How Long Will My Cannabis Vape Cartridge Last?

Vape pens make consuming cannabis super easy—you already know this. But what do you need to know about using and caring for these convenient accessories? Keep reading to learn how to increase the longevity of cannabis vape cartridges and pens.

More and more people are experimenting with cannabis vape cartridges. For vape enthusiasts, using a cartridge (also called a “cart”) provides a level of convenience, along with a way to control the dosage. Plus, these handy accessories make consuming the plant more discreet than smoking a joint or pipe.

For first-time or infrequent cannabis consumers, the care and use of cartridges can be a bit confusing. And many people wonder about the longevity of vape cartridges. How long will—or should—a vape cartridge last?

We took the liberty of breaking down what you need to know about caring for and using vape cartridges.

A Quick Cannabis Vape Pen Primer

Many people are discovering cannabis concentrates. The sales of these golden-colored oils are racing ahead of cannabis flowers for several reasons:

  • There are typically higher levels of concentrated cannabinoids in extracted cannabis oil versus that of marijuana flower.
  • Unlike smoking cannabis flower from a pipe, bong or in a joint, vaping cannabis concentrates means you aren’t combusting cannabis plant material. This is healthier for the lungs and helps keep the healing cannabinoids intact.
  • Exhaled marijuana vapor has very little scent. What’s more, the smell from a vape pen is far-less pungent than the odor of combusted cannabis flowers, and the smell dissipates almost immediately when using a vape pen.
  • Standard vape pens are discreet—they usually resemble a thick pen, making them easy to carry and store.

Disposable vape pens are another widely available option. The cartridge and pen are a single unit, and you don’t recharge them when they’re empty. You simply recycle them.

Most folks who are new to vaping cannabis start out with the least expensive option, which is usually a disposable pen. Once folks appreciate the benefits and convenience of vaping, many opt to buy higher-end pens, and there are virtually no limits on the type and design of vape pens available to consumers.

Reusable (or Rechargeable) Versus Disposable Vape Pens

It’s pretty self-explanatory, actually. Rechargeable or reusable cartridges have a rechargeable battery and the vape cart can be replaced when it runs out. These vape cartridges screw into a lithium-ion battery that powers a heating element, resulting in vaporization and not smoke.

The batteries in disposable vape pens cannot be recharged. This option is widely available and super easy to use, as the cartridge and pen are a single unit—you can’t take them apart. Once the cartridge is empty, you take it to a dispensary for recycling.

Most folks who are new to vaping cannabis start out with the least expensive option, which is usually a disposable pen. Once they appreciate the benefits and convenience of vaping, many opt to buy higher-end pens. There are virtually no limits on the type and design of vape pens available to consumers—it’s a bustling business and there are so many options on the market for aficionados.

Extraction Techniques to Make Cannabis Concentrates

To produce concentrates, manufacturers extract cannabis oils from the leaf material and, depending on what the manufacturer desires as their end product, there are a number of extraction techniques they use to create the oils.

Distillates are cannabis oils that have been taken through a vacuum or steam process, usually several times, in order to isolate particular cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD).

The end product has very little flavor or smell, which allows concentrate manufacturers to modify the original solution and create unique products. Companies sometimes add terpenes and flavors to distillates to enhance both their aroma and effects.

What Else Is in My Cannabis Vape Cartridge?

Carts generally contain carbon dioxide, hydrocarbon or distilled extracts (or a combination), as well as various flavors. Once the oil is extracted, cannabis concentrate manufacturers use a variety of techniques to create their end product.

For cartridges, the oil must remain viscous (maintain a thick, sticky consistency) for it to turn into vapor when properly heated and so the concentrates don’t gum up. This can involve mixing raw cannabis oil with other additives, including the following:

  • Coconut oil
  • Vegetable glycerin
  • Propylene glycol

Some cannabis-concentrate connoisseurs avoid carts containing additives, but it’s definitely a personal choice.

How Much Cannabis Oil Is in My Cartridge? What Is the Projected Longevity of a Vape Cartridge?

Generally, prefilled carts come in two sizes:

  • 1/2 gram (500 mg)
  • 1 gram (1,000 mg)

Unfortunately, there’s no standard formula for how many puffs your cartridge will contain—it’s super personal. According to some dispensaries, it’s comfortable to assume that the average person will reliably yield no less than 75 puffs, and probably no more than 150 puffs, from a 1/2-gram cartridge. This is based on a 3-to-5-milligram puff, which, again, varies widely from person to person.

That said, these are just a few of the variables when it comes to how long a vape cart lasts:

  • the temperature of the battery;
  • how long and how much vapor you inhale; and
  • whether you’re using a disposable or rechargeable battery

Some quick math: Using the 3-to-5-milligram formula, it’s pretty easy to make an educated guess as to how long a cart may last for you. If you’re a light inhaler and you’re using your vape pen throughout the day, taking around 30 puffs, your cartridge will probably last somewhere between three and five days.

No matter which cartridge you choose, remember this: The percentage of THC in a cart doesn’t necessarily translate to the best cartridge for you. Effects from terpenes are often as important as the overall potency of the product.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Cannabis Vape Cartridge

Maximize your cannabis cartridge experience with these helpful tips.

  • We know it goes without saying, but it certainly bears repeating: Whichever product you choose, always read the directions before using. Vape pens come with an owners’ manual, and while some of us (read: most of us) typically ignore these highly informative leaflets, it’s best to know how your vape pen works to ensure you use it properly.
  • Store your cart in the case it comes in—that’s your best bet. It should be kept vertically with the mouthpiece facing down. You’ll also want to leave it in a cool, dry location, as exposure to heat can cause the oil in the cartridge to evaporate. (Friendly tip: Don’t leave it in your car.) Most experts suggest unscrewing the pen from the cartridge when you’re not using the device to prevent oil from heating.
  • Hold your pen vertically (not horizontally the way you’d smoke a joint) when vaping.
  • No vapor? Try turning the cartridge upside down so that the oil coats the wick.
  • Most people agree it’s easier to clean a cartridge vape pen than other types. Simply dip cotton swabs in rubbing alcohol and wipe the exterior.
  • No one likes a leaky cartridge. If you notice there’s an issue with yours, it could be because of damage to the cart tank, a cartridge that’s too full, an oversaturated wick or another issue altogether. The good news? Dispensaries will often replace a leaky cartridge or can help you figure out the culprit. (If your cart is leaking, don’t leave it on the battery as the oil could damage it.)
  • Use the rubber tips that come with the cart to keep the ends from leaking.

Why Isn’t My Vape Pen Working?

  • The cartridge isn’t connected properly. Make sure your cartridge isn’t too loose—it won’t connect properly if it is.
  • The cartridge is empty. It happens. You won’t get any vapor when it’s time to replace or refill.
  • The device isn’t charged. Plug it in.
  • There’s a bigger problem at play. Your vape pen might have a defective battery or coil. Take a look at your owners’ manual and troubleshoot. If you’re not successful, dispensaries can help.

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