I know CBD is good for me but is vaping safe? In this article we cover this common question in depth, exposing the red flags to look out for, the characteristics of the best vape products out there, and the differences in safety and efficacy (benefits) of vaping, dabbing, inhaling or smoking CBD-rich e-liquids, concentrates or the dry plant.
Is heating up anything and inhaling safe you might ask? However, vaping is a proven way forward in tobacco harm reduction. Vaporizers are marketed as much safer alternatives to the old tradition of combustion. Available evidence and peer-reviewed studies confirm that vaping is far less harmful than smoking tobacco, not to mention significant health benefits of people that quit smoking tobacco for vaping e-juice. Vaporizers have taken the world by storm in the last decade or more, and we all know someone who has quit smoking and taken to a healthier alternative, vaping. Vaping is also a trendy movement and created its own sub-culture of gatherings, meets and vape sessions. Today, most cities and towns have small regular gatherings of exclusive vapers who fill the room with sweet vape aromas.The popularity of vaping has grown exponentially since they were first introduced to the market in 2003. The popularity of vapes may be due to the ability to deal with both the physical withdrawal of nicotine as well as the behavioural addiction to smoking. Vaping is also hugely trendy amongst the youth culture of today. The wide variety of flavoursome and aromatic e-juices available as well the advanced features of 3rd generation vaporizers will get any trendsetter interested. Vaping is far less harmful than smoking to tobacco and vapers are exposed to far fewer chemicals found in tobacco cigarettes. (1) Vaporizing does resemble smoking, but with much less harmful consequences to combustion as its mere vapour. However, regulation and quality of standards need to be addressed about ingredients used in vape juices, such as the flavours and the quality of components used in the devices.
The bad news is popular news, and there have been numerous articles about the dangers of vaporizing and people being injured and burned through vaporizers exploding in their faces. The explosion usually comes from the standard lithium batteries installed on most portable vaporizers and e-ciggies. It is often related to sub-standard cheap imported parts or cheap replacement generic parts that are not suitable for the vaporizer. The vaper can also be blamed by using the vaporizer excessively or charging it with non-factory fitted parts. In the USA alone, records show that between 2009 and 2016 there were 133 acute injuries, 38 severe, in nearly 200 separate incidents of explosions and fires involving vapes. (2) With the millions of people that use vaporizers, 200 separate incidents of explosions and fires are fairly insignificant when compared to cell phones, which also use lithium-based batteries. Often the biggest issue when evaluating these faults is batteries not supplied by the manufacturer but rather “mod” batteries purchased to extend the use of vapes.
Propylene Glycol (PG) is one the most common substances used in vape e-juices. PG is generally considered as safe for oral, dermal or inhalation by humans. Vape cartridges that contain the e-juice made of PG, flavourings and cannabinoids are not combustible so limit the effects of traditional tobaccos and combustion. Generally, heavy intensive vape users will not go past the threshold 0.9g/day of PG. Toxicity will only occur at a plasma amount of over 3g. So, inhaled regular amounts of PG ranging from 0.3 to 0.45g of PG are significantly lower than the threshold of 3g that will lead to body toxicity.
If you’re planning to vape for the first time and you want to do so safely, keep in mind the following precautions:
CBD products are not all meant for vaping so make sure you are not using a CBD oil tincture (CBD drops) meant for ingestion, but rather a vape juice or e-liquid meant for your vape cartridge. Knowing what your CBD product is meant for is crucial in getting the most benefits from CBD. Good vape oil producers make all their product information available on the bottle and should list product details, dosages and ingredients.
Also, understand the ingredients in your e-liquids, because some unscrupulous backyard processors are out there to make quick money. Besides the Vegetable Glycerine and Propylene Glycol base necessary to vape the CBD oil, there shouldn’t be many more ingredients in your e-liquid, especially, artificial ingredients. Look for reputable vape shops and brands to purchase your vaporizers and maintain your stockpile of e-liquids small and fresh (look out for the expiry date on CBD e-liquids).
