Vaping CBD 101: Benefits, Side Effects & How to Vape CBD Oil
Table of Contents
- Introduction: Can you vape CBD oil?
- Why Is Vaping CBD Oil Popular?
- Equipment for Vaping CBD
- Potential Health Concerns In CBD Vapes
- Alternatives To Vaping CBD
- Is Vaping CBD Worth The Health Risks?
Vaping CBD is one of the easiest methods available to consume this beneficial supplement.
For many people with chronic pain or other conditions treated with CBD, vaping provides convenient and quick relief. However, getting started can be a daunting task for inexperienced vapers. With so many CBD brands to buy from, is that disposable pen vape at the gas station down the street really the best option? Probably not.
Many stores take advantage of new vapers’ lack of knowledge. Newcomers buy overpriced equipment or, worse, a dangerous or counterfeit product. It is important to acquire a basic understanding of vaping and the components involved before making your first purchase.
We’ll also discuss some of the health concerns around vaping, so you can make a more informed decision about whether this is the right way for you to take CBD. In recent months, some serious injuries and even a handful of deaths from vaping were reported, and we explain what is, and isn’t known about that below too.
Can you vape CBD?
You’ve probably seen CBD popping up all over, and getting added to almost everything. So it’s natural to wonder if you can vape CBD.
The short answer is yes, you can vape CBD. However, you need both special equipment and a special form of CBD vape juice in order to do so safely. Just like people vaping nicotine products use special vape juice, you’ll need CBD oil in a similar specialized form to properly inhale the vapor.
In this article, we look at different equipment you might use to vape CBD. Remember, always buy from a reputable brand. Many of our Top CBD Brands offer CBD vape products in various forms. It’s possible to buy simple, disposable vapes and vape cartridges from these brands. However, the article below will teach you much more about how to vape and whether it’s the right choice for you.
The Benefits Of Vaping CBD
The hemp industry has seen enormous growth in recent years because of its powerful health benefits. Thousands of testimonials and some scientific studies report CBD offers healing for all sorts of mental and physical health conditions, including anxiety, insomnia, pain, inflammation, and epilepsy. You can experience the benefits of CBD through a variety of consumption methods, including eating it, taking it under the tongue, applying it to the skin and more. However, vaping allows for fast absorption and an overall relaxing, efficient CBD experience.
However, many people find inhaling CBD vape oil is their preferred method. Here are some of the benefits of vaping CBD:
Vaping CBD Means Fast Absorption
If you are looking for immediate relief, vaping CBD might be your best option.
CBD vape oil has a faster absorption rate than other forms of CBD, like edibles and oils. This is because the CBD reaches your bloodstream through your lungs rather than having to go through your digestive system. It’s common for the medicinal effects of CBD vape oil to be felt immediately, or within a few minutes. The fast absorption rate makes vape oil a favorable solution for those who suffer from anxiety attacks, short-term stress and pain flare-ups.
It’s possible that inhaling CBD can have higher bioavailability when compared to other consumption methods, meaning more of the compound is absorbed into the body. In a study that compared the bioavailability of psychoactive cannabis among various consumption methods, results showed that inhalation of THC had an availability of 18 percent, and eating a THC cookie provided a six percent availability. While this study analyzed the bioavailability of THC, the results should be somewhat comparable to the bioavailability of CBD. The two compounds have some similarities in how they are absorbed by the body.
High Purity, Fewer Ingredients
Many CBD products on the market include other natural ingredients to enhance the health benefits, but some consumers may want to stick to just the CBD.
Vape oils typically offer CBD in its purest form. You can expect only a small handful of ingredients in a premium CBD vape oil. Most are usually 100 percent pure CBD extract, plus vegetable glycerin (VG) and propylene glycol (PG). These two ingredients bind the vape oil and produce the clouds commonly associated with vaping. Pure CBD vape oils may also contain a flavoring component. This is one of the major benefits of vaping CBD if you want a pure and potent supplement without fewer added ingredients.
Unlike other vape products on the market, pure CBD vape oils do not contain nicotine or any other addictive chemicals. CBD itself is non-addictive, and it is not linked with severe side effects or overdose. CBD is generally regarded as safe, and many say it adds significant value to their health.
Vaping CBD Offers Customizing Dosing
Some CBD products, including gummies and capsules, contain a pre-measured dose of CBD. CBD vape oil offers another way to completely customize your dosing. With a few simple calculations, you can determine exactly how much vape oil to add and inhale to consume the amount you want.
