It sounds simple.
Instead of smoking weed, you can vape it instead. Whether you choose a large vaporizer or a small vape pen, you just load it up, and you’re off to THC city.
If you know much about cannabis, though, you know that nothing can be quite that easy.
Here’s the issue. Three people who vape weed may be vaping three different things: dry flower, a concentrate like hash oil or live resin, or THC vape juice.
There’s a big difference. Only some vaporizers at home can handle herb. Hash oil is extremely potent stuff that’s essentially concentrated THC. And THC vape juice is a smoother, slightly less-powerful product that’s designed to work well in vapes and is better for the “long haul” smoker.
You can purchase all three products at dispensaries, but you need to know what you’re looking for before buying.
So let’s talk about THC vape juice.
What’s in THC Vape Juice?
THC vape juice is quite similar to the nicotine e-liquid that people use as an alternative to cigarettes.
Obviously, the biggest difference is that weed juice contains THC. Different producers use different forms of liquid THC to make their cartridges or liquids; most choose weed distillate, but some use hash oil, and their potencies can vary greatly. It’s a good idea to know the source of a vape juice’s THC before buying.
The other important ingredients in THC vape juice are water and/or alcohol, propylene glycol (PG), and/or vegetable glycerin (VG). Both PG and VG are sugar alcohols and safe to consume. Propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin are the same ingredients used in nicotine vape cartridges to create a smoother vaping liquid and enhance flavor.
There are differences between the two ingredients, which could be an important consideration when you’re purchasing THC vape juice. PG is thinner, and some people have allergic reactions to it. VG is smoother and thicker, creating more vapor on the exhale. Most nicotine vapers who do “smoke tricks” use e-liquid containing no PG, only VG.
Some additional ingredients may be in commercial THC vape juice as well. One lab study found that some juices contained MCT oil or added vitamins, and it’s common for manufacturers to add extra terpenes for extra taste or to enhance the THC’s potency.
While vaping hash oil will deliver a stronger hit, THC vape juice isn’t far behind. The THC content of hash oil can reach as high as 90%, but some vape juices will have as much as 80% THC content. That’s pretty darned close.
How Do You Use THC Vape Juice?
The juice is vaped, of course, and all of the work is done for you when you buy THC vape juice prepackaged in a disposable vape pen or in a cartridge that screws onto a vape pen you already own.
If you purchase just the liquid, the process is almost as simple. You just fill an empty vape cartridge with the juice, screw it onto a vape pen, and off you go. The process is similar if you have a larger desktop vaporizer; you just have to be sure that it isn’t a dry herb vaporizer. You’ll damage those machines if you try to use them with oil or vape juice.
Buying your THC vape juice may be more difficult than using it. You may see some websites offering the liquid in “flavors” like mint or lemon-lime, but legitimate vape juice sold in dispensaries is categorized by strain, not “flavor.”
If you patronize a good weed shop, you should be able to choose between many well-known strains like GDP, Sour Diesel, and Blue Dream. And the flavor and aroma of your THC vape juice — and even more importantly, the type of high you experience — will depend on the strain you choose.
Is THC Vape Juice Legal?
It depends. Where do you live?
Weed juice is regulated essentially the same way that flower and cannabis concentrates are. It’s legal for recreational use in states that have legalized marijuana, and it’s only OK for patients with state certification in medical marijuana states. And needless to say, it’s just as illegal as bud in prohibition states.
The amount of THC vape juice that you can legally possess or purchase, however, does vary in each legal jurisdiction. States have all placed limits on how much bud you can buy, and dispensaries have conversion charts that let them figure out the “weight equivalency” between vape juice and flower.
What about online sites that supposedly sell THC vape juice? Caveat emptor.
It’s illegal for them to sell it, and it’s illegal for you to buy it that way. Will anyone know? Probably not. There’s a better chance that the liquid you buy online will be poor quality, contain little or no THC, or even be adulterated. Some sites have been known to just take buyers’ money and vanish, too.
Can You Make Your Own THC Vape Juice?
You’ll see all sorts of recipes for THC vape juice floating around online. Some are really instructions for making vapeable concentrates. Others suggest shortcuts that let you create the liquid in just a few hours.
Here’s the bad news: making high-quality THC vape juice requires patience. Most formulas, including the one we’ll be sharing, won’t be ready for a few months. If you’re the type to plan ahead, though, the juice is worth waiting for.
The proper amounts of the ingredients will depend on how much juice you want to make.
- Decarb your weed. Otherwise, your THC vape juice will really be THCA vape juice, and it won’t get you high.
- Put the cooled weed into a Mason jar, preferably one made from dark glass.
- Combine food-grade propylene glycol and food-grade vegetable glycerin (both available in stores and online) in a 60/40 PG/VG ratio. You can alter the ratio if desired.
- Add the PG/VG mixture to the Mason jar, so the flower is completely covered. Stir until well-mixed.
- Cover the jar and store it in a cool, dark place for 2-3 months. Check every two weeks to see if the mixture has dried out; if it has, add more PG/VG and stir to liquefy it.
- When ready, strain through cheesecloth to obtain your vape juice. Squeeze out the cheesecloth to get all of the liquid that’s left.
You can store your THC vape juice for later use in a dark-colored glass container. It should be good for 3-6 months.
THC Vape Juice: FAQ
Q: OK, what’s a quicker way to make THC vape juice? I don’t want to wait three months.
A: You can speed up the process once you’ve combined the weed and PG/VG mixture by putting the Mason jar into a double boiler with the smaller pot half-filled with water. (Obviously, the larger pot needs water in it, too.) Simmer for four hours, making sure the water in the smaller pot stays right around 180° the entire time. Then cool, strain, and enjoy your vape juice. It won’t be quite as smooth or potent, but it will still be “good enough.”
Q: How do I decide if the 60/40 PG/VG ratio you mentioned is right for me?
A: Unfortunately, you probably won’t know if you’re allergic or sensitive to PG until you’ve tried it the first time; if you are, use all VG. Otherwise, use more PG if you want to feel a stronger hit in your throat or want to enjoy the full flavor of the weed strain. If you want a sweeter flavor or thicker vapor exhales, use more VG.
Guo, W., Vrdoljak, G., Liao, V. C., & Moezzi, B. (2021). Major Constituents of Cannabis Vape Oil Liquid, Vapor, and Aerosol in California Vape Oil Cartridge Samples. Frontiers in Chemistry, 9 .