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using the juul

Be in the Know as Vaping Related Illnesses Sweep the Nation

If you haven’t already heard a new wave of vaping related illnesses and even 8 vaping related deaths (to date) have swept America. These cases have been rapidly increasing over the last couple weeks and are affecting mainly youth under 25. The CDC has stated those who are falling sick are using many vape products across the board and that no one brand or substance has been linked to be the sole culprit, although a vitamin E acetate has been highlighted as highly correlated. 

Given the age of those who have succumbed to the illness and laws concerning vaping both THC and Nicotine,  many of the patients have been reluctant to disclose what they were using. It is predominantly believed to be THC and nicotine products which are Chinese clones or have been modified after market.

One example of such an aftermarket product  would be a refillable JUUL pod which a customer can input their own e-juice in instead of needing to purchase the companies OEM replacement pods. It is also common place for others to put  extracted THC into refillable pods (of assorted other vaporizers)  so they can vape THC. This is the purpose of the Vitamin E acetate, to transform the oil into a vapor, however not an intended use and definitely not something meant to be ingested.

refillable JUUL pods

Throwing a wrench in the mix is the avid use of both cannabis vaporizers and e-cigarettes by those who have been getting sick, although it should be mentioned that many using only e- cigarettes  (nicotine) are also getting sick. 

Also not clear yet is if any of the vaping related illnesses have come from vaping with electronic dab rigs or concentrate pens where the vapor released is via heating concentrated extracts such as shatter or wax. 

concentrated marijuana

We will do a quick run through so you can understand the different types of vaporizers and also how trying to vape via cutting corners can increase the health risks.

Electronic Cigarettes

e cigarettes

These are used for the vaping of flavored tobacco juice, which contains nicotine. The most well known E cig on the market and one which has been under increased scrutiny lately is JUUL. JUUL is a well built and more regulated e-cigarette compared to other brands. JUUL even has it’s own proprietary cartridge which comes prefilled for use in the device’s main body. This isn’t saying JUUL’s are healthier or safer, but they are some of the more regulated and expensive on the market.  Of course this high cost and needing to buy JUUL pre-filled pods is what sends vaping enthusiasts who want to save money scrambling for cheaper alternatives or making their own e juice and using counterfeit JUUL pods

using the juul
A User Vapes with Juul

If you want to go the cheapest route one can make their own e cigarette using a battery referred to as a mod, a screw on tank and purchasing (or making) e juice which contains the flavored nicotine. Many of these mods and tanks are produced in China with limited oversight and sold on sites like AliBaba or worse sold as authentic on sites like Ebay. There are many reputable companies who vet the mods and tanks they sell, but the concern with the current public health crisis is that homemade e juices or poorly made Chinese Vaporizer parts are finding their way into the mainstream.

Concentrate Pens With or Without Prefilled cartridges

The marijuana counterpart  to the JUUL is called the Era, made by once parent company, PAX Labs. It functions exactly like the JUUL but instead provides THC vapor instead of nicotine. This is an example of a concentrate pen that utilizes a prefilled cartridge and again these pre-filled cartridges when purchased from legitimate dispensaries come from reputable and tested suppliers, such as Level Blends.

Filling the Dr Dabber Aurora
Filling a 510 Concentrate Pen Atomizer

510 concentrate pens unlike the PAX ERA give the consumer the option to add their own concentrates to an atomizer (heating coil or slab) and hit it like a dab. 

One can also purchase 510 prefilled cartridges at a dispensary and screw them on to a 510 concentrate pen utilizing the battery to heat and vape the oil. However just as one can make their own e-juice and vape it from a cheap tank, one can also buy poorly made empty 510 cartridges and fill them with their own THC oils. 

THC vape cartridge
THC Vape Cartridge which can be screwed onto a 510 battery

Electronic Dab Rigs

Puffco Peak Black Friday Cyber Monday

E Rigs are another type of vaporizer for THC quickly gaining popularity and meant to replicate the act of “doing a dab” without the need for a glass rig and torch. These do not utilize any pre-filled pods or cartridges but rely on the consumer to add their own THC concentrates. The larger size over the 510 concentrate pens allow the user to take much larger hits and get more of an effect. E rigs and Dab Rig Vaporizers such as the Puffco Peak are also built to last longer than concentrate pen atomizers which can burn their coils out very fast. It is not known if any of these E Rigs have been linked to the vaping related illness or not.

Dry Herb Vaporizers

Dry herb vaporizers heat up the actual cannabis flower. With these vaporizers one grinds up their herbs and places them into a filling chamber where they are heated to a non combustible temperature and the active THC or CBD are inhaled. Granted they come in an array of qualities with the more expensive quality vaporizers made by the likes of PAX Labs and Storz & Bickel. However one can get an entry level dry herb vaporizer for under $100 like the Boundless CFC 2.0.

Loading the PAX 2

Dry herb vaporizers face the same issues with counterfeiting that the rest of the bunch do. When you make a more quality product, black market clones made of inferior raw materials will pop up on Ebay and Alibaba for alot less. 

The one benefit dry herb vaporizers have over E Cigarettes, Vape Pens and E Rigs is that there is no processing of the plant required. The same herb you would smoke from a pipe or joint is the same you would put in your dry herb vaporizer. Obviously you want to make sure you are using an authentic well built vaporizer so you are not getting any harmful burn off from a device not rated to handle the high temperatures a vaporizer operates at , but at least for the plant you are inhaling you have piece of mind knowing it is for the most part, pure without a slew of additives that go into THC oil cartridges or e- juice. Of course vaping tobacco plant from a dry herb vaporizer is not going to give you the same effect the E – Cigarette will and we don’t recommend you try this either. It is solely saying that the dry herb vaporizer enjoys the benefit of not needing to worry about both the a possible counterfeit inferior device and the potentially tainted input. 

Do Your Research

While there is no healthy way to ingest THC, Nicotine, CBD or the like into your lungs there is no doubt that vaping using counterfeit and underground items will put your health at far greater risk. 

As we all wait with bated breath to see the outcome of the current public health crisis and if a single culprit is found as the source to take all the blame , we need to be careful that we are dealing with reputable and authentic products.  The vaping industry is very new and is multifaceted with many different types of vaporizers all which serve different purposes. It is important to know the differences and inform yourself so not all vaporizers and their inputs are written off as deadly and dangerous.

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Barb and Rick Boudar
4 years ago

Thank you for a very informative article. While there is no healthy way to ingest THC, Nicotine, CBD or the like into your lungs

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