Posted by Dave Kaplan
2 years ago / September 24, 2020
The Problem With One-Size-Fits-All CBD & THC Hardware
In July, we discussed in detail how vape hardware is no longer one-size fits all. Hoping your extracts will pair seamlessly with cookie-cutter vape hardware is an exercise in futility and the type of expensive, avoidable mistake that can delay the launch of your product line and tarnish user experiences. Choosing hardware that perfectly matches your formulation is so crucial that it’s become a prerequisite for success in our corner of the industry.
Picking the correct hardware for your extract is no easy task, given the number of heating element types, power capacities, intake hole sizes and customization options that vary from one manufacturer to another. But the vast majority of vape hardware manufacturers aren’t doing you any favors either by failing to market their product lines accurately.
Over the last year especially, we’ve watched dozens of hardware manufacturers launch CBD and THC-specific vape hardware lines that are purportedly engineered to fit your oil formulations like gloves. In reality, however, these devices often result in poor user experiences because they are predicated upon the misconception that all THC-dominant extracts are viscous and all CBD-dominant extracts are runny.
If only it was that simple . . .
Yes, extracted CBD generally tends to be less viscous than extracted THC but it is not the final determinant of how viscous your extract will be! Several other factors during the extraction, refinement, and production processes influence viscosities and must be considered when selecting which hardware will best pair with your unique formulation.
Extraction and Refinement Processes
(credit: Y Chen. http://commons.m.wikemdia.org/wiki/File:旋转蒸发仪.jpg)
The extraction and refinement processes you use will contribute to the final viscosity of your product, regardless of whether your oil formulation is THC or CBD dominant. Any extract that undergoes a supercritical CO2 extraction, for instance, will almost certainly have a different viscosity than a heat and pressure-based distillation. However, those viscosities are likely to change once again upon being subjected to any number of standard refinement processes, including winterization, purging, filtration, evaporation and fractional distillation, each of which can affect viscosities in different ways.
This combination of extraction and refinement processes, coupled with the unique characteristics of the strains being extracted, is one of the main reasons why, like fingerprints, no two extracts are exactly the same time in terms of composition and viscosity. It’s also why one-size-fits-all CBD or THC vape hardware is a longshot to perfectly pair with your unique formulation.
The viscosities of extracts and oil formulations can be further affected by the reintroduction of terpenes in the production process. Because certain extraction and refinement processes strip extracts of their terpene/cannabinoid profiles and can introduce undesirable lingering tastes, natural terpenes and other flavor compounds are typically reintroduced to make them more appealing to consumers. As alcohol and oil-based substances, terpenes and other flavor compounds generally reduce extract viscosities and promote fluidity, which is why natural diluents are so prevalent in formulations (more on this in a moment).
The types of terpenes and flavor compounds you reintroduce into your extract depend on the flavor profiles and effects you want your consumers to experience. But various terpenes and flavor compounds have different viscosities, and the unique combination that is added to your end product is certain to affect its overall viscosity, making it even more unlikely that your extract will vape optimally with boilerplate hardware.
Although some corners of the industry are moving away from certain diluents, such as MCT, VG and PG, many producers still add or reintroduce extracted terpenes to their formulations. These natural diluents reduce the viscosities of extracts, improving their rates of flow to heating elements for optimized vape experiences.
More than 100 terpenes are found naturally in cannabis and their viscosities vary from one another based on the sizes of their molecules. Terpenes with 10 carbons, known as monoterpenes, have smaller molecular structures and are not viscous at all. Terpenes with 15 carbons, known as sesquiterpenes, have moderately sized molecular structures and are somewhat viscous, while terpenes with 30 carbons, known as triterpenes, are the largest and most viscous of any terpene type. Producers don’t necessarily need to know the carbon structures of the terpene diluents they use. They do, however, need to understand that the reintroduction of these naturally sourced compounds will affect the overall viscosities of their final products and should consider this factor when mulling over whether one-size-fits-all THC and CBD vape hardware is right for their extracts.
One final factor to consider is the rate at which some CBD-dominant extracts crystallize once placed into cartridges. The crystallization process of CBD is complex. Different rates of crystallization occur for various formulations, affecting in myriad ways how quickly they reliquidize when heated and ultimately flow into their corresponding heating elements. Vape hardware often needs to be adjusted and recalibrated to account for these liquid>solid>liquid state changes, and that’s no easy task. The process requires considerable trial and error in addition to an intricate understanding of your extract’s propensity to crystallize.
Trust us, it’s no walk in the park; we’ve spent close to 9 months with certain partners getting this exactly right prior to the launch of their products! Producers who do not account for the possibility of their CBD-dominant extracts crystallizing run the risk of subjecting their consumers to subpar vaping experiences. Another reason why we strongly recommend steering clear of cookie-cutter CBD hardware.
The Importance of Viscosities
Consumers need to know the cannabinoid composition of your extracts. Hardware manufacturers, on the other hand, are more concerned with the viscosity of your extract and its propensity to crystallize because, at the end of the day, those are two of the most important factors that determine how well your extract will vape.
That’s why Greentank has introduced high and low-viscosity specific options for our new M3 disposable line. It may be a subtle difference from traditional CBD and THC nomenclature, but we believe this distinction will help our partners to more expeditiously match their extracts to our hardware so that they can cut down on unnecessary costs and get their products out to market quicker.
Get it right the first time! Greentank takes the guesswork out of selecting premium vape hardware. Contact Greentank today for more information about high and low viscosity hardware and how we can perfectly match your unique extracts to our hardware.