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June 9, 2023
8 min to read

What Are Weed Carts? Ultimate Guide to Vape Cartridges

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Hayley Heidelbaugh

While cannabis is available in many forms, weed carts are one of the most convenient ways to consume concentrated THC (delta 9), CBD, delta 8, or your cannabinoid of choice. But when you’re starting out, it’s common to be confused by all the options available to you.

There’s some essential information all new (and old) vape users should know about carts, and that’s exactly what we’ll be covering in this one-stop guide. We’re here to break down your weed cart questions.

What is a vape cart?

As pleasing as some weed pens are to the eye, they’re useless without a cart.

Simply, a cart is a glass tube that holds cannabis oil and contains an atomizer that heats and vaporizes the oil when attached to a battery. Carts often come filled with various types of oils, such as extracted THC oil or distillates. It is also possible to purchase empty carts to fill with your own oil. If you’re a beginner, pre-filled weed carts are the way to go.

Once you’ve picked up a 510 thread battery, you’ll be able to hook up just about any weed cart your heart desires. A battery or vaping device provides the energy needed for the atomizer to vaporize the oil. The vapor is inhaled through the mouthpiece.

What does a cart look like?

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Appearance can vary from cart to cart, depending on the manufacturer, price, size, and the type of oil in the cart.

When you look at a cart, the first component you’ll notice is the glass chamber filled with weed oil. Assuming it’s a high-quality oil that hasn’t been damaged, it will appear translucent and clear, light pink, straw, or amber in color. Most weed oils have a light golden or honey-like appearance. It’s common for air bubbles to develop in the liquid, as well.

Other key parts of your cart are the atomizer and mouthpiece, also obvious to the naked eye. You’ll find the mouthpiece at the top of the cart. Materials differ, but most mouthpieces are made of either metal, plastic, or ceramic. The mouthpiece is often tapered or narrower than the chamber. Within the weed cart’s chamber, you’ll see the atomizer, which contains the heating coil that vaporizes the oil. The coil itself is probably hidden under a metal or ceramic housing.

Weed cart sizing

While it’s true that weed carts come in multiple sizes, 1-gram and half-gram carts are the most common. (The size refers to the amount of the oil it contains, not the weight.)

Signs of a damaged or cheap cart: common red flags

In order to understand what a high-quality cart looks like, it’s good to know what it shouldn’t look like. Here are a few red flags to look out for while cart shopping.

Stay away from carts with any of the following attributes:

  • Little to no air bubble movement
  • Dull-colored, dark, or brownish-black liquid
  • Burnt, ashy taste or smell upon use
  • Extremely thick oil that moves like sludge
  • Overly thin or watery weed oil
  • On the bright side, it’s simple to avoid carts with these qualities. All you need to do is stick to trusted online retailers or licensed dispensaries for all of your cart purchases.

    Correct weed cart terminology

    Aside from the physical components mentioned above, there are other terms you’ll commonly hear to describe weed carts and their function.

    This includes terminology that’s often misused to describe vape carts, making discussions more difficult and causing misunderstandings. You don’t “smoke” carts, for instance. That’s the whole point of vaping carts.

    “Dab carts” is a phrase that’s often used interchangeably with weed carts, although this stems from a misconception about the word “dab.” You don’t dab distillate, weed oil, or live resin carts. Although the oils are concentrated, they aren’t processed into semi-solid concentrates like wax or shatter. Those are properly referred to as dabs; the runny THC oil in a cart is not. Dabs are used in dab pens or e-nails designed for the purpose.

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    Types of vape cartridges

    Most weed vapes can be categorized in two ways. Either they feature near-universal 510 threading at the top, or they’re specially designed to work with one company’s device.
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    510 thread vape carts

    The most common type of vape cart is 510 thread. These are easily the most versatile carts, as they are compatible with the majority of batteries sold on the market. In other words, you won’t need to order a specialty battery or device to use your brand-new weed oil cart.

    Generally, 510 thread carts are disposable and can be thrown away after you’ve emptied them. There are also refillable weed carts, which are sold without oil. These can be filled by the user and then refilled a few times before the atomizer gives out, and they, too, are discarded.

