“It’s totally horrifying to me,” says Katie Stem, an herbalist who cofounded the Oregon-based cannabis company Peak Extracts in 2014, and has researched plant medicine and chemistry at Oregon Health & Science University. “People should not be cutting [cannabis extracts] with any sort of culinary lipid.” Stem says that with an extraction process using carbon dioxide as a solvent, it’s possible to create a vape-able distillate containing only plant material, without any additives.
As of Oct. 10, more than 1,200 cases of a mysterious vaping-related illness, and 26 related deaths had been reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is advising consumers to “consider refraining” from vaping altogether. Of the 771 patients the CDC previously reported data on, the majority reported vaping THC and/or nicotine. Only about 17% reported having vaped a CBD product, but there is still good reason for CBD enthusiasts to take note—and even to be especially cautious.
Neal Benowitz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who has studied the pharmacology of e-cigarettes, says that CO2 extraction process is “pretty clean,” and the results are well-known.
You might be safer with weed
“They think, ‘Oh, it’s an oil. I can mix it with another oil and that will thin it and it will make it easier to flow into our vape pen,’ and it’s not harmful because we’re already smoking oil. Well, no. Cannabis extract is not an oil,” says Stem.
While no single brand, product, or ingredient has been identified as the cause of the 1,000-plus cases of vaping-associated pulmonary injury—first called VAPI and now renamed EVALI—we do know that many of the affected patients were vaping illicit, and therefore unregulated, THC products. Tests showed many of those contained vitamin E acetate, an oil derived from vitamin E—which is considered safe for skincare but not for inhalation.
We can’t reasonably expect dealers of illegal cannabis vapes would test their products for safety or share ingredient lists with customers. The thing is, consumers can’t necessarily expect that sort of testing or transparency from manufacturers of hemp-derived CBD vapes either—even if they’re buying them from vape shops, specialty stores, or websites that don’t appear to be breaking the law. The category is completely unregulated. And reckless players are not limited to labeling their products as THC. In September, the Associated Press tested 30 vape products marketed as CBD from brands that authorities had flagged as suspect, and found that 10 contained dangerous synthetic marijuana and many had little to no CBD at all.
But here’s where it gets complicated, because the FDA hasn’t regulated vaping yet.
The best CBD products will not only include food-grade ingredients but will also omit those that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned may be detrimental to human health. According to a public information page on the FDA website, the vast majority of lung illness patients who vaped CBD used products that contained vitamin E acetate. An additional third of the patients used vape pens with aliphatic esters and a tenth vaped with products containing polyethylene glycol. While users should avoid these ingredients, the FDA stressed that they may not be the only causes of related lung illness.
To find the best CBD vape products, stick with legal sources only, even if choices on the black market are cheaper and easier to obtain. As you shop, be aware of the three different types of CBD oil:
Is it safe to vape CBD oil?
Hanna Erythropel, Ph.D., associate research scientist in the chemical and engineering department at Yale, said, “. chemical reactions create new molecules in the liquids… as chemists familiar with such reactions, we expected that the vegetable glycerin would react with vanillin to form acetals, and that’s what we found.”
The takeaway from this and other studies is to opt for flavorless vape oils that don’t cause damaging acetals to form during the process of chemical reaction. These “naked” vape juices are widely available on the market and may provide a safer alternative to flavored vape pens.
Alertness & Concentration: Lower doses of CBD vape oil may have an energy-boosting effect and could make you feel more alert.
CBD concentrate contains nothing but the substances that are already present in cannabis flower. It’s possible to vaporize oils present in cannabis for the same reason it’s possible to vaporize cannabis buds themselves.
CBD vape juice might, however, contain plenty of potentially fatal pulmonary toxins like vitamin E acetate , the culprit behind the 2019 spate of vaping-related illnesses.
What happens if I vape CBD tincture?
Tinctures are meant to be tinctures, and vapes are meant to be vapes. These two CBD product categories should ever overlap.
As we developed our company, one of the first things we noticed was the lack of transparency in the CBD vape market. Not only do we tell you exactly what’s in each Secret Nature vape cartridge, but we even insist on using nothing less than the best CO2 extract that science can produce.
Secret Nature tinctures only contain the best organic ingredients, but each ingredient is intended for oral consumption only. As far as our vape products go, we’re confident there aren’t any better options on the market.