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How to Refill a Weed Vape Cartridge?

Nicole Flanigan

Written by: Nicole Flanigan

Updated on December 14, 2023

How to Refill a Weed Vape Cartridge

Weed vape pens have surged in popularity, offering a discreet and convenient way to enjoy cannabis on the go without such a strong odor. However, their popularity is somewhat of a double-edged sword as vape lovers are slowly but surely becoming more aware of how costly they can be to replace and how dangerous they can be for the environment.

But that’s where we come in. Learning how to refill weed vape cartridges is a valuable skill that can save you some money and reduce some of the waste of throwing out a spent cart. In this guide, we’re breaking down the basics of weed vape pens and how they work before exploring why refilling is a smart choice. From there, we’ll teach you how to do it with a step-by-step guide and some tips from the pros.

The Basics of Weed Vape Pens and Cartridges

Vape pens are compact, portable devices designed for vaporizing cannabis oil. These devices consist of two main components: the battery and the cartridge. The cartridge is where the cannabis oil is stored and vaporized, and it works by screwing into the battery. The battery supplies power at different voltage settings to the atomizer and coils found inside the cartridge, which vaporizes your concentrate as you inhale.

Most of the weed carts you can buy at a dispensary or head shop are the standard 510-thread cartridges, which can contain just about anything. Some may contain THC or CBD, while others contain vitamins or terpenes. But the big thing to remember here is that the pre-filled cartridges you buy shouldn’t be refilled.

Why avoid refilling pre-filled carts?

For starters, the pre-filled cartridges are equipped with a built-in coil that heats the oil. After extended use, these coils can degrade or stop working altogether. That said, while you can refill a cart, it may stop working altogether a few sessions after you refill it— and let me tell you, it can be a huge pain to get oil out of a broken cartridge. A lot more of a pain than it is to fill a refillable cartridge with coils that you can access and swap out when necessary.

Another thing is that those pre-filled carts are factory-sealed to prevent tampering and keep your oils safe from contaminants. Unsealing a pre-filled cartridge can compromise its integrity and make it more prone to leakage or breaking altogether. Opening and resealing the cartridge can introduce minor imperfections that allow oil to escape, leading to mess and potential damage to the vape pen.

While it is possible to refill pre-filled cartridges if you are experienced and have the right tools, it’s crucial to acknowledge these potential issues and exercise caution.

Why Should You Consider Refilling Instead of Buying New Cartridges?

There are many reasons to switch to reusable cartridges to refill them at your own pace. Weed cartridge refills are a win-win proposition. It saves you money, has a positive impact on the environment, grants you greater customization options, and promotes sustainability within the cannabis industry.

1. Cost-Effectiveness

Refilling your weed vape cartridges is a smart financial choice. It allows you to stretch your budget further, as the cost of purchasing cannabis oil separately is often lower than buying pre-filled cartridges, which can retail anywhere from $20-$80. Over time, the savings can be substantial, making it a cost-effective option for regular cannabis users.

2. Positive Environmental Impact

Weed carts can’t be recycled and shouldn’t be thrown away. Disposable vapes and cartridges are ending up in landfills rapidly, but because of the materials they’re made from, they won’t break down for hundreds of years. By refilling and reusing cartridges, you minimize the generation of electronic waste. This eco-conscious approach helps reduce plastic waste and contributes to a cleaner and more sustainable environment.

3. Customization Options

When you refill, you have complete control over the type of cannabis oil you use, allowing you to select specific strains, terpene profiles, and cannabinoid concentrations. This level of personalization ensures that your vaping experience aligns perfectly with your preferences and therapeutic needs.

4. Economic Sustainability

Choosing refillable cartridges is economically sustainable for your budget and the cannabis industry as a whole. It encourages businesses to focus on the quality of the cannabis oil rather than disposable packaging, which can lead to better product choices and less waste in the long run.

5. Long-Term Savings

While there may be an initial investment in purchasing refillable cartridges and the necessary tools, the savings achieved through refilling quickly offset these costs. Instead of spending $45 every two weeks, you can pay $60 for enough oil to last you more than a month. As you reuse your cartridges, the long-term financial benefits become even more apparent, making it a sensible choice for occasional and frequent users.