    Specialized vape carts

    That doesn’t mean that specialty vape carts aren’t an option. Some brands offer proprietary carts that require specific batteries to function correctly. Although they’re less convenient, specialty carts often allow the user more freedom over temperature and other settings. This allows the person to customize their experience more than if they had opted for a 510 thread cart or battery.

    A popular brand of specialty carts is PAX, although they aren’t the only ones. Just keep in mind that the batteries you’ll need to use these carts aren’t available through every retailer. You may be required to order directly from the manufacturer’s website or buy from a dispensary.

    Weed oil options: what’s in a cart

    The contents of your weed cart aren’t one size fits all, either. Oils come in a number of forms, each with a unique consistency, cannabinoid content, and set of effects. Also, note that different kinds of carts may require varying levels of upkeep.

    Cannabinoids in your cart: THC, CBD, and delta 8

    “Weed cart” is a broad descriptor covering a wide range of oils. Not every cart is going to contain the same compounds, or even be extracted from the same part of the cannabis plant.

    THC carts are the most popular. These are also what most individuals think of when they hear “weed cart.” Delta 9 THC, often referred to just as THC, is one of the psychoactive compounds found in the cannabis plant. This means that when you ingest this cannabinoid, you’re going to get high. How high you get depends on the concentration, quality of the oil, and personal tolerance.

    Legal delta 9 THC carts are only available in licensed dispensaries in states with legal marijuana.

    Delta 8 is another form of THC that produces a milder high. While delta 9 THC is extracted directly from the cannabis plant, delta 8 is processed from hemp-derived CBD.

    There is a variety of other hemp-derived cannabinoids, like delta 10 THC, HHC, and THCP. All are federally legal and available in most states.

    CBD is extracted from the hemp plant. Unlike THC, vaping a CBD cart does not get the user high. However, this cannabinoid is extremely popular due to its relaxing effects. There is substantial evidence that CBD has other beneficial effects, including reducing inflammation and helping manage pain.

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    THC, CBD, and delta 8 distillates

    To create a distillate, extractors focus on a specific cannabinoid. This could be any of those we described above or another compound entirely, such as delta 10 or CBN. Distillation creates concentrated oils with impressive purity levels, as high as 99%.

    There is a downside to the distillation process. When you’re stripping away everything except for the target cannabinoid, other minor cannabinoids are lost, as are terpenes. Terpenes help to give weed oil the flavor most users expect from cannabis. Many distillate manufacturers add terpenes back into the oil after processing to recreate the expected flavor (or another flavor).

    Full-spectrum weed carts

    If you prefer a cannabinoid and terpene profile that’s closer to the original plant’s, full-spectrum carts are for you. These carts can contain a huge range of bioactive compounds and terpenes rather than focusing on a specific cannabinoid.

    Live resin carts

    Live resin is the best-known full-spectrum extract. While live resin is a concentrated oil, the extraction process leads to better preservation of natural terpenes and flavonoids. These won’t need to be added back for the extract to have a powerful aroma and remarkable flavor.

    Good live resin tastes just like the marijuana plant it was extracted from—and they have a price tag to match. These carts are often more expensive than other types of THC oil, including distillate carts.

    There’s a weed cart for everyone

    Due to the large (and growing!) selection of weed carts in the market, there really is something out there for everyone. Searching for reviews or information about specific carts? To grow your knowledge and confidence, check out Vaping360’s reviews and best product collections today.
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    Hayley Heidelbaugh

    Vaping since: 3 years

    Favorite products:

    Favorite flavors: White Wedding, Northern Lights, Platinum Valley, OG Kush

    Expertise in: Oil carts, cannabis concentrates, cannabis flower

    Hayley Heidelbaugh

    I'm a Pennsylvania-based cannabis enthusiast and writer. As a part of the Vaping360 team, I'm eager to help cannabis consumers explore vaping and get the most out of their experience. You can also find me @faeberrystudios on Instagram.

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