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What is a cannabis vape cartridge?

When it comes to ease of use, portability, and functionality, one cannabis product stands tall above the rest—vapes. You may know them as vape carts or pre-loaded cannabis oil vape cartridges, and they have quickly become the go-to concentrate-based product for both cannabis novices and enthusiasts.

However, when it comes to choosing the right vape pen, various factors come into play. Many of these products seem similar at first glance, but there are many nuances that distinguish them. Understanding the differences between these disposable pens can help you make an educated decision on which product is right for you.

Jump to a section in this article:

What is a vape cartridge?

A vape cart is a glass cartridge pre-filled with a gram or half-gram of cannabis oil. This oil contain various combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes extracted from cannabis.

Most oil vape carts are high in THC, however, more and more CBD-dominant vape cartridges are entering the market, as are 1:1 THC:CBD products. Vape cartridges come in many forms: 510-threaded cartridges (the most common), as well as some proprietary forms like Pax Era Pods and Airo Pro oil cartridges.

How do vape pens work?

Vape cartridges work in conjunction with vape pen batteries. The vape battery will power an atomizer in the cartridge that heats up the oil, activating the various chemical components in it. You then inhale the vape smoke, which produces the effects of cannabis. Some vape batteries have multiple functions that enable temperature customization and dose management.

Why choose an oil vape cartridge?

Here are some of the benefits to using oil vape cartridges.

Ease of use

Vape cartridges take the guesswork completely out of the equation. Contrary to other methods of consuming oil, such as a dab rig and nail setup, carts require little to no effort—just press a button and inhale.


Oil vape carts are the easiest method of enjoying cannabis while on the go. Their sleek and minimalist design allows for discreet vaping, free of the distracting traits of larger setups, and they don’t produce noticeable smoke or odor.


For uninitiated cannabis concentrate consumers, dosing can be a major concern. Nobody wants an overwhelming experience when attempting to enjoy cannabis. Unlike dabbing, using a pre-loaded vape pen allows for a highly controlled dose with each inhalation, giving you more control over how much or how little you consume.

What are the drawbacks of vapes?

While vape cartridges are great for ease of use, portability, and dosing, there are a few drawbacks over other consumptions methods.

Vape carts can be pretty pricey, with costs between $20-60 or more per half-gram or gram of hash oil, depending on the market and extraction method. When you can get a gram of flower for a lot cheaper than a one-gram vape cartridge, it makes it a little tougher to choose the latter.

Physical effects

Vape cartridges tend to provide a shorter-lasting high than other methods like joints, dabs, and edibles because you consume them in smaller doses. However, while the effects may last shorter, they can also hit harder if overconsumed, so make sure to monitor dosing appropriately.

Battery life

Having to monitor a vape battery’s usage and power levels can be pretty annoying as frequent usage can drain them pretty quickly. To avoid this nuisance it’s best to charge your vape battery each night before bed or have a backup on hand that’s fully charged.

How to use a vape pen

It’s pretty simple: Just attach your cart to the battery and start puffing. If there’s an On/Off button, use it.

Here are a few quicks tips to remember when smoking an oil vape cartridge:

  • If your device has an On/Off button, chances are you turn it on by clicking 5 times. The same number turns it off.
  • Make sure your cart is completely attached to its battery to avoid any oil leakage.
  • Keep your vape pen upright to avoid oil leakage.
  • Start slow with dosing as it is very easy to overconsume with vape carts.
  • Monitor temperature to make sure your cart isn’t burning too hot, which could alter some of the oil’s chemical components—usually 3 clicks will adjust the temp.

Remember to always buy carts from a reputable vendor for the safest products!

Types of vape cartridges available

An extract pod of Cinex cannabis oil for the Pax Era (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

Familiarize yourself with the many types of oil vape cartridges on the market so you can purchase the one that best fits your needs or preferences.

Cartridge/battery combos vs. disposables

Most products typically come with a standard 510 thread that a battery screws into. The exception is a pre-loaded cart designed by a specific company to be used with their own vaporizer/battery systems—an example is PAX Era Pods.

Alternatively, some vape pens are available as “disposables,” which contain a pre-charged battery designed to support the device until the cart empties. These pens require no charging and are meant to be disposed of after use. They contain no threading and are not meant to be separated from their battery.

What is a 510 cartridge?

