CBD, aka cannabidiol, is the buzz word of the year in the wellness space, and you can find CBD in many health food stores today. But it doesn’t stop there, and you can also find a CBD vape on most high streets and more or less across all of Europe and the US.
No longer can you enter a vape shop and ask for CBD, with the shop attendant reply “What is CBD?”.
Instead, you are greeted with a vast array of options, to which even experienced vapers can find themselves indecisive and overwhelmed. Ranging from flavourful CBD vape juice to the new world of CBD concentrates and CBD 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 have been wondering about if vaping CBD is for you, or if you’re a veteran in the vaping world and just looking for some detailed information backed by science, you have come to the right place!
We’re going to start from the basics and walk you through the A-Z of vaping CBD oil, so grab yourself a coffee (and some CBD of course) and let us guide you!
We will cover the following in this post:
• What is CBD and vaping
• Different CBD vape devices
• How to vape CBD Oil
• What are the benefits of using CBD vape oil?
• The difference between dabbing and vaping
• Discuss various forms of CBD to vape
Cannabidiol, aka CBD, is a compound found in Hemp, a sub-species of Cannabis.
To learn more specifically about the benefits of CBD, check out our post here.
If you are new to cannabidiol you might worry if CBD 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 hence 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.
While it was initially developed as a substitute to cigarettes, it has picked up momentum fast in another niche, cannabis and more recently, CBD in particular.
Generally, across the last 10 years, the world of vaping has boomed and it has taken off globally like a rocket ship!
Initially, cannabis vapes focused on the use of dry herb (raw cannabis flower) to optimise the usability experience of traditional cannabis. However, things have moved at light speed, and you can now find vapes for all things cannabidiol and in the US cannabinoid related.
Generally, vapes consist of a battery, charger, a cartridge (or vape 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.
Vaping CBD is accessible as it allows the user to feel the effects 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 vaping THC, suggests CBD has a bioavailability rate of 55% when vaped (whereas using sublingual CBD oil has around a 30% absorption rate).
Meaning, if you consume 10mg of CBD via a vape, you would need to take use around 18mg of CBD in a sublingual oil for the same amount of CBD to enter your bloodstream (5.5mg)!
Vaping is also a highly discreet way to consume cannabidiol, with the right concentrate, you can consume CBD with no smell and on the go, with immediate impact.
Our customers tell us they like to vape when needing a larger dose and wanting immediate effects, often before bed or if generally wanting to feel the effects quickly.
It’s not surprising that primary concern for non-smokers looking to buy a CBD vape is around its safety. Especially as most vapers are traditionally ex (or current) smokers, their benchmark for safety tends to be a little lower than those who do not or never have smoked.
So is vaping bad for your health and how safe is vaping CBD?
When looking at vaping, it’s essential to distinguish the difference between traditional e-cigarettes and vaping CBD. Traditional e-cigs are nicotine delivery systems, which in itself (nicotine) is proven to be highly addictive and bad for health. On the other hand, CBD vapes do not contain nicotine and CBD is not addictive.
While the jury is still out, Public Health England estimates vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking, and other research studies also indicate vaping is far safer than smoking due to the fact there is no combustion, carbon monoxide or tar, but if vaping is generally ‘safe’ long term is still up for debate.
Vaping can be as simple or complex as you like.
There are beginner devices which allow you to try vaping without much investment, such as a disposable vape pen, CBD vape juice pen, and even economical flower/concentrate devices.
For experienced vapers, CBD also has a deep rabbit hole of product types to use, and related techniques to vapourise!
We will dive into these a little later in this post, but while there is no right or wrong way to vape, let’s first explain a couple of approaches around inhaling vapour.
It might sound odd, if you have never vaped or smoked you probably didn’t even think there was a specific technique to vape, just inhale right?
So what is mouth to lung vaping?
Mouth to lung vaping refers to sucking the vapour out of the device and into your mouth, holding it there for a moment before inhaling into your lungs.
