How Long Do Cannabis Extract Cartridges Last?

Cannabis extract cartridges have become increasingly popular after the legalization of marijuana in many states and since vaping is a convenient and discreet way to smoke it is only natural that the two would come together. Vaping with cannabis extracts is much easier than going through the usual routine of rolling a joint or packing a bowl and has the added benefit of not being as harsh on your lungs. Not to mention the added convenience of being able to take it with you just about anywhere and being able to use it with a good amount of discretion. This allows more accessibility to the product with no muss and no fuss. Whether you are new to the cannabis vaping scene or just found an old cannabis extract cartridge you forgot about behind your nightstand, the question might have crossed your mind, exactly how long do cannabis extract cartridges last?

What Happens When You Vape?

First let’s go over exactly what the process of vaping consists of. Usually a vape is slender and small enough to fit in your pocket. When vaping, the cannabis extract cartridge is heated, usually by an atomizer. This creates vapor containing cannabinoids that can be inhaled and absorbed through the lungs where the active ingredients can come into effect.

The Two Main Types Of Vapes

Vape pens can be purchased as either disposable or rechargeable. Disposable cartridges as their name suggests are disposable and cannot be taken apart. Once the cartridge is depleted or has reached its expiration date, you can bring it back to a dispensary and they will recycle it responsibly. With rechargeable vapes it enables you to buy fewer vapes because once the battery is depleted you simply plug it into your provided charger for further use. They also have the added benefit of being able to replace the cannabis cartridge when that becomes diminished.

The Main Variables Of Cartridge Life

When it comes to longevity of a cannabis cartridge, it depends on a number of factors you may want to take into account when making your purchase.

  • Strength of the cannabis extract
    • How strong the cannabis oil is will affect how often you vape which in turn dictates how long the vape itself will last. If it is less potent you may be using it more, making it last for a shorter duration of time. 
  • Cartridge size
    • The larger the cartridge the longer it will last as well, so if you buy a vape with a smaller cartridge, it won’t take as long to deplete as one with a larger cartridge would.
  • How long you inhale
    • The duration you inhale for each draw also has an effect on longevity. Battery life for a 1000 mg vape pen will usually last for around 300 seconds of total inhalation time. So if you take 3 second draws your vape should last you about 100 hits
  • How often you vape
    • How often you vape will also have an effect on the life expectancy of your cartridge. If you use it once a day it could last for a few months, but if you use it medicinally for instance and have to take longer draws more often then it might last you just over a week. 
  • Temperature
    • Additionally if you use a higher temperature for your vape for a more potent dosage it will also deplete your cartridge that much quicker.

How Long Do Cannabis Extract Cartridges Last?

Maximize your cannabis cartridge’s lifespan. 

In order to get the most out of your cannabis vape cartridge there are a few steps you can take in order to ensure you maximize the use of your vape. Thankfully, unlike their counterparts which dry up and die, cannabis vapes are much more stable and less susceptible to degradation over time and come stamped with an expiration date. Storing your vape cartridges properly in a cool, dry place out of the sun and away from heat is the best way to ensure the longevity is maximized. Removing the battery (If applicable) will also help keep the oil from being heated and help optimize your battery life. Any outside heat may contribute to degradation coming earlier than it should.


How Can I Tell If My Cannabis Extract Cartridge Is Bad?

If you stumble upon an old vape you forgot about in the back of your desk drawer there are a few ways to check if the oil in the vape has gone bad or if you can still use it.

  • Examine The Oil
    • A lot of vapes have clear, see-through cartridges that allow you to view the oil within. Most oil has an amber or golden color, but a sure sign the oil is bad is if it’s discolored to the point of dark brown or black. Crystals growing within the oil is also an indication that the oil is past its prime and should be disposed of. 
  • Try Smelling It
    • Check to see if the oil smells off or less potent than when first purchased. If it seems normal then it should be good to go. 
  • Try It
    • If it seems ok after inspecting the oil and smelling it take a small draw to see if it tastes like it should. If the flavor profile is still intact and has the desired effect it’s most likely fine. If the flavors are dulled, the potency is likely to be jaded as well. 
  • Battery Life
    • Many vapes you buy at the store will be one time use items that will no longer work after the battery dies. Others are rechargeable and can be used repeatedly. Some batteries need to be removed and charged on a separate dock. You can tell your vape has died if you still have oil in your cannabis cartridge but can no longer puff on the vape.

General Cannabis Extract Cartridge Life Expectancy

Most cartridges, if not depleted and are stored properly, will have a shelf life of at least six months to a year before the oil begins to degrade and slowly start to lose its potency and flavor. If you find a vape you forgot about a month ago the odds are that it’s fine to use. Generally the main thing that happens if you let your cannabis extract cartridge sit for an extended period of time, say for a few months to a year, is that the THC molecule degrades and turns into CBN. CBN like THC is a cannabinoid but a much less potent one and is unlikely to do anything to you except maybe help you sleep.

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