If you have ever been outside at any point in the last several years, you will likely have noticed people vaping as they walk. Their existence is noticeable due to the thick, billowing clouds of vapor that they leave in their wake, like a Native American sending smoke signals to signal their presence.
Used as an alternative to regular smoking, both with tobacco and with marijuana products, vaping allows users to enjoy their smoking product of choice without the unpleasantness of combustion and with the option of adding a unique flavor to each puff.
But how effective is it? Are vapers getting the same amount of CBD they would with regular joints? Just how much CBD are they getting from each vape puff?
What is the Process Behind Each Puff?
To best understand how much CBD is in each puff from vaporization, we need to understand how a vaporizer works.
A vaporizer is a remarkably simple looking piece of machinery, but it is actually a sophisticated piece of scientific hardware, crafted with high tech parts and precision instruments.
To start with, CBD or THC oil is stored in a replaceable or rechargeable tank at the end of the vape pen. This is filled with CBD or THC oil that has been “thinned out” with thinning agents for the purposes of reducing the oil’s viscosity.
When activated, this is then vaporized in a vaporizing chamber in the center of the pen. What happens is that the oil is subjected to intense heat, but still not to the point of combustion. Vaporization means that it is heated to the point where it becomes a gas rather than a liquid.
This vaporous mix of CBD or THC and oil is then inhaled through the breathing nozzle, allowing you to get your preferred cannabinoid without the detriments of smoke or tar.
This vaporization process has existed since the 1960s, but was only made popular in the last 15 years since its application in China – 60% of Chinese men are regular smokers of vape pens, though in their case it is tobacco they are taking and not CBD.
The use of vape pens for marijuana has been a rising tide of popularity, leading to it being one of the most common methods of marijuana consumption in the USA.
Not only is it easier and without the irritants of Marijuana, but there are even studies, such as one by Konstantinos E. Farsalinos and Riccardo Polosa for the Journal of Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, that show it is far healthier than smoking regularly, as well as simply easier and more enjoyable.
However, what about its effectiveness? Is vaping a useful alternative to smoking regular joints or taking CBD or THC oil directly, or is it just a fad?
What Do the Scientists Say?
To understand how much CBD you are getting from each puff of a vape pen requires two things: An analysis of how much CBD is within each actual puff from a vape, and then an analysis on how much CBD is able to be utilized by your body when compared to other methods of CBD imbibing.
The content of each CBD puff is pretty easy to determine, because that is actually one of the major benefits of using a vape pen – whatever you vaporize, you are getting pretty much all of it.
When you smoke a joint with marijuana in it, you are combusting plant matter that not only causes a great deal of burnt plant matter and other detritus to enter your lungs, it also potentially burns and damages the cannabinoids, forcing you to lose some of the cannabinoids and terpenes within the bud to the fire.
With vaporizers, however, this is not the case. When you vape, all of the CBD within the oil is vaporized, allowing all of it to enter into your lungs and be used by the body. This means that knowing how much CBD is within each puff only requires you to look at a packet and do some simple math.
Most of the time, CBD oil meant for vaporizers comes with an exact amount of CBD in the entire cylinder, as well as how many breaths it should take to get through it all.
Your vaporizer will also, most likely, come with a guide on how much and how long you should inhale for.
Combining these two pieces of information allows you to learn just exactly how much CBD you’re consuming per breath. For example, if it takes 100 puffs from your vape pen to get through a 100mg cylinder of CBD oil, you are getting exactly 1 mg of CBD per toke.
This is easy when your vape pen only allows you to take a specific quantity of vape oil per breath – for the more advanced ones that let you breathe in as much as you want, a little more guesswork is involved.
You can test it yourself by making sure to take the same length and intensity of toke per puff, and then see how many it takes to get to the end. Divide that number by the CBD content of your CBD oil and you will arrive at the amount of CBD oil per puff.
Working it out more specifically from that is extremely difficult without knowing exactly the make and type of the vape pen, as well as the CBD content of the CBD oil. Next, we need to understand how much CBD is able to be taken in by the body per puff.
A study by the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics by Abrams et al. found that, during a pilot study to test vaporization as a smokeless method of cannabis delivery, that vape pens were far more efficient at getting the CBD into the body.
By spacing out the intensity of cannabinoids over a 6 day period with regular, measured intakes of vape oil per subject, the researchers were able to observe the effect each puff had on the subjects.
By testing their THC level (in essence, how high they got), researchers were able to determine that essentially the entirety of the THC content administered to each subject was observable in their body.
This means that there was no waste of cannabinoids, something you certainly would not see when using regular cannabis buds due to the loss induced by combustion.
However, there is something to consider; what about any risks associated with vape pens?
Are There Any Risks With Using a Vape Pen?
Vape pens are famously extremely safe when compared to using regular cannabis, but it is still important to remember that there are still possible risks associated with everything that we do.
Though it would appear that your intake of CBD oil is almost entirely pure with each puff, there exists the issue of what the CBD oil is actually made of.
As CBD oil is, as the name states, an oil, when you vaporize it you are not only breathing in the desired cannabinoids, but also the oil as well.
As is likely obvious, our bodies were not designed to breath in vaporized fat particles. This can lead to issues such as Lipoid Pneumonia, a condition wherein the fat molecules of the CBD oil can become trapped within the bronchial tubing of the lungs and lead to respiratory distress and other issues.
Additionally, there is some risk associated with using certain thinning agents that manufacturers use to thin out their CBD oil.
In the case of most manufacturers, they use an artificial thinning agent called Propylene Glycol. Propylene Glycol allows the usually viscous CBD oil to become thinner and more easily vaporized.
However, Propylene Glycol has been demonstrated to break down into carcinogenic compounds within the lungs and bloodstream, leading to an increased risk of developing various types of cancers.
While the risk of eventually developing cancer is actually quite low and, even if it did happen, quite far in the future, it is still an unnecessary risk that you take on by using CBD oil that contains Propylene Glycol.
Is Vaping Worth it?
CBD oil intake through a vape pen isn’t all rainbows and sunshine – there are real risks associated with using it, leading to lung health depreciation and overall increased risks of cancers.
However, it is important to remember that these health risks also exist in other forms of cannabis intake, and indeed exist in a myriad of other daily things we do that we take for granted.
Though there are some health risks that you need to accept, it is absolutely true that using a CBD vape pen allows you to get near enough 100% of the CBD per puff, allowing for a greatly increased quantity of CBD per puff.
Yes, there are risks, but there are risks with everything – are you going to let a few potential harmful factors stop you from enjoying your life and medicating yourself with CBD?
Just remember to use it in moderation; most of the problems exist through long-term, excessive use. Use CBD vape pens intelligently, and you’ll be fine.