In the world of cannabis vaping, the story that has slowly been coming out, is how dangerous vape carts can be in terms of leaching toxic heavy metals into vape oil. Now, companies are trying to find ways around this, by creating non-metal vape carts that won’t leach out metals over time. Here’s a little more info.
Non-metal vape carts provide a great alternative to standard carts that can leach out dangerous heavy metals. Will we be seeing more of these in the future? We’re on top of everything going on in this industry, so sign up for the THC Weekly Newsletter to stay informed on everything happening, as well as to get access to exclusive offers on cannabis flowers, vapes, edibles, and many more products! Plus, our deals on cannabinoid compounds, like HHC-O, Delta 8, Delta 9 THC, Delta-10 THC, THCO, THCV, THCP & HHC, will save you lots of $$. Head over to our “Best-of” lists, and remember to always enjoy responsibly!
Vape carts are small containers that are filled with oil and attached to a battery, to make vapor in place of smoke. With all the information out there linking smoking cigarettes to a myriad of health issues, vaping has become a huge trend, with everyone from high school kids to senior citizens using this method over smoking. And for the most part it seems to be better.
As an asthmatic who switched from smoking to vaping, I can personally attest to the difference it makes. It’s a difference I can feel. Smoking was tearing up my throat and lungs, causing asthma attacks, and leading to multiple cases of bronchitis. Vaping has left me with less issues with my asthma, and overall better feeling lungs.
In the short term, there’s very little that can be said to make vaping worse than smoking. And as vaping deaths are few and far between (based on additives and not the cannabis compounds themselves), this says a lot against the 480,000 people that die a year from smoking, 40,000 of which die not from their own habit, but from secondhand smoke. Ever hear of a second-hand vaping death? Didn’t think so.
The long term is different though. Not every product with toxic elements shows its toxicity right away. Sometimes it’s about the repeated use of something, the buildup of toxins in the system, or long-term damage something can cause that can’t be seen in the short term. And this becomes the issue with vape carts. In the short term they provide a significantly less harsh way of inhaling a product, but in the long term, its unknown how much issues like heavy metals could hurt a user’s health, especially with frequent exposure over many years of time.
Heavy metals in vape carts
To understand why this is an issue, it helps to know how vape carts are built and how they work. A cartridge is a small capsule looking object usually made of polycarbonate plastic, but which can also be made of stainless steel, glass, or ceramic. Carts contain an atomizer, which is a metal coil that heats up when a button is pushed to vaporize the oil. There are also metal solders inside the cartridge as well.
The understanding of the issue of heavy metals in vape carts is slowly coming into prominence, though no real legislation exists on a large scale. In fact, not only are there no federal regulations, but the only state thus far to institute a policy to measure heavy metals, is Colorado. Colorado now requires vape liquids, concentrates, and vape emissions to be tested for heavy metal content. However, Colorado failed to account for heavy metals that leach into the oil while simply sitting in the cart, and only account for that which comes from the cannabis.
California is also starting to act on this matter. It passed a law requiring cannabis products to go through testing, including for heavy metals. But the law merely states that a testing regimen must be created, it does not actually offer regulation just yet.
Non-metal vape carts
What’s the best way to deal with the issue of metals leaching into vape cart liquid? Make non-metal vape carts from different materials. And this is already being done by a few companies.
clēēn:tech is one company that is already invested in creating alternative lead-free vape carts. The company’s A3 Vape Cartridge line uses state-of-the-art materials that are food and medical-grade, and are absent of detectable levels of lead, as well as arsenic, mercury, and cadmium. The company’s site shows safety testing from 3rd party labs, but does not actually say the specific materials its carts are made of.
Another company, O2VAPE, creates non-metal vape carts made of All Glass and Full Ceramic to deal with the increasing issue of heavy metal contamination. The company’s vape carts can ensure that no heavy metals will leach into vape oil, by taking the metal out of the equation entirely. According to the company, its alternative All Glass vape carts are made of a sturdy material made of quartz.
The company explains that their carts employ “ceramic cell technology with a casing and center post made entirely from glass for the ultimate in clean, metal-free vaping. With the All Glass Cartridge, your oil never comes in contact with any metal surfaces. The only metal used in the cartridge is for the 510 threads, connection plate and the internal wires in the heating element.” The company does stipulate that glass isn’t as strong as plastic or metal, but that their carts are thicker to stave off breakage.
