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How to Identify If A Vape Cartridge Has Gone Bad?


When it comes to vaping cannabis, you want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your experience. This means using quality products and keeping them in good condition, but can a vape cartridge go bad?

In this blog post, we will discuss how to identify if a vape cartridge has gone bad, what happens to THC when it changes over time, and what you can do about it.

What’s Inside a Vape Cartridge?

If you’re buying a THC-based vape cartridge then the glass cartridge is filled with concentrated THC oil. The same goes for CBD cartridges but we won’t focus on those in this article.

THC oil can be CO₂ extracted, which is a clean method of extraction using carbon dioxide to strip the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant material. The other type of extraction is butane-based, which uses butane as a solvent to extract THC oil. This oil does not only contain THC but a lot of other cannabinoids and terpenes that exist in the plant itself.

The way a dab vape pen cartridge works is through a heating element at the bottom of the cartridge which connects to the battery to help it heat up. The oil then gets heated enough to evaporate and you’ll inhale the vape through the mouthpiece.

What Happens to Concentrated Oil Over Time?

Even though concentrated oil cannot lose potency as it dries out, it can still go bad given certain elements. The molecular structure of concentrated oil is not as strong as other compounds, so over time the oil will start to break down and become discolored if left for too long.

It will still retain its potency much longer than if you have the same amount of THC in flower form, but the more you heat the oil, the more it will break down. When you heat up the oil you are essentially breaking down the THC molecules into CBN molecules which don’t have the same psychoactive element.

Unless you buy vape cartridges made with high-quality materials, it’s easy for heat from external environments to transfer into the oil itself. This can happen if it’s a hot day and you left your oil in the sun or if it’s been sitting in your pocket all day.

Another factor for concentrated oil breaking down over time is through light exposure because UV light can degrade THC molecules just as easily as heat. The hydrogen atoms end up breaking off the THC molecules and transform them into CBN molecules.

How to Tell if Your Vape Cart Has Gone Bad

Just because your concentrated oil may not be as fresh as it was when you bought it, the good news is it doesn’t pose any major threats to your overall health. What you will likely experience is a different taste than when you first bought it, the potency will be lower, and it might even make you cough a lot more. You could also experience a slight headache from the oil or it might make you feel sleepy quickly after inhaling the broken down THC and terpenes.

There are some specific signs you can look out for if you aren’t sure if the concentrated oil is still good.

The first thing you want to do is check the viscosity of the liquid itself. Turn your vape cart upside down and see how fast the liquid runs down the side of the glass. If the oil is old then it will be very runny and won’t take long at all to move down the sides, compared to the slow-moving, syrupy liquid you had when you first bought it.

Another way to tell if your cart is bad is by checking the clarity of the product. Your oil should not be cloudy at all but be light amber or yellow in color. You should be able to see through the liquid to the other side of the glass. If you see any brown discoloration then it’s time to throw your cart away and start anew with a custom vape pen. This is especially true if you find any crystals growing on the side of your vape cart.

Ways to Keep Your Vape Fresh

Since you already know that light and heat can break down the THC molecules inside your vape cartridge you should avoid these to help keep your oil fresh.

Keep your carts stored in a dark environment like in a drawer so they don’t get exposed to sunlight. Even a long exposure to indirect light can have an effect on your oils so always try to keep them in the darkness. You also want the storage to be a cool place so if you’re sticking your oils in a drawer in your garage when it’s 100 degrees outside, there’s still a chance your oils will go bad.

Concentrated vape oils are easily broken down by light and heat so unless you’re taking care of them it’s likely they will go bad over time. Use the tips in the article to identify whether or not you have a bad vape cart and do your best to keep them in pristine condition.

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