It is tempting to start using a new vaporizer before reading the instructions. If you’re new to vaping, this is not a good idea and can lead to an accident or a broken device. Always read the instruction manual supplied with most vaporizers or look for a tutorial online. Maintaining the device will prolong its life. Did you know, for instance, that is important to clean or change the coil of most vaporizers once a week or after changing to a new variety of e-liquid?
Be careful of purchasing cheap, non-factory fitted batteries and mods. Do not try and overclock a 1st generation vaporizer, rather upgrade and spend the extra pounds on a better vaporizer. 1st generation vaporizers have been under the spotlight for the release of harmful chemicals that can mix with the vapours, enter your bloodstream and prove very toxic. Choosing a 3rd generation vaporiser is key to avoid this issue. Look out for a device that has been tested for safety.Vaping is generally safe, but moderation is key. Overdoing anything in life will lead to negative side-effects, except for loving and laughing, of course. Even though you can vape up to 200mg of CBD per day safely, it is advisable to start with a low dose and maintain it for a week before increasing the dose. Crossing the 200mg of CBD per day mark would be considered taking CBD as a medicine. To find out how much CBD you’re vaping in your e-liquid, check out our table “How much CBD in each drop?” in the CBD guide or in the CBD FAQ.
Cannabidiol (CBD) has made world headline news recently for many reasons! It is considered a ground-breaking food supplement. CBD as a supplement should not be substituted for a healthy lifestyle, but just intended to support and promote health and well-being. CBD is an abundant compound found in Cannabis Sativa L. and usually extracted from the variety known as hemp. This cannabinoid is one of the hundreds found in the cannabis, but its uniqueness is that has no psychotropic effects or produces any high because it’s THC free (below the 0.2% of THC that is legally accepted). Peer-reviewed studies are piling up with the potential benefits of CBD due to the unique way it binds to receptors in our bodies. Our endocannabinoid system (ECS) is found throughout our bodies and mainly located in our immune and nervous systems, including our brains, skin, mouth and lungs. CBD binds to two receptors found within our ECS, these receptors are known as CB1 and CB2. Once it's bonded it regulates hormone production and communication throughout the body, thus bringing your body back into balance. For any nutritional supplement or medicine to work, it has to reach its intended target, whether it be the bloodstream, nervous system or immune system. Cannabinoids like CBD connect directly bind to our endocannabinoid system (ECS) and is delivered to this system through methods such as inhalation, digestion or topically and depending on our personal environment, physical or mental state, it may have varying effects.
An important factor that is often overlooked in articles and amongst vapers is bioavailability. This term is an extremely important concept in pharmacology and involves the rate at which a substance is absorbed into a living system or made available at a point of physiological activity. Whereas ingesting CBD oils and edibles can take more than 30 minutes to have an effect in the body, vaping CBD has an instantaneous effect. This is because the vapour enters your bloodstream through your lungs immediately.If you are using cannabinoids in your diet it is important your body has healthy levels of fats, in order for the maximisation of bioavailability. A scientific study (4) has confirmed that cannabinoids require fatty acid-binding proteins (FABP’s) to be intracellular carriers and allow cannabinoids to reach their target destinations.On the other hand, vaping is simpler, faster and more effective method of taking CBD, which is why it is known as the most bioavailable form of CBD intake.
Thanks to the fast development of cannabis agriculture and technology, CBD is being extracted from cannabis and being produced into varieties of concentrates such as wax, crystals, isolates etc. Once it is in its concentrated form it can then be infused into a variety of other products like CBD e-liquids or e-juice. The newly established and flourishing market of CBD is flooded with companies taking advantage and offering CBD products in all shapes, sizes and colours. As a consumer, this may seem overwhelming and an understanding of the ingredients and applications of these CBD products is crucial. Vaporizers come in a variety of shapes and have different functionalities. Some vapes are for single use dry herbs and or dual use for dry herbs and concentrate. CBD e-liquids are also used in vaporizers or e-ciggies and usually mixed with a PG/VG solution and full-spectrum CBD (with a large range of cannabinoids and terpenes) or CBD crystals or isolates.
