Cannabis vape cartridge in front of a white background with spots of light

What is a Vape Cartridge & How Do You Choose the Right One?

There’s no question that vaping is a popular form of cannabis consumption, but if you’ve ever walked into a dispensary, you know you’ve got a lot of options for vaping available to you. So where do you start? The answer: here. In this guide, we’re going to share everything you need to know about vaping, vape cartridges, and choosing the right one for you, including:

  • What is a Cannabis Vape Cartridge?
  • How Does a Vape Cartridge Work?
  • What is in a Vape Cartridge?
  • What Types of Vape Cartridges Are Available?
  • How Do You Choose the Right Cartridge?
  • Answering FAQs About Vape Cartridges

What is a Cannabis Vape Cartridge?

A cannabis vape cartridge is a little cylindrical device that contains cannabis oil and either comes with a battery or is attached to a battery. The style of vape cartridge you purchase can make a big difference. The two most common types of vape cartridges available are:

510 Thread Cartridges

The most universal cartridge on the market is the 510-thread cartridge. This vape cartridge is screwed on to a 510-thread battery. Most brands make 510 thread carts to ensure that their customers can use their product with most batteries on the market.

Devices-Specific Cartridges

Manufacturers are always going to try to secure you as a consumer for life, and some of them do this by making their own batteries and cartridges. If you purchase a device-specific cartridge, you likely will have to use that brand’s battery in order to enjoy your cannabis vape.

How Does a Vape Cartridge Work?

Reusable vape cartridges are fitted with a battery that is activated by holding or pushing a power button. When you inhale, the atomizer is activated, heating the oil to a vapor that you can inhale. Disposable vape cartridges work much the same way, but you would buy the cartridge built into the battery, so there is no adding and removing of cartridges.

What is in a Vape Cartridge?

Cannabis vape cartridges contain some type of oil, whether it’s a distillate, a CO2 oil, or a full-spectrum oil. But they often include other additives, including terpenes, which give the oil a flavor and aroma; coconut oil, which thins the cannabis oil; and glycols and glycerine, which can also thin the oil.

What Types of Vape Cartridges Are Available?

To say there are thousands of different types of vape cartridges available would be an understatement. Before you get overwhelmed, just know that most vape cartridges can be broken down into certain categories, including:

Strain-Specific Vape Cartridge
A strain-specific vape cartridge is a cartridge that contains the oil from a particular strain. This means that if you have a favorite type of flower to enjoy, you can likely find its vape cartridge cousin too.

Live Resin Vape Cartridge
Live resin is created by using a solvent like butane on flash-frozen marijuana flower. This process creates a thick, flavorful concentrate that’s sought after by cannabis enthusiasts around the country.

Live Rosin Vape Cartridge
If you keep the flash-frozen marijuana flower, but you get rid of the solvents used in live resin, you get live rosin, a concentrate created purely by applying heat and pressure to a bud. Many cannabis enthusiasts prefer live rosin to live resin because it’s solventless.

Concentrate Vape Cartridge
Concentrate vape cartridges contain some type of concentrate: a distillate, CO2 oil, or full-spectrum oil. A distillate will likely contain a single oil, and a CO2 oil cart will contain cannabinoids and, in many cases, terpenes too, so they offer a more flavorful, aromatic experience. A full-spectrum concentrate is one that preserves the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids in the original plant, creating a unique entourage effect. This process takes time, and because of this, full-spectrum concentrates are typically more expensive.

Distillate Vape Cartridge
In most cases, a THC distillate is an oil made up of a single cannabinoid, like THC or CBD. In general, these are some of the most potent vape cartridges available. They also tend to lack any flavor because the terpenes have been destroyed during the extraction process. That said, some manufacturers add flavors back in.

How Do You Choose the Right Cartridge?

There are a few things to consider when choosing the right cartridge for you. They include:

Disposable vs Reusable: There are both reusable and disposable vape cartridges available. A reusable vape cartridge will be placed into a battery in order to be enjoyed. When finished, you remove the vape cartridge and put in a new one. If that feels like too much effort, you can also purchase vapes that have the cartridge built into the battery, so it’s all one unit. With these, you’d simply toss the entire thing once you’re finished.

Battery Types: You can find all different types of batteries for sale, including some that allow for temperature adjustments and some that connect with apps to track your dosage. Depending on how technical you want to get for your session, you should choose a battery that allows for that type of customization.

Desired Experience & Effects: There’s a lot to be said for personal preference. If you’re looking for the most potent experience money can buy, you’re probably going to want to opt for a distillate. If you want flavor or a flower-like effect, you should look for concentrates like live rosin or resin.

Answering FAQs About Vape Cartridges

The vast selection of vape cartridges and batteries on the market leads to a lot of questions about what is best. Here are a few considerations when you go shopping:

How long does a vape cartridge last?
How long a vape cartridge lasts depends on two things: consumption levels and time. If you don’t consume cannabis very often, your vape cartridge may expire before it’s completely used. If you consume frequently, you may need a new cartridge by the end of the month.

Do all cartridges fit all vapes?
No, all cartridges do not fit all vapes. If you want to choose a vape that is more universal, opt for a 510-thread vape battery. Otherwise, you may run into limitations.

How much do marijuana vape carts cost?
The prices of vape carts vary from state to state and dispensary to dispensary. In general, you can expect a marijuana vape cart to cost around $50 for half of a gram.

Do vape cartridges expire?
Yes, vape cartridges expire. You can tell a vape cartridge may be at the end of its life by the color, consistency, and taste. If it’s an odd, darker color, or it seems to have a thicker, almost chunky appearance, time to get rid of it. If you notice it smells a little off, or tastes a bit off, toss it and opt for a fresh cart.

Where can I buy a cannabis vape?
While you can find vape cartridges of questionable legality just about anywhere, you should always buy your cannabis vape from a state-licensed dispensary. This is the only way to guarantee you’re getting a safe product.

Purchasing a Vape Cartridge

With so many options, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re new to vaping. Ultimately, it comes down to reusability, versatility, and personal preference. First, decide if you want a vape that gets thrown away or can be replaced. Then, decide if you want a universal battery or brand/strain-specific battery. And finally, factor in what you like most and how you can get that in the easiest, most affordable way. Of course, if you’re still unsure, you can always talk to a budtender to discuss options.

Recreational cannabis is not available in all states. Cannabis is for medical use only and may only be used by certified patients in Ohio and Pennsylvania. State laws impact what dispensaries can and can’t sell to recreational customers and certified patients. Not every type of product, consumption method, dosage form, or potency mentioned on this blog will be permitted in all locations.