Check out the best delta 8 vape carts for 2021 — third-party tested, potency, & purity.
Learn what signs to watch out for and what to avoid when shopping for high-grade delta 8 THC cartridges.
The most common form of delta 8 THC (Δ8-tetrahydrocannabinol) are prefilled cartridges.
They’re easy to use, incorporate with your existing vape, and best of all — they’re (theoretically) legal in the US.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about delta 8 THC cartridges. We’ll discuss the top 3 brands to check out for 2021, along with information on the legality and safety of using delta 8 carts where you live.
A cart refers to a cartridge — which is a replaceable reservoir filled with active delta 8 THC or other cannabinoids. They’re designed to attach to a vape pen battery housing. They offer a cheaper solution to disposable vapes by allowing you to reuse the expensive battery components.
There are many different companies that make delta 8 carts, but most use the same universal 510 threading that works with 90% of electronic vape pens on the market today. Some proprietary vape pens don’t use the standard 510 threading, so double-check your pen before you order.
Cartridges are disposable — meaning that once they’re finished, you can just throw them away. There’s no need to fuss around with the sticky distillates or e-juices. Just grab another cartridge, and you’re off.
Delta 8 THC feels very similar to conventional THC products (made from delta 9 THC) — but about half as strong.
These products are psychoactive — which means they will make you feel high in the same way as marijuana. You’ll need to use about twice as much delta 8 THC as you normally would with marijuana, but the overall effects feel exactly the same.
The main difference between delta 8 and delta 9 THC in terms of how they feel comes down to the side-effects.
Delta 8 is most popular for its ability to produce fewer side-effects overall.
Many people who find THC or marijuana products make them anxious will turn to delta 8 THC instead to avoid these issues.
There are several different ways of using delta 8 THC. You can find edibles like delta 8 gummies, delta 8 concentrates, delta 8 tinctures or oils, delta 8 capsules, and even delta 8 rich cannabis buds (hemp flowers sprayed with a delta 8 THC solution).
Despite the many forms of delta 8 available, none are as popular as prefilled cartridges.
The benefits of vape cartridges (vape carts):
Delta 8 has a very long shelf-life — much longer than the standard delta 9 THC products. As long as you store your vape cartridges in an area that isn’t too hot or in direct sunlight, they should remain viable for several years.
The best way to store them is in a dark container, in a closet or drawer away from any heat source.
Calculating the dose of a vaporizer or vape cartridge can be challenging. The amount of delta 8 you inhale could vary depending on the pen you’re using, the temperature of the heating element, and the duration of the draw.
The best way to find the right dose is to start with just one or two deep puffs and then wait 20–30 minutes for it to take effect. Then repeat every 20–30 minutes until you get the desired level of intensity.
It’s better to start slow and increase the dose slowly when just starting out with delta 8 THC. You can always take another hit, but you can’t take them back if you’ve used too much.
Most people find around 5 or 6 puffs is more than enough to get a relatively strong level of intensity.
Tolerance is defined as a reduction in the effects of a substance with repeated use. The idea is that the more you use a substance, the less effect it has on the body.
Your body will form a tolerance to just about every substance — some much more than others. Delta 8 THC has a particularly high rate of tolerance. If you use it daily, after about 3 or 4 weeks, you may need to take two times the dose to get the same intensity of effects.
The best way to avoid tolerance is to use delta 8 THC in moderation. You can do this by taking rest days between using it or by taking a clearing period of 1–2 weeks if you notice you’re becoming tolerant to its effects.
One saving grace is that just as tolerance forms quickly to delta 8 THC, it’s also reversed quickly. You only need to take a break for about 1 or 2 weeks for the tolerance to be reduced back to zero.
Prior to 2018, all products derived from cannabis were considered illegal. This included THC as well as non-psychoactive compounds like CBD.
