Do Burnt Carts Still Get You High?

Do burnt carts still get you high?
By Bethan Rose Jenkins Published April 30th

Fact-checked by Alexandra Arnett, MS

While smoking cannabis flower still remains the top choice for cannabis consumers, vaping cannabis has significantly increased over the years, increasing from 1.6% to 8.4% in just three years. Other research has found that while vaping cannabis flower decreased, there has been an increase in vaping cannabis concentrates.1

Still, vaping isn't without its faults, and these devices can malfunction, occasionally leaving consumers to wonder, “Why does my cart taste burnt?” The simple answer is that when your cart is low on oil, the leftover oil is insufficient and cannot properly contact the heating mechanism. Although the coil will continue to produce heat, it will be unable to produce vapor due to the lack of oil in the chamber. As a result, you'll get a mouthful of dull-tasting vapor or dry, burned hits that don't hit the spot and leave you spluttering to get the taste out of your mouth. 

Do burnt carts still get you high, and does it pose a health hazard? 

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How to Tell If a Disposable Vape is Burnt

When you use a vape cart, oxygen infiltrates the extract, oxidizing and darkening the oil. Although this is a natural process, over-exposure to light and heat may cause cannabis oil to change color rapidly, which is why you must store your disposable vape properly. If a brand-new cart has a dark brown or black hue, consider switching it for a new one. Significant discoloration can indicate that the product may not have been produced or stored properly. 

If you have been smoking the vape for a while, check for dark trails within the oil, which may indicate the heating element is burning the oil. Aside from the appearance of the extract within the vape, unusual sounds may also indicate a problem. Crackling, hissing, popping, or bubble-blowing sounds suggest that the vape may be damaged or there is a clog preventing proper airflow.

You may or may not notice the taste of a burnt vape cart. In most cases, the oil will lack flavor and may taste metallic. If you’re a cannabis consumer who enjoys exhaling thick plumes of vapor, you may be disappointed to discover that the clouds are less thick than usual.

Why Does My Cart Taste Burnt?

Why does my cart taste burnt?

Most cannabis vapers will likely encounter a burnt cart or pod at some point or another. When a cartridge is almost empty, the inner heating coil will begin to burn. As a result, the remaining oil may taste burnt. If you notice the burnt taste when the cart is still full, a blockage may prevent adequate oil flow. While most cannabis consumers aren’t fond of the burnt metal taste, some aren’t bothered by it. Nonetheless, a burnt cart isn’t exactly pleasurable, and your taste buds will miss out on the terpene profile of your chosen strain.

Why Does My Cart Taste Burnt When It's Full? 

There are a number of common causes of a burnt cart, with one of the most prevalent issues being that the cart is low quality and made with cheap materials like a cotton wick instead of a ceramic heating coil. Buying from a trusted brand is the best way to dodge a burnt cart scenario. Cheap batteries will also have a shorter shelf life than quality batteries and less reliable temperature settings than the more quality brands. If you have been using the same cart frequently over a short period, the oil will begin to taste burnt from overheating.

Another reason your cart may taste burnt is that the temperature settings on your vaporizer device are too high. If the THC cart voltage is too high, your vaporizable cannabis oil will disintegrate faster, and you'll find yourself making more trips to your local dispensary than necessary. It is advisable to set a vape below 600 degrees Fahrenheit or 3.4v, depending on the type of cannabis extract in the vape cart. Anything above this is considered a high temperature, and there's a more significant chance that your hit will taste burnt. Reduce the voltage of your weed vape to enjoy smoother, less harsh hits. A lower THC cart voltage will also make your cart last longer since it will face less pressure and heat. This will help ensure that your cart won't taste burnt. 

The Dangers of Counterfeit Vapes

You can avoid your cart tasting burnt by investing in a high-quality cart, battery, and cannabis oil. Unfortunately, due to the sheer size of the vaporizer market, the retail sector is brimming with fake weed carts and THC vapes. This is especially true in the illicit market.

Fortunately, you can detect counterfeit products by avoiding purchases from online and unlicensed retailers and analyzing the packaging and labels. It is important to detect fake carts to prevent undesirable burnt tastes and ensure that they are not laced with contaminants. Most fake delta-9 THC carts are missing specific production characteristics, such as batch and lot numbers, manufacturing and packing information, and license numbers. 

The presence of toxic chemicals poses a health and safety hazard, with fake cart users at risk of the following side effects and medical complications:

  • EVALI (a lung disease)
  • Airway irritation
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Respiratory distress
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Upon inspecting your vape cart, ask yourself if the construction materials, build quality, and overall construction quality are up to scratch. Counterfeit products infiltrating the black market are usually cheaper and filled with various contaminants and unknown levels of cannabinoid compounds.

Do Burnt Carts Still Get You High?