You can also purchase your CBD vape oil in various potency levels, from as low as 25mg per bottle all the way up to 4,000mg per bottle. If you are vaping CBD simply for a mild calming effect, you can elect for a small dose. Those who are using CBD to treat moderate or severe health conditions may choose a strong, high-potency dose. Vaping CBD is also a good option if you want to take varying doses of CBD depending on the day.
Vaping CBD Is Relaxing
Many people consume CBD purely for the relaxation benefits. One could argue that vaping is perhaps the most relaxing way to take CBD, as it produces soft, pleasant clouds that gently seep into your breath and lungs to promote calmness. CBD vape oil is often enhanced with delicious flavors, making the taste and smell very enjoyable.
CBD vapers can take a few puffs to escape from daytime stress or vape before bed to help relax into a state of rest. The mellow experience of vaping combines with the natural tranquility of CBD to create deep relaxation.
It’s not uncommon for people to take CBD while in public or at work. While CBD is safe to use virtually anytime and anywhere, some may feel insecure about taking a capsule or drops of oil with others watching. Vaping CBD is a discreet way of taking your CBD dose on-the-go without pulling out a tincture or bottle. No one will know you are taking CBD unless you tell them since CBD vape oil doesn’t have a distinct smell or look. You can seamlessly incorporate CBD into your daily vaping routine without notice.
When it comes to choosing a CBD consumption method, there is no right or wrong answer. No matter how you choose to take it, you will likely benefit from its therapeutic qualities. The benefits of vaping CBD are clear if you want fast relaxation and convenience.
Why Is Vaping CBD Popular?
Many users describe an almost instantaneous effect when they first vape CBD.
Edible forms can take more than 30 minutes to digest and enter the user’s bloodstream. For people using CBD to treat seizures, chronic pain, anxiety, or other similar ailments, waiting isn’t always an option.
Vaping works so quickly because it’s one of the most bioavailable ways to take CBD. We explained more about bioavailability and CBD in this brief video:
Vaping also allows users the ability to remain discreet and consume CBD in public. With a tank or a vape pen, a dose is never further away than your pants.
An Introduction To Vaping CBD: Know Your Equipment
Not every vape is the same, but they all have four basic components: a battery, a heating element (also known as an atomizer), a mouthpiece, and a chamber to hold the material to be vaped. The heating element vaporizes whatever material it comes in contact within the chamber and the user inhales the vapor through the mouthpiece.
From here there are two distinct styles of vapes that we are concerned with for vaping CBD. The most common style of vape you’ll see is a “tank style” vape, where a battery heats up a small disposable cartridge or a refillable container. The other kind is a pen-style vape, typically used for concentrates like CBD isolate.
Tank-style vapes and CBD
The tank style of vape is the kind that produces the famous billowing clouds associated with vaping. These are known as “tank style” vapes. Tanks require e-liquid, a mixture of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, flavorings and CBD. The heating coil inside is filled or wrapped with cotton, nylon or silica wick to absorb the e-liquid into the coils.
When it comes to tank style vapes, there are yet another two variations: disposable and refillable. Disposable vapes (also known as “cartomizers” because they use prefilled, disposable cartridges) are convenient and easy to find. However, some are made with cheaper materials and are of questionable quality. If used improperly, the coil and wick can burn up, leaving the entire system useless. With a refillable vape, users add their own e-liquid to and the heating coils are often replaceable.
With disposable vapes, users have little control over the metal used in the coil, flavors used in the e-liquid, the quality of the CBD or the base chemicals used in the e-liquid.
There are also more complex, rebuildable vapes for advanced users who want to control every aspect of the vape hardware. However, these require a higher level of knowledge than the average user possesses or is willing to invest.
Pen style vaping and CBD concentrates
Pen-style vapes make it easy to vape concentrates. It consists of a chamber with a metal heating coil in the bottom that vaporizes concentrated CBD isolate placed directly on the coils.
The problem with vape pens is that the coil must be replaced periodically when it burns out and each one costs upwards of $20.
What’s more, as the heating coil slowly breaks down and oxidizes through repeated use, metal nanoparticles can potentially become aerosolized in the vapor being inhaled. Coil life can be extended by only using pure CBD isolates in the pen. Flavor additives and impure CBD leaves residue on the coil and speeds up oxidation.