A 510-thread cartridge is the most common type of vape cartridge. 510 describes the type of threading that is used to screw the bottom of the cartridge to the appropriate vape battery.

Distillate cartridges vs. CO2 oil

For a vaporizer cartridge to function properly, its contents must have the proper viscosity, otherwise the oils will either be too thick or too thin to properly vaporize within the device. Depending on the starting material used, cartridge manufacturers use several methods in order to create the perfect oil for their pens.

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CO2 oil. Certain high-grade winterized CO2 oils are uniquely compatible with vaporizer cartridges due to the fact that they do not require additives of any kind to meet the viscosity levels needed to vaporize in an atomizer. If made properly, these oils are able to retain modest levels of plant-based terpenes, which act as natural thinning agents as well as give the oil their signature strain-specific flavor.

Distillates. A cannabis distillate cart is a highly refined oil containing pure cannabinoids and almost nothing else. The upside to using distillates in vaporizer cartridges is that the oil can be produced from a range of starting materials. Virtually any cannabis oil variety from CO2 to BHO and everything in between can be purified into a distillate with the right equipment.

The downside to using distillates in vape cartridges is that because there are no residual terpenes left behind, there is nothing to cut the viscosity of the material. In order for a distillate to be used in cartridges, a thinning agent of some kind is often required.

Additives. These are sometimes used in vape cartridge oils as a supplemental thinning agent. In some cases, methods have been taken to cut or infuse various cannabis oils with certain substances such as polyethylene glycol (PEG), propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), or even medium chain triglycerides (MCT), such as coconut oil , in order to maintain a less viscous and lasting oil consistency conducive to standard atomizer functionality.

This process has become highly controversial due to raised health concerns, and products containing these thinning agents are showing up less on the market.

One way that vaporizer cartridge manufacturers have been able to steer away from artificial cutting agents is by using terpenes.

Terpene infusions and strain-specific flavorings

The use of terpenes in vape cartridges has been found to help lower the viscosity of cannabis oil as well as increase flavor and aromas, making them a potentially safer alternative to other cutting agents.

Terpenes not only add flavor and aromatics to the experience, they can also help alter the effects of a product due to their ability to influence how cannabinoids interact with our bodies.

There are several ways to use terpenes with vape cartridges. Some manufactures rely on CO2-based extractions — when refined with ethanol, they can actually retain plant-based terpenes at a percentage conducive to achieving proper viscosity. This is how manufacturers are able to sell flavors based on natural strain profiles.

Natural cannabis-derived terpenes that have been fractioned through refinement can be re-added to cannabis oils in small percentages, creating a spectrum of flavors and effects while also giving an oil the correct consistency required to function in a cartridge.

Products labeled by effect

Sometimes, oil vape cartridges are labeled and marketed by their supposed effect on the consumer. Products of this variety tend to claim they provide “relaxing” or “energetic” effects, with some are labeled as indica, sativa, or hybrid.

Many of these vape cartridges incorporate carefully mixed combinations similar to what would be traced in a strain or strain type. How well these infusions imitate a specific strain is debatable.

CBD-specific vape cartridges

Although many oil vape pens are labeled by flavor or effect, some focus on cannabinoid concentration. Aside from the typical high-THC product that most pens offer, some manufacturers offer products containing elevated levels of cannabidiol (CBD).

High-CBD pens may or may not contain added flavors, but they do guarantee a ratio of THC to CBD that can range from 2:1 all the way to 20:1 and greater. These types of pens offer great wellness benefits for those looking for CBD in an easy-to-consume product.

Full-spectrum vape cartridges

The pinnacle of oil vape cartridges in terms of overall quality rests with full-spectrum extracts. These products are created using the entire spectrum of bioavailable molecules found within a given cannabis strain. A full-spectrum oil does not add, reintroduce, or remove any active compound within a strain and offers flavors and effects with more depth than most other products.

Full-spectrum cartridges are hard to come by and are only offered in certain markets, and their price tends to reflect their rarity as well. If you’re fortunate enough to live where these products are available, we recommend forking up the extra cash to give one a shot. In terms of strain comparability, the flavor of a full-spectrum cart is incredibly similar to what you would experience with flower.

How long does a vape cartridge last?

How long a vape cartridge lasts entirely depends on an individual’s rate of consumption. The only thing we do know for sure is that a one gram cartridge will last you a lot longer than a half-gram cartridge.

