Entering a vape shop as a customer, you are greeted with a vast array of CBD products, to which even experienced users can find themselves indecisive and overwhelmed.
Ranging from flavourful CBD e-liquid to the new world of concentrates and dabs, the options are endless.
But do you know what all of these options are, how best to use them and what advantages each one offers? Well, fear not! If you are looking for some detailed information backed by science, you have come to the right place!
Let’s get started!
If you are new to CBD you might worry if it will get you high.
No, CBD will not get you high!
It’s THC, another compound in cannabis which gets you high. Hemp is naturally super low (< 0.2% EU/ < 0.3% USA/ < 1% CH) in THC and you can’t get high from using CBD even if you tried!
Vaporisation is a process by which a substance is heated to the exact temperature which allows for it to turn into an inhalable vapour without reaching combustion, extracting near all of of the active compound contained in the product effectively.
Crucially, as vapourizers do not allow for the product to achieve combustion, there is no smoke and often little smell.
Generally, vapes consist of a battery, charger, a cartridge (or tank) for the substance and a mouthpiece.
These devices include e-cigarettes, vape pens (for cannabis concentrates and flower), dab pens (cannabis concentrates) and other niche devices
Inhaling vapour is enjoyed by many as it allows the user to feel the effects of CBD with near no delay, and secondly, it’s the most effective way to use CBD (or any cannabinoid for that matter) from an absorption perspective.
Research based on a study of THC, suggests CBD has a bioavailability rate of 55% when vaped (whereas using sublingual CBD oil has around a 30% absorption rate), working effectively with the receptors found across our body via the endocannabinoid system.
Meaning, if you consume 10mg of CBD via a vape, you would need to take use around 18mg in a CBD oil for the same amount of CBD to enter your bloodstream (5.5mg)!
Figuring out your sweet spot with CBD is always a personal quest, no one person can tell you what the right one is as everyone differs (sorry I know that isn’t very helpful).
However, you can start low and go slow, meaning take a puff and see how you feel before having more. The great thing about when you inhale vapour you can feel the effects in a matter of seconds, and re-assess if you want more only a couple of minutes later!
We cover this question in much more detail in our CBD dosage guide, including tracking milligrams and figuring your equivalent doses for other consumption methods such as CBD oil.
There are a huge assortment of options when it comes to vapourising, but at Nature & Bloom, we prefer CBD concentrates.
Concentrates often only contain cannabinoids along with the ability to add terpenes. According to research studies cannabinoids and terpenes work more effectively together, also known as ‘the entourage effect’. Meaning, you likely need less to feel the effects and you might feel a broader set of effects.
We are often asked, “can you vape CBD oil?”
In short, yes you can, but only oil which is designed for vaping!
So let’s get on with defining the options and how they work.
We will define the most common vape devices, and then run through each product type use case:
The first kind of CBD vape(s) in the United Kingdom used CBD vape liquid, which operate similarly to e-cigarettes and are still reported as the most popular today.
CBD e-liquid uses a purified cannabidiol base (99% pure CBD Isolate usually) mixed with a diluent, usually vegetable glycerine (VG), propene glycol (PG) or a mix of both, and less frequently MCT oil (medium-chain triglycerides).
Vape liquid pens are also available in a disposable format, with a small amount of CBD often encased in a plastic vape pen which is thrown anyway when empty.
A disposable device allows for those sitting on the fence to dip their toe in the water, and try vaping with little investment.
CBD e-liquid is also known by several synonyms: CBD vape oil and CBD juice; these refer to the same thing.
The cartridge is filled up with CBD vape juice, and off you go! You buy the e-liquid in small bottles and top up your cartridge, although, you do need to replace the cart itself time to time as the heating element starts to fail.
Devices for vape juice are the most common devices, and the simplest ones are slim pens, known in the industry as a 510 thread pen.
A 510 thread refers to a battery connecting to a universal standard CBD vape cartridge or tank connector, and having one of these devices allows users to buy different mods from multiple vendors, with the ability to add them all in the same vape pen.
You can effectively have a bog-standard vape for CBD e-liquid, and you can turn it into a concentrates pen by purchasing the right (ceramic coil heating element) type of cartridge with a 510 thread.
510 thread vapes also come in the form of a vape tank, which can hold much more juice, connecting to a battery, and it typically consists of five parts:
All of these parts add up to make what is called an atomizer, a fancy word for a device which turns liquid into vapour.
The coil is housed within a tank, the tank then connects to a power source (a handheld battery, known as a vape mod).
The coil often needs replacing across time, and it consists of cotton to wick up the liquid, a heating element (metal wire or mesh) to atomize the liquid, and housing to hold it all into place.
To fill the tank, you remove the drip tip at the top and drip in vape liquid into the glass housing!
