It’s time to talk about heavy metals—and no, we don’t mean Judas Priest or Slayer.
You may already be aware of health concerns regarding lead-based paint in older homes or lead showing up in imported children’s toys. But did you know, that same lead may be showing up in your recreational cannabis products? That’s correct; it turns out that toxic lead has been appearing in cannabis lab test results across the state of California, and particularly in disposable vape cartridges.
What Is A Vape Cartridge?
Vape cartridges, or carts as they’re sometimes called, simplify access to cannabis concentrates. These disposable cartridges are filled with vapable cannabis concentrates and typically attach to a standard 510 threaded vape battery. The more expensive carts are sometimes made from ceramic; however, a vast majority of cartridges are made from a combination of metal and plastic. Their plug-and-play universality and mess-free nature have sent sales of these kinds of products skyrocketing, especially as more states adopt legislation allowing for the sale of legal cannabis.
Recent Testing Practices In California
In 2019, the state of California began enforcing more stringent testing requirements for all cannabis vape products, including lowering lead limits to 0.5 parts per million—the strictest standard in the world.
The truth is, there is no “safe” level of lead. The chemical is a neurotoxin, and exposure can lead to brain damage, sickness, and in some cases, even death. Health risks associated with lead exposure have caused regulatory agencies to push for its removal from all products for decades. Since California began its stricter testing practices, there have been an alarming number of cartridges failing inspections for heavy metals.
How Is Lead Getting Into Vape Carts?
Chinese small parts manufacturers often add lead to their metals in order to add to their pliability. These small parts get turned into cartridges, which get shipped to America and filled with concentrates. However, just because there’s lead in the cartridge itself doesn’t necessarily mean that lead will show up in the cannabis oil itself. So why is it testing positive for lead?
Some scientists speculate it had to do with the acidity of cannabis oil. It is possible that the oil itself is leaching the lead particles from the cartridge.
How To Avoid Heavy Metal Leaching In Vape Carts
The very best way for a manufacturer to avoid heavy metals and lead leaching into the cannabis oil is to remove lead from the equation entirely. By sourcing cartridges that are 100% lead-free, the risk of leaching drops down to zero percent. For some companies, this could mean switching to full ceramic. For others, it could simply mean sourcing metal cartridges that have been certified as lead-free from inside the United States.
Either way, removing lead entirely will have an effect on a companies bottom line, which explains why cheaper cartridges, or cartridges sold in illicit black markets, tend to have the highest percentages of lead.
Is Flower A Safer Alternative?
A surefire way for consumers to avoid lead-contaminated cannabis products is to simply switch to flower. With heat-not-burn technology, like the kind utilized by our elon®, cannabis users can still enjoy the convenience of disposable cartridges while still reaping the benefits of natural cannabis flower. Not to mention completely avoiding the risk of lead exposure.
Because heat-not-burn technology doesn’t rely on combustion like lighting a joint or bowl, there are significantly fewer carcinogens released when compared to traditional smoking. And, because they utilize flower instead of synthetic oils, consumers don’t have to worry about potentially harmful additives or cutting agents while enjoying natural terpenes and cannabinoids directly from the plant itself.