How to Shop for Cartridges Like an Expert
As seen on High Times.
Looking for the right vape can be slightly overwhelming (and intimidating) with all the choices on the market today. That’s why we've broken down the key questions you should be asking your Budtenders when shopping for your next cartridge.
What Strain Should I Choose?
What effect are you looking to get? Have you noticed certain strains worked better for you in the past? Will you be vaping this cartridge during the day or at night, to relax or stay active? These are all questions to ask yourself before making a decision, as they will play a huge role in your overall vape experience.
What Is the Terpene Content?
There are over 300 compounds found in the cannabis plant that make up the full profile of any given strain. As you may know, these major compounds include cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, THCA, CBN, etc, but also include terpenes/terpenoids such as linalool, pinele, limonene, etc. If you vape a cartridge with 90% THC but it only contains one terpene, you’re not getting the “full spectrum” and will miss out on most of the benefits and effects you’re supposed to get from cannabis. This is why consumers looking for a whole experience need to look for brands that offer vapes as close as possible to a complete strain profile.
Which Terpenes Does This Product Contain?
A terpene is a terpene, no matter the provenience or source. Linalool extracted from cilantro is the same linalool extracted from the cannabis plant and has the same chemical compound. Our body, brain, and endocannabinoid system will respond to linalool exactly the same way no matter where it comes from. Often times consumers confuse one source of terpenes to be better than the other, but this is simply not true. Instead of focusing on where the terpenes come from, pay attention to their effects and try documenting which terpenes work best for you, so you can find a strain that closely matches that profile.
Why Are Brands Using Food Grade Terpenes?
The main struggle with cannabis products is consistency. The batch of King Louis this month has to be the same as it was 6 months ago for a product to be reliable to the consumer. However, this is very difficult to achieve due to many different variables in the growing process. For this reason, many brands are beginning to use food grade terpenes, which are recognized by FDA as GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe). These terpenes are professionally extracted from natural sources and handled in a certified lab where they are tested as pure, safe, and most importantly, can be standardized.
Does This Cartridge Contain a Full Profile?
Many products claim they are infused with cannabis derived terpenes and although this may be true, it’s not quite right. Terpenes are extremely volatile compounds and when you extract oil from the cannabis plant, the applied heat and pressure end up damaging the original terpenes and oxidizing them. So while some vapes advertise that they use cannabis derived terpenes, keep in mind those terps are also oxidized, which renders them useless in terms of benefits, effects, and flavor. Most importantly, the terps no longer represent the original strain. This explains why different oil made with cannabis derived terpenes usually smell and taste the same. It would be very difficult to differentiate Gorilla Glue oil from Skywalker oil, nor would you feel their true effects because they no longer contain the original terpene profile. For this reason, progressive companies are choosing to re-introduce raw cannabis distillate with a natural blend of terpenes that maintains the strain-specific characteristics needed to replicate a fuller and true strain profile.
Does This Brand Use Reliable Hardware?
The main issue with vapes is finding the right hardware. Bad or cheap hardware can experience clogging, inconsistent airflow, or burning. One way to avoid this is to use brands with reliable hardware such as CCELL, one of the most (if not THE most) reliable manufacturing companies on the market. Many distribution companies claim they carry ccell, however only a few distribute the real deal. To check your cartridges for authenticity, look underneath the tank where you should find ‘ccell’ engraved into the hardware.
Does This Brand Use Any Cutting Agents or Additives?
Cutting agents are chemicals used to dilute or adulterate a product. Many black market vendors add cutting agents such as PG, PEG, VG, MCT oil, and Vitamin E, to their oil to increase the volume and viscosity while saving costs. Although many of these additives are considered as generally safe to consume through digestion, it does not necessarily make them safe for inhalation, which is why it is best to avoid products that include these additives.
How Do I Avoid Burning the Oil?
Make sure you know the right voltage for your cartridge. If the oil contains a higher amount of terpenes, use a lower temperature while vaping to avoid burning and damaging the terps. This is important, especially for those who say vapes can be harsh on their throat. Most brands have an ideal voltage setting that works best for their cartridges, so be sure to ask before you check out!
Written by Sarah B.