Using a tank also allows for you to control airflow, you can add a mod which allows for wattage control too.
If you already use standard e-liquid, you might wonder if there is a CBD vape shot you can use to complement your favourite e-liquid?
Good news is yes, you can buy an unflavoured CBD vape additive, specifically for adding to existing juice.
Directly add it to your favourite eliquid as a CBD booster, to create a vape oil as strong or weak as you desire.
Note – Nicotine and cannabidiol don’t usually mix well, but a additive is made specifically to conquer this challenge!
If you are interested in creating your own CBD e-liquids using PG/VG, and CBD Isolate or another concentrate then check out the video below!
Note – this method only applies to creating a CBD e-liquid with zero nicotine.
Due to a general rise in consumer interest for products with less or no additives, interest around CBD flower (where legal) is growing.
Concentrates are also moving up the ranks, giving an ability for users to consume high doses in a single puff!
Let’s cover these two types of CBD products next below!
The raw flowers of the hemp plant, known as CBD flowers, are harvested to create CBD oil or concentrates and are also known as hemp flower.
Once the hemp is grown and harvested, it is hung up to cure indoors for 3-4 months to dry out and develop the taste profile. Once cured, CBD flowers are ready to use and are usually vaped, smoked or turned into CBD oil, concentrates and other CBD products.
In the United Kingdom, the law works in mysterious ways, and CBD flower itself is illegal, but ‘processed’ hemp products which are imported (as the buds cannot be legally harvested in the UK), including CBD oil is legal in line with UK law given the do not contain THC.
Nonetheless, CBD flower is still widely available in most vape shops across the country and is also extremely popular in continental Europe.
In the states, the approval of the 2018 farm bill, has skyrocketed CBD availability.
As long as it contains less than 0.3% THC and is derived from hemp flower is legal in the US.
Brands are capturing newbie interest with hemp flower pre rolls, while hemp buds can be bought freely!
CBD flower can be vaped by grinding the buds and placing the ground down herb into a dry herb vapouriser.
Flower vapes are great if you live in a country were flower is legal (sadly not the United Kingdom), as you can consume cannabidiol in its natural form and take advantage of the fact hemp flower is rich in terpenes, flavonoids and other cannabinoids (i.e. a great option to feel the optimum effects of CBD) without the need of any additives unlike vape liquid
CBD Concentrates are the gift of technological advancements in extraction, and often reach 90%+ purity. If you compare these to the other ways to vape, there is nothing as potent as a CBD concentrate.
In the US you can now obtain concentrates which are split into two primary buckets:
• Solventless extraction (Distillation, freeze dried cannabis)
• Solvent derived extraction (butane, ethanol)
Solventless extraction methods are generally thought to be cleaner, as they do not expose the user to the risk of residual solvents in the end product, which if a product is not extracted correctly, can lead to harmful by-products entering the body.
In the United Kingdom, we are quite far behind in this area – primarily because of the illegality of THC and concentrates, especially solventless ones usually feature some THC.
While dabbing has been around for a long time, it has changed drastically over time.
Dabbing refers to the act of placing a cannabis concentrate onto a super hot surface for it to vaporise into something you can inhale.
Old school dabs consist of first superheating a quartz nail until it is red hot, via a handheld bunsen burner (like the image below). The concentrate is then dropped onto this hot nail for it to be vapourised immediately via a glass (water pipe) bong; this setup is known as a dab rig.
While this process is similar to vapourising, if you are using an old school dab rig which depends on manual heat, it can lead to temperatures higher than those needed for vapourisation, which can lead to combustion.
Science has evolved, and we now have access to electronic dab rigs which operate in a similar fashion as the old school versions, but the heating element is electronic and controlled to the degree, avoiding overheating.
Electronic dab rigs appear to be taking inspiration from tech brands, and can even look apple-esque. However, they often lack stealth.
Dabbing devices have become super portable and reminiscent of a simple e-cigarette, with the only difference being the heating element and cartridge itself (as it likely it uses a different cart), and this is where an electronic dab pen really shines. Unlike old school dab rigs, these products are portable and operate using accurate temperature controls.
Some devices also provide an opportunity to switch between dabbing and vape liquid by just changing the type of tank.
Concentrates can also be consumed using ceramic cartridges if they have enough fluidity.
These are usually CBD distillate based liquid concentrates.
A wax pen usually uses a cartridge consisting of a ceramic coil, exposed and wrapped around metal or a donut ceramic coil, on which the concentrate is dropped, heated and then inhaled.
Our personal favourite on the go device is the Utilian 5 wax pen. It provides superior flavour hits along with highly efficient vaping. It’s excellent with any CBD concentrate!
Check it out in the video below!
