Although most news about vaping covers the risks of inhaling liquid nicotine, that is not the only kind of substance you can vape. There are two main types of e-liquid and even more options when you expand your horizons to using dual-use or dry herb vaporizers. Read on to learn more about all of your options when it comes to vaping.
E-liquid is known by many names since there are many brands on the market trying to establish their terminology as the standard. However, this can create a lot of confusion for vape pen customers. When you do an online search for e-liquid, the following alternative names also appear:
However, you’ll notice that all of these names are a variety of three keywords -- vape, liquid, and nicotine. All of these terms refer to a liquid that contains nicotine and can be vaped. They all are usually comprised of the same basic ingredients of propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), flavor concentrate, and liquid nicotine. These e-liquids operate as an alternative nicotine delivery method than smoking tobacco, nicotine gum, or nicotine patches. However, these terms are not just reserved for e-liquid containing nicotine.
There are also e-liquids that are nicotine-free. This product still looks and works the same as e-liquid with nicotine in it, and is sometimes referred to as the following names:
This product is made of the same basic ingredients of PG, VG and natural flavoring, but excludes liquid nicotine. Ideally, this is what all consumers looking to quit nicotine are aiming to vape in the end. If you are a cigarette smoker making the switch to vaping, the idea is to then gradually decrease the ratio of nicotine included in your e-liquid over time. This nicotine cessation method is intended to allow you to gradually decrease your nicotine intake, instead of quitting cold turkey. If you are looking to use vaping in this way, you should map out your cessation plan, marking which dates you will be dropping levels of nicotine over time, until you gradually reach zero-nicotine e-liquid.
There are also a number of alternatives to vaping e-liquid altogether. These include CBD oils, waxes, and dry herbs for dry herb vaporizers. If you happen to have a dual-use vaporizer, then you will be familiar with these options already. They do not contain any nicotine and are made with some form of CBD plant instead. However, the differences in these commonly vaped substances do not stop there.
CBD oil vape cartridges can be made with two different types of cannabinoid oil, with distillate oil being the most common. These cartridges can now be found online or at a legal medical or recreational dispensary in certain states. This oil is typically highly refined oil that only includes cannabinoids, such as CBD. This oil is then mixed with a ratio of PG and VG to make it the perfect consistency to vape. It is created with a wide variety of plant matter, but that is all sifted out to leave pure oil in the end.
However, this refining process also strips away any of the plant’s original terpenes. It leaves a very thick consistency oil, which usually has to be thinned out with an additive. These additives can include propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, polyethylene glycol, or medium chain triglycerides. While PG and VG are normally found in e-liquid, polyethylene glycol, or PEG, and medium chain triglycerides, or MCT, are unique to oil vape cartridges. Some oils use coconut oil as the MCT thinning agent, since it mixes well with the oil and allows it to reach a consistency that will work well with a vaporizer’s atomizer.
In order to provide a fuller flavor profile in distillate oil cartridges, sometimes manufacturers will reincorporate pure terpenes. The addition of terpenes also works as a thinning agent, making additional thinning additives less necessary. Terpenes also add a more natural flavor to the oil, as well as an increased aroma. They can also alter some of the side effects of the distillate oil cartridge, since more of the whole-plant matter is included and will react differently with the endocannabinoid system in the human body.
Another type of CBD oil is created with the CO2 extraction method. In comparison to distillate oil, oil created with this method tends to naturally preserve the plant’s profiles. That means that more of the full spectrum of plant molecules are included in the end product, including the terpenes that act as a natural thinning agent. This translates to a purer product in the end, and no need for additional additives to make it compatible with a vaporizer. The CO2 extraction method also gives the oil a more natural flavor, since the whole plant profile is retained and included in the final product. CO2 oil cartridges can also be “strain-specific”, instead of a combination of a variety of matter from multiple strains. Typically, if a distillate oil cartridge has a strain listed on it, the manufacturer has just reincorporated terpenes from a specific strain versus including them from the beginning.
Wax concentrates are often referred to as “oil”, however they are not like the distillate and CO2 oils we’ve mentioned above. Wax typically is found in a variety of consistencies, but it is normally never as thin as the oil found in common vape cartridges. However, wax concentrates are made with a similar process of taking the original plant matter and stripping it down to the basic compounds. The end product then has a higher concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes and strips away all excess plant material. It’s easiest to think of wax as being a similar product to fruit juice concentrates, but with CBD instead of fruit juice. This wax-like substance is normally inhaled with the help of a dab rig, but recent advances in technology also allows you to vape it as well. Waxes normally have a thicker consistency which is best vaped at higher temperatures. This is why there are specialized wax vapes that should be used, such as the SteamCloud Mini 2.0 Vape Pen.
The last recommended option when it comes to substances you can vape is dry herb. Many smokers choose to make the switch to vaping in order to give their throat a break and intensify the impact of their dry herb. There are special portable or desktop vaporizers that are designed to work best with dry herb, and often feature a convection-style heating chamber. The plant matter should be ground to a fine consistency and then loaded into the heating chamber to be vaporized. The chamber then applies even heat to the plant matter, which leads to a more consistent session experience. Another advantage to vaping CBD herb over smoking it, is that there is no ashy end of a combusted bowl to inhale.
All of this is to say that there is more than just nicotine-based e-liquid available for purchase these days. Although these types of liquids go by many names, the summary of your options includes nicotine e-liquid, flavored e-liquid, distillate oil, CO2 oil, wax, and dry herbs. Each of these products provide different side-effects and potential benefits. Which product you choose to vape will depend on the side-effects you are seeking, what flavor you prefer, and what kind of vape you would like to use.