Similar to how you would smoke a cigarette, new vapers moving from smoking to vaping, customarily prefer this method.
MTL is best via low wattage vapes, and in respect to CBD, most users will inhale via MTL (unless you are an advanced vaper with the correct setup).
In summary, if you’re new to vaping and using only CBD, you will very likely use a low wattage vape which you inhale into your mouth, and then into your lungs.
With parallels to breathing, direct to lung vaping means you inhale directly from the device into your lungs.
However, DTL vaping means you are unlikely to taste much of what you are vaping and usually requires advanced vape devices called a sub-ohm vape; which we talk about in more detail later but it isn’t so important when it comes to vaping CBD.
When inhaling via MTL, the hit on the throat is softer than DTL and is reminiscent of smoking when vaping nicotine.
Albeit, when using CBD, if you are using anything but eliquid MTL is always the preferred route; as devices for concentrates are not usually suitable to MTL due to their potency, a MTL hit would be extremely strong.
Also, the ‘hit’ itself is usually much softer via MTL, and as such it’s just a matter of preference than anything else. Both are as effective in terms of their bioavailability rates.
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 vape CBD is that 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 the question around “How much CBD should I vape”? In much more detail with a guide around tracking CBD milligrams and figuring your equivalent doses for other consumption methods too, and you can find it here.
There are a huge assortment of options when it comes to vaping CBD, but at Nature & Bloom, we prefer CBD concentrates.
We are often asked, “can you vape CBD oil?”
In short, yes you can vape CBD oil, but only CBD oil which is designed for vaping! CBD products are split into usage type, and there are specific products for vaping as there are for dropping CBD under your tongue, topically, or for swallowing as capsules.
So let’s get on with defining the options and how do they work with cannabidiol.
We will define the most common vape devices, and then run through each product type use case:
You have almost certainly seen people vaping nicotine before, and these use purified nicotine in a diluting agent.
The first kind of CBD vapes on the market utilised CBD e-liquids, which operate similarly to e-cigarettes and are still the most popular today.
CBD Vape juice 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).
Different combinations of diluents provide varying levels of vape clouds and are a personal preference more than anything.
CBD eliquid 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 vape pen allows for those sitting on the fence to dip their toe in the water, and try a CBD vape with little investment and know how about vaping.
CBD eliquid is also known by several synonyms: CBD Vape juice, CBD ejuice, CBD juice; all of these refer to the same thing.
Devices for CBD 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 vape cartridge or tank connector, and having one of these devices allows you to buy different mods from multiple vendors, with the ability to use them all in the same vape pen.
You can effectively have a bog-standard vape pen for 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; we will talk about this further in our concentrates section of this post.
The vape cart is filled up with CBD vape juice, and off you go! You buy the vape juice in small bottles and top up your cartridge, although, you do need to replace the vape cartridge itself time to time as the heating element starts to fail.
510 thread vapes also come in the form of a vape tank, which can hold much more vape juice, connecting to a battery, and it typically consists of five parts:
All of these parts make up 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 vape tank, you remove the drip tip at the top and drip in vape juice into the glass housing!
Using a vape tank also allows for you to control airflow, use a vape mod which allows for wattage control and much more.
If you already use standard vape juice, you might wonder if there is a CBD vape shot you can use to complement your favourite eliquid?
Good news is yes, you can buy an unflavoured CBD vape additive, specifically for adding to existing vape juice.
You add a CBD vape shot directly to your favourite eliquid as a CBD booster, to create a CBD vape juice as strong or weak as you desire!
The question around CBD vape safety lies more so in device and eliquid/concentrate quality. Multiple studies have examined the connection between poor quality devices and unsafe contaminants, or vape liquids heated to dangerous temperatures releasing cancer-causing chemicals.
