Unless you've been living on a remote island or under a rock, you've probably heard about the benefits of cannabidiol (CBD).
The non-intoxicating cannabinoid is used for a variety of health and wellness reasons, including treatment for seizures, anxiety and chronic pain. There are several ways to incorporate CBD into your daily routine depending on your desired dosage and your lifestyle. You can ingest it via edibles or tinctures, smoke it in the form of flower or concentrates, or vape it, which is probably the easiest way for busy folks to use CBD on the go.
Vape pens, however, have developed a bad reputation after more than a thousand cases of respiratory illnesses in the United States were linked to both nicotine and cannabis vape pens in 2019. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) launched an investigation that found that additives in vape cartridges such as vitamin E acetate may be to blame. Thankfully, many cannabis companies have been quick to confirm that they do not use any potentially harmful additives in their vape products, disposable CBD vape pens being no exception.
And while there are a variety of vape products available, from traditional vape pens with cartridges, it's disposable vape pens for people who are looking for some guidance in purchasing CBD vape pens.
What makes a disposable CBD vape pen different from other vape pens?
Disposable CBD pens, which are single units that consist of a battery, heating mechanism, and cartridge or chamber full of concentrate oil, are probably the simplest option for vape newbies. Disposable CBD vapes are great for the sake of convenience: they're pre-loaded, pre-charged, quick and concealable, and once they're empty you can just throw them away. However, their convenience and disposable nature also make them incredibly wasteful, which is something to keep in mind as you choose your ideal vape.
Battery and cartridge vape pens
Disposables are just one of a few different options you have to choose from when it comes to vaping CBD. Perhaps the most popular is the battery/cartridge set-up. This works by screwing a vape cartridge filled with concentrate oil onto a single or variable voltage pen battery that you can recharge and reuse. The downside for these is that cartridges can be finicky and leak when left unattended, but they're still a solid option for dedicated vape-users who want to reuse their pens.
The other possible option is a handheld vaporizer, which can be used for either CBD flower or concentrate depending on the unit that's better for you. The heating mechanism used in handheld vapes is either a conduction or convection oven depending on your vape of choice. These are highly versatile as you can use them for both CBD and THC flower/concentrates, but they are definitely more difficult to navigate than a disposable vape or cartridge and pen combo. Regardless of which type of vape you decide on, the most important thing is to find well-made hardware (that means no super-cheap knockoff batteries) in addition to high-quality CBD oil.
Know what is in a disposable vape pen
The first step in choosing a CBD vape pen is to know exactly what you're looking for. Whether you're in the market for a disposable pen that is preloaded with CBD oil or a reusable pen with a detachable cartridge with CBD oil, there are some key factors to keep in mind throughout your search.
CBD is available in full-spectrum and broad-spectrum varieties, both of which are made from the roots, stems, flowers, and leaves of the hemp plant. The key difference is that in broad-spectrum blends, the THC compound is removed entirely after extraction, leaving no trace amounts. For someone who is not interested in any of the psychoactive benefits of THC or is being drug tested regularly, a broad spectrum CBD blend may be a better alternative.
In a perfect world, your pen or cartridge of choice will be filled with CBD oil that's a pure distillate, which is a runny, translucent oil that's devoid of any undesirable compounds left over from the plant and free of any carrier oils. Carrier oils are supplemental oils used as a thinning agent to make CBD easier to vape. While they're not necessarily harmful to you in any way, they can be mislabeled and mixed with other substances without your knowledge.
Degelis “Dege” Tufts, CEO and Founder of TribeTokes, believes that first and foremost, consumers must always read the ingredients on vape products. “The simpler the better!” she said. “Consumers should look for (and avoid) thinning agents, fillers or carrier oils such as propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), MCT oil or polyethylene glycol (PEG).”
Kymberly “KymB” Byrnes, CMO and Cofounder of TribeTokes, added “At TT we add only pure, clean CBD-rich full-spectrum distillate, terpenes and other whole plant extracts to our vapes. If you see a lot of ingredients that you can't pronounce in your vape, then maybe it's not what you think it is.”
Tufts warned that companies who use harmful ingredients like vitamin E acetate would likely never disclose this on their product labels. “The only thing you can do is to purchase products from trusted brands or dispensaries and look for verified lab tests,” she said.
Allison Krongard and Laura Eisman, Co-CEOs and Cofounders of Her Highness, also understand the value of third-party lab testing for vape products. “We thoroughly test each batch and post our Certificates of Analysis (COA's) on our site. With complete transparency, we're pleased to share all our test results on every product page,” Krongard said.
Eisman explained that they use the same level of caution and attention to detail when designing the vapes themselves. “We went the extra step in designing our hardware to provide the cleanest option on the market. Lining the interior with medical grade stainless steel ensures metals do not leach into the oil, ever. The ceramic coil only heats the oil you draw instead of reheating all the oil each time. We want our customers to know we have their back.”
“According to a recent article in Ganjapreneur, 98% of vaping illness patients bought their vapes illegally. My professional advice to consumers is, please don't do that,” she added.
In other words, not all vape products were created equal. There's no reason to write off CBD vaping entirely as it's a great way to experience on-the-go relief, but it's critical to shop from companies who are committed to your health and wellbeing.
Finding the right vape pen
Now that we're clear on how to check if a CBD-filled vape pen or cartridge has potentially harmful ingredients, you may be still overwhelmed by all of the options on the market today.
“Sometimes you just need to try a few different products to really know,” Byrnes said. “Do your research and try two or three different brands from trusted sources. Back a few years ago, we had very few quality choices. So little in fact, that we went ahead and created our own.”
Now with companies like TribeTokes and Her Highness making huge strides in the vape world, you can focus on finding a vape that matches your style. You may be searching for something slim and classy like the Queen's Elixir Vape Pen Kit (Note: not disposable, but it is one of Allison Krongard's personal favorites). Or perhaps you're in the market for something versatile and easily concealed like the All-In-One Battery + Oil Cartridge.
There's no exact formula to finding a vape that works for you. “As long as you start with a reputable company, there's a vast selection out there of potencies, flavors, added cannabinoids and herbs. This is a wonderful time of discovery. People are innovating every day,” Krongard said.
My advice when it comes to shopping for CBD vape pens is to indulge a little. While some reputable brands are making affordable products, I wouldn't suggest the cheapest disposable pen you found at the nearest gas station.
Find a company you love and a product that sparks joy (as Marie Kondo would say), even if that means spending a little extra cash so you can feel a little extra amazing.
Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps