medical cannabis users agree that there are several other delivery methods which are much more beneficial and more cost effective than vape pens. Those who use vape pens are typically newbies, are looking for convenience, are traveling or they want to discreetly use medical cannabis in public.
Source: montereybayaltmed.com, July 5, 2016, Tyler Licata, 5 Things to Know About Vape Pens