Pens vs. tanks
For tobacco smokers, a refillable tank is the most common style of vape. Therefore, it may be easy to add CBD to your tank or try a CBD e-juice. Disposable cartridges, though somewhat wasteful, offer an easy and mess-free way to get started.
Meanwhile, a refillable pen style vape that uses CBD concentrates instead of e-liquid is the best option if you want an absolutely pure CBD experience. Online vendors often sell pens as all-in-one kits. Replacement atomizers can be purchased online. Pens allow the user more control over the materials in the vape and what chemicals you consume.
The main drawback to using CBD e-liquid in a tank or cart, over pure concentrates, is the maximum dissolution rate. The most CBD that e-liquid can hold is about 33mg/ml, without the addition of harsh chemicals. This means that to achieve a typical dose, you need to take many more puffs to ingest the same amount of CBD as you’d get from a pen.
Potential Health Concerns of Vaping CBD
A small percentage of users are allergic or later develop allergies to some of the chemicals and materials used in vapes. Some studies found negligible amounts of metal particulate and other dangerous contaminants, such as lead and cadmium, in commercially available vapes. There have also been a handful of reports of serious injuries, and even death from vaping.
This is why it is so important to be informed before pursuing vaping, to avoid any potential allergens or contaminants. As technologies and regulations continue to evolve, these risks will become better understood and easier to mitigate. We’ll go into more about what we know about each of these risks below.
We need to stress, as always, that we’re not doctors or medical experts. You should consult the latest research and, when in doubt, talk to your doctor.
Vitamin E acetate and reports of death and lung damage from vaping
Reports of serious lung damage and even deaths of vape users emerged during the summer of 2019. It appears a single culprit was responsible for most or all of these issues: vitamin E acetate.
It’s important to note that vitamin E is a common ingredient in skin care products, supplements, and other everyday wellness products. It’s very safe in this form. However, it appears the same isn’t true for vaping.
Reports indicate that some vape users suffered serious, lasting effects including lung damage. Even more tragically, some deaths resulted from the vaping crisis.
It appears vitamin E acetate caused most or all of the harm suffered by vaping users. Some journalists also reported harm caused by certain terpene-based additives.
While initial reports were confusing, it appears that all the victims bought black market psychoactive cannabis (THC) vape cartridges. Leafly’s David Downs compared the situation to alcohol prohibition, when “drinkers had to worry about getting sick and dying from ‘bathtub gin.’” Total legalization will make people safer.
While we understand why some people choose to buy cannabis on the black market, whether for medical or recreational purposes, we can only recommend avoiding black market vape cartridges until further notice.
Even though CBD products weren’t ultimately involved in this, consumers should proceed with caution. Remember that CBD is unregulated. There’s no government agency approving the ingredients of each product. Always make sure you choose brands carefully, reviewing ingredients lists and always check for third-party lab results.
Could Metals Pose A Health Risk When Vaping CBD?
With pen-style, concentrate vapes, the main material of concern is the heating coil. These are typically made from titanium, stainless steel, Kanthal (an alloy of iron, chromium and aluminum), nickel-chromium alloy or pure nickel wire. Most commercially available vapes use Kanthal, grade 1 titanium or stainless steel.
According to a study from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, researchers found that e-cig users “overall exposure to metals from electronic cigarette use is not expected to be of significant health concern for smokers switching to electronic cigarette use, but is an unnecessary source of exposure for never-smokers.”
While the levels of metals measured in the aerosolized vapors were well below recommended exposure levels, vapers are still consuming metal nanoparticles that they wouldn’t otherwise be consuming. It is important to research what materials are in any vape you plan to purchase. You also have to buy it from a reputable source. A lot of vendors sell knock-off vape hardware manufactured from inferior materials.
Alternatives coils could still pose a risk
The study states that choosing a vape made from stainless steel and borosilicate glass could eliminate certain contaminants. Vape makers typically list the materials materials used in their products online and on the box. Using a vape with cotton or quartz wick and a titanium, stainless steel or Kanthal heating coil is probably safest. With nickel compounds designated as carcinogens and 10%-20% of the population sensitive to nickel, nickel and nickel-chromium coils should be avoided entirely.
As metal wire is heated and cooled repeatedly, an outer layer of metal oxide forms. When liquid comes in contact with the coils, the oxidized layer of metal nanoparticles can contaminate the vapor. These particles then travel into the user’s lungs. If you want to eliminate these contaminants entirely, skip ahead to the section on alternatives to vaping. If you still intend to vape, you should know a little bit more about oxidation and wire.
