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How Do Vape Pens Work?

What is one of the most exciting tech advances in cannabis culture? The vape pen, a device that has grown in popularity at lightning-quick speed. Yet, despite the growth in demand, vape pens are still largely misunderstood by a notable segment of the population. 


Negative and preconceived notions, partially brought on by sensationalized news and skewed facts, as well as the historical fear of cannabis products have created a divide between the rumours and the reality of vape pens. The key to bridging that gap? Knowledge. 


Knowing exactly what you’re purchasing and how to use it? That is integral if you plan to buy a vape pen online in Canada. With so much misinformation out there, it’s no wonder people are confused, and in some cases, afraid of such a convenient, utile little device. But we’re here to set the record straight!


The History of the Vape Pen


The vape pen has an interesting history, starting as a mere pipe dream (pun intended!) and evolving into the sleek, modern piece of cannabis tech that we know today.


In 1963, scrap metal dealer Herbert A. Gilbert, noting the health risks associated with smoking, patented the “Smokeless”, a battery-powered non-tobacco cigarette. Similar to the modern vape pen, which itself is part of a market valued at over $19 billion, the Smokeless would never be picked up by a major manufacturer and the patent would expire.


Jump to 2003, when a Chinese pharmacist by the name of Hon Lik would invent what is essentially the first modern vape pen. Designed with the intention of aiding smoking cessation, Hon’s invention used a high-frequency, ultrasonic element to vaporize a liquid nicotine solution. While the patent was approved and the product produced, the technology has since advanced into the modern, heat-operated vape pen we know today!


 What About Vape Pens?


A vape pen is a battery-powered device that turns cannabis concentrate from liquid to gas using heat. Based on their method of function, there are two kinds of vapes: button-operated or draw-operated. 


The former uses a button to turn the vape on and off, and only allows vapour to be pulled when the button is engaged. The latter includes no button and only requires inhalation to draw vapour.


There are also disposable and non-disposable options, depending on what customers require. Disposable vape pens are generally draw-operated and come with a pre-charged battery and cartridge. 


While they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from modern, cylindrical pens to chunky, handheld rectangles, vape pens generally consist of two main components: a cartridge and a battery. The battery, when turned on with a button or activated through inhalation, uses a coil element to heat oil in a barrel to between 350°F − 450°F transforming it from liquid to vapour. 


The Different Parts of a Vape Pen


When you choose to buy vape pens online in Canada, it’s important to know what you’re dealing with. Across the country, the most common type of cannabis vape pen is a 510 thread. The name comes from the cartridge connector’s 5mm length and ten screw threads. 510 compatible vape pens are generally long, cylindrical devices that actually somewhat resemble a basic writing pen. 


As it is the most common kind of pen, let’s look a little bit close at its anatomy to get a better idea what the common vape pen is all about!


The body of a 510 cartridge is a glass barrel that holds the liquid concentrate or distillate. Inside the barrel is a ceramic coil, also known as an atomizer, that heats the oil and transforms it into vapour. Vapour is pulled through the mouthpiece, which itself is pretty self-explanatory. On the opposite end is a 510 thread connector which screws into the battery, creating a secure connection between battery and cartridge. 


The 510 compatible battery, the part that actually resembles a pen, is button-operated. The software in the pen body connects to the aforementioned button, which offers a number of options not available with many draw-operated vapes. The button turns the vape off and on, preheats the atomizer, changes the element temperature, and controls whether vapour is released.


To vape? Simply turn on, preheat, inhale, and go!


What is in the Cartridge?


Depending on what you are looking for, your cartridge might contain a number of different things, but the main component is a cannabis oil concentrate or distillate. 


Concentrate includes a full array of different properties, for example, terpenes, the aromatic, flavourful oils that give different cannabis strains their unique scent and taste. Terpenes, like cannabinoids, interact with receptors in the human body, affecting mood. This helps to set the tone of a cannabis experience, whether you are looking for a mellow evening watching a movie (try Linalool) or need something uplifting to perk you up before cleaning the house (check out products with Limonene). 


Concentrates can also contain additives to boost flavour and ensure oil viscosity. The most common additives are glycol-based agents like polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol, and vegetable glycerin. These additives are generally safe and can be found in everything from medicine, to cosmetics, to hygiene products, to groceries.


Cannabis distillate has been purified, removing everything but the desired cannabinoids. This produces a pure product containing the highest amount of THC or CBD attainable. However, in removing impurities, all-natural terpenes are removed as well. While distillate offers a pure product with a high concentration of cannabinoids, it is stripped of the flavour and effects central to terpenes. 


Are Vape Pens Safe?


When you buy a vape pen online in Canada, you can be sure that they are safe and meet regulatory standards. All products are researched, responsibly sourced, tested, and reviewed before they ever hit our page. 


Despite careful attention taken by Canadian retailers, many citizens are still concerned about the risks associated with vape pens, largely brought on by exaggerated, incorrect, or under-reported news. Dangerous vape pens and cartridges are generally low-quality, faulty, or bootleg products that do not meet the rigorous standards of quality expected. 


One of the risks associated with a bootleg vape pen is the potential for a battery to explode. This risk is rare and generally only occurs with fake, faulty, or modified products. Pen batteries, like the batteries of any electronic product, are flammable and can explode when overheated. Purchasing a verified pen diminishes that risk, as legitimate products are standardized and go through rigorous testing before they are sold.


A low-quality cartridge may have a plastic barrel instead of one made of glass. This can allow chemicals in the plastic to leach into the oil – not something you want to inhale! They can also be missing a proper o-ring seal, which secures barrel contents. A missing or faulty o-ring can lead to leakage which can damage the pen and increase the risk of explosion. Something even scarier? Illegitimate cannabis oils are often cut with cheap thinning agents and flavour enhancers that can cause damage to your lungs.


This is partially where the fear of vape pens comes from. With the marked popularity of e-cigarettes, it’s off-putting to know that for a period of time many contained diacetyl, a chemical that boosts the flavour of vape juice. The downside? It can increase the risk for bronchiolitis obliterans, known colloquially as popcorn lung, a disease that has killed people around the world.


While no longer used in legitimate products, fear-mongering news reports are eager to mention diacetyl and its connection to popcorn lung, as that is what gets the ratings. Along with exploding batteries, it’s no wonder the general public is cautious about vape pens. 


Vaping is a Learning Process, but an Easy One


There you have it! The ins and outs of a vape pen. Impress your friends and family with your vast knowledge of vaping technology!


In all seriousness though, decreasing the taboo around vaping is important. When people understand something, there is much less reason to fear it. Dispelling negative preconceptions about, not only vape pens, but the Cannabis industry as a whole, is integral to the health and livelihood of countless Canadians. This, in part, is one of the top reasons why we strive to educate our customers with informative blogs and engaging discussion.


And hopefully, you’ve learnt something too, so the next time you’re browsing vape pens online, you’ll know which ones to puff, and on which ones to pass!

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