While burnt carts can get you high, the cannabinoids have been degraded, so they may not produce the desired effects. Each time the coil heats up and the oil burns, the cannabinoids degrade slightly. Although there is no certain way to tell if there are any usable cannabinoids left without retesting at a lab, you can distinguish between poor and desirable potency by assessing the overall flavor and effects after each hit.

Cannabinoids aren’t the only compounds in cannabis extracts that are sensitive to heat and light; terpenes can also quickly undergo degradation if stored improperly. Consequently, the oil loses flavor and potency, leading to unpleasant odors or tastes. When terpenes and cannabinoids surpass their unique boiling points, the quality and quantity of the compounds are reduced so that you may not get as high.

Is It Bad to Hit a Burnt Vape?

Is it bad to smoke a brown cart?

If you've already inhaled burnt vapor, don't panic. Burnt hits taste bad but typically don't cause long-term health problems. However, there are risks to be aware of, such as headaches, chronic respiratory problems, and thermal lung injury(e.g. inflammation and scarring). 

Research indicates that heavy metals may contaminate vape liquids. Consequently, vapers may inhale metals or metal oxide particles that are present in the aerosol mixture or oil droplets. Researchers confirmed that post-vaping heavy metal levels in the body appear higher than pre-vaping levels.

Experiments involving vaping devices outline the possibility of metals like chromium, copper, nickel, manganese, lead, and tin making their way into cannabis oils. This increases the chances of vapers inhaling those compounds. Researchers say the vaporizer device’s heating source is a primary source of contamination. This raises concern since the detectable level of these metals is higher than the permissible regulatory standard laid out by various governmental bodies.2

With this in mind, consumers ought to practice caution when vaping and avoid using burnt carts to limit their chances of heavy metal exposure. Reducing the temperature on a vaporizer with a burnt cart is the best way to minimize risk. 

How to Prevent Burnt Carts

After approximately one year, the oil inside a vaporizer cart begins relinquishing its chemical structure, leading to dull and sometimes flavorless oil that loses its ideal viscosity.

The solution to preventing your cannabis-infused solution from burning is threefold: 

  1. Pay attention to the extract levels 

Inspect the extract level before vaping. It may be time to get a new cart if it is too low, exposing the heating coil elements. 

  1. Seek out high-quality products

The quality of the cart or the battery will affect the chances of a burnt cart. On that note, stick to high-quality products from noteworthy brands that have a solid online and offline reputation. 

  1. Implement proper maintenance routines

Once you have chosen between the best and worst vape cartridges, you should learn how to unclog a cart. It is also important to store your cartridge outside of high temperatures and place it upright when not in use. It is also not recommended to charge your vape battery with the cannabis cartridge connected, so remember to disconnect the two before recharging.

Burnt Cart FAQ

Burnt cart FAQ

Why does my cart taste burnt when it's full? 

A burnt-tasting cart is a warning sign of an underlying issue. The most common causes include a dry or overheated coil. However, if the cart is brand new and full of oil, the coil may be unsaturated, or you may be dealing with a voltage issue. 

Is it bad to smoke a brown cart? 

If you have already taken a hit of your vape only to discover that it tastes harsh, you may wonder whether it is bad to smoke a burnt vape. Although a dark hue is not a surefire sign of a faulty or unusable vape cart, you may notice reduced potency and changes to the oil's flavor profile. Implications for quality and efficacy are more likely than health hazards. However, your health may be at risk if the cart has heavy metal contamination

Can a burnt vape kill you?

A burnt cannabis vape cart purchased from a licensed dispensary is unlikely to cause severe health issues. Nonetheless, illegally bought vape carts that contain the contaminants mentioned above may cause lung injury.

Why does my vape taste burnt after charging?

If you notice that your cannabis vape only tastes burnt after charging it to full power, you may be indirectly overheating the cart by keeping it on the battery while charging. Remember to remove the cartridge from the battery before recharging.

How do you prevent a vape from tasting burnt?

Regardless of which vape you own or how regularly you vape, it's advisable to take primer puffs before taking a complete puff. A primer puff involves inhaling slowly and gently without full vape engagement. The purpose of “primer puffing” is to ensure proper coil saturation. You can also invest in new coils if your current coil has almost maxed out its lifespan.

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  1. Lim CCW, Chan GCK, Wadsworth E, et al. Trends and Socio-Demographic Differences of Cannabis Vaping in the USA and Canada. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19(21):14394. Published 2022 Nov 3. doi:10.3390/ijerph192114394 ↩︎
  2. McDaniel C, Mallampati SR, Wise A. Metals in Cannabis Vaporizer Aerosols: Sources, Possible Mechanisms, and Exposure Profiles. Chemical Research in Toxicology. 2021;34(11):2331-2342. 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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