4 Easy Steps to Refill a Weed Vape Cartridge

Refilling a vape cart is easy once you know what you’re looking at! Use this video to get a good look at the process, or follow the step-by-step guide below to learn how to refill carts.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Before you begin the refill process, make sure you have all the necessary materials and tools at hand. You’ll need:

  • An empty, clean vape cartridge (preferably a refillable one).
  • High-quality cannabis oil or extract of your choice.
  • A syringe or dropper for precise oil transfer (a funnel may also be useful).
  • Paper towels or tissue for any potential spills.
  • A clean and stable workspace with good lighting.

Step 2: Disassemble the Cartridge

Start by disassembling the vape cartridge. Most cartridges consist of several components, including a mouthpiece, a chamber for the oil, and a heating element (coil). Here’s how to disassemble:

  • Remove the mouthpiece: Gently unscrew or pull off the mouthpiece, depending on the design of your cartridge. Set it aside.
  • Access the oil chamber: Depending on the cartridge design, you may need to unscrew the bottom or separate the cartridge’s main body to access the oil chamber. Some cartridges have a removable cap or plug.

Step 3: Refill the Cartridge

With the cartridge disassembled and the oil chamber accessible, it’s time to refill it with your chosen cannabis oil.

Attach the syringe or dropper to the oil container

  • Attach the syringe or dropper to the oil container: Draw up the desired amount of cannabis oil into the syringe or dropper.
  • Carefully insert the syringe or dropper into the oil chamber: Slowly and steadily, dispense the oil into the chamber, being cautious not to overfill. It’s generally better to underfill slightly than to risk leakage or overflowing.

Step 4: Reassemble and Test

  • Once the cartridge is refilled, it’s time to put it back together and test it.
  • Reattach the bottom or cap: If you had to remove any parts to access the oil chamber, securely reattach them.
  • Reattach the mouthpiece: Screw or snap the mouthpiece back into place, ensuring a tight seal.
  • Test your cartridge: Make sure everything is completely dry before reassembling the cart to the battery. Before attaching the cart to your vape pen, take a quick puff to ensure that the oil flows smoothly and that there are no immediate issues or leaks. If everything seems fine, attach it to your vape pen and enjoy your freshly refilled cartridge.

Remember that proper sealing and cleanliness are crucial to preventing leaks and maintaining the performance of your cartridge. If you encounter any problems during the refill process or while testing, check the manual for your pen or refillable carts or contact the manufacturer.

How Do You Choose High-Quality Cannabis Oil?

A refillable cart is only as good as the material you refill it with. Choosing a quality one is excellent if you prefer good flavors and potency and want more puffs from your pen and a better battery life. Here’s what to look for when choosing high-quality cannabis oil:

1. Viscosity:

Viscosity refers to the thickness or consistency of the cannabis oil. It significantly affects how the oil vaporizes and flows through your cartridge’s heating element. Depending on the battery you’re using, and how powerful the coils in your refillable cart are, you may need thicker or runnier oils. But that’s okay. Any oil, as long as it’s potent and well made, is a good choice if you have thickening or thinning agents, such as propylene glycol (PG) or vegetable glycerin (VG) on hand. These additives can make thick concentrates thin or thin concentrates thick. Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the ideal ratios, and you’re off to a great start, even if you have to experiment a bit to get it right.

2. Potency:

The potency of the cannabis oil determines its effects. High-potency oils contain more cannabinoids, offering a stronger experience. However, potency should align with your tolerance and desired effects. The types of cannabinoids included also fall into potency. If you’re looking to feel high, you’re going to want a THC-dominant oil. On the other hand, if you don’t want to get high, you’d like a CBD-dominant oil. If you like THC but find it overwhelming sometimes, choose an oil in a 1:1 THC to CBD ratio.

For beginners or those seeking milder effects, opt for lower-potency oils with balanced THC and CBD ratios. Experienced users may prefer high-potency oils for a more intense experience but use them responsibly to avoid overconsumption.

3. Concentrate Quality:

The type of cannabis concentrate used to make the oil significantly influences its flavor and effects. You’ll want to avoid darker oils, as they tend to be less refined and may contain more impurities. While those are cheaper and will get you high pretty well, they are usually subpar in flavor, too. A good cannabis oil is a light yellow to golden color with a good potency level and natural terpenes. While vaping CO2 or distillate will get you there in a pinch, a higher quality, full-spectrum oil made from live resin or rosin, for example, will taste better and last longer. When choosing the concentrate type, consider your preferences for taste and effects. Experiment with different types to discover which one suits you best.

