As recreational cannabis and products containing its derivatives become more widely available, it might seem unnecessary to go to the effort of making your own. Nonetheless, some people are turning their DIY skills to THC vape juices, even if they are a lot of effort.
Extracted from marijuana plants, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is now available in everything from skin creams to lollipops. Part of the reason for its appeal is obvious: it’s what gives cannabis its euphoric psychoactive effects. However, it also comes with a surprisingly diverse range of health benefits.
No matter the desired outcome, vaping is one of the most effective ways to use THC. It quickly passes THC through the capillaries in the lungs and directly into the bloodstream, where it’s transported around the body via the circulatory system. This makes it one of the fastest ways to feel it’s effects, as opposed to other methods like edibles which take longer to kick in.
According to Reuters, 10.8 million (or one in twenty) Americans are vape users. Of these, over 50 percent are under the age of 35. There isn’t any data to illustrate what proportion of these users vape THC-infused oils specifically — though a 2018 did find, somewhat worryingly, that around two million U.S. teenagers did — but given the growth of the legal cannabis industry over the past couple of years, it’s likely that the number may be quite high.
In states with legal recreational or medical cannabis, ready-made THC e-liquids or vape juices (the terms are interchangeable) can be found in licensed dispensaries or, in many cases, ordered online. In general, they tend to cost between $40-$60. While most people find this option to be more convenient and cost-effective than making their own THC-infused products, those who opt for the DIY route often cite the following reasons.
Different strains of cannabis produce different effects — for example, those that are high in myrcene (a terpene that gives the plant a distinct flavor and smell) are known to be useful for combating insomnia or soothing anxiety. Extracting THC, and the other compounds that come along with it, from different types of cannabis can allow the user to have more control over their vaping experience.
Although CBD is usually associated with the health benefits of cannabis, researchers have discovered that many are linked to THC. For example, it can reduce various kinds of pain including menstrual cramps, arthritis, and sore muscles and joints. THC is also useful for conditions like glaucoma or asthma, since it’s a vasodilator (a substance that widens the blood vessels to improve circulation and relieve constriction).
Researchers have discovered that some vape oils contain toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and carcinogens. As if that weren’t enough, there’s so little regulation in the cannabis industry today that many products are mislabeled, while some even contain dangerous, unmentioned ingredients. There’s little consumers can do about the former, but some people choose to take control over the second variable and ensure that their THC source is a trustworthy one.
If you’re keen to make your own THC-infused vape juice, there are a number of allegedly easy recipes that can be found online. But first, there are a number of potential problems that you need to give consideration to before embarking.
First of all, if you’re a beginner, this is certainly not the option for you. It’s not just because THC vape juices are extremely strong (and they are), but also because it requires a level of cannabis-related technical expertise that only the most committed users are likely to possess.
Should you be determined to continue, the main ingredients you need to source are food grade vegetable glycerin (VG), propylene glycol (PG), grain alcohol, and a form of marijuana plant matter. The most commonly available, known as flower, is also the most difficult one from which to extract THC. Cannabis wax or shatter are somewhat easier to work with, but these are also rarer and more expensive in most cases.
In addition to these ingredients, you will require empty vape cartridges to store your infusion in. Again, these are available from online retailers, but the range of cartridges is so diverse that understanding what kind of cartridge you need for the vape pen you use isn’t straightforward, especially for someone who is just a casual vaper. You’ll also need other equipment like blunt tip syringes, dropper bottles, and latex gloves.
Mixing your ingredients to form the right consistency is also cumbersome. Each component needs to be added in precise amounts at specified times, and any significant deviation is likely to cause major problems. For example, if the vape oil is too runny, you risk it escaping from your device and leaking into your pocket or purse. The ideal consistency should be something similar to honey, but devices with larger coils will need a thicker vape oil to prevent leakage.
In short, while it’s tempting to think of DIY THC vape juice as a fun, clever way to save money, you’re likely better off buying it in pre-made form.