CBD (Cannabidiol) has been available for use in oil for oral and topical use for a long time. As the understanding of the potential benefits of taking CBD has increased, so has its popularity. This has led to more and more products being launched, introducing varied ways to get a dose of what many people consider a wonder drug.
One of the newest and potentially most exciting ways to add CBD to your system is with a vape device. Specialized vaporizers for cannabinoids have been around for a while, but as vaping technology has improved, so too have the options for vaping CBD. Even simple pod vapes can now easily handle CBD, so long as it is in a suitable liquid.
But is vaping CBD safe, and almost as importantly, does taking CBD in a vape device introduce the risk of addiction? The short answer is no, vaping CBD is not known to be addictive, but we’ll go over everything that you need to know.
CBD Oil Vs. CBD Vape Liquid: What’s the Difference?
Although they might look very similar, CBD oil and CBD e-liquid are significantly different in how they are made and can be used. If you want to vape CBD, it’s essential to understand how e-liquid differs from oil, particularly if you want to avoid doing yourself, and your vape, some damage.
CBD Oil: CBD oils are made by extracting the Cannabidiol compound from cannabis or hemp plants and then suspending it in a carrier oil solution. A flavoring might also be added to the CBD oil to make it more palatable. The oil used is commonly derived from coconut and palm kernels, but sometimes also from hemp seeds, olives, or avocados. This type of oil is generally quite thick and has a relatively high fat content.
CBD is fat-soluble (it dissolves in fat, not water), so mixing it with oil helps the body to absorb it more efficiently. Unfortunately, the fatty acids and waxes in this type of food-grade oils can produce a bunch of nasty chemicals when heated. Inhaling them isn’t a good idea and may even lead to conditions such as lipid pneumonia.
Note: CBD can also be created synthetically in a lab, but good-quality synthetic CBD is considered to be chemically identical to natural CBD.
CBD Vape Liquid: CBD e-liquid designed to be used in a vaporizer is produced using a different set of ingredients. The CBD extract is dissolved in the familiar vape juice ingredients, vegetable glycerin (VG) and propylene glycol (PG). This results in a much thinner liquid that is more easily vaporized by the coil and, more importantly, doesn’t contain the potentially harmful (when heated) fatty acids and waxes that food-grade oil contains.
In terms of bioavailability (the measurement of the amount of active ingredient reaching the bloodstream), VG is the most significant ingredient in CBD vape juice. VG acts like the fats in oils, helping the body absorb the cannabidiol more efficiently. In fact, many of the best CBD vape liquids only use VG or use it in a much higher percentage than PG.
What About CBD Tinctures?
Although terms like “CBD Oil” and “CBD Tincture” are sometimes used interchangeably, the two are quite different. The main difference between an oil and a tincture is the carrier liquid. To make a tincture, CBD is steeped in high-proof alcohol. It is then strained and bottled, ready to be taken orally or sublingually (under the tongue).
Alcohol is at least as good for bioavailability as oil and can often provide a faster and more potent effect from CBD. Tinctures also tend to have a better shelf life than oils. The downside for some users is the relatively strong taste and more chance of an adverse allergic reaction.
CBD tinctures, just like CBD oil, are unsuitable and potentially unsafe for vaping. Heating alcohol to vaporize it can produce chemicals that are harmful to our health and are likely to damage or even destroy the vape device used.
Is CBD Vape Liquid Addictive?
CBD is the second-most prevalent compound, after delta-9 THC, found in cannabis and hemp plants. Although it interacts with the body in a similar way to THC (by attaching to the endocannabinoid system), it is not known to have any psychoactive properties. In other words, it doesn’t produce the high associated with THC that can lead to addiction.
Three types of CBD extract can be used in vape liquid: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate. The first two can contain traces of THC, while CBD Isolate has had all other cannabinoids removed. Even the two types with trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3% for it to be legal) won’t lead to addiction. The THC level in full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD could be detected in a drug test, but that’s not what we’re concerned with here.