How to refill a vape pen cartridge

Some vape cartridges can be refilled with fresh oil from a syringe. It’s important to use a syringe as it reduces the potential for making an oily mess. Proprietary carts like Pax Pods are not refillable, so you have to dispose of them and buy a new one.

Browse nearby stores for vape cartridges

All in all, there are many types of oil vape cartridges to consider, each one with pros and cons. If you’re interested in learning more about these types of products, always ask your local budtender before committing to a purchase.

Often, labels only offer a fraction of the information compared to the knowledge and expertise of a cannabis professional like a budtender. Regardless of your taste, there’s bound to be a cannabis oil cartridge available to suit your individual needs.

This post was originally published on October 17, 2017. It was most recently updated on March 10, 2020.

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Creating Great Vape Pen Labels

This entry was posted on May 11, 2022 by Lightning Labels .

Manufacturing vaping products such as vape pens and e-liquid means dealing with complex requirements at every turn. To keep your items on store shelves, you must show a constant awareness of the evolving legal picture around vaping, e-cigarettes and alternative tobacco products.

On one hand, recent moves by the Food and Drug Administration have opened the possibility of securing approval to sell and market these items more widely than ever before. On the other, there is a continued need to comply with warning label rules and not use any labeling strategy that could appeal to children.

Once you’ve caught up with the legalities of vape label design, it’s time to create compelling visual designs that will help your brand stand out. By blending compliance and label quality, you can stake your place as a top vape pen manufacturer.

Vape Pen Labels and Regulatory Requirements

The story of the vaping product space over the past few years has largely been defined by pushback from the FDA. The agency has taken actions such as removing e-juice and vape cartridge products in flavors other than tobacco from the market. These moves have come in the name of preventing kids from starting to vape, and created uncertainty for manufacturers of vape pens, e-liquid and all related items.

The tide began to turn in October 2021 when, for the first time, the FDA issued approvals to vaping products that were submitted as alternatives to smoking traditional cigarettes. The agency announced that since there is a potential health benefit to cigarette smokers who switch to vaping, it was time to begin approving at least some alternative tobacco products.

While these Premarket Tobacco Product Application (PTMA) approvals don’t signal an end to tight vape regulations, they do serve as a watershed moment in the relationship between the FDA and the vape product industry.

Vape pens are a regulated piece of tobacco equipment, specifically as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). This includes both smaller devices that are shaped like conventional cigarettes or pens as well as larger versions, whether disposable or meant for repeated use. The required warning for nicotine such as vape pens and e-liquid is text on the package’s two principal display panels stating “This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.”

Getting your vape pen product approved means submitting an application — the FDA has shared an example of what a completed form looks like. Any advertising and product packaging designs must be shared with the FDA for scrutiny.

Making reusable vape pens is, in some ways, less fraught than manufacturing and marketing e-liquid products. After all, many of the recent controversies and regulatory actions in the vaping space have focused on flavors. As a simple delivery system, a vape pen isn’t defined by flavor.

With that said, selling any kind of ENDS equipment means staying compliant and not standing in the way of the FDA’s health efforts and social programs. The most important consideration is to make it clear that the products aren’t being promoted to kids.

Graphic Design for Vape Pen Labels

The primary design priority for any e-cigarette brand is to stay away from branding that targets underage users. As of now, that means anyone under 21. Brands still have graphic design options when it comes to vape product packaging — simply with a less varied palette than in other industries.

A vaping device, especially a reusable vape pen rather than a disposable e-cigarette, is not just a consumable. These items are technology products, which means it’s important to establish a sense of trust between manufacturer and consumer. Buyers want to know they’re buying a reliable item that will work for them over time.

Creating that sense of authority and professionalism means committing to strong graphic design sensibilities. A vape pen with a well-crafted label can have a natural advantage on store shelves when compared with other brands that have a more makeshift or casual presentation.

Vape pen labels can be very successful with just a few design elements. A matte black or white background with a simple logo or brand name can be effective and eye-catching, provided the label is printed in sharp resolution on high-quality materials.

In the absence of bright colors and cartoon imagery — inadvisable due to their associations with kids products — vape pen manufacturers can embrace abstract design and text art. Designers seeking to create a powerful modern look can find inspiration outside of the tobacco field entirely, basing their visuals on the clean lines favored by technology companies such as Apple.

