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Vape Pen Tutorial: How to Safely Use an E-Cigarette

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Have you been taking CBD tinctures for a while? Perhaps you feel you have enough familiarity with CBD to graduate to the next phase of use: vaping with an e-cigarette. You know what a vape pen looks like, but you have no idea how to operate one. For beginning vape users, e-cigs can appear simple and complex at the same time. Worry not; you came to the right place if you are just learning how to use a vape pen for the first time. By the time you finish this post, you’ll have plenty of confidence handling the portable thingamajig that turns CBD into inhalable vapor.

Parts of a Vape Pen

First, let’s get acquainted with a vape pen and the individual parts that make up the unit. The typical vape pen consists of these components:

  • Battery: The power system consists of a rechargeable lithium-ion battery like that in your mobile phone.
  • Atomizer: This is located between the battery and the mouthpiece; it’s the component that heats the oil into vapor. The atomizer is also referred to as a cartomizer or clearomizer.
  • Tank/cartridge: This takes the form of a single-use disposable cartridge pre-filled with CBD oil. The other is a tank that you manually fill with vape juice. This post will go over the step-by-step process for using a vape pen with a cartridge, though we’ll also explain how to use a refillable tank.
  • Sensor and software: This is the electronic component that regulates temperatures. This part differs depending on whether the vape pen is a push-button (manual) or buttonless (automatic) model. We’ll go more into detail in the next section.

How to Use a Vape Pen: The Step-by-step Process

Once you understand how the components work, the rest is intuitive. Though individual models may differ slightly, the steps below apply to most typical e-cigarettes.

  1. Just like most smart devices, you will have to charge the e-cigarette when you take it out the package. Most charge using a standard USB connector. An indicator light will indicate when the battery has ample juice. A full charge takes only an hour or two.
  2. If you have a disposable cartridge, remove the rubber top and screw it onto the vape pen.
  3. If you have a buttonless model, the device will automatically turn on when you take the first inhale through the mouthpiece. If you have a push-button model, activate the device by pushing the button. Most models require pressing it a certain number of times to prevent accidental activation.

Of course, even simple instructions can be complex if not accompanied by visuals. The video below is a fairly good tutorial for beginners. This tutorial is especially recommended if you’re learning how to use a push-button vape pen.

Tips for First-Time Users

  • Limit each inhale through the mouthpiece to about five seconds.
  • There is no need to hold your breath after each inhale.
  • Inhale some clean air between each puff. This helps push the CBD vape particles into the lungs
  • Wait a few minutes between puffs and monitor how you feel. If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseated, wait until you’re completely alright before taking another draw.
  • Some users recommend dry running a new vape pen without the cartridge. This supposedly burns off any harmful metals within the device that may enter your lungs.

Push-Button or Buttonless Vape Pen?

Which variety is better? Since this post is geared towards beginners, we recommend newbies sticking with the buttonless variant. Usage requires fewer steps and is easier to get right into.

More experienced users, though, may prefer a push-button model, which has multiple temperature settings. Increase voltage power of the atomizer by pressing the button. Most models have a light that changes in color to correspond to a specific temperature.

Why does temperature setting matter? Some oils have greater viscosity and may not adequately produce a desirable vapor output. The result is less consistency when using particular cartridges or vape juices. After experimentation, some users find that certain temperatures work better for particular CBD oils. Buttonless vape pens, while beginner-friendly, have a uniform temperature setting with no option for adjustment.

Best Heat Settings for Vaping

If you ask a dozen push-button e-cig users what’s the ideal temperature, you’ll get a dozen answers. People prefer different consistencies and vapor levels. If you’re seeking an answer from an authority figure, then consider the opinion of Dr. Ian Mitchell, an emergency physician at Vancouver’s University of British Columbia. In his estimate, the ideal heating range is 175 – 200 degrees Celsius. He also notes that most vape pens use a slightly higher 210 degrees Celsius as a set point.

According to one Netherlands study, an e-cig setting of degrees Celsius yielded better cannabinoid concentrations at 77 percent, compared to just 24 percent when the temperature was set at 170degrees Celsius. We believe this study is a good reference to go by. We must add, though, that some users actually prefer heating settings at the lower 170degrees Celsius. While this vaporizes less cannabinoids, it still vaporizes most of the terpenes. This may provide a better vaping experience for sensitive users who easily feel the cannabinoid effects at low doses.

