Pre-filled THC vape carts aren’t cheap, and that may make you want to really stock up when you happen to find an unusually good deal. Before you do so, though, there’s probably one question on your mind: Do carts expire? How long do weed carts last before they go bad, and what happens to them at that point?
On the bright side, THC carts do tend to last longer than flower, which dries out and can grow mold when it’s stored improperly or for a long period of time. Dab carts don’t last forever, though – and if you store a vape cart long enough, it’s eventually going to get to a point where you’ll no longer want to use it.
Reading this article, you’re going to learn:
- How long weed carts last
- How to store THC carts for maximum shelf life
- How to identify a dab cart that has expired
- Why you should never use a vape cart that has gone bad
Let’s jump in!
How Long Do Vape Carts Last Before They Expire?
You can usually expect a pre-filled vape cart to last around a year after manufacturing. After that point, the oil in the cartridge will have degraded so much that you’re probably best off not using it. How can you tell when a vape cart will expire?
- First, look for an expiration date on the package. If you find an expiration date, try to use the cartridge by that date.
- If you don’t find an expiration date, look for a manufacturing date and try to use the cartridge within a year of that date.
- If you don’t find a manufacturing date, make a note of when you purchased the cartridge and try to use it within a year of that date.
How to Store Your Weed Carts for Maximum Shelf Life
A vape cart doesn’t just last until the expiration date regardless of what you do with it – you’ve got to store the cart properly if you want to have as good of an experience with it several months from now as you would have had the day you purchased it. If you want a vape cart to give you a great experience after some time in storage, you’ve got to store it properly.
- Keep a vape cartridge away from light and heat. Light hastens the oxidation process, and heat increases the rate at which the THC degrades into other cannabinoids. The best place to store THC carts is usually a high cabinet in an air-conditioned environment.
- Don’t remove a vape cartridge from its package until you’re ready to use it. The package helps to slow the rate of oxidation by protecting the cartridge from air.
- Store your vape cartridges at a cool room temperature – not in a refrigerator or freezer. The moisture in a refrigerator will cause the THC oil to break down more quickly. Freezing temperatures can cause THC oil to separate and may also crack cartridges, causing them to leak.
- Don’t put a vape cartridge into long-term storage after you’ve already started to use it. The heat from the cartridge’s coil hastens the breakdown of the cannabinoids – so if you use a cartridge and then put it away, it probably won’t last until the expiration date.
What Causes THC Carts to Go Bad?
To understand why a THC cart eventually expires and how to properly store it, it’s helpful to have an understanding of the chemical processes that cause a vape cart to go bad. When you put a dab cart into long-term storage, your goal is to slow these three processes to the greatest extent possible.
- Exposure to air and ultraviolet radiation causes the oil in a vape cart to oxidize. This process causes the oil in the cartridge to darken and eventually acquire a rancid flavor.
- THC naturally degrades into other cannabinoids over time. This doesn’t necessarily harm the cartridge’s flavor or make it unsafe to use, but it will reduce the cartridge’s potency.
- Contamination by microbes – particularly mold – is a major concern when you store vape cartridges. It’s particularly a concern for cartridges produced in unsanitary environments, but even a cartridge produced in the cleanest factory may still have some microbial contamination. Even canned goods – which are supposed to be completely sterile – eventually expire.
Can It Be Dangerous to Use an Expired Dab Cart?
It’s unwise to use an expired dab cart because there are some potential dangers involved when a cartridge has been in storage for an extremely long period of time. The biggest concern is mold contamination. Any mold that can survive in an anaerobic environment is definitely something that you don’t want to inhale. The same is true of rancid oils. You wouldn’t ever want to use a rancid oil for cooking or making salad dressing because the result would taste absolutely terrible and could possibly make you sick. If you wouldn’t eat something, you definitely don’t want to inhale it.
In addition to the potential safety concerns of using an expired vape cart, there’s also a strong possibility that an extremely old cartridge simply won’t be very enjoyable to use. As we mentioned above, THC loses its potency over time as it degrades into other cannabinoids. Even if rancidity doesn’t occur, the flavor of an old vape cart still won’t be as nice as a new one because terpenes are very volatile and degrade even more quickly than THC.
What Do Expired THC Carts Look Like?
Suppose you’re here because you’ve found an old vape cartridge in the back of a drawer, and you aren’t sure how old it is. The cartridge doesn’t have an expiration date, and you can’t remember when you purchased it. Is it really dangerous to use an expired vape cart? As you’ve learned from this article, using an extremely old THC cart could potentially be dangerous if the cartridge has a microbial contamination – and if the oil is rancid, it could certainly be extremely unpleasant.
So, what does an expired THC cart look like? It’s helpful to know what the cart looked like when you first purchased it because any change in appearance is a certain sign of degradation. THC oil is usually translucent and golden in color when it’s fresh, although some variation is normal. If the oil has significantly darkened, oxidation has occurred – and if the oil has become cloudy, that’s a possible sign of microbial growth. If the oil is dark brown or black – or it tastes or smells bad – it has probably gone rancid and definitely isn’t worth using.