To dab or not to dab? That is the question, but can you dab oil cartridges?!
With the increase in both the legality and popularity of cannabis, new forms have recently cropped up on the market.
One of them is a cannabis oil, which has primarily been extracted from the flowers of the cannabis plant. These oils can come in their natural sticky, viscous form, or they can be made even more concentrated to form dabs.
To create a dab, a solvent like butane or carbon dioxide (CO2) is applied to the cannabis oil. This extracts the THC, which is the primary chemical in the cannabis flower that mentally affects you.
The oil then becomes even more sticky and concentrated, to the point that it looks like ear wax, has a darker color, and can develop a glass-like sheen. Although it doesn’t look like traditional oil, like vegetable oil for instance, it’s still considered an ‘oil’ in cannabis terminology.
The Basics of Dabbing
‘Dabbing’ has become the appropriated slang term for smoking small amounts of concentrated cannabis oil (which goes by many slang nicknames, including wax, shatter, budder, and BHO [butane hash oil]). These oils are heated on a small hot surface, known as a nail or e-nail if it’s electronic, and then smoked through a dab rig or a quartz bucket / banger.
If you’d like to dab on the go, you can purchase an inexpensive e-rig (electronic oil rig) instead. This functions even better than a concentrate pen. It usually runs on battery power or sometimes electric power, too. Since these are much smaller than standard dab rigs, the nail size is also much smaller, forcing you to use a smaller amount of oil.
What’s the Oil in Vape Cartridges?
Besides smoking through a dab rig, using vape pens to inhale the cannabis oil smoke is the other popular way users imbibe. In this instance, you want the oil to remain as viscous as possible, so that it coats the inside of the vape pen cartridge and gets down to the coils. That’s when it’s able to burn and produce the vape smoke. It is so much simpler and easier to use than a dab rig, plus you don’t have to worry about getting a nail or e-nail heated.
You can find pre-filled cannabis oil cartridges on the market.
Dabbing Oil From Cartridges
However, what if you have a broken vape pen oil cartridge, and you want to use that same cannabis oil in a dab rig? What’s the difference in the product between this hash oil and the “shatter” you normally use? Can you do that safely?
There isn’t a straightforward answer to this question. Two main factors must be taken into account:
- Chemical additives
Differences in Temperature
First, let’s talk about heat differences. Depending on what the user prefers, dabs to be used in a rig or e-rig are usually heated up to about 700° Fahrenheit – that’s very hot. In the bottom of the vape pen, you’ll notice the red hot coils that help heat up the oil and produce the vapor.
Unlike regular dabbing with cannabis that reaches such a high temperature, vaping is usually only around the 350° to 400° Fahrenheit degree mark. That is a much bigger difference. Due to this lower heat, the coils don’t get extremely hot.
So, the hash oil in a vape pen cartridge might not be able to withstand the difference in heat when you put it in a dab rig and apply your butane torch.
There is no regulated standard when it comes to additives found in the hash oil in a vape cartridge. So, that oil may be full of different chemicals and cutting agents. These agents make the oil much more viscous, so that it flows easily through your atomizer.
One is polyethylene glycol (usually abbreviated as PEG). Together with another chemical additive called polypropylene glycol, these two cutting agents are food-grade antifreeze. They are considered safe for human consumption at the lower temperatures to be put in a vape pen.
But, if you try to put them in a dab rig, the higher heat (a difference of 400°) will affect the oil. You’ll certainly taste the difference and will probably cough a lot more. Also and unfortunately for the you as the user, heating them with an e-nail (electronic nail) changes these substances where they obtain carcinogenic properties.
Glycerin is another cutting agent often added to cannabis oils. At high temperatures, that breaks down into acrolein and causes an unpleasant smell.
So, Should You Dab Oil Cartridges?
There are many uses – transferring to a fresh cartridge, baking, regular smoking, or using with a bowl – for the oil still left in a vape pen cartridge. Due to its bitter taste and carcinogenic properties, it’s not that safe to dab these oils. Stick with the actual dabs for a better and healthier experience.