Cannabis 101: Can You Hit a Cartridge with a Lighter?

Can you hit a cartridge with a lighter?
By Anthony Pellegrino Updated April 30th

Fact-checked by Alexandra Arnett, MS

In recent years, vaping has become an increasingly popular way to consume cannabis. It offers a discreet and convenient method for users to enjoy the plant's effects without the hassle of rolling joints or packing bowls. Cannabis cartridges, often referred to as "vape carts (small, cartridge-like devices that house cannabis oil or concentrates)," are a significant part of this booming trend. 

While vaping provides numerous advantages, it's not without its drawbacks. These small, portable devices are typically powered by rechargeable batteries, which provide the heat necessary to vaporize the cannabis oil within the cartridge. Therefore, one common issue faced by cannabis cartridge users is the frustrating problem of batteries losing their charge at the most inconvenient times. There's nothing quite as disheartening as reaching for your trusty vape pen only to find it unresponsive due to a drained battery. Moments like these lead many to seek alternatives, exploring how to smoke a cart without a pen or battery.

So, you may have wondered to yourself, "Can you hit a cartridge with a lighter?" While this might sound like a quick and obvious solution, it comes with serious risks.

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Can You Hit a Cart With a Lighter?

The short answer is a resounding no. Attempting to heat a cannabis cartridge with a lighter is not just ill-advised; it can be downright dangerous for several reasons.

First and foremost, many cannabis cartridges are constructed with plastic components and glass chambers. When exposed to an open flame, these materials can quickly deteriorate, releasing harmful fumes and potentially compromising the quality of the oil inside. The last thing you want is to inhale fumes from melting plastic or risk inhaling shards of cracked glass.

Not only that, using a lighter to heat a cannabis cartridge can lead to overheating the oil, which is equally problematic. Overheating can cause the oil to degrade, affecting its flavor and potency.1 Or, when the oil reaches extremely high temperatures, it can release harmful contaminants and compounds that are best left uninhaled.

These potential health risks, associated with both the physical damage to the cartridge and the potential for inhaling contaminants, make using a lighter to hit a cartridge a risky proposition that should be avoided at all costs.
Luckily, there are safer and more effective alternatives available for those times when your vape pen is out of commission. It may be wise to have some disposable vape pens on hand in the off chance you find yourself down a vape battery.

How to Hit a Cart Without a Battery

How to hit a cart without a battery

So, you find yourself with a cannabis cartridge but without a functioning battery to power your THC or CBD vape pen. No worries, as there may be some alternative methods to enjoy the contents of your cartridge safely and effectively without resorting to using a lighter.

First and foremost, to prevent future situations where you're left without a functioning battery, it's wise to keep a few backup batteries fully charged and readily available. Storing these spare batteries in a cool, dry place will help maintain their efficiency and ensure you always have a backup.

Along those same lines, consider using a portable charger or power bank designed for charging electronic devices if your battery is low on charge. Connecting your vape pen to a portable charger might revive the battery and enable you to use your device again.

However, if you find yourself without either of these, one common approach is to open the cartridge and pour the oil out to use with a dab rig. Dabbing involves applying a small amount of cannabis concentrate to a heated surface and inhaling the vapor. This method can be effective for enjoying the cartridge's contents. However, it's still essential to exercise caution, particularly when dealing with cartridges that contain additives or thinning agents. These additives may not be suitable for dabbing and could produce undesirable side effects or health risks when vaporized at high temperatures.

One method that should absolutely be avoided is attempting to manipulate the cartridge by stripping wires and making electronic connections to power it without a battery. This dangerous DIY approach can lead to sparks, electrical malfunctions, and even the risk of electrocution. It's a highly unsafe practice that we strongly advise against.

Why Buying a Battery is Best

Benefits of buying a 510 thread battery

With the potential of using a lighter in the rear-view, it's best to take a closer look at why investing in a universal 510 battery remains the most prudent choice for cannabis cartridge enthusiasts.

  1. Universal Compatibility: A universal 510 battery is designed to work with a wide range of cannabis cartridges, making it an excellent choice for those who frequently switch between different brands and types of cartridges. This compatibility guarantees that you won't find yourself in a bind, unable to enjoy your favorite products due to compatibility issues.
  2. Quality and Affordability: Quality 510 batteries are reliable and quite affordable. They typically range from $10 to $35, with higher-priced options offering longer battery life and additional features. While investing a bit more in a higher-quality battery can enhance your vaping experience, even budget-friendly options can provide satisfactory performance.
  3. Prevention Over Remediation: Perhaps the most practical reason to invest in a battery is to avoid the need to find alternative methods for cartridge consumption. By purchasing a reliable 510 battery, you'll significantly reduce the chances of ever being in a situation where you're forced to resort to potentially risky methods like attempting to hit a cart with a lighter.

To further secure a trouble-free vaping experience, it's advisable to buy a few affordable backup batteries to keep on hand. However, you need to be mindful about leaving your batteries in hot cars, as extreme temperatures can affect their performance and longevity.

By choosing the safer, more convenient route of investing in a reliable battery, you can enjoy your cannabis cartridges with peace of mind, knowing that you won't be caught without the means to savor your favorite products. It's a small investment that can pay off in enhanced safety and enjoyment in the long run.

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  1. María Teresa García-Valverde, Carolina Sánchez-Carnerero Callado, Maríadel Carmen Díaz-Liñán, et al. Effect of temperature in the degradation of cannabinoids: From a brief residence in the gas chromatography inlet port to a longer period in thermal treatments. Frontiers in Chemistry. 2022;10. doi: ↩︎

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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