Reusable e-liquid delivery systems can give a larger canvas to work with than smaller items such as e-liquid bottles. A rectangular box leaves plenty of room for labels. This doesn’t mean designers should fill up every inch of available space, however. A minimal design may still be the ideal choice when creating a signature look for a line of ENDS products.

The overall visual marketing strategy for your e-cigarette offerings should involve finding a style that expresses your brand’s attitude and commitment to quality. Effort spent on the design process can pay off for years to come, whether you carry the work out internally or hire third-party designers.

Vape Pen Labels: Materials, Shapes and More

When you work with an experienced label printing company, you can select from a host of special features for your e-cigarette labels. These elements may add extra visual appeal that sets your brand apart from competing offerings.

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You shouldn’t underestimate the way the right material and finishing treatment can complement your visual design. If you’re creating a sophisticated, modern look, a polypropylene material with a gloss or matte finish can create the effect you’re looking for. If you’d rather evoke a simple, old-time feeling, however, paper label materials without a finish may be better. Heat-resistant label materials are ideal for products that get hot, for example as warning labels or instructions on vape pens.

Your choice of label shape and size is another potential way to create a memorable impression. If your vape pens come in simple rectangular boxes, a smaller die-cut label or sticker that only covers part of the packaging can be a source of visual interest. These labels are especially compelling on packages that have transparent elements — the small labels stay out of the way and let the product show through.

Beyond material and dimensions, you can customize vape product labels with features such as hot foil stamping or embossing. The former is a process that adds metallic accents to your packaging, while the latter creates raised patterns. Using such special features is a way to convey that your brand creates premium products.

Other advanced features include advanced 2D barcodes, notably QR codes. These codes can store more data than traditional barcodes, including URLs. When customers scan the packaging with mobile devices, you can direct them to more information about your brand.

The net effect of special label features can be a clear message to customers that you put effort into your products — while you remain in compliance with vape labeling laws.

The Ideal Vape Pen Label Printing Partner

When you choose Lightning Labels as your labeling, sticker and packaging partner, you gain access to a full selection of advanced labeling features alongside the speed and flexibility that comes from all-digital label printing. Lightning Labels’ services include graphic design assistance, so your brand can come in at any part of the label creation process, whether you’ve finalized your graphics or are still iterating.

Lightning Labels has spent over 20 years creating custom labels for products across regions and industries, including e-cigarettes and other highly regulated goods such as cannabis. Low minimum order sizes allow you to build an agile labeling strategy: If regulations change in the near future, you won’t be stuck with thousands of labels made to meet the old standards.

While creating labels for the vape products space comes with unique challenges, having the right labeling partner on your side makes it simple to succeed.

Create your Custom Vape Pens and Cartridges with Tons of Unique Options.

Choose Full Scale to design custom vape pens, batteries and cartridges for your brand.

Custom Vape Pens and Cartridges

We design and produce our carts, ensuring that the product is quality controlled to meet our standards and the standards of testing for hard metals and other harmful materials. Our product line includes a variety of vaporizer cartridges, disposable vape pens, and batteries. Our vape cartridges come in a variety of sizes and options including intake hole size and different metallic finishes.

How To Get Started

Phone: 720-531-5474
Email: [email protected]

Fully Customizable Top to Bottom

Customization of our products is something we urge all of our customers towards. Custom vape carts and pens provide the creative edge of a beautifully branded vape product that will stand out among the crowd of generic unbranded products.

Custom Vape Pens and Cartridge Options

  • Cartridge Size
  • Components
  • Finishes
  • Intake Hole
  • Mouthpiece
  • Compliant Warnings

Put Your Stamp On It

Your logo and your branding are your identity. It is the first thing your customers will notice when they see your product. At Full Scale, we provide high-quality graphic design services that reflect your brand’s message and highlight your incredible products through beautiful designs. Whether you want from scratch design or already have a framework for what you need, we’ll help you put your stamp on your custom vape pens and carts.

Request a Quote

Check out our custom vape work below and get in contact, we’d love to work with you. You can get started designing with Full Scale in these easy ways: Fill out our Quote Form or call us at 1-833-4POPTOP 9 am-5 pm MST.

Looking for Something Else?

Check out our list of customizable products below to pick from or get in touch for help finding the right products for you.

Packaging and Manufacturing
Printing Services
Promotional Items
Full Scale Colorado

6452 Fig St Unit F, Arvada, CO 80004

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