Some users have also tried to adjust temperatures in order to acquire a higher yield of CBD and less THC, or vice versa. However, the boiling point of these two cannabinoids only differ by about 10degrees Celsius. Push-button vape pens don’t have temperature settings in those small increments.

How to Refill a Vape Pen Cartridge

Just as we recommend beginners start with buttonless vape pens, we also suggest they begin with disposable cartridges. At some point, though, users may also elect to use refillable cartridges that they fill with their own e-juice of choice. If you go this route, then follow this easy step-by-step guide for filling and refilling a fillable cartridge.

  1. We recommend using a syringe with a blunt needle tip, which you can acquire inexpensively at your local pharmacy store.
  2. Fill the syringe with the vape juice of your choice.
  3. Unscrew the vape pen’s mouthpiece. This exposes an opening in the cartridge.
  4. Use the syringe to inject the juice into the opening.
  5. Screw the mouthpiece back on.

Again, if you need visuals, watch this video to see how it’s done. If you want to know how to use a vape pen for oil, this is how you go about it.

Heavy Metals in Vape Pens

There have been some recent concerns that vape pens leach toxic heavy metals that the user ultimately and unknowingly inhales. One 2016 study suggests e-cig users are at risk of exposure to the metals nickel and chromium. It’s believed that metal leaches from the heating coil and mixes with the vapor.

At present, there are no studies that link e-cigarette use to increased risk of cancer or other disease. Another study1 found that metals emitted from vape pens include chromium, copper, cadmium, lead and nickel. The researchers concluded, however, that the amount is unlikely to generate adverse health concerns. It did caution, though, that metal traces may differ depending on the type of vape pen used.

In another study published in the Frontiers In Physiology, researchers detected no significant levels of trace metals from vapor in an e-cigarette when heated to 350 degrees Celsius. Researchers concluded that metal traces, however, increased dramatically when heated to 800degrees Celsius. Most vape pens do not provide that high of a heating level. Even if they do, the heat will produce extremely dry and distasteful vapor that no user in their right mind would enjoy.

The studies kind of go both ways. To keep the risk of metal toxicity to a minimum, we suggest only purchasing vape pens from reputable sellers. Avoid customized and homemade contraptions.

Concerns About Thinning Oils

Vape juices contain some form of thinning agent since CBD oil is too viscous to turn into vapor. The thinning oil either comes in the form of propylene glycol (PG) or vegetable glycerin (VG). There have been some health risk concerns regarding the former.

While deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration and World Health Organization, one study has found that PG accelerates apoptosis (cell death) in the brains of mice. A small number of users have also reported side effects, such as sweating, thirst and sore throat.

Another study, though, showed that inhalation of PG had no significant adverse effects on dogs. At present, there are no human studies.

While we believe PG is safe, it doesn’t hurt to err on the side of caution and aim for vegetable glycerin as the thinning oil of choice for vape juices.

Where to Buy Vape Pens, Cartridges and Vape Juices

The above concerns are why we only recommend purchasing CBD products from reputable suppliers. See our Where to Buy page for sites we personally vetted ourselves. There are a few other trustworthy sites, such as CBD FX, which carries vape pens and vape kits. Another site is Hemp Bombs, which carries pre-loaded vape tank cartridges and e-juice additives with desirable VG/PG ratios.

Final Thoughts

Once you learn how to use a vape pen and take your first hit, the process becomes as easy as 1-2-3. Vaping is a great transition after you have been using CBD tinctures or capsules for a while. While some people are hesitant to make the switch, trust us when we say vaping is more beginning-friendly than you realize.

Medical References

1.
Farsalinos K, Voudris V, Poulas K. Are Metals Emitted from Electronic Cigarettes a Reason for Health Concern? A Risk-Assessment Analysis of Currently Available Literature. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015;12(5):5215-5232. [PMC]

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Ella

Ella is a founding member of The Universal Plant Team. Her personal experience with medicinal cannabis as a substitute for harmful pharmaceutical led to her passion for spreading the word about using cannabis as a medicine.

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