Conversely, some studies have suggested that CBD might be useful for treating addiction to other substances, including nicotine, cannabis, and more potent drugs such as cocaine. A study by the University of Montreal stated:
“Animal studies have shown the possible effects of CBD on opioid and psychostimulant addiction, while human studies presented some preliminary evidence of a beneficial impact of CBD on cannabis and tobacco dependence. CBD has several therapeutic properties on its own that could indirectly be useful in the treatment of addiction disorders, such as its protective effect on stress vulnerability and neurotoxicity.”
That’s not to say you should go ahead and treat drug addiction by vaping CBD, but it is further evidence that this cannabinoid has much more potential for positive effects than for negative ones.
Does CBD Vape Liquid Contain Nicotine?
Most vape liquids contain nicotine, so you might assume CBD vape liquid also contains this addictive component. Thankfully, CBD vape liquid doesn’t commonly contain nicotine, and it is easy to find products without any, so you don’t need to be concerned about nicotine addiction if you check ingredients before you buy.
Note: The other ingredients of CBD vape liquid, including PG and VG, have no addictive qualities.
The Benefits of Vaping CBD
As we have seen, vaping CBD isn’t more or less addictive than taking it orally. But are there other enticing reasons to choose this method of taking CBD over drops, gummies, or tinctures?
As touched on earlier, the bioavailability of a substance is measured by how much of it reaches the bloodstream. Ingested CBD oil could have around 25-40% bioavailability, whereas vaping CBD could result in 60% or more. That’s because vaped CBD is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the lungs rather than the less efficient digestive system.
Higher bioavailability also means that the effects of CBD are felt much faster when vaped rather than eaten. It can take an hour or more for enough CBD effects to be felt when digested in oil or a gummy. You will likely feel the same level of affect within 10-15 minutes of vaping CBD vape juice.
Vaping CBD gives you much greater control over dosage. You can vape a small amount, wait for the effects, and then vape more if you want to feel more. When using oils or edibles, you won’t know how the dose will affect you until it has been metabolized. At that point, you can’t do much about reducing the amount taken.
The above pros of vaping CBD are in addition to the other potential benefits of taking CBD. CBD is known to aid relaxation, help reduce insomnia, and even improve focus. Studies have also shown that it could reduce epileptic seizures, relieve anxiety, and be used to treat depression.
How to Choose the Right CBD Vape Juice
A great place to start choosing the perfect CBD vape liquid for you is to check out our in-depth buying guides. We have looked carefully at the pros and cons of the best CBD liquids on the market and continually review every option we recommend.
There are three types of commonly available CBD. These are Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and CBD Isolate. Any of these different types may be used in a vape liquid.
Full-Spectrum CBD: This will contain all of the natural compounds from the plant, including some THC. This type of CBD contains the most natural terpenes, giving it a distinctive hemp-like flavor.
Broad-Spectrum CBD: Broad-spectrum CBD is similar to full-spectrum CBD, but it has been through a process to remove most of the THC. A small amount of THC may remain but will be at a trace level.
CBD Isolate: CBD Isolate is processed to separate and retain only the CBD. CBD isolate is well suited for use in vape juice as it has less of a hemp flavor and so mixes well with alternative flavors.
Choosing the best vape liquid for your needs depends on many things. Most popular CBD vape liquids have several strength options and come in a variety of flavors and combinations with other cannabinoids.
If you have never vaped CBD before, some of the process of finding the best one for you will be trial and error. Learning which flavor, strength, and cannabis or hemp plant strain provides what you need will take time.
The Bottom Line
CBD has no known psychoactive effects and is not known to be addictive. When done correctly, vaping CBD is not dangerous and does not introduce the risk of addiction, as long as your chosen e-liquid does not also contain nicotine (and most don’t).
As studies have shown, CBD might even be useful for treating addiction to other substances. Plus, when you take into account the increased bioavailability, getting your dose of CBD through your vape might be the best option yet.