The 2018 Farm Bill changed these regulations by making a distinction between cannabis plants that had a high concentration of THC versus those that did not. The regulations specifically ban delta 9 THC but don’t mention the delta 8 form. While this leaves a lot of room for interpretation, the bill’s current language allows for the sale and manufacture of delta 8 THC products as long as they’re made from hemp plants.
A hemp plant is considered any cannabis plant that produces no more than 0.3% THC by dried weight. Anything over this threshold is classified as marijuana and considered illegal on a federal level.
Companies selling delta 8 THC use a process that converts non-psychoactive cannabinoids — such as CBD — into the delta 8 form of THC. This process is theoretically legal in the United States on a federal level.
A few states have since come up with their own laws that ban the sale of delta 8 THC directly. This includes Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Pennsylvania, and Utah.
As long as you’re living outside one of these specific states, delta 8 THC is legal.
There isn’t much research available on the specific effects of delta 8 THC — but the research we do have has never shown any indication that this cannabinoid poses any legitimate dangers. The effects are virtually identical to delta 9 THC — which has decades of research available that prove it’s safe even in very high doses.
In fact, there are many anecdotal reports from people who use delta 8 THC that it brings an even lower risk of side-effects compared to the standard form of THC. People report lower incidences of anxiety and paranoia when using delta 8 THC. This is one of the main reasons people are turning to this cannabinoid instead of the delta 9 form.
With that said, there are some side-effects to watch out for when using delta 8 THC:
Delta 8 itself isn’t dangerous — but the chemicals some companies are using to make the delta 8 could be.
In order for delta 8 to be legal, it needs to be made from the hemp plant — which is defined as any Cannabis sativa plant that produces less than 0.3% THC in total.
Hemp contains very little delta 8 THC naturally, so it needs to be synthesized from the CBD content instead. While this is completely possible, it requires the use of either strong acids or heavy metal reagents — both of which can be harmful to our health.
High-quality delta 8 cartridges have had all of these compounds removed from the final product — but some companies are taking shortcuts here to save money. This can lead to contamination with these ingredients in the final product.
It’s these contaminants that can make delta 8 THC dangerous — rather than the compound itself.
When it comes to ordering delta 8 carts online, some due diligence is required. This is a rapidly evolving space, and there are a lot of good companies making some really innovative products — but there are also a lot of really poor-quality vendors as well.
Here are three core features to look for before ordering from a particular brand:
Third-party testing is a practice where a company sends a small sample of their products to an independent lab. This lab must have no affiliation with the vendor in order to count as a third-party lab.
This step is considered an industry standard for the cannabis industry. It’s essential for delta 8 THC products specifically because of contamination issues for these products.
Because of how delta 8 is made, we need to make sure there are no harmful compounds in the final product. The only way to prove these potentially dangerous elements haven’t found their way into the cartridge is through independent lab testing.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of delta 8 vendors that either skip this step altogether or only provide half of the tests we need to assess before we can deem a product safe.
All third-party tests should include:
If the company you’re thinking of ordering from doesn’t offer third-party testing on their products, you should ask yourself what they might be trying to hide. There are really only three reasons a company won’t publish their lab reports publicly — all three are red flags:
There was a big problem in the past with companies adding harsh chemicals to their vape pens. Ingredients like MCT oil or vitamin E should never be used in vape products. Both of these ingredients are perfectly acceptable in edible products, but when heated in a vape pen can be dangerous. Vitamin E oils in vapes have been linked to serious lung damage.
Only companies that don’t know what they’re doing (or don’t care) continue to add MCT oil or vitamin E to their vape pens. It’s not hard to find vendors that still use these ingredients in their pens, so make sure you double-check before you buy if you’re not going with one of the approved brands on our list.
The only ingredients you should see are delta 8 THC distillate, other cannabinoids, terpenes, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, or flavoring agents.
All delta 8 THC is the same compound and will do the same thing. But the source matters from a legal perspective.
The only products that are considered legal (aside from states that have legalized recreational marijuana) are made from hemp. This means that marijuana-derived delta 8 THC products could be illegal where you live.