How Can You Safely Store and Handle Cannabis Oil?

Once an oil is picked out, it’s important to use and store it safely. You may not use all of your oil while refilling carts, so if you want to maintain its quality, potency, and safety, follow these best practices.

For starters, always store your oils in an airtight container. Most refills will come in a syringe or a bottle. Ensure it has a secure, airtight lid to prevent it from leaking and keep air out. Air will dry it out, making it harder to work with and degrading your cannabinoids and terpenes. Use clean utensils, syringes, or droppers when handling cannabis oil to prevent contamination. Avoid touching the oil with your fingers, as this can introduce impurities.

Contrary to popular belief, you also want to keep your oils out of the fridge, as temperature fluctuations when removing them can cause condensation inside the container and ruin your oils. All cannabis products should be kept out of extreme temperatures, as extremely high or low temperatures can break down cannabinoids and terpenes. It helps to store your cannabis oil in a cool but not cold place to prevent temperature fluctuations. Aim for a temperature range of 60-70°F (15-24°C).

Last but not least, keep it away from light. Cannabis oil is sensitive to light, especially UV rays, which can degrade its compounds. Store your oil in opaque or dark-colored containers to shield it from light. Keep these containers in a dark storage area or cupboard at room temperature.
Pro Tip: If you’ve got kids around, make sure you store your oils in childproof containers or somewhere they can’t reach them.

Tips from the Experts

I’ve learned a lot of things the hard way from refilling my own weed carts. Here are a few things I wish I had known when I first got started:

  • Check the manual for your pen before you do anything. Some pens require specific cartridges, and not all are refillable.
  • Place paper towels or old newspapers around your workspace to catch any spilled fluids and maintain cleanliness.
  • It’s better to underfill your cartridge than to overfill; excessive oil can strain the pen’s ignition, leading to quicker power loss and ruining the oil and the efficiency of your battery. It can also lead to clogs and leaks.
  • If your refilled cartridge breaks or is incompatible with your pen, don’t toss it. It’ll take some doing, but you can still get that oil recovered— and at some point, you’ll really need that holdout.
  • If you mess up or lose your syringe, use a small funnel or an eye dropper to transfer the oil into the cartridge.
  • Ensure a proper and secure seal when reattaching the mouthpiece after refilling to prevent leakage. Seriously, that thing needs to be tight. If it’s not tight, you’re gonna have a bad time.
  • Use the refill opportunity to clean both the vape cartridge and tank, particularly when switching to a new flavor. Don’t skip this one. Gunked-up connectors can make you crazy and ruin the efficiency of your cart and battery.
  • Also, inspect the battery and connectors for any signs of corrosion or damage. I mention this because I’ve ruined like five batteries by skipping this.
  • Store Your Cannabis Oil Properly: To maintain the quality of your cannabis oil for refilling, store it in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Proper storage ensures that your oil retains its potency and flavor.
  • If you have multiple strains or types of cannabis oil, label the containers with strain names, potencies, and purchase dates. If you’re not picky, that doesn’t matter so much. But it’s nice when you want to refill with a strain you love.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with terps. Some oils are extremely mid, but you can revitalize them with terpenes. I’ve purchased terpene blends that mimic specific strains and flavors, and it’s been a lot of fun to make my vapes taste and feel great.
  • Always keep a backup on hand. Sometimes, a cart just dies for no reason, and if you rely on cannabis like I do, then having one refilled and ready to go at all times is your best bet in an emergency.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to vaping, mastering the art of refilling your own weed vape cartridges can be both rewarding and practical. Not only does it offer significant cost savings, but it also allows for customization and a reduced environmental footprint. With the proper knowledge, tools, and precautions, you can enjoy a personalized vaping experience while contributing to a more sustainable and economical approach to cannabis consumption. Whether you’re a cannabis enthusiast or a medical user, learning how to refill your cartridges empowers you to take control of your vaping journey while enjoying the myriad benefits of this versatile and eco-conscious practice.

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Nicole Flanigan
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