Isolates are “isolated cannabinoids”, whereas full-spectrum CBD is oil that has been extracted with all other cannabinoids, from the Cannabis Sativa plant.In the past, CBD isolate was considered far more potent and effective than its counterpart full-spectrum CBD oil, but a 2015 study (5) debunked that myth. Much of the latest research also points to the advantages of taking CBD along with other cannabinoids and compounds active in the plant, and this form of CBD being much more effective than CBD in isolation. Whereas CBD crystals (also called CBD isolate or crystal isolate) are not legal for ingestion in the UK, they’re safe and effective for inhalation or vaporisation. Many of the cheaper CBD e-liquids are made with crystals. Their disadvantage is that they’re a highly processed concentrate that contains only the CBD compound in an isolated form (hence its name).On the other hand, full-spectrum CBD e-liquids and waxes contain an array of cannabinoids, terpenes and active compounds from the plant that work in synergy with CBD. Another way of achieving a full-spectrum CBD is by smoking or vaporising the dry plant, often sold as hemp tea or CBD-rich hemp tea. In short, even though all legal CBD concentrates and e-liquids are a safe source of CBD, the most effective ones are premium concentrates: a full-spectrum CBD e-liquid, a full spectrum wax or the dry herb, (the latter can also be smoked).
Vaping is not the only way to take CBD through the respiratory system and into your bloodstream. You can also dab, sub-ohm, inhale or smoke CBD.
Vaping is now a thriving trend, with a lot of terminologies and its own subculture. There are two main methods or ways of inhalation when referring to vaping: Mouth to Lung (MTL) and Direct Lung (DL) or Direct to Lund (DTL). They both yield distinctive results in terms of the experience of the flavour or taste and their intensity. Both of these methods of inhaling vapour produce different individual results.The MTL method is for the most part utilised by vapers who are new to the"scene" and includes those who are in the process of, or have given up nicotine smoking, and hence inhalation resembles the way you would inhale (drag) whilst smoking a cigarette. This is because the MTL method is a lot more similar to smoking a cigarette and results in a more intense experience of taste as the e-juice is rapidly absorbed in the mouth and into the lungs. On the other hand, the DTL method is the preferred method of inhalation for the 'direct' delivery of cannabinoids. During the process of a single hit, the lungs are slowly filled to capacity, followed by a plume of intense, flavour filled vapour after exhalation. If we compare the intensity of MTL to DTL, we could assert that MTL is far less effective than inhaling directly to the lungs, which will also give you a warmer and more intense experience. With the development of atomizers in vaporizers and stronger batteries, DTL is suggested as the preferred method of inhalation of cannabinoids.
Dabbing is purely used for concentrates such as wax, shatter, rosin, or crystals. With dabbing you can use a dab rig, a mini dab rig, or a dab pen. Dab pens are similar to vape pens and they are generally used in the same way. Dab Pens are distinct in that they are utilised with concentrates. The easiest way to associate dabbing with CBD is to think of "solids" (concentrates). These include CBD wax, shatter, rosin and crystals using dab rigs or dab pens. Both dab pens and vape pens are made with the same components: a battery to charge the atomizer (heating element), a chamber or tank to hold the product, and a mouthpiece to inhale. However, the list of accessories that accompany dab pens normally set them apart as "for the more experienced users".Vape pens are used in conjunction with e-liquids although a few manufacturers do produce dual-purpose (solid & liquid) units. Vape pens are similar in technology and process as dab pens, although as dab pens can only be used for concentrates, vape pens can generally only be used for e-liquids. Some vape pen brands manufacture vape pens for dual-purpose use (solid & liquid) units that can do both dabs and e-liquid. A few possible concerns about pen style vapes and dabs is that their coils used tend to oxidise after a certain amount of uses and they coil needs to be replaced, else you will be aerosolizing metal toxins into the vapour. This does raise a couple of health concerns as to what you are inhaling into your lungs.
