Different Types of Cannabis Vape Carts

Whether you want to soak up terpenes or relax with some CBD, vape pens are a popular method of cannabis consumption that has found favor with connoisseurs and casual users alike. With such a wide range of cannabis oils, cartridges and pens to choose from, the possibilities and combinations can be almost endless.

Thinking of jumping into the world of vape carts for the first time or looking to up your vaping game? Here is our guide to the wonderful world of cannabis vape cartridges.

What is a vape cartridge?

When it comes to vaping, aside from the battery, the most important part of the pen is the cartridge itself. A vape cartridge, or “cart,” is a pre-filled glass cartridge that contains a cannabis-infused oil or other concentrate. Carts are usually sold in half-gram or gram increments, come in a variety of well-known strains, and are generally loved for their potency and flavorful vapor.


What is a cannabis vape cartridge?

Types of Vape Cartridge Delivery Systems

In general, a vape pen contains a battery that works in conjunction with a cartridge. The battery heats an atomizer in the cartridge, which in turn heats up and activates the various compounds in cannabis oil.

While all vaporizers essentially achieve the same goal, there are key differences between products that require different hardware and maintenance.

510 thread

Named for the threads on the bottom of the cartridge, they are the most common and universal type. As such, they can be found in almost every store and are easily serviced and replaced when broken. Most are disposable, but they also have the benefit of being refillable and rechargeable, making them a top choice for the everyday smoker. When you hear the term vape pen, it usually refers to this type of vaporizer because it looks like a pen.

disposable pens

Disposable vape pens are incredibly popular and convenient as they feature an all-in-one construction with a battery, cartridge and mouthpiece all in one disposable device. With no need to charge or refill, disposable carts are useful for trying out new strains and enjoying the benefits of a vaporizer with minimal upkeep and maintenance. Even better, once the device is empty, it can be easily recycled.

Device specific (proprietary carts)

Various brands, such as PAX, have cartridges that are only compatible with their batteries and are usually available from licensed retailers. Specialty devices often allow for better control over temperature and other functions, but a fairly major downside is that these specialized carts aren’t always available in every pharmacy.

Usual concentrates in cartridges

Concentrates have enjoyed a rapidly growing popularity in recent years, thanks in part to the innovations of extractors who have developed a wide range of different products, including Budder, Shatter, Wax, Sauce, Diamonds, Live Resin and Live Rosin. Because the texture, viscosity, and stability of concentrates vary widely, not all concentrates find their way into vape cartridges.

Here are some of the concentrates you will most likely encounter in a vape cartridge.


Distillate oils are the result of a complex extraction process that separates out the desired cannabinoids. Because of this extraction method, distillations can often produce yields that are up to 99% pure in THC or CBD. However, due to the precise nature of this process, terpenes and other palatable compounds are also removed, drastically affecting flavor. As a result, terpenes are often reinfused to enhance flavor and viscosity.

living resin

Living resin is a butane hash oil (or BHO) that’s commonly found in cartridges because it’s known for tickling the taste buds and flaunting an out-of-this-world flavor profile. Flash frozen to preserve the plant’s freshness, terpenes and cannabinoids are then extracted in a chemical process that leaves an incredibly potent and desirable concentrate. Typically more expensive than other options, live resin carts are considered some of the highest quality options available.


Leafly’s Guide to Living Resin

living rosin

Living rosin might seem like a typo of “living resin,” but they are actually different concentrates worth distinguishing. Like live resin, “live” refers to using live cannabis plants as the starting material. Unlike living resin, living rosin is made without the use of chemical solvents. Instead, the freshly frozen botanicals are pressed under pressure and heat to extract a concentrated oil. This makes live rosin a solvent-free concentrate that is often preferred by health-conscious cannabis users.

Full-spectrum extracts aim to provide the cannabinoid and terpene profile typically found in the cannabis strain it is derived from. Vaporizer cartridges made with full-spectrum extracts contain THC, CBD, other cannabinoids, and the nearly 500 other bioactive compounds found in the plant. Compounds work together synergistically, creating the entourage effect and a more holistic experience.

CBD oil

While most cartridges contain high THC concentrates, some manufacturers have started to release carts with high concentrations of CBD or higher CBD to THC ratios like 2:1, 20:1 and beyond to order increase well-being benefits.


The Complete Guide to CBD (Cannabidiol)

How to choose the right vape cartridge

Choose a vape device

Before you decide on a cartridge, you must decide on a battery system. Control is a factor to consider when purchasing a pen or device. Most pens have the ability to control temperature, but generic batteries only have one temperature setting, and advanced devices offer a range of settings or the ability to fine-tune the temperature. Some devices even come with companion apps that track inhaled dose, among other things.

Choose a vape cart

Next, you should consider the types of carts that are compatible with your battery. For example, if you have a 510 battery, you need to buy 510 cartridges. On the other hand, if you have a specific device, you need to find a store that sells that device’s specific carts. If ubiquity and ease of purchase are your main goals in a vape pen, the classic 510 cartridge is usually easy to find.

Depending on what effects you’re looking for, different concentrates may perform better than others. For example, if you want to harness the full power of the cannabis plant, a full-spectrum extract might be a better choice than a high-THC distillate. If you’re looking for daytime stress and anxiety support, a CBD-dominant cartridge might do the trick.

With the wide variety of carts available today, exploring and experimenting with different systems or extracts is easy. You will be able to find many different strains in cartridge form to enjoy the discretion, portability and ease of use that vape carts offer. Try out a few different concentrates or cart types to see how they work – there’s sure to be a vaporizer cartridge that’s right for you and your needs.

Lauren Wilson

Lauren Wilson is a bestselling author and freelance writer based in Brooklyn, New York. She has built a career following her cultural oddities and has spent the last few years pushing the mainstream conversation about cannabis through education. Lauren is the author of three scientific books on CBD, including two for The CBD Solution series, co-produced with Snoop Dogg’s media company MERRY JANE and Chronicle Books.
Find her at: laurenmwilson.com | @laurendoesthis

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