Always check that the source of the delta 8 THC used to make the cartridges came from hemp plants.
If you live in a state where marijuana is legal for recreational use, you don’t have to worry about this. In fact, it’s actually better to find a brand that uses marijuana to make their delta 8 THC products if you’re in a legal state because it requires less harsh chemicals to make the distillate from marijuana compared to hemp.
As with any new market, there are a lot of unethical and low-quality vendors in the delta 8 THC space. In fact, most vendors selling delta 8 products at the moment aren’t using ethical business methods or properly testing their products for safety.
The problem stems from how the delta 8 is made:
Unlike delta 9 THC, delta 8 isn’t made by cannabis plants directly. Instead, it forms as one of the natural degradation products of delta 9 THC.
All THC is first made from another cannabinoid called CBG (cannabigerol). Enzymes in the cannabis plant either convert this CBG into CBD (cannabidiol), CBC (cannabichromene), or THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol).
Over time, or when exposed to UV light, heat, or oxygen, D9 THC breaks down into either D8 THC or another cannabinoid called CBN (cannabinol).
The concentration of delta 8 THC in cannabis is very low. It’s present in concentrations of less than 1% in marijuana plants and is virtually nonexistent in hemp plants.
The conventional way of making cannabinoid products is to simply extract the active ingredients from the plant. Since the concentration of delta 8 is so low, manufacturers can’t really make these products by merely extracting them from the plant. Instead, they use a chemical process to turn other cannabinoids, such as CBD or delta 9 THC, into delta 8.
This process is challenging and requires many steps.
Reputable manufacturers will take the time to do it correctly, using very high-tech lab equipment, and avoiding the use of dangerous solvents or chemicals wherever possible. This can make the final product fairly expensive but maintains a much higher level of safety than cheaper methods.
Most companies in the delta 8 THC space are taking shortcuts here. They’re using toxic chemicals (various acids and heavy metal reagents) to convert CBD to delta 8 THC. They then use bleaches to remove some of the nasty red or blue color it takes on from these chemicals. The final product often contains toxic chemicals as a result.
The only way to prove these products don’t contain heavy metals, bleaches, acids, or solvents is through independent, third-party testing — which most delta 8 companies don’t offer.
Always source your delta 8 CBD cartridges or other delta 8 THC products from reputable manufacturers that use ethical and high-quality manufacturing methods to make their products.
This involves employing intelligent chemists and lab assistants, conducting regular in-house and third-party testing, and clarifying their manufacturing methods.
The main delta 8 THC brands to avoid are Truleive, Skyhio, Terpflex, CannaAid, CannaClear, Cake, and Honey Creek Labs. For a full list, check out our all-inclusive list of the best (and worst) delta- 8 THC vendors.
Vape cartridges are the most popular method of using delta 8 THC, but it’s far from the only option. You can also find delta 8 as a conventional tincture (like CBD oils), fruit-flavored gummies, capsules, raw concentrates, and even delta 8-heavy hemp or hemp flower.
Delta 8 THC is a popular form of THC used by people who find the conventional delta 9 form of this compound makes them too anxious or paranoid. Delta 8 offers the same effects, but at half the potency and without nearly as much of the anxious side-effects. People use it to help them fall asleep, ease anxiety, manage chronic pain, and more.
The most popular form of delta 8 these days are vape cartridges — which are designed to fit with your existing vape. They’re loved for their low-cost, fast onset of effects and convenience.
Not all delta 8 carts are worth the money. There are a lot of brands selling carts that contain high concentrations of delta 9 THC (illegal) or, worse — various contaminants (heavy metals, acids, or solvents). There are also plenty of vendors that claim their cartridges contain higher doses of delta 8 than what’s really contained inside.
We recommend you check out the selection offered by brands such as Area 52 or 3Chi. Both provide clear transparency; their products are free from harmful chemicals and offer the level of potency the company claims.