Vaping is one of the easiest and efficient ways to consume CBD, but – as discussed before - many vape shops take advantage of the new vapers’ lack of knowledge and sell overpriced 1st generation vaporizers that can be dangerous (if they explode) or toxic (when they release harmful chemicals in the vape). As pointed out before, ensure you buy a high-quality 3rd generation device that has been tested for safety to avoid these issues. A vape tank can be disposable (cartomizers) or refillable. Be cautious of disposable vape tanks, as they are meant for a short and limited lifespan, so they are usually made from cheaper parts and may be of a sub-standard quality if purchased from an unreliable source. Vapers add and have the opportunity of mixing their own e-liquids for refillable tank style vapes. The coils present in the vapes can also usually be replaced and these need to be checked regularly as coils degrade over time due to the compounds found in the vape liquids.When considering heat and health, it is important not to overclock your vaporizer for bigger clouds or vape in excess. Be mindful and stick to a maximum daily dose.
A buzzword doing the rounds is sub-ohm vaping or sub-ohming - a technical term describing vapers who are able to produce exuberant ‘clouds’ under 1 ohm using high wattage DL hits. An Ohm is a unit of electrical resistance and is directly related to the atomizer of your coil and vaporizer. No one has ever won a cloud competition with a vaporizer built for over 1 Ohm. Producing massive clouds under 1 Ohm is meant for serious vapers who love chasing clouds. Although trendy, providing massive plumes of clouds and a great flavour, this is best left to the professionals.
We are left with the traditional method of combustion using dry herbs, waxes or oils in a traditional joint, bong, chillum, or pipe. Dry herb smoking, in simple terms, refers to the traditional methods used to inhale the smoke from herbs, waxes and infused herbs utilising heat or combustion to release or activate the compounds from the herb.Smoking predates the days of atomizers and mod boxes, yet, it continues to be a favourite amongst many 'old tokers' who have made the transition to CBD, but simply enjoy the 'organic feel' in the form of pipes, bongs and the likes. This could be because smoking has been used for millennia by cultures and people all over the world and it continues to thrive, particularly in countries where the tobacco industry enjoys lax regulations.One thing to remember is that our bodies were never originally designed to inhale hot plant matter into our mouths and lungs. Smoke inhalation from combustion is very harsh to the lungs comparing to MTL or DTL vaping, which emit far fewer toxins and can be designed to produce low-heat and even cold of the beneficial CBD vape. After all, there are some advantages to living in the 21st Century!
1. Konstantinos E. Farsalinos and Riccardo Polosa. 2014 Apr. Safety evaluation and risk assessment of electronic cigarettes as tobacco cigarette substitutes: a systematic review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4110871/
2. Allister Hagger. May 18, 2018. TV worker dies after vape pen explodes fracturing his skull. https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/961752/vape-pen-explosion-tv-producer-killed 3. Karyn I Cotta. May 30, 2017. A Review on the Safety of Inhalation of PropyleneGlycol in E-cigarettes. https://juniperpublishers.com/gjpps/pdf/GJPPS.MS.ID.555584.pdf4. Elmes MW1, Kaczocha M2, Berger WT3, Leung K. 2015 Apr 3. Fatty acid-binding proteins (FABPs) are intracellular carriers for Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/256666115. Ruth Gallily, Zhannah Yekhtin, Lumír Ondřej Hanuš. April 2015. Overcoming the Bell Shaped Dose Response of Cannabidiol by Using Cannabis Extract Enriched in Cannabidiol. http://file.scirp.org/pdf/PP_2015021016351567.pdf
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