Cannabis Vape Cartridges 101

Vaporization is growing in popularity among cannabis users, and it’s easy to see why. Instead of combustion, vaping relies on the heating of cannabis into a fine vapor, which can be easier on the throat and lungs than traditional smoking. As more and more people make vaping their method of choice, the huge selection of cannabis vape cartridges can be overwhelming to consider. Not only are there differences in the hardware, but the contents of the cartridge are crucial. So before you make your first cannabis vape cartridge purchase, there are a few things you’ll need to know. 

Safety and Compliance

The first thing you need to confirm about your vape cartridge is that the contents are safe, lab-tested, and compliant with state guidelines. With the rise of vaping illnesses from unregulated products, it’s important that you know where your cannabis cartridges come from. Look for the California legal cannabis symbol or another compliant labeling. When in doubt, always buy from a licensed dispensary.

Why Use Cannabis Vape Cartridges?

Out of all of your options for cannabis consumption, why choose to vape? Here are a few reasons you should consider using cannabis vape cartridges:

  • Higher potency or effect
  • Ease of use
  • Controlled dosing
  • Portability
  • Discreet Use

Types of Cannabis Vape Cartridges

Before you start searching, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the different cartridges on the market so you can choose which one is right for you.

Cartridges vs Pre-Filled Pens

Many vape pens are designed with a standard vaporizer battery insert. These tanks can fit any standard cartridge you choose to use. Most pens of this design are rechargeable. Another option you can choose is the pre-filled vape pen, which contains a pre-charged battery and pre-loaded oil. These are typically disposable and can be discarded after use. 

Standard vs Pod Cartridges

A standard cartridge is designed to attach to any universal battery. No matter what kind of pen you’re using, the standard cartridge pods will likely fit right in. This variety and flexibility make standard cartridges widely available on the market. Another option to consider is the pod cartridge. Pods are more particular—they can only be used with a branded device. However, they offer additional hardware like temperature control and additional safety features.

The Contents of Vape Cartridges

Now that we've covered the types of vape pens and cartridges, it's time to get into the contents of those cartridges.

CO2 Oil

High-grade CO2 oils have the perfect viscosity for vaporization due to the concentration of plant-based terpenes, which act as a natural thinning agent. For this reason, they’re very compatible with cartridges.


This highly refined oil is known for its potency, as it contains pure cannabinoids. Cannabis distillates can be used in most vaporizer cartridges, although you may need to use a thinning agent to lower the viscosity.


Certain additives are used in cartridge oils as a thinning agent. You can “cut” the viscosity with substances like polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol, or vegetable glycerine.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to functionality, potency, and ease of use, vape cartridges stand out from the crowd. Whether you’re consuming cannabis for personal or medical reasons, understanding the differences between these cartridges can help you make an informed decision about which one is right for you.