When it comes to Vape cartridges, there is a reason these are some of the most popular items for medicating. Vaping is easy to dose, portable, and simple to use. Little upkeep is needed to keep a pen and battery ready to go at all times. Cartridges are easy to replace and batteries are rechargeable.
A lot of work goes into taking cannabis from a plant form and extracting the medicinal compounds and not all oil is extracted in the same method.
The 3 most common types of extraction methods to produce Vape cartridges are Live Liquid Resin, CO2, BHO, and Distillate.
Live Liquid Resin (BHO cartridges)
BHO oil is a liquid concentrate form, made by using a solvent-based extraction process to obtain the terpenes and cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. BHO oil has been one of the most popular cannabis-based products on the market, mainly for its versatility and ease of use. Cartridges make it easy to load your vaporizer in just a few minutes and access quick symptom relief.
Live resin is prized for its superior terpene content. Compared to the process used to produce other kinds of concentrates, the extraction process used to produce live resin is gentler on plant material and is able to preserve more of marijuana’s flowery goodness.
This is currently a hugely popular form of BHO extracted from freshly cut, flash-frozen buds to create an intensely flavored concentrate that truly captures the essence of the live plant. Notable for its sticky, syrupy texture due to the high terpene content.
Live liquid resin extractions include any that have the phrase “live”, and are known for having full flavor profiles. This includes concentrates, such as waxes, sugars, and budders. Cannabis plants are flash frozen after harvest to preserve freshness and left in subcritical temperatures before and during extraction. Curing degrades terpenes, which are the source of flavor and aroma. Flash freezing allows many of the natural terpenes and cannabinoids to remain. Butane hash oil, or BHO, is used as a solvent to remove cannabinoids from the plant material. Live liquid resin, or LLR, has high terpene profiles for extracts and is flavorful and pungent.
CO2 oil is made using plants that have been dried and cured after harvesting. Supercritical cooled fluid CO2 is run through a closed-loop system to extract substances. The co2 extraction process is used to extract terpenes, cannabinoids, and other plant compounds. Extracting with Carbon Dioxide results in the cleanest, most residual-free of all solvent extracts, significantly safer than BHO.
CO2 extraction is considered to be a “best of both worlds” approach to extraction. It does an excellent job of isolating specific cannabinoids while being cleaner than many other concentrate extraction methods. CO2 is a natural chemical compound that is considered to be a much cleaner extraction agent than the BHO that is used to produce concentrates like shatter.
The disadvantage of CO2 oil is that many terpenes are often lost during extraction, meaning these extracts tend to have a nondescript, homogenous flavor regardless of the strains being processed. For this reason, a large proportion of the CO2 oil produced is used either in edible products or most commonly in tincture-type oils, where the flavor is less of an issue. Flavored pens and oils are made this way, but are blended with food-grade terpenes. CO2 is considered one of the safest extraction methods and delivered a product that can be less harsh, in what is easily becoming today’s most popular and widespread method of consuming cannabis concentrates.
High-quality winterized CO2 oils are especially compatible with vape cartridges since they do not require any additional thinning agents in order to be vaped out of carts. Because these cartridges contain no additives, the natural strain-specific terpenes (flavors and aromas) of cannabis can shine through.
CO2 oils are able to retain modest levels of plant-based terpenes, meaning that they contain much of marijuana’s natural flavor and aroma even after being processed. By comparison, concentrates like distillate have been processed to the point that they contain practically no natural flavors and must instead be infused with artificial ones.
Distillate oils are processed similarly to a CO2 extraction, but due to a multistage extraction process, the end result is highly refined, nearly pure oil. Oil is first extracted using the supercritical CO2 extraction method. In order to distill the oil into a purer form, more refinement is needed. Short path distillation, a process that uses pressure, steam, and heat, is performed. Compounds are separated through distillation and less desirable compounds are unincluded. THC distillate is clear to light yellow and is slightly viscous, similar to honey. This process can result in oils that reach 99% purity. Terpenes can be blended with distillate to create a product that is thinner and easier to vape.
Pros and Cons of BHO vs CO2
Soaking plant material in butane is a very popular method of creating concentrates. Wide availability means butane is fairly inexpensive. Therefore, products made with BHO tend to be less costly at dispensaries. And often you can get some good deals on BHO products.
With BHO you can get THC levels of up to 90%! Unlike other methods, like soaking in alcohol, there’s no residual plant matter.
There are downsides to using butane to extract cannabinoids. It’s really flammable. An accumulation of vapors could result in an explosion or fire. There is also concern about products containing leftover amounts of the chemical solvent. You don’t want to be sucking unnatural fumes into your lungs.
CO2 processing requires specialized equipment. That’s an investment of money at the get-go. However, CO2 is recyclable, so the cost over time does go down. Using specialized equipment does sometimes require learning about it or being trained.
CO2 leaves no residue in the final product.
When purchasing products made via either method, the biggest concern is residual butane. Some people prefer hemp wicks when lighting even a bowl of cannabis leaf. That’s because of concern over butane fumes. Something to think about.
BHO cartridge vs co2, Which Should You Vape?
It all comes down to what you are looking to get out of your cannabis experience.
CO2 oil is believed to contain a wider range of cannabinoids than most other concentrates. Therefore, if you are looking to take advantage of marijuana’s medicinal properties, CO2 oil may be a better choice. Moreover, CO2 still retains a moderate level of plant terpenes, meaning that you are not sacrificing much flavor by vaping a CO2 oil.
If you are looking to enjoy the most flavorful and aromatic cannabis concentrate on the market, live resin cartridges are the way to go. However, you may find that due to their superiority and popularity, live resin vape cartridges are usually more expensive than other cartridges, including those containing CO2 oil.