By Robert Bergman, ILoveGrowingMarijuana.com
One of the best things about marijuana is the fact that it is so adaptable. Not only can you smoke the buds of a marijuana plant, but you can also infuse butter or cooking oil with it, or use a concentrated liquid form to consume it, and start feeling the effects fast. These effects are often used for medicinal purposes. They might provide pain relief for people who experience frequent migraines. They reduce anxiety and stress to those who need it most. And they can help people with certain muscular and movement-based ailments.
Vape pen juice: Obstacles to success
The problem with marijuana, is that it has been widely misunderstood and misrepresented. People who don’t know any better envision marijuana users as grungy, irresponsible, good-for-nothing folks, who are going nowhere in life. The fact is, however, that plenty of people need marijuana to maintain a high quality of life, and they might not even be smokers. Perhaps they have never consumed marijuana recreationally and only use it as needed for their health. This is why it is so useful to have other methods of consuming marijuana. One of the more useful (and less understood) methods is by consuming through a vape pen or electronic cigarette.
The vape pen and concentrated marijuana
Unfortunately, the rising trend of using a vape pen to consume concentrated amounts of marijuana has attracted a lot of unwanted attention. News stories have begun to run rampant. They illustrate misleading pictures of irresponsible drug addicts inhaling concentrated doses of marijuana to get a more extreme high. They are portrayed as a plague to our society. This illustration is not only false, but it is also harmful because it prevents those who might benefit from medical marijuana from pursuing it as a solution to their problems. And it keeps it illegal in those places where it remains banned.
The fear comes from the fact that it is concentrated. The fact is, however, that concentrated marijuana has been used for generations, in a variety of forms. It is not concentrated so that drug addicts can get a bigger fix; it is instead for the purpose of feeling the beneficial effects as quickly and safely as possible. Part of the fear of marijuana comes from the encouragement of the pharmaceutical industry. Once people are allowed to grow their own marijuana and self-medicate for a variety of health issues, this industry is going to take a hard hit. Therefore, it’s in their direct interest for growing, distributing, buying, and using marijuana to remain illegal.
What is a vape pen?
A vape pen or electronic cigarette (“E-cig”) is a relatively new technology. There is not yet enough research to fully understand what the common long term effects of using one might be. There is also little regulation because of its newness, meaning that when you buy one, you are at risk of getting a cheap knock-off vape pen rather than a legitimate, high-quality one. It is basically unavoidable to have cheaply produced, foreign parts as part of most vape pens and E-cigarettes. But that doesn’t mean that the entire thing has to be cheap, and made of poor quality. If you want to do it right, it’s important to find a high-quality vape pen to make sure you have a healthy experience that can last awhile.
A vape pen comes in different types and models, but there is a basic structure to them that seems to span them all. These components are the cartridge, the atomizer, and the battery.
The cartridge is where the tincture drops (or the vape pen “juice”) are added, one drop at a time. The tincture is the concentrated marijuana in liquid form, designed so that you can take it in safely. One end of the cartridge is where your lips touch when inhaling while the other end of the cartridge attaches to the next component: the atomizer.
The atomizer is the piece that changes your marijuana from its liquid form to gas, or vapor. As when you turn any liquid into a gas, heat is required to do this. Therefore, the atomizer utilizes heat to convert the liquid into a vapor.
The longest component of a vape pen or E-cig is the battery. Batteries can vary from model to model. Some are manual, and some are automatic. A manual vape pen will require ignition of some sort, such as a button that needs to be pressed for the power to kick in. Automatic vape pens, on the other hand, need you just to inhale to work.
Buying a high-quality vape pen
The best way to ensure that you are buying a high-quality vape pen is to do your research beforehand. Make sure that the brand is reputable and has been reviewed well. You can easily find this type of information online.
Another issue you might run into is overpriced vape pens. Some vendors are known for selling a cheap pen, such as one that should cost just $5, for as much as $75 or $80. You should be able to avoid this as well by checking online and reading up on the manufacturer. The safest way to go about it is to buy a vape pen from a reputable brand, from one of their licensed vendors so you can rest assured you know exactly what you are getting.
If you’re not particularly concerned about quality, think again. Since this is a tool to change and transport something straight into your body, a low-quality product can have a direct, negative effect on your health. Or it could simply be dangerous because of the cheaper, knocked off components or metals that are inferior and unhealthy. Some, for instance, will burn and, therefore, cause smoke to come out rather than only emitting vapor, which is undoubtedly not good for your lungs and overall health.
What is vape pen juice?
The second main aspect of using E-cigarettes or vape pens to consume marijuana is the “juice” itself. Since that is what will go into your body, it is important to ensure that the juice is just as high in quality as the vape pen. Vape juice has its base in vegetable glycerin and making it generally requires weeks of time.
