The Complete Guide to Wax Carts

Complete guide to wax carts
By Anthony Pellegrino Updated June 10th

Fact-checked by Alexandra Arnett, MS

Wax pens and the cartridges (or carts) they use have emerged as a game-changer in the realm of cannabis extracts, making these potent concentrates more convenient than ever before.

Intriguingly, wax carts come with a host of benefits that have captivated the cannabis community, offering a discreet, portable, and user-friendly means of enjoying the therapeutic and recreational aspects of the plant.

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What is Cannabis Wax?

Cannabis wax, also known as marijuana wax or simply "wax," is a highly concentrated cannabis extract celebrated for its exceptional potency and versatility. This golden or amber-hued substance is crafted through a meticulous extraction process that separates the essential compounds from the cannabis plant, resulting in a concentrated form of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and other cannabinoids.

The creation of cannabis wax involves the use of solvents like butane to extract the plant's essential oils and cannabinoids. Once the solvent is evaporated, what remains is a potent, wax-like substance, which can contain THC levels that reach well above 80% or even higher. 

Cannabis wax is a versatile extract that can be enjoyed in various ways. One common method is vaporization, where it is heated in a wax pen or dab rig, producing inhalable vapor. Dabbing, in particular, is the go-to method for many users.

What are Wax Carts?

What are wax carts?

Wax carts are a contemporary innovation in the world of cannabis consumption. They are designed to simplify the process of enjoying cannabis wax, offering a convenient and user-friendly way to experience the potent effects of concentrated cannabis extracts.

While the term “wax” typically refers to the consistency of an extract, wax carts are commonly filled with an extract that takes on a more liquid form. Cannabis waxes like budder, badder, and shatter are thicker, more solid concentrates than those present in vape carts. Even so, wax carts are indeed as potent as regular wax, with distillate typically containing the highest concentrations of THC. This potency is a significant draw for cannabis enthusiasts seeking potent and fast-acting effects but lacks the full profile and benefit of many cultivars. 

Vape cartridges can be filled with distillate, live resin, cured resin, live rosin, or CO2 extract. Aside from distillate, where the processor has to reintroduce botanical terpenes and sometimes artificial flavorings, all other processes preserve the terpene and minor cannabinoid profile of the cultivar.

With live resin, cured resin, live rosin, or CO2 carts, users can experience the full spectrum of benefits that cannabis wax has to offer, all while enjoying the convenience and portability that vape cartridges provide.

What are the Advantages of Wax Carts?

Wax carts have swiftly risen to prominence in the world of cannabis consumption, offering a host of advantages over traditional methods.

Precision and Control

One notable advantage of wax carts over dabbing wax is the precise control they offer. Dabbing often involves a degree of skill and experience to achieve the perfect temperature for vaporization. Wax carts, on the other hand, come with pre-set heating elements, providing a consistent and controlled vaping experience for users of all levels of expertise.

Portability

Wax carts are incredibly portable, making them ideal for on-the-go use. Unlike dab rigs that require bulky equipment and open flames, wax carts can fit in a pocket or purse, allowing for discreet and convenient consumption.

Safety

Dabbing wax involves the use of high temperatures and open flames, which can pose safety risks, especially for inexperienced users. Wax carts eliminate these concerns by employing safe and regulated heating mechanisms.

Potency

Wax carts, particularly distillate cartridges, are renowned for their exceptional potency. This potency may ensure that smaller doses enable users to achieve strong, fast-acting effects.

Flavor Profile

Wax carts made with live resin, cured resin, live rosin, or CO2  are prized for preserving the rich flavor profile of cannabis wax. While some vape cartridges, like distillates, may alter the taste due to the liquid carrier, other wax carts can deliver a more authentic and robust flavor experience. This is greatly appreciated by cannabis connoisseurs.

Reduced Harm

Research has indicated that vaping may potentially reduce exposure to toxins and respiratory symptoms compared to smoking cannabis.1

Less Risk of Toxins

Wax carts maintain a consistent vaporization temperature, reducing the risk of exposing users to harmful byproducts.2

Wax Pens vs Carts

Wax pens vs carts

While they are very similar to one another, there are some important differences between wax pens and carts. 

First and foremost, wax pens are portable devices designed for vaporizing cannabis wax. They typically consist of a battery, a heating element (usually a coil or nail), and a chamber where users can load their wax. 

To use a wax pen, you manually feed the wax into the chamber, where it is exposed to the heating element. Then, the wax vaporizes the concentrate for inhalation. Wax pens can vary in size and design, but they generally require some manual effort to load and use.

On the other hand, wax carts are pre-filled containers that hold cannabis wax. These cartridges come ready to use with a built-in heating element. They are designed to be attached to a compatible battery or vape pen, making them exceptionally convenient. 

When attached, the heating element within the wax cart vaporizes the wax, allowing users to inhale the vapor without the need to load the concentrate manually.

Safety Precautions When Using Wax Carts

While wax carts offer a convenient and potent way to enjoy cannabis extracts, users must be mindful of safety precautions for a positive and safe experience.

Avoid Counterfeit Carts 

Counterfeit or unregulated wax carts can be risky. Always purchase your wax carts from licensed and reputable dispensaries. Counterfeit carts may contain harmful additives, undisclosed chemicals, or incorrect labeling. This may pose significant health hazards.3

Dosage Awareness

Be mindful of your dosage. Wax carts can be highly potent, and it's easy to overconsume. Start with a small dose and wait to gauge the effects before taking more. 

Responsible Storage

Store your wax carts in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Proper storage ensures the longevity and quality of the product.

