After years of hearing that vaping is safer than smoking, we now hear that vaping can suddenly cause a severe respiratory illness that can be fatal in the worst cases. How safe vaping is depends on the quality of the vape juice that one uses.
Buying crudely made liquid that contains either nicotine or THC can be seriously harmful or even fatal in the worst cases. Here is some general information on the production, health concerns and methods of use on cannabis-based vapes.
How Companies Produce Cannabis Vape Liquids
There are two main types of cannabis vape juice, the oil-based kind, and the distillate kind. The distillate liquid is more heavily refine between the two. It is often extremely potent in terms of how much THC it contains. In basic terms, distillation involves heating cannabis until the THC vaporizes, and then allowing the THC to condense back into a liquid.
A commercial distillation machine has its complications, and the distillation process requires a few stages. One disadvantage of distillate is that it does not usually contain the full spectrum of cannabinoids that can be found in the plant. Both the medical and the recreational uses of the plant depend on many different cannabinoids, not merely THC and CBD. Cannabis distillate is often almost pure THC, and therefore, may be avoided in favor of oils, that include a full spectrum of cannabinoids.
While distillate uses boiling to extract the THC, oil-based distillate does not. Carbon dioxide will turn into a liquid under pressure, and this liquid CO2 can have use to wash the THC and CBD out of cannabis buds. After the washing process, one can allow CO2 to evaporate, leaving a crude oil.
The crude oil has further use in the refining process to remove substances such as waxes and leave a liquid with high THC and CBD content. While oil-based vape liquid is not quite as strong as distillate, it is still very potent. Oil-based vape juice is often marketed as full-spectrum, meaning that it contains a wide range of cannabinoids that a distilled liquid lacks. Both distillate and oil vape liquids tend to be safe. This is true in spite of the severe harm that may result from consuming low-quality vape liquids.
Why Poorly Made Vape Liquids Are Dangerous
The creation of vape liquids often involves solvents. These solvents may include butane, carbon dioxide, or ethanol. One can use butane and ethanol to extract THC from cannabis buds to create a potent concentrate. CO2 is the healthiest method of creating a cannabis concentrate, with butane and ethanol being a step-down. While Butane and Ethanol are ideally removed almost entirely from the liquid during its production, very low-quality juice may still contain a large amount of Butane or Ethanol. Therefore, anyone who uses poorly made black market vape juice can end up inhaling butane and ending up with a severe respiratory illness.
In addition, one should never attempt to make vape juice themselves, instead only buy it from well known and trusted source. The risk of serious illness is due to the consumption of poorly made black market juices, and not due to anything inherently dangerous about inhaling nicotine or THC vapor. Vapor is still safer than smoke, as long as one knows how to vape safely.
Consequently, one should never use any vape juice that does not come from a highly reliable source. Only a minimal amount of these harmful solvents remain in the typical liquid. However, the majority of fluid that is sold online does contain detectable traces of solvents. If one wants to be on the safe side, they should buy liquid that is made using CO2 and not butane or ethanol. Third-party labs are willing to test vape juice and certify that it is pure. One should buy from companies that pass safety and purity tests by third-party labs.
Liquids, Disposable Cartridges and Refillable Cartridges
Liquids that one pours into vaporizers, disposable cartridges, and refillable cartridges can be safe, if they contain safe vape liquids. Using a disposable cartridge is not inherently safer or more dangerous than pouring the liquid into a vaporizer.
Those who prefer disposable cartridges, prefer them for convenience; those who prefer refillable cartridges and bottles of liquid prefer them for price. It can be a hassle to refill vaporizers and cartridges. Due to that, some people prefer disposable cartridges even though they are more expensive. All types of vaporizers are likely to be safe if they are from reputable companies.
It is essential to understand that vaping is not always dangerous. In places where cannabis is legal but only for medical purposes, vaping is becoming the preferred method of cannabis use. Doctors would not tolerate vaporizers if they were inherently dangerous. Vaping can be safe if one is using safe products.
In Canada, where cannabis is legal everywhere, even for recreational use, vaporizer liquids are now legal. Vaping cannabis would not have become legitimate if it was always dangerous to use vaporizers. Vaping can be a cheaper and healthier, although not completely safe alternative to smoking.
Many cancer-causing chemicals that are present in smoke are there because of the process of combustion. The burning of tobacco or cannabis creates many chemicals that can be harmful and eventually fatal. Inhaling a clean type of vapor purchased from a very trustworthy source allows one to avoid these cancer-causing chemicals. While there is not yet enough information about the health effects of life-long vaping, the evidence is in favor of it being much less dangerous.