Cannabidiol (CBD), is a compound in the cannabis plant known for its health benefits, has become increasingly popular in recent years with the rise of the legal marijuana industry. Legal cannabis means that business owners and consumers are finding fun and exciting new ways to make infused products appealing to customers. Edibles — cupcakes, lollipops, cookies and the like are a favorite of those who may not like smoking marijuana flower. Oils are taken orally and often have unappealing flavors to them. Vaporizing, however, is another popular method of consumption that can be done with a desktop device or with a pen on-the-go. CBD vape pens provide an easy way for patients and consumers to get their dose of CBD in a discreet, effective manner.
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So what is a CBD vape pen? Similar to an e-cigarette, vape pens contain a battery-powered heating element that can quickly reach temperatures around 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This tiny heater is called an atomizer and it turns the liquid, oil, or flower into vapor. Vape pens can either contain a tank or a pre-filled cartridge. Tanks are for the user to fill up and clean out after use. They allow you to choose the CBD consumable you put in the tank, but are more work to maintain. Pre-filled cartridges can be easily placed in a vape pen and then taken out and thrown away once they’ve been consumed. This makes for less work but can be limiting if the design of the pen only allows cartridges made from a specific brand to be used.
Vape pens have sensors that turn on the atomizer. Some turn on automatically when a user inhales. Others have buttons that sometimes need to be held down until the heat is ready. Often vape pens have lights that let you know when the atomizer has reached the appropriate temperature before you inhale.
Vape pens are popular because they can be discreet and affordable. Higher end vape pens can cost you a few hundred dollars for a fully loaded, high-tech device. Vaporizer smoke isn’t as thick or pungent as smoke from flower. However, one of the best benefits of vaporizing is that it is one of the best ways for CBD to enter your body. CBD is an organic compound and when consumed orally, it has to go through the liver before it gets into the bloodstream. During this process, much CBD is absorbed in the liver or broken down by enzymes. This is called the “first-pass effect” and thus the amount of CBD that makes it to your bloodstream can be much less than the dose you first took. On the other hand, vaporizing allows CBD to enter the bloodstream directly through your lungs. This increases the bioavailability of CBD meaning that you can get the same effects with a smaller dose. Vaporizing also gets the CBD to your bloodstream faster since it doesn’t have to pass through your stomach and liver first.
So how did vaping rise to mainstream popularity? In 2003, the modern e-cigarette was invented in China. First sold in 2004 and marketed to cigarette smokers, e-cig usage has boomed. People use e-cigs for their reduced dangers (compared to cigarettes) or as an avenue to quit smoking altogether. These devices are filled with liquid nicotine that’s mixed with a carrier liquid like glycerin. These e-cigs have a similar if not identical makeup to vape pens, containing an atomizer, a tank or cartridge, and buttons and lights that help the consumer use the device. Like vape pens, they are small, portable, and mask the smell much better than smoking. The term vape pen often distinguishes these devices as intended for marijuana or hemp use, although vaporizers can, in theory, vaporize any liquid or oil. The difference is largely in the marketing language used — e-cigs for nicotine, vaporizers for cannabis.
There are several factors to consider when purchasing a CBD vape pen. First, what is your primary method of consumption? Do you prefer vaporizing CBD through concentrates or flower? Pens can be designed and marketed as used for either or both methods. Concentrate pens tend to be smaller and more narrow since the tank size only needs to hold a little bit of a highly concentrated oil. Vape pens for flower tend to be bigger in size with larger chambers since flower has more volume than oil. However, vaporizing flower means frequently changing the tank. The entire chamber will heat up and the flower will become darker brown in color and look more wilted as the cannabinoids are vaped off the top of the plant material. The flower will not disintegrate and instead needs to be thrown out and replaced when finished. One of the benefits of vaporizing oil is that the oil burns itself off as it gets used. You can fill your tank with oil and slowly vape until you run out and need to refill. Often there will be old residue leftover, but you can go much longer without touching the tank than you can with flower vaporizers.
Another consideration is the price. High-end vaporizers can cost you several hundred dollars and come with fancy add-ons like a smartphone app and a faster atomizer. Atomizers can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes to heat up and this technology often factors into the price. How important the time gap is for you is worth understanding before you buy.
The majority of vape pens are made in China. Cheaper technology can break quickly meaning you will spend more money on a replacement pen. Check to see if the manufacturer or brand offers a warranty on the pen. The more money you’re spending the more you’d expect the company to stand by its product. If you are purchasing a pen designed for pre-filled cartridges, understand which brands fit the product. Read reviews and discern for yourself what is acceptable for you.
Finally, see if the company that makes your favorite oil or cartridge tests their products for contaminants, heavy metals, and potency. The industry has little regulation and also lacks standardization, so you want to make sure you’re buying from a reputable company whose products have as much clean, potent CBD in them as they say. What is the pen worth if the product you’re consuming isn’t able to do its job?