The Full Ceramic carts also use “ceramic cell technology with a ceramic pole, tip and glass tank for premium quality vaping.” And that once again, “your oil never comes in contact with any metal surfaces. The only metal present is once again in the threads, which allows for the electrical conductivity that heats your oils.”
Another addition to the non-metal vape carts scene is the company USA Extracts, which produces fully ceramic vape carts to ensure no leached metal. As per the company: “Obviously, cannabis connoisseur or not, there’s no conscious consumer that wants to be inhaling dangerous and toxic chemicals. Ceramic cartridges on the other hand, are free of this fear completely and deliver a few additional benefits that pique the interests of frequent vapers. Especially the dental-grade type of ceramic used in URSA Extracts cartridges.”
A bit more on heavy metals
Heavy metals are defined in different ways, but usually by having high densities, by atomic weight, or by atomic number, with different fields (chemistry, metallurgy, and physics) suggesting different definitions. However, only three meet the definition of all fields: lead, mercury, and bismuth. Lead and mercury are often mentioned in terms of heavy metal concerns when a person is repeatedly exposed to, or consumes, them. This is one of the main points of the argument against vaccines, which use a form of mercury called thimerosal, or issues with children eating lead paint.
In truth, our bodies do require some heavy metals, but many are not in this category. What is there to be afraid of with heavy metals? According to this article from 2021: Toxic Mechanisms of Five Heavy Metals: Mercury, Lead, Chromium, Cadmium, and Arsenic, it’s stated by the authors: “Several acute and chronic toxic effects of heavy metals affect different body organs. Gastrointestinal and kidney dysfunction, nervous system disorders, skin lesions, vascular damage, immune system dysfunction, birth defects, and cancer are examples of the complications of heavy metals toxic effects.”
In terms of low-dose exposure vs high dose exposure, the authors continue that: “High-dose heavy metals exposure, particularly mercury and lead, may induce severe complications such as abdominal colic pain, bloody diarrhea, and kidney failure. On the other hand, low-dose exposure is a subtle and hidden threat, unless repeated regularly, which may then be diagnosed by its complications, e.g., neuropsychiatric disorders including fatigue, anxiety, and detrimental impacts on intelligence quotient (IQ) and intellectual function in children.”
What does the research say about vapes and heavy metals?
Where do we see evidence of vape carts causing issues in this domain? Not much research has been released, but we know a little. In the systematic review, Metal/Metalloid Levels in Electronic Cigarette Liquids, Aerosols, and Human Biosamples: A Systematic Review, metal/metalloid levels in e-liquids, aerosols, and biosamples were measured in e-cigarette users. It was found that heavy metal biosamples of urine, serum, saliva, and blood, showed higher amounts of heavy metals in e-cig users than in regular smokers.
In a presentation from 2019 called Heavy Metal Contaminants from Cannabis Vaporizer Cartridges: Valid Concern or Blowing Smoke?, the aerosol of vape cartridges was studied to see how much the cartridges themselves emit heavy metals, the findings reinforce the idea that heavy metals can leach from the hardware of a vape into the created aerosol. Investigators even used three different sets of hardware to determine if the issue was different with different brands. Standard voltage settings were used to ensure testing matched user experience, and researchers tested formulations of cannabis that are comparable to what is bought in dispensaries.
Not only that, it showed how after six months of sitting in a cartridge, the oil inside had 3X the action level of lead than newer carts, which indicates that simply issues from heating are not everything. These chemicals can leach out when no heat is being applied, which means that the heavy metal issue is related simply being in the cart. And this is a problem. Imagine if a vape cart sites on a shelf for three months before being bought, that means three months of metals leaching out into the oil.
I expect as more information comes out on the subject, more companies will invest in creating non-metal vape carts that don’t pose the same threat as carts that employ heavy metals. This is likely the best answer, considering the few testing requirements that are being used, don’t account for the idea of leached metals at all. For now, if you’re a vaper who is concerned about this issue, check out the sites mentioned above, or do your own internet search for non-metal vape carts, and rest a little easier knowing your vaping experience isn’t adding heavy metals to your body.
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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advice, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.
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