Are pen-style vaping cartridges safe?

Remember 2019? It was like 500 years B.C. (Before Covid), right?

A lot has happened since, so it’s easy to forget that people started getting sick with serious lung conditions that were attributed to vaping. Turns out some vape pens contained chemicals like Vitamin E acetate, which is not safe to inhale. Others had thinning agents — pure CBD is a crystal that has to be made into a solution that is then aerosolized — like MCT oil. The problem is, MCT oil is a fat, and our lungs are not made to process fats, so people were getting conditions like lipid pneumonia. Um, yuck.

All this is to say, we stopped recommending vape pens, and started recommending dry herb vaping, where you inhale the actual vapor coming off heated high-CBD (or cannabis) flower.  Because there are benefits to vaping: It is the fastest way — other than smoking, which you probably want to avoid — to get your cannabis / CBD medicine into your bloodstream, so you can get immediate relief. But you also want to protect the only set of lungs you have. This means not inhaling smoke — which contains soot, ash and known carcinogens — and maybe not aerosols produced by heating up chemical solutions. 

So the question now is, are there any vape pens or vape cartridges that are safe?   

Pre-filled pen style cartridges: cheap and easy, but are they safe?

It’s not hard to find pre-filled pen-style cartridges and vaporizers. Some of these vape providers are established, some upstarts. You can find these online and in vape stores, from about $30 and up, for both CBD and THC.

These pre-filled pen-style vaporizers really are easy to use: You just screw the tip / cartridge containing the CBD or cannabis oil onto the barrel. The barrel contains a battery that can be recharged with a USB plug. Suck on the tip and the battery generates enough heat to convert the liquid into vapor, and you get a hit that you can inhale into your lungs and then blow out. If you hit it repeatedly and rapidly, the vaporizer will get hotter. 

Pros of pre-filled pen-style vaporizers:

  • Simple and super-easy to use
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Discreet, fits in pocket or purse
  • Choice of flavors
  • Good way to try out vaping


  • No control over the temperature (which you want to be at the lowest point at which vapor is created)
  • It’s still an open question as to how safe these really are


  • If you are going to use a vape pen or cartridge, buy it from a dispensary, where it has at least passed whatever safety regulations are in place in the state you live in, or are visiting.  
  • Look for a reputable brand, like Dosist or King Pen. 

As with other forms of cannabis, the effects of vaping are going to vary from person to person. You may find a vape pen that works well for you right away, or you may want to try various brands, or some that contain more than the trace amounts of THC that are in most CBD oil formulations.  It may take some experimentation before you find a vaporizer that gives you reliable relief.

Vaping CBD oil in a mod

Some have tried vaping CBD oil in a ‘mod.’ These palm-sized units include a tank, a bigger battery, and a coil. These units are favored by dedicated vapers, who might be using a flavored vape juice that contains nicotine.  The issue with mods is that CBD oil is typically too thick to vape in a mod; it will gum up your vaporizer, and you won’t get the vapor you really want. So we do not recommend putting CBD oil into a mod at all.  

Why we recommend dry herb vaping

Vaping can be an effective way to have your medicine bypass your liver and go directly into your bloodstream, so you get immediate relief, which is critical when you are suffering from chronic pain or other conditions. Again, the issue with vape pens is that they produce an aerosol, which may include chemicals that are not good for your lungs. A dry herb vaporizer produces actual vapor that comes off the plant matter when you heat it up. So you are getting steamy terpenes and trichomes, the good stuff of the cannabis plant, not some scary chemical solution that may be unhealthy for your lungs.  

Dry vaping is like smoking without the smoke. There’s the ritual of grinding your herb and packing the bowl, and you can titrate your dose one hit at a time. You can also adjust the temperature, which will affect the flavor of your vape, so there’s some fund to be had. 

If you want to know more about dry herb vaping, listen to our podcast episode with Troy Redington of 420VapeZone.

If you are ready to look at dry herb vaporizers, see some we like here.