The main oxide on titanium wire is titanium dioxide. This compound is commonly used in beauty products. Researchers found it caused DNA damage in mice. Kanthal and stainless steel wire both produce chromium oxides and ions, but the carcinogenic chromium ion, chromium VI, wasn’t found in aerosolized vapor.
Nowadays, many vapes are marketed as having quartz or ceramic heating elements. However, many still have exposed wire wrapped around a ceramic or quartz core. Vapes like this are still going to leech metal contaminants into the inhaled vapor.
Potential Allergens In CBD Vape Oil
The main two chemicals in CBD e-liquid are propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. Users with sensitivities to either of these chemicals will notice sinus irritation, nausea or a headache upon use. Individuals with more severe allergies can break out in hives, develop swelling or have difficulty breathing. Luckily, both chemicals are so ubiquitous that many people are already aware of allergies.
Propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin are common ingredients in smoke machine vapor, cosmetics, hair products, food, drinks, cigarettes, medicine and many more products. Vegetable glycerin allergy is very rare. Most reactions are likely caused by an allergy to the plant oil the vegetable glycerin was derived from. Propylene glycol allergies on the other hand are much more common, but entirely avoidable.
While pure vegetable glycerin liquids are available, it doesn’t readily absorb into the wicking of most vapes. Pure vegetable glycerin juice requires advanced equipment called a rebuildable atomizer, or RBA, which is outside the scope of this introduction. As well, pure vegetable glycerin is difficult to use with CBD. Cannabidiol tends to precipitate out of the liquid into crystals. Polyethylene glycol, added to the vegetable glycerin, allows more CBD to dissolve into the liquid; however, it is extremely bitter and harsh.
Alternatives To Vaping CBD
This article is mainly concerned with vaping and making it as safe as possible for new users. Still, there are many alternative methods for consuming CBD.
1. Dabbing Or Smoking Hemp Flower
If you need quick relief, you can smoke high-CBD hemp strains. Concentrated CBD isolates or high-CBD kief can be vaporized out of a more traditional water pipe. The disadvantage to this is it is impossible to do in public without looking like a “drug user.”
It’s increasingly easy to buy smokable hemp flowers. You can find both pre-rolled hemp cigarettes and joints, or loose hemp buds for smoking in a pipe. While hemp flower won’t make you “feel high,” it can be a quick and effective way to ingest a potent dose of CBD and immediately feel its effects. You can even use hemp flower to make DIY CBD oil.
You can also take CBD through a process known as dabbing. First, a quartz dish is attached to the stem of a glass water pipe. Then, the dish gets heated up, usually with a blowtorch or heating coil. The heat vaporizes CBD isolate in the quartz dish for the user to inhale. This form of consumption is vastly healthier. The only chemical that CBD vapor can be contaminated with is water. Additionally, quartz is an inert and durable material.
2. Skip the vape and eat your CBD
If you don’t mind waiting or need external relief, edibles, capsules, and topical creams provide a great alternative. Of course, CBD drops or tinctures are also easy to take and relatively fast-acting. You can easily add CBD to almost anything that people consume.
3. CBD inhalers
A few brands now actually offer CBD inhalers. These look almost identical to an asthma inhaler. Similarly, you may feel immediate effects from this kind of CBD. These factors make inhalers an appealing, relatively discreet alternative to vaping CBD.
Is Vaping CBD Worth The Health Risks?
Non-smokers interested in vaping CBD should be relatively cautious about the health risks. At the same time, exposure to contaminants is less compared to traditional forms of smoking. Short-term and mid-term studies on the health effects of vaping show no significant side effects in smokers.
Whether or not vaping is right for you, CBD is always an option. Now that you know more about vaping, you can make a more informed decision. Still, it’s important to continue doing more research. Read product reviews, watch YouTube videos, read Reddit posts, and search for more information before you buy anything. If you can’t find any information on a product, that is a huge red flag! Don’t buy it!
Scientists continue to study the long-term effects of vaping. While we wait for their research and for regulations to catch up with new technology, vaping poses some health risks. The technology is too new to say definitively that it’s completely safe with total certainty.
We’ll continue to monitor reports of health risks and new developments in vaping technology, and we’ll keep this article updated accordingly.