Another term for vape juice is an oral tincture, which is either based in glycerin or alcohol, with herbs infused into it. This product’s original purpose was to be consumed by putting drops under the tongue, which allows the marijuana to bypass your liver, as well as the potential metabolism problems that may arise for those who prefer to ingest marijuana via edible products.
Oral tinctures are nothing new. In fact, they have been around for thousandsof years! Using a vape pen or E-cigarette to consume them, however, is the new part. Marijuana oral tinctures are perfectly safe, and when made and used correctly they are extremely effective.
The benefits of making vape pen juice yourself
Why should you spend the several weeks it takes to make the oral tinctures or vape juice by yourself? As with any type of consumable product, it is always best when you know exactly where it comes from, and what is in it. If you buy it from a distributor or from store shelves, you only can know so much about what actually makes up that product. When you make it yourself, however, you have a complete understanding of what went into it, and how that affects your body. It is simply the healthier way to do it.
How to make your own vape pen juice
In general, it is not a good idea to make vape juice that has non-food grade propylene glycol or glycerin in it. Food grade products must be in containers that are safe and non-toxic, as propylene glycol and glycerine both absorb the chemicals from any of the containers they have ever been stored in. The non-food grade version of these products is meant only to be applied externally. You should never consume or inhale anything with non-food grade propylene glycol or glycerin in it.
For that reason, this recipe calls for only using 100% USP-food grade vegetable glycerin. Not only will it ensure your health and safety, but using glycerin instead of propylene glycol will produce more vapor overall. Blends of both are probably best for E-cigarettes that have juices that are nicotine-based. Some people prefer to buy a product such as EJMix, which has a mixture of Propylene Glycol and Polyethylene Glycol in it. These products are both found in commercial vape juice.
This recipe can also work for non-marijuana herbs, depending on your medical needs and taste preferences.
The first step is to decarboxylate your marijuana. This is needed in order convert the THCA to THC. The activation process usually occurs automatically when a plant is burned, or smoked but because e-liquid vaporization temperatures may not get hot enough, decarboxylation can be good idea. Read Decarboxylating Marijuana – The Internal Process of THC Formation and find out how decarboxylating marijuana works.
- 5 grams of pure, blonde, powdered hash or 7 grams of high-quality bud (ground by hand)
- 2-4 ounces of high proof alcohol (180 proof or higher; must be drinkable alcohol; 100 proof is absolute minimum) — vodka is preferable, for its flavor neutrality
- 2-4 ounces of 100% USP-food grade vegetable glycerin
- 2 sterile canning jars and lids
- 1 cheesecloth
- Put the marijuana into the sterile canning. Add alcohol until it covers marijuana by at least one quarter inch. Place lid on the jar, and shake vigorously. If the plant matter absorbs the alcohol and increases in size, add more alcohol.
- Place the jar (still tightly closed) in a dark location for 10-14 days. At least once per day, shake it up vigorously.
- After 10-14 days, strain the mixture through the cheesecloth, and pour it into the second sterile canning jar. Mix in three parts of your 100% USP-food grade vegetable glycerin. Put the lid on, and shake vigorously for a minimum of two minutes.
Adding flavor to your vape pen juice
The key to safely adding your preferred flavor to the homemade vape juice is to never use artificial coloring. It will likely change color anyway, because of the natural plant coloring, so just leave it as is so that you will not be inhaling any dangerous chemicals.
You should also avoid any store bought flavorings because they also will contain harmful chemicals — including non-food grade propylene glycol, which you just spent so much effort keeping out of your mixture. Don’t ruin it now by adding these harmful ingredients.
Some people prefer to use essential oils for their flavorings while others go for the tincture blending route. For this recipe, we will just discuss the method for mixing together different tinctures in order to create the desired flavor.
One way you could mix tinctures for flavoring is to use:
- Three parts tincture of Cannabis, and 1 part tincture of wild blackberry;
- 3 parts tincture of Cannabis, and 1 part tincture of chocolate mint;
- Three parts tincture of Cannabis, and 1 part tincture of garlic;
- 3 parts tincture of Cannabis, with 1 part tincture of tobacco; or
- 3 parts tincture of Cannabis, with 1 part tincture of just about anything.
The flavoring depends solely on your personal preferences. In general, when using a vape pen, you will only need about half as much as you would take when using tinctures sublingually. A common dosage for under the tongue is between 3 and 5 milliliters of juice.
Thanks for reading! If you want to know more about growing your own marijuana to make your own vape juice, make sure you check out my free marijuana grow guide.