A study from John Hopkins University analysed the use of at vape coils and noted a significantly higher presence of heavy metals in e-cigarette vapour when using exposed vape coils which directly heat a substance. Although coil technology varies with the price point, some vape devices use ceramic coils providing indirect heat, which avoid the use of exposed coils as used in this study.
Another study looked at the most common diluents, propane glycol (PG) and glycerol, used in CBD vape juice (eliquid). Finding they produce carcinogenic compounds when overheated. Relatedly, a 2017 study reviewed thinning agents used in cannabis vape juice products: PG, VG, MCT and PEG 400 (not so popular in Europe).
Scientists recorded what happened when these compounds were heated to 230 Celsius, finding “PEG 400 produced significantly higher levels of acetaldehyde and formaldehyde than PG, MCT, and VG. Formaldehyde production was also significantly greater in PG compared with MCT and VG.”
Both formaldehyde and acetaldehyde are known carcinogens. The difficulty is more or less when you use a vape without understanding what temperature it operates at, which is often the case with new vapers, and devices which work with a click of a button and feature no wattage control.
From this rapid snapshot, you might conclude two things:
– Using ceramic doughnut style heating elements, without an exposed coil generally sounds safer (there is no clinical research to back this assumption yet).
– Avoiding mixing agents used in CBD vape juice all together appears to be a good idea if you cannot control the temperature.
Sub Ohm is a sub category of eliquid vaping, named afte a german physicist, Georg Ohm who invented Ohms law, the science behind why some vapes produce such big clouds.
So ‘what is sub ohm vaping’?
The resistance of a coil in an atomizer is defined in ohms, which relates to how much current the coil will allow to pass through it. The coil and the voltage together control how intense the flavour is and in parralel how much vapour is produced.
Sub ohm vape devices run at a lower resistance then standard vapes, but have a larger surface area, permitting for more substantial clouds and are used exclusively with vape juice (eliquid).
Moving on, you are probably wondering ‘what does sub ohm mean’?
While standard vapes run (i.e. 510 thread vape pens) run at between 1.5 to 3 ohms, sub ohm vapes operate at below 1 ohm; hence the name ‘sub ohm’ meaning when the coil resistance is <1 ohm.
The primary reason some people prefer these vapes is because of the flavour rich huge clouds they produce. That a typical vape image, of huge clouds (like the one above) is probably a sub ohm vape in action!
If you do decide sub-ohm vaping is for you or you want to learn more, then do check out the full guide to this side of vaping here, as it can be dangerous if not done correctly.
The best vape carrier oil is a debatable topic, and some people feel very strongly about which thinning agent they prefer!
Optimising fluidity is the primary reason to add a thinning agent to CBD, as the more fluid the vape juice is, the easier it is vapourised. Without it, most vapes will not operate correctly and are useless or at best inefficient.
In the US, MCT oil is becoming a more popular carrier oil given research indicating it’s safer than the other options at higher temperatures.
Due to a general rise in consumer interest for products with less or no additives, interest around CBD flower (where legal) is growing.
CBD concentrates are also moving up the ranks, giving an ability for vapers to consume high doses of CBD is a single puff!
Let’s cover these 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.
Favoured by purists and those who use cannabis recreationally, CBD buds contain the majority of the CBD within the hemp plant and using CBD flower is the most natural way to use CBD.
Once the hemp is 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 or smoked.
Hemp flower looks, smells and feels just like traditional cannabis, but in the absence of (beyond trace amounts) THC, using it comes without any of the high.
In the UK, the law works in mysterious ways, and CBD flower itself is illegal, but ‘processed’ hemp products which are imported (as CBD buds cannot be legally harvested in the UK) are 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, and particularly in Italy.
The Swiss are also keen on it, and they class any form of cannabis which contains <1% THC as legal hemp and you don’t need a license to grow it!
This contrasts significantly from Europe (<0.2% THC) and the US (<0.3% THC).
What may seem trivial is actually quite significant, as THC and CBD usually has an inverse relationship, thus permitting for super high CBD hemp strains to grow abundantly and legally.
