Guide to vaping CBD
Vaping is a great way to take CBD. It’s cost-effective and gets the cannabinoids into your bloodstream quickly and efficiently; however, if you’ve not vaped before it can seem like a daunting process.
In this guide, you will find lots of information to help you get started, including the answers to crucial questions that will show you what to expect when you vape.
Vaping CBD: fast facts
- Whilst CBD itself is considered safe, there is little research into whether vaping CBD is harmful.
- A CBD vape oil or e-liquid uses specific carriers like MCT or VG/PG.
- Standard CBD oils are not suitable for vaping due to the carrier oils used.
- You can vape CBD as often as you wish throughout the day.
- You should not vape any more than 70mg of CBD per day as per FSA rules.
What is CBD e-liquid?
CBD e-liquid, also known as CBD vape juice, is a liquid made up of hemp extract, vegetable glycerin (VG) and propylene glycol (PG). When heated in a vaporiser, it forms a vapour that can be inhaled to deliver the active ingredient to your bloodstream, via your lungs. Sometimes flavourings are added to disguise the taste of the hemp and to make it more pleasant.
VG and PG
The proportion and quality of each ingredient can vary depending on the product you’re using. The VG and PG are combined to act as a carrier oil for the active ingredient and flavourings. The ratio of VG/PG affects how well the vapour forms and how much flavour it can carry.
Vegetable glycerin adds thickness to the liquid and vapour. Vape juices with more VG are usually smooth to inhale. Propylene glycol is thinner than VG and allows the mixture to carry more flavour. E-liquids high in PG can be tastier, but it’s likely that you’ll notice a sharper feeling in your throat.
MCT vs. PG & VG
MCT oil is a food-grade product that can be sourced from coconuts or palm kernels. It is usually found in edible products including CBD oil, but it can also be used in e-liquids as an alternative to the standard PG/VG blend.
MCT-based vape oil creates a smoother vaping experience with minimal catch or rasp in your throat. Research indicates that it’s also likely to produce fewer by-products such as acetaldehydes. We have found claims that if vaped at too high a temperature MCT oil may cause the rare condition lipoid pneumonia. However, we have not found any evidence or studies to confirm this claim so it remains unproven.
Overall, it produces a safer, more user-friendly vape oil that holds the flavour well and doesn’t hurt your throat.
CBD can be added to e-liquid in different forms:
Isolate is the most common type found in e-liquid. It is pure CBD that has been extracted from hemp and then processed until it contains nothing else. Products containing isolate are usually cheaper to produce and contain no THC. The drawback is that they won’t provide the entourage effect, which is the enhanced impact of CBD when it’s taken with other cannabinoids.
Full-spectrum CBD has been extracted from hemp plants and still contains small amounts of all the other cannabinoids, including traces of THC. This affects how the CBD interacts with your body and enhances the result. There are fewer vape juices made with full-spectrum extracts. They are more expensive, but are better than those made with isolate.
Broad-spectrum extract also provides traces of the other cannabinoids from the hemp plant, but the THC has been removed. Full-spectrum extracts are the best, but broad-spectrum are a close second.
Like with foods, vape juices can contain natural or artificial flavourings. For them to be suitable for use in an e-liquid, they need a strong flavour and must dissolve without interfering with the texture of the vapour.
Although natural flavourings are better for you, it’s a lot easier to get an artificial flavour to work well in a vape juice. As a result, products with natural flavourings can be hard to find and slightly more expensive.
Other CBD products that can be vaped
As well as liquids, you can vape CBD in other forms. Most of these other CBD products are less available than e-liquid and may need extra or specialist equipment.
Isolates – Similar to the isolate found in most e-liquids (such as the CBD/CBG isolate e-liquid from Love CBD), this is a variety that comes in crystal form. They provide a much stronger vapour because they have no carrier liquids or other diluting ingredients. Crystals can be vaporised in vapes designed for isolates or in dab-rigs. A dab-rig is a form of vaporiser designed to vaporise concentrated hemp or cannabis extracts quickly.