Let’s run through the CBD concentrate products you can vape in some further detail:
CBD Distillate is a versatile form of concentrate and is prized for its potency and often lack of taste.
Derived via fractional distillation, cannabis compounds evaporate into cylinders at different temperatures, permitting for complete separation of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids at extremely high levels of purity.
These compounds can be combined to develop formulations for either CBD oils, CBD vape liquid or edibles. Although, cannabis distillate is more often used in a CBD concentrate devices than anything else.
Distillate carts are popular in the US, where a standard battery (510 thread) can be used with a disposable cartridge, forming a vape kit.
A CBD vape kit often consist of a ceramic cartridge, without an exposed coil, featuring CBD distillate with a 510 thread. These are attached to a battery and the carts are replaced when your cart runs out.
A cartridge like these permit for between 45% – 75% CBD content, diluted through natural cannabis or food-grade terpenes to add flavour and effect for an optimum vaping experience.
Often manufacturers produce CBD crumble by further processing distillate. Usually beyond 90% purity and are often a form of broad-spectrum concentrate, containing 0% THC.
Dabbing crumble is the easiest way to use it, and users can do so discreetly, as it doesn’t have any smell unless it’s been infused with terpenes.
When combined with terpenes, the crumble absorbs the flavour, adding an aroma but the scent isn’t anywhere near as strong as vaping CBD flowers.
To learn more about CBD crumble, check out our post here.
CBD Wax is often made via the use of butane to pull apart cannabinoids from plant matter, or via supercritical CO2.
Wax is soft to touch and needs a dabbing tool to up, like the image above/on the left.
CBD Sauce is the combination of a hard concentrate (usually CBD crystals, also known as diamonds), added to a liquid pool of terpenes and distillate; leaving a ‘sauce’ in which the concentrate floats in.
Sauce is popular in the states as it creates a highly flavourful dabbing experience, and it’s possible to replicate at home with any hard concentrate and terpenes/distillate in the right proportions.
This is where things get interesting, live resin is relatively new to the market, having been developed circa 2013 by a couple of canna enthusiasts in the states.
CBD Live resin is obtained by harvesting fresh hemp and freezing it immediately, without curing it, preserving a much higher concentration of terpenes and flavonoids (along with cannabinoids) than any other hemp concentrate, for an elevated user experience.
Once frozen, cannabinoids are extracted usually via butane, resulting in some of the highest concentrations of natural cannabis terpenes without the need for any additives.
Unfortunately, these type of concentrates are not available in the United Kingdom as they contain detectable levels of THC.
Take live resin and remove solvent extraction from the equation and you have live rosin, well not exactly, but it’s a solventless and the least processed concentrate available.
Live rosin preserves the highest percentage of cannabis terpenes than any other concentrate, but producing it is a labour-intensive process.
Similar to producing live resin cannabis is frozen fresh on the day of the harvest. But the frozen material is used to produce the highest quality ice wax extract (a full melt extract) instead of adding butane to separate the cannabinoids and terpenes.
An ice wax extract is where ice and water are used to separate trichomes from the plant, and these are then collected, cured and dried; turning into a soft and terpene rich viscous wax.
It’s the most expensive type of cannabis concentrate and can exceed $165 a gram at a marijuana dispensary.
The purest form of cannabidiol, CBD isolate usually contains 99.5%+ CBD and 0% THC. It is flavourless and often comes in a powder form.
Isolate is frequently used in eliquid, topicals, and in the US, it is also used to create CBD oil.
Useful for CBD DIY, for example creating your own CBD vape liquid. It’s also favoured because it has no taste, so it can be added to anything without a problem.
CBD Isolate can come in a crystal form. Usually, when isolate is extracted from full spectrum CBD oil, it turns into a slab form when isolated.
This slab is then broken into smaller pieces to form pure CBD crystals, dependent on who you ask and where it’s also referred to as CBD shatter.
When you add terpenes to shatter, it’s referred to as terpsolate. As it takes on the flavour of the terpenes, it becomes a tasty extract to toke via a dab device.
Vaping is certainly hot topic at the moment and while it isn’t for everyone it does have its benefits. Vaping CBD is felt near-instantaneously, it can be helpful if you need a high dose to feel the effects you desire.
Establishing the best route for yourself is somewhat a trial and error game. At Nature & Bloom, when vaping we like to stick with CBD concentrates, simply because we know precisely what is in them, and we are purists at heart! Although, we do hope to bring a larger availability of concentrates in the United Kingdom for us all to enjoy!
Nonetheless, there is no right or wrong here; it’s just finding what you prefer given the information listed out in this article and finding what works for you along with a company you enjoy buying from!
Disclaimer: Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Nature & Bloom and its staff. This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention for any disease. Nature & Bloom products have not been evaluated by the MHRA.