Avoid Overconsumption

Overconsumption of cannabis, even in wax cart form, can lead to negative experiences such as anxiety, paranoia, or nausea. Always consume responsibly and be aware of your tolerance level.

Controlled Temperature

If you're using a variable temperature battery with your wax cart, set it to an appropriate temperature, usually around 2.4 - 3.2 volts or under 500-600°F depending on the type of extract. Too high a temperature can cause the wax to burn, resulting in a harsh and less enjoyable experience.

Maintain Hygiene

If you're sharing your wax cart with others, consider using mouthpiece covers or practicing good hygiene to prevent the spread of diseases or infections.

Avoid Excessive Terpenes

Some wax carts may contain added terpenes for flavor. While terpenes can enhance the aroma and taste, excessive terpene exposure can produce harmful compounds when heated. So, be cautious when choosing flavored wax carts and be cautious of non-cannabis-derived terpenes.

Be Mindful of the Law

Always make sure that you are using wax carts in compliance with local cannabis laws and regulations. Know your area's legal age, possession limits, and usage restrictions.

How to Use a Wax Cart

How to use a wax cart

Using a wax cart is quick and easy, but it's necessary to do it correctly to maximize your experience. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use a wax cart:

What You'll Need:

  • A wax cart (pre-filled with cannabis wax)
  • A compatible vape pen or battery

How to Use a Wax Cart: 

  1. Assemble Your Equipment: Fully charge your vape pen or battery and ensure it is in good working condition. Make sure your wax cart is securely attached to the battery if it's not a disposable unit.
  1. Check the Compatibility: Ensure that the wax cart is compatible with your vape pen or battery. Some carts have 510-thread connections, which are the industry standard, but it's always a good idea to double-check.
  1. Power On Your Device: Turn on your vape pen or battery according to the manufacturer's instructions. Most devices have a button you need to press a certain number of times to activate.
  1. Preheat (If Applicable): Some vape pens have a preheat function, which warms up the wax slightly before vaporization. If your device has this feature, press the button for the preheat function (usually two or three quick clicks).
  1. Adjust Temperature (If Applicable): If your battery has adjustable temperature settings, choose the desired temperature based on your preference and the type of experience you want. Lower temperatures can preserve flavor, while higher temperatures may produce more significant clouds and more intense effects.
  1. Inhale Gently: With your device powered and ready, place the mouthpiece of the wax cart to your lips and inhale gently. The heating element in the cart will vaporize the wax, creating inhalable vapor.
  1. Take Short Puffs: To avoid overheating or combusting the wax, take short, controlled puffs rather than long, deep inhalations. This will allow you to savor the flavors and effects without overwhelming your system.
  1. Power Off Your Device: When you're finished, turn off your vape pen or battery to conserve power and prevent accidental activations. Store your wax cart and device safely in an upright position to avoid clogging.
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How to Buy the Best Wax Carts

Purchasing the best wax carts requires careful consideration to guarantee both quality and safety. Here's what consumers should look for when buying a wax cart:

1. Verify Legitimacy: Purchase wax carts from a reputable source, such as a licensed dispensary. Avoid purchasing wax carts from unverified sources, as counterfeit products can pose significant health risks.

2. Check for Purity Information: Look for labels that include purity information. Reputable manufacturers often provide details about the extraction process, the source of the cannabis, and any additives used. Transparency about the product's purity is a positive sign.

3. Demand Certificates of Analysis (CoA): CoAs are third-party laboratory reports that provide detailed information about the wax cart's contents. This will include cannabinoid levels, terpene profiles, and the absence of contaminants such as heavy metals and pesticides. Verify that the product you're considering has a current CoA that matches its batch number; this step serves as a quality assurance measure.

4. Concentration Information: Review the wax cart's packaging for information about its concentration. This typically includes the percentage of THC and CBD. Choose a concentration that aligns with your tolerance and desired effects.

5. Compatibility with Your Device: Ensure that the wax cart is compatible with your vape pen or battery. Check for matching thread types (e.g., 510-thread) and compatibility with voltage settings and temperature control if your device offers these features.

6. Read Reviews and Recommendations: Research online reviews and seek recommendations from experienced cannabis users or budtenders. They can provide valuable insights into specific wax carts' quality, flavor, and effects.

7. Avoid Suspiciously Low Prices: Be cautious of deals that seem too good to be true. Extremely low prices may indicate subpar quality or counterfeit products.

8. Packaging and Labeling: Pay attention to the packaging and labeling.4 Legitimate wax carts usually have professional, informative packaging with clear branding and labeling alongside necessary state warning labels.

References

  1. Chaiton M, Kundu A, Rueda S, Di Ciano P. Are vaporizers a lower-risk alternative to smoking cannabis?. Can J Public Health. 2022;113(2):293-296. doi:10.17269/s41997-021-00565-w ↩︎
  2. Meehan-Atrash J, Luo W, Strongin RM. Toxicant Formation in Dabbing: The Terpene Story. ACS Omega. 2017;2(9):6112-6117. doi:https://doi.org/10.1021/acsomega.7b01130 ↩︎
  3. Alzghari SK, Fung V, Rickner SS, Chacko L, Fleming SW. To Dab or Not to Dab: Rising Concerns Regarding the Toxicity of Cannabis Concentrates. Cureus. 2017;9(9):e1676. Published 2017 Sep 11. doi:10.7759/cureus.1676 ↩︎
  4. Al-Zouabi I, Stogner JM, Miller BL, Lane ES. Butane hash oil and dabbing: insights into use, amateur production techniques, and potential harm mitigation. Subst Abuse Rehabil. 2018;9:91-101. Published 2018 Nov 2. doi:10.2147/SAR.S135252 ↩︎

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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