Is Your Vape Pen Safe? Here’s How To Tell
It’s been a year of uncertainty in the vaping world as vape-related illnesses (VAPI) have been popping up all over the country, peaking in September of this year. With all of the negative press circulating, you may be wondering whether your vape pen is one of the good guys. There are quite a few reasons for you to be suspicious since cheap materials from China, faulty design, vape liquid additives, and fake packaging are widespread throughout the country. If you want to know if your vape pen is safe, here are a few things to look for.
How your vape pen is made
While additives to vaping oils are seemingly to blame for vape-related lung disease, it’s also important to realize that the cartridges and the vape pen itself matter too. Many black market vape pens and cartridges are coming to the U.S from unregulated factories in China. There are over 1,000 factories, mainly in the city of Shenzhen, where materials for vape pens and carts can be purchased for pennies. With far too little oversight in the Chinese factories, it’s suspected that faulty, untested products that expose users to toxins, heavy metals, and chemicals are the result. A vape pen or cart made with cheap and unregulated materials could expose you to these toxins, even when using quality vape pen oils.
How your vape pen works
Vape pens work by turning the vaping oil or liquid into an aerosol, which is most commonly referred to as ‘vapor.’ Unlike smoking cannabis, there is no combustion (the act of burning something) when vaping. Cannabis vaporizers usually work by two methods, convection or conduction. A convection vaporizer will heat the cannabis concentrates indirectly by a stream of hot air until vapor is produced.
On the other hand, conduction vaporizers will use direct heat on the extract by touching the extract directly with a heated surface until it produces vapor. A conduction vape is often portable, small, and works with rechargeable batteries. The newer, more high-tech conduction vapes have a variety of settings that can be used to control the temperature.
Heavy metal problems
A potential problem with many vape pens is where the air intake on the device is located. Many pull activated, disposable, or other vape pens have the air intake at the bottom of the device, so the air must pass all of the electronic and battery components before getting in contact with the oil. It’s possible that the heavy metals used in the battery and the electronic equipment around it could leach into the air and vapor that you’re inhaling. Some vape pen companies, like Vessel, designed their device so that the air intake is at the top. This way, it only interacts with the vapor from the cartridge as the oil is heated.
There’s now concern that heavy metal poisoning leading to a rare lung disease, called Cadmium Pneumonitis, which is partly the culprit of vape-related illness. According to biochemist and co-founder of Colorado Green Lab, the simplest cartridge designs are the cheapest to manufacture and the most ubiquitous on the market. Essentially, unregulated vape pen and cartridge producers are using cheap supplies to manufacture their products, which could be leading to VAPI in users.
Additionally, a recent study found issues with heavy metal concentrations, like copper and lead, in the vapor produced by some tank-style vapes. Their powerful batteries and large fluid tanks may be producing harmful byproducts with hefty concentrations of heavy metals. Ditching the tank-style devices for a slimmer vape pen may be beneficial if you want to reduce your risk of heavy metal exposure.
Counterfeit vape pens and cartridges have become an increasingly large issue in the vaping world. Out of all the VAPI illnesses nationwide, 56 percent of victims said they used Dank Vapes, which is not a real company but fake packaging from China. Many legitimate companies like STIIIZY and Cookies have fallen victim to illegitimate copy cats who are passing off counterfeit vaping products as the real thing.
When looking at packaging, always check the label for third-party lab test results, a QR code, or a serial number. If you find vaping products that are significantly cheaper than those sold in licensed and reputable dispensaries, this could be a red flag that they’re fake.
Consider where you bought your vape pen
Some places are much safer than others for buying a vape pen and oils. Sites like Alibaba.com sell cheap vape pens and cartridges that are made abroad without much oversight or regulation. While it’s easy and cheap to purchase vape pens this way, it isn’t necessarily the safest option. You should also be wary of purchasing vape pens and cartridges from bodegas, gas stations, unregulated pop-up markets, and off the streets. When buying from these types of operations, it can be difficult to know what materials were used to make the vape pens and how safe they are.
How to tell if a vape pen is quality
If you’re looking to buy a quality vape pen, there are a few things to look out for whether you’re purchasing online or in a trusted store. A modern and well-built vape will typically offer the ability to change airflow and temperature so you can customize your vaping experience. Vape pens that turn off automatically and have long-lasting battery power can offer a better experience as well. Look for a pen with airflow that doesn’t require passing through the electronics of the device and that is compatible with 510 thread count so that it will fit most vape cartridges on the market. And, a company that offers a warranty, like Vessel, is often more credible and ready to back up the quality of their product.
When shopping for a vape pen and cartridges, it’s always important to know what you’re looking for, how it was made, and where it came from. This way, you can reduce your risk of getting a product that may be harmful to you or the people you love.