Ingredients In Marijuana Oil You Should Avoid When Vaping

Vaping vs Smoking When you burn marijuana oil, you will get the same free radicals that are found when burning

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Vaping vs Smoking

When you burn marijuana oil, you will get the same free radicals that are found when burning tobacco and cannabis. This is one reason why so many are choosing vaporizers over rolled cannabis. When vaping, cannabis is heated without combustion, meaning you are not inhaling smoke. Many cannabis users believe that vaping is safer and not as dangerous to their health than smoking. Vaporizers are designed to inhale the product without taking in the toxins created by smoke. That said, you should ask yourself if the materials you are inhaling are safe or not.

The Dangerous Ingredients You Should Avoid In Cannabis Oil

You should know that oils in cannabis are mixed with thinning agents for greater performances in a vaporizer. Unfortunately, when heated, some of these thinners create dangerous carbonyl compounds. Carbonyls contain a carbon atom that is bonded to an oxygen atom. Carbonyls are found in different groups including ketones, esters, etc. Carbonyls are used to help in the melting or boiling process of a compound.


Carbonyls are made up of a group of chemicals that can lead to cancer, including formaldehyde which has been connected to spontaneous abortions and can cause lower birth weights in babies. Research on the subject first started with e-cigarettes as marijuana and e-cigarettes use various thinning agents that are heated at different temperatures. Because there are similarities between both, it has drawn the attention of researchers to start investigating cannabis thinning agents.

Unfortunately, there has been no research performed on the heated thinning agents in vaporizers used for cannabis. Research has been performed on e-cigarettes as they have been available for over 10 years. In 2015, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that formaldehyde is present in the aerosols of e-cigarettes.

In 2017, a study by a team of researchers evaluated the e-cigarette pulmonary toxicity by studying human, animal, and cell culture. They believe that research has quickly evolved and has warned that if heated at high temperatures, propylene glycol will break down into microscopic polymers that can damage lung tissue. Propylene glycol is liquid alcohol that is used as a solvent and is a thinning agent used in cannabis oil. Microscopic polymers are large molecules composed of many subunits.

Thinning Agents

Further studies were conducted in 2017 including one at the Medical Marijuana Research Institute in Arizona. Researchers examined the byproducts when cannabis oil is vaporized. The following are thinning agents that have been studied:

  • Propylene glycol
  • Vegetable glycerin
  • Polyethylene glycol
  • Medium-chain triglycerides

The above agents were heated to 230°C or 450° then scientists tested the heated vapours to find the presence of harmful compounds including formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and acrolein. Their results showed that propylene glycol produced much higher acetaldehyde and formaldehyde byproducts than the other three thinning agents. Researchers concluded that those who vaporize marijuana oil using any of these thinning agents may run the risk of exposure to the byproducts.

Some risk factors include there is very little research on vape pens and in many cases, pre-packaged cartridges are not well labelled, and many thinning agents are produced in countries that do not have regulation controls. Keep in mind, many of these vape pens have different heating sources with different temperatures and how they are activated. Many people who use vape pens can develop cancer or pulmonary illnesses. There is very little known about the long or short-term effects of inhaling thinning agents.

Alternatives To Thinning Agents

Manufacturers of vaporizer cartridges are running from thinning agents due to the many health risks and the really bad taste that accompanies them. Many are now turning to terpenes as an excellent thinner for oils and tastes a whole lot better. Others are now using CO2 extraction to produce thin oil for cartridges without using additive thinners. Other alternatives might include vaping MCT oil which is often used in foods. MCI is a medium-chain triglyceride oil that has medium-length chains of fat.

Due to the increased popularity of cartridges, more products are being developed and landing on the shelves. When you purchase cartridges for your portable vaporizer, read the ingredients first. If propylene glycol and/or polyethylene glycol 400 are listed you should buy an alternative product that uses terpenes or other thinning agents that are better for your health.

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