The vaping trend has taken the world by storm. In less than a decade, vaping has become one of the most widely popular ways of consuming cannabis. Not only are vapes convenient and discreet, but they are also arguably a healthier alternative to traditional methods of smoking cannabis.
Vaping has been accepted without too much concern for safety, leading to an unimaginable explosion of available vape products. But is vaping actually as safe as vaping companies claim them to be?
Is the convenience and allure of vaping just marketing hype to sell cannabis products by hiding the facts?
All types of cannabis products have their pros and cons. There are plenty of reasons why you may find vaping favorable to edibles for example.
Continue reading to find out how safe vaping really is and how it compares to other methods of consuming cannabis.
Is Vaping Cannabis Safer than Smoking?
First off, inhaling smoke and carcinogens (cancer-causing compounds), tar, and other toxic by-products is never a great idea. It’s inevitable that you will inhale these compounds with traditional methods of smoking flowers. That’s because when you light up to smoke, you cause combustion of the cannabis plant material which causes smoke that can be irritating to the throat and lungs.
Symptoms like shortness of breath, coughing and other respiratory disorders can develop during short term exposure to smoking. For heavy smokers, the risk of harm to your health is considerably higher. Long term smoking can lead to weakened immune systems, infections, and in worse cases, the development of some forms of cancers.
On the other hand, vaping flower can quickly induce the desired “high” effect you expect from smoking flower, but without the harmful by-products. Thanks to superior advancements in vaping technology and superior heating methods, vapes are able to function at optimal, controlled temperatures. Vaporizers allow you to heat cannabis at specific temperatures that vaporize cannabinoids and terpenes at their boiling points without causing combustion. No combustion – no smoke!
Vaporizers Versus Bongs
Throat irritation and soreness of the lungs is often unavoidable when you take huge rips out of a bong, dab rig or other water pipe. That’s because the rig is heated using a flame which generates smoke. The direct combustion of the plant matter gives birth to harmful toxins that can damage your lungs.
Sometimes dabbing at high temperatures can also be harmful and cause pain similar to smoking. This is not an exact science and you have to learn to get your temperature or dabbing technique dialed in from trial and error. New dabbers tend to take in ridiculously large amounts of vapor and temperatures that are uncomfortably hot.
On the other hand, vaping is a whole different story. Quality vaporizers like DaVinci IQ vape or PAX vape allow herbs or concentrates to be heated indirectly using various heating methods at precisely controlled temperatures.
These vapors are safer to inhale, causing less irritation and reducing the amount of harmful pollutants that are inhaled. Additionally, these vaporizers allow the user to customize the vaping experience to suit their personal preference. This makes vaping a better alternative to using a bong.
Downsides of Vaping Cannabis
Just because vaporizers are generally safer than traditional smoking methods, it’s easy to assume that vaping does not pose any health risks.
Let’s break down some common myths:
Are all vape products created equal?
They definitely are not. One of the biggest downsides to vaping, at least with cannabis oils and extracts, is that you can’t be entirely sure what’s in your products. There was a huge outcry in the media this past year warning of vaping dangers that put some people in the hospital. Most cases were a result of Vitamin E acetate that was added to illegitimate vape products sold on streets in the black market.
Only buy cannabis from legitimate, licensed cannabis businesses that provide third-party lab testing results for all of their products.
As far as vaporizer quality in materials, you’ll want to look for vape hardware that uses ceramic and high-grade metals that will not leach lead into the product. Look for quality vape cartridges like hardware manufactured by Jupiter Research or CCELL cartridges. You also want to avoid plastics and glues that may burn off into toxic fumes when exceeding normal temperatures.
Linx vaporizers are an example of high-grade materials. The Dr. Dabber Switch vaporizer is an example of a well-designed vape that safely contains all electrical components and adhesives, separating them from cannabis materials.
Are Edibles Safer than Vaping?
When you eat an edible that is labeled as containing 10mg THC, you better hope it doesn’t actually contain 100mg by accident. That’s not going to be a pleasant high for the inexperienced.
While ingesting cannabis can be a great alternative for those that want to avoid inhalation, edibles can be dangerous too. Edibles that use poorly sourced cannabis can have concentrated levels of pesticides, molds, and other harmful substances.
Also, potency can be hard to gauge as edibles take a while, sometimes nearly an hour, to feel the effects. With vaping, you feel the effects right away and will be able to better gauge the strength. However, you can expect the high effects from vaping THC to dissipate a lot faster than the high you get from ingesting cannabis.