Distillate – CBD distillate is a thick, golden amber liquid that is produced when hemp extract is winterised in ethanol and then distilled. Distillate should be crystal clear with no visible cloudiness or floating particles. A high-quality CBD distillate can contain up to 90% of full-spectrum cannabinoids. Usually available as cartridges that can be attached to vape pens.
Wax – This is a concentrated form of CBD extract that manufacturers have processed into wax. Depending on how they make it, it can be full-spectrum or isolate and is often extremely potent. Wax is vaporised and inhaled using specially designed vapes or dab-rigs.
Shatter – Produced in a similar way to wax, but during its production its kept at a constant temperature which allows it to develop a transparent glass-like appearance. It can also be made from isolate, broad-spectrum or full-spectrum extract and you can vape it in the same way as isolate or wax.
Hemp flower – Flowers from the hemp plant can be dried, shredded and vaped. This can be done using a dry herb vaporiser. It’s illegal to buy or sell hemp flower before it’s been processed into tea, oils or other products. This is because in its flower form it could be possible to extract any traces of THC.
Benefits and effects
Many people find that once they’ve tried it, inhaling cannabidiol-based vape oils is their preferred way to take CBD. It has several benefits, including several that can’t be achieved with other cannabinoid delivery methods.
1. More CBD reaches your blood
If you swallow CBD, only 4% to 12% can be used by your body because your gut and/or liver will break most of it down. When you inhale a vapour, it goes straight into your lungs where it can pass into your blood without being broken down. As a result, with vaping, up to 56% of the CBD can be transported around your body for use in your cells. This makes vaping CBD the most effective way to take CBD.
2. It can save you money
Because more CBD reaches your blood, it makes e-liquids significantly better value than other products. Smaller amounts of vape juice can produce the same strength of effect as a much stronger CBD oil.
3. It works quickly
It’s easy for CBD vapour to reach your lungs and enter your bloodstream, so it starts working within 10 to 20 minutes. This is much faster than swallowing it, which can take between 30 minutes to 2 hours to take effect. It’s also slightly quicker than letting it absorb under your tongue, which starts to work between 15 and 25 minutes.
4. It’s easy to control the amount you consume
Vaping offers you the greatest control over how much you consume. Because each puff only holds a small amount of CBD, you can make minute adjustments to the amount you use.
If you want to start slowly, try two or three puffs a day. As you grow in confidence and begin to learn how it affects you, you can increase the number of puffs and the number of times you use your vape in a day.
5. It’s relatively discreet
Although using CBD is legal and growing in popularity, some people still feel self-conscious about being seen to use it. However, most pen vapes produce very little visible vapour and no noticeable smell. Also, there are lots of small devices that you could easily keep in a pocket or bag. Although your friends and colleagues may see you using a vape, it would be close to impossible for anyone to know that you’re using CBD and not another form of e-liquid.
6. E-liquids come in a range of flavours
If you don’t like the intense bitter flavour that accompanies some unfiltered full-spectrum CBD oils, e-liquids are ideal for you. They are much milder in taste and can be combined with some genuinely inventive flavours. With a flavoured e-liquid, you won’t be able to detect any hemp taste, you just get hints of your desired flavour as you inhale.
The drawbacks of vaping CBD e-liquid:
While there are many great reasons to start inhaling CBD vapour, there are a few drawbacks to be aware of too. The first is that to get started you much purchase a vape. This is an extra expense not needed with other methods.
A small pen vape will likely only cost you around £30. If you buy one with a refillable tank and you keep it clean, the only other expense should be vape juice and occasionally a new heating coil.
Another issue you may face with CBD e-liquid is that some people simply don’t like the idea of inhaling vapour. For someone who’s never done it before it can be off-putting, but once you’ve tried it, you may find that you get used to it quickly.
Does it get you high?
CBD, even when inhaled, is non-intoxicating and won’t get you high. The high that people experience when using cannabis comes from a plant substance called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Legal CBD e-liquids available in the UK are made from strains of cannabis called hemp that are naturally low in THC. Also, during the extraction process, the presence of THC is minimised to achieve the legal level of less than 1mg THC per container.
How does vaping CBD make you feel?
When you vape CBD, the first thing you will notice is the flavour of the vapour. It’s a milder sensation than when you eat or drink something, but the taste can be just as strong.