As a result, the Swiss hemp industry grown exponentially across the last three years, and is the leader when it comes to CBD wellness across this side of the Atlantic.
Interestingly, the Swiss have gone even further, having introduced legislation treating CBD flower as a tobacco substitute and making it available wherever tobacco is!
That’s right, in Switzerland, you can drop by your local supermarket and pick up some ground up CBD buds to add to your vape, or if you prefer, buy cigarettes containing 100% CBD hemp flower; although we don’t promote smoking!
CBD flower can be vaped by grinding CBD buds and placing the ground down herb into a dry herb vapouriser. While it’s the most natural way to vape CBD, it is also the most ‘aromatic’ with hemp flower giving off a pungent smell identical to street cannabis.
Dry herb vapourisers vary significantly in value, and some of the most popular premium devices can exceed an eye-popping £200 each (PAX, Ghost, Storz & Bickel).
Flower vapes are great if you live in a country were CBD flower is legal, as you can consume CBD in its natural form and take advantage of the fact CBD flower is rich in terpenes, flavonoids and other cannabinoids (i.e. a great option to feel optimum wellness benefits) without the need of any additives.
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 concentrate.
Only as recent as ten years ago, this cub-category barely existed. With the rise of cannabis legalisation in multiple US states, and medical cannabis taking off like a rocket ship globally, in the US, concentrates are entering a league of their own.
Led initially by THC extractions for medicinal use, these methods have been applied to extract CBD instead with great success.
You can now obtain concentrates which are split into two primary buckets:
• Solventless extraction (CO2, distillation)
• Solvent derived extraction (butane, ethanol)
Solventless extraction methods are 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.
While research is relatively developed when looking at eliquid safety, research around cannabis concentrates is still early and on-going.
While there are currently no studies looking specifically at the potential danges of vaping cannabis concentrates, it’s clear that there are issues of quality control in unregulated and black markets.
Issues with THC vape cartridges has recently arisen in California, where cannabis is legal.
In an effort to evade high taxes on legal cannabis, consumers have turned to purchasing significantly cheaper black market THC cartridges, which haven’t gone through the rigorous third-party tests other (legal) products have.
These vape cartridges have caused several people to become very sick, the exact cause is not confirmed yet, but the signs point to contaminants in the supply chain which haven’t been caught, and thus feature in the end product.
Nonetheless, these issues centre around product quality and not the practice of vaping itself. It reiterates the need for consumers to only purchase third party tested products and where possible, products which meet a defined regulatory benchmark. To learn more about third party CBD testing and why you should always look for a CBD test, check out our other post here.
While dabbing has been around for a long time, it has changed drastically over time. Previously a very small sub-niche within the cannabis community, dabbing has picked up pace since cannabis legalisation in California/Colorado and is now a popular way to use a CBD concentrate.
So what is dabbing?
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 can even look apple-esque, straight out of California, fitting well in Silicon valley. However, dab rigs often lack stealth and generally make you look like a hardcore pothead (even if only using CBD concentrates) to anyone not initiated on dabbing.
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 vaping (eliquid) by just changing the type of (510 thread) cartridge on your vape pen or vape tank.
Concentrates can also be consumed using ceramic vape cartridges if they have enough fluidity. These are usually CBD distillate based liquid concentrates aka CBD vape oil, and we will dive into these shortly.
A wax pen usually uses a vape cartridge consisting of a ceramic coil, exposed and wrapped around a metal, on which the concentrate is dropped, heated and then inhaled.
More recently, ceramic coils which fuction more so as a heating plate are becoming more common for use with concentrates. These use a circular doughnut shaped ceramic surface, which is heated to vaporise the concentrate without direct heat.
By not directly exposing the substance to a heat source, the end flavour and experience is improved, while avoiding any risk of overheating.
Our personal favourite is Puffco Plus V2. It uses an electronic ceramic doughnut coil, looks stealthy and provides superior flavour hits along with highly efficient vaping. It’s excellent with any CBD concentrate, and we have used it for CBD crystals and CBD Crumble with great results!
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 oil or edibles. Although, CBD distillate is more often used in a CBD concentrates vape pen than anything else.
CBD distillate vape carts are popular in the US, where a standard vape pen battery (510 thread) can be used with a disposable cartridge, forming a vape kit.
A CBD vape kit often consist of a ceramic vape cartridge, without an exposed coil, featuring CBD distillate with a 510 thread. These are attached to a battery and the carts are replaced when you run out of CBD vape oil.
These cartridges are also sometimes known as distillate carts, and the most popular versions use a brand called CCELL; featuring a ceramic heating element for a premium concentrate vaping experience.
A CBD cartridge like these permit for between 45% – 75% CBD content, diluted through natural cannabis or food-grade terpenes to add flavour and effect.
Often a cart will be reusable, but refilling them with distillate can be tricky, due to its viscosity, so it is sold as disposable.
You can also find carts which operate in as a pod in a CBD vape device. You buy the pen with an encased CBD pod, and you then replace the entire pod each time you run out. These CBD pods operate in the same way as a CBD cartridge.
Using distillate cartridges, you can avoid cleaning your vape pen as the heating element is replaced each time you acquire a new cartridge. Buying distillate carts also (usually) prevents the need to mix VG/PG in with your CBD concentrate and only uses terpenes as an additive; highly favoured by canna-connoisseur.
Often CBD crumble is produced by further processing CBD 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 either made via the use of butane to pull apart cannabinoids from plant matter, or via supercritical CO2.
CBD wax is soft to touch and needs a dabbing tool to up, like the image above/on the left.
Supercritical refers to a situation where high pressure and heat are used at the same time to turn the CO2 into both a liquid and a gas at the same time, separating cannabinoids from the plant without the use of solvents.
CBD Sauce is the combination of a hard CBD concentrate (usually CBD crystals, also known as CBD diamonds), added to a liquid pool of terpenes and CBD distillate; leaving a ‘sauce’ in which the concentrate floats in.
CBD 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 than any other CBD concentrate, for an elevated user experience.
Once frozen, cannabinoids are extracted usually via butane, resulting in the highest concentration of natural cannabis terpenes without the need for any additives; i.e. the tastiest extract possible!
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.
CBD isolate is frequently used in CBD vape juice, topicals, and in the US, it is also used to create CBD oil.
CBD Isolate can be obtained through multiple extraction methods, although the most popular is as previously mentioned, supercritical CO2 extraction.
Useful for CBD DIY, for example creating your own CBD vape liquid or dabbing.
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 CBD crystals, dependent on who you ask and where it’s also referred to as CBD shatter.
CBD crystals are also frequently infused with terpenes, and as CBD isolate has no taste, it takes on the flavour of the terpenes well, resulting in a tasty extract to vape via a CBD concentrate or dab pen.
While vaping is effective, it does require a little upkeep, as otherwise the internal mechanics can become a little gunky and depending on how dirty your vape is, you might use a different type of cleaning method.
Vape coils in (eliquid) vape tanks can simply be rinsed under warm water and left to dry before re-use if they aren’t too filthy. Otherwise, isopropyl alcohol is your friend, it will turn even the hardest deposits of vape juice or CBD concentrates into a solution which is easily wiped or rinsed off.
Depending on your exact situation, you might need some pipe cleaners and cotton buds (qtips) too (usually for flower/concentrate vapes). Dip these into the isopropyl and use to wipe away any deposits.
Note – If using Isopropyl alcohol, make sure to let it dry before re-using your vape!
Vaping is effective, felt near-instantaneously and can be extremely 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, we stick with CBD concentrates, simply because we know precisely what is in them, and we are purists at heart!
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 a way which works for you!
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.