Mislabeling has also been a big issue with edibles across the market. Although, the industry is getting better about implementing standards for proper labeling and dosing. When you eat an edible that is labeled as containing 10mg THC, you better hope it doesn’t actually contain 100mg by accident. That’s not going to be a pleasant high for the inexperienced.
Is Vaping Cannabis Harmful During Pregnancy?
Just because you’re vaping your cannabis instead of smoking doesn’t mean it doesn’t have negative effects. For example, vaping during pregnancy is not harmless. Vaping during pregnancy may negatively alter a baby’s development. Every puff contains active compounds which may be harmful to the fetus and the mother.
In worst-case scenarios, heavy cannabis use during pregnancy can lead to stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight, and many other complications for the baby and the mother. While a healthier alternative to smoking, vaping should be completely avoided for pregnant women as a precaution.
Can Vaping Cannabis Damage Lungs?
The dramatic increase in vaping’s popularity, especially among youngsters, has started to ring some alarms. Much research is still underway to understand the scale of how safe vaping actually is.
There isn’t much proof yet, but some stats show vaping doesn’t come 100% risk-free.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a new disease referred to as EVALI (aka “E-cigarette, or Vaping, Product Use-Associated Lung Injury”) has been linked to at least 64 reported vape-related deaths in different states across the U.S.
Around September 2019, there was a sharp increase in vape-related emergency visits which has since leveled off as consumers and the industry at large became aware of the issue.
However, it is important to note that these severe cases were linked to tainted street vendors and black market products that were cut with toxic chemicals, namely Vitamin E acetate or Diacetyl.
Vitamin E is used to cheaply dilute oils in illegitimate THC cannabis oils, while Diacetyl is more commonly found in nicotine-containing e-cigarette products as a flavoring agent.
Diacetyl is more commonly associated with a condition known as “popcorn lung”. The name from an old study of factory workers that were inhaling the artificial flavoring agent in microwavable popcorn.
Reduce your risk by avoiding illegal, street-made vape products. If in doubt, ask for a lab report. Many brands post lab results online.
These two ingredients should not be in your vape products. Diacetyl was banned in e-cigarettes in Europe and licensed cannabis brands do not use Vitamin E in their oils. You should be able to find lab reports from brands that make quality cannabis oils which are purchased at licensed dispensaries. Reduce your risk by avoiding illegal, street-made vape products. If in doubt, ask for a lab report. Many brands post lab results online.
But still, more research is needed to know exactly what compounds in cannabis and dosage levels can be harmful as well as cutting agents and vaping materials. Vaping is still a relatively new method of smoking without much historical data.
What we do know is that vaporizers significantly reduce or eliminate the amount of harmful substances and irritants that enter the lungs when compared to smoking cannabis. With vaping, there seems to be more positive benefits than negative side effects. Additionally, cannabis has been proven to be a great therapeutic solution for many diseases and physical complications. It often has more positive effects which outweigh any drawbacks.
When compared to cannabis oils and vape cartridges, dry herb is considered the safest. Flower that is grown organically is pure and free of any potentially harmful additives. In an article regarding the dangers of the additive phytol in cannabis oils, it’s stated that:
Dry herb flower vaping is probably the safest. That process gently toasts the flower and releases the plant’s resin; you burn nothing.Leafly.com
As quality products are the safest, you should look for high-grade products with advanced technology and quality materials that minimize the chances of exposure to toxins. You can find these types of products on KINGS PIPE — a market hub of reliable, affordable, and quality vape products.
Does it lead to Liver toxicity and damage?
According to a bold claim made by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, sudden exposure to a high dosage of cannabis leads to liver toxicity and damage. Their accusation was based on a study conducted on a drug related to treating Epilepsy — Epidiolex, which is purely made from cannabis extracts. This research is backed up by another study led by the University of Arkansas. So, is cannabis really a culprit? More research is needed to make a final say but clearly there may be some risks.
Vaping might be a better alternative to other smoking methods, but on the contrary to common belief, it is not completely risk-free. It can lead to lung injuries, pregnancy complications, and severe poisoning that may persistently last. In some cases, the habit can also cost you your life. Do your research, buy legitimate lab tested cannabis products from licensed cannabis companies, and buy the best quality vaporizers you can find.