Then you may feel a slight catch in your throat. Some e-liquids are completely smooth as you inhale them, but others give you a gentle raspy feeling. Many people enjoy this as it lets them know when they’re inhaling vapour. Without that, it can be hard to tell the difference between inhaling vapour and a normal breath of air.
As you inhale a few times, the regular breathing allows you to focus and can be calming in its own right. Several minutes after you’ve inhaled the vapour you may notice a small change in how you are feeling. How CBD affects you varies slightly from person to person, but some refer to it as a ‘grounding’ sensation.
Is vaping CBD safe?
Good-quality CBD has an excellent safety record. But, in the last few years, several people have been admitted to hospital with lung conditions related to vaping. Now that these cases have been fully investigated it was found that they were linked either to THC e-liquids or fake brands who used additional unsafe ingredients in their products. One of the leading causes of health problems was when vitamin E acetate was added to the vape liquid to dilute it.
While there is still a lot to learn about exactly how e-liquids affect people in the long term, those available in the UK from well-known reputable brands contain simple ingredients with high quality and safety standards.
Can you vape CBD oil?
No, you should not vape CBD oil. Oils and e-liquids are different products. CBD e-liquids are specifically designed to be vaporised whereas CBD oil is designed to be dropped under your tongue or swallowed.
An e-liquid is made specifically to be vaporised at the correct temperature. All the substances they contain have been tested to produce a smooth, safe vapour. CBD oils, on the other hand, are thicker and are not compatible with vaporisers. They also contain carrier oils such as hemp seed or olive oil.
How to vape CBD
The process of vaping will vary depending on the equipment you’ve selected. The main difference is between vaporisers with tanks, cartridges or disposable vape pens.
A vaporiser with a tank is the most cost-effective and allows you to top it up whenever it gets empty. For a cartridge vape, you buy a prepared cartridge which attaches to your battery and can be disposed of and replaced when it’s empty. With a disposable vape, you must replace the whole product once it’s empty.
An e-liquid vaporiser
A bottle or cartridge of CBD vape juice
1. Start by familiarising yourself with the vape. Read the instructions, assemble it and test the controls.
2. Now, carefully pour the liquid into the tank or attach the cartridge. Some e-liquid bottles are easier to pour than others so take care not to get e-liquid in other parts of the vape or let your tank overflow.
3. Turn your device on; most turn on with 1, 3 or 5 clicks of the power button.
4. Once it’s on, take one small puff. Some models will automatically vaporise the e-liquid as you inhale, others need you to hold a button down each time you breathe in. Hold it in for a second or two and exhale.
Do you need to hold in CBD vape?
No, holding in CBD vape could increase the risk of lung irritation. Currently, there is no evidence to indicate that holding in a vape liquid increases the amount you can absorb. Inhale and exhale as naturally as possible.
Mouth to Lung (MTL) vs Direct to Lung (DTL)
Now you’ve used your vaporiser a few times you can make some further choices about how you use it. There are two main methods of inhaling CBD vapour: Mouth to Lung (MTL) and Direct to Lung (DTL).
Mouth to lung is when you draw the vapour into your mouth, hold it there for a few seconds then inhale it into your lungs. With direct to lung, you inhale the vapour directly from your vaporiser in a continuous breath until it reaches your lungs.
Direct to lung means that more of the cannabinoids in the vapour reach your lung for quick absorption into your blood. If the vapour stays in your mouth before reaching your lungs, you may notice the flavour more, but some of the active ingredients are absorbed into your mouth.
MTL is the easiest way to get started with vaping. It lets you have more control over the amount of vapour that reaches your lungs. Until you get used to it, DTL is likely to feel quite intense and may make you cough. Most people who vape CBD end up using a mixture of both methods.
How much CBD should I vape?
When you start vaping, e-liquid of any strength can be easily adjusted to suit your needs by taking more or fewer puffs.
CBD affects each person slightly differently, so starting with a small amount each day will give you time to get used to using your vape and experience its effects.
We recommend that you start with between 10mg and 20mg of CBD per day. How many drops you need to add to your tank depends on the strength of the e-liquid: