How Does a Vape Cartridge Work?

How Does a Vape Cartridge Work

The easy-fill oil vape cartridge is one of the most marvelous inventions in the history of vaping. The best vape carts are completely reliable even when filled with extremely thick oils, and they deliver puff after puff of top-quality flavor. They look fairly simple on the surface, but vape carts are actually complex products that have been improved and refined continually since vaping first began more than a decade ago.

So, how do vape cartridges work, and how are carts made? In this article, we’re going to take you through the basics of vape cartridges and how they work. We’re also going to answer the beginner questions that you might have been too afraid to ask. Are you here because you’ve bought a vape cartridge for the first time and have no idea how to get started with it? If so, you’re in the right place. We’ll describe the operation of a vape cartridge from the simplest level, and by the time you’re finished reading, you’ll understand everything that’s happening when you use your vape pen.

How Does a Cart Work?

Image showing how a cart works, with a closeup on the cartridge's ceramic core.

A vape cartridge works by using a 510 thread for attachment to a vape battery. The metal heating coil at its center vaporizes oil held in a ceramic core, known for its microscopic pores ensuring smooth oil flow and preventing dry hits or leaks. When you use your vape pen, power travels through the pins and reaches a metal heating coil at the center of the cartridge, which becomes hot and vaporizes the oil held in the ceramic core around the heating coil.

The ceramic core in a vape cartridge is the magic that makes the cartridge work for oil vaping. The ceramic has many thousands of microscopic pores, and the pores allow the oil in the cartridge’s reservoir to travel to the heating coil through the process of absorption. The ceramic core allows the oil to flow through the cartridge smoothly, preventing harsh “dry hits.” The ceramic also holds the oil in place, which ensures that the cartridge won’t leak.

How Are Carts Made?

Detail of a vape cartridge's ceramic core, with the spiral heating coil visible at the center.

We’re a licensed retailer and wholesaler of CCELL® vape cartridges, and the thing that makes these cartridges so special is CCELL®’s proprietary ceramic core. Making the core involves mixing the ceramic with organic materials that burn away at high temperatures, leaving a ceramic cylinder with thousands of microscopic holes. Although the cylinder appears to be solid, oil flows through it without any trouble. The heating coil is positioned at the center of the ceramic cylinder before it’s fired, leaving a complete ceramic core that’s ready to be made into a finished product. The core is attached to the cartridge’s threading and chimney, and the entire assembly is pushed into a plastic or glass shell.

How Do You Fill a Cart?

You can fill a cartridge by injecting oil into the cart’s reservoir with a blunt-tip syringe. We also have a more detailed guide on how to fill carts that you might find helpful. If you prefer not to go through the trouble of filling your own carts, pre-filled carts are also available in many dispensaries and vape shops. Filling cartridges yourself, however, costs a great deal less in the long run than using pre-filled carts.

How Long Do Carts Take to Charge?

A vape cartridge isn’t an electronic component, and it doesn’t require charging. The only component of your vape pen that requires charging is the battery. You can charge the battery while the cartridge is attached if the battery has a USB port. If the charger attaches to the battery’s threading, you’ll need to remove the cartridge to charge the battery. Learn more about how to charge a 510-thread battery.

How to Turn on a Cart

Since a vape cartridge isn’t electronic, it isn’t something that you can turn on and off. The battery is actually the component that turns on. If your vape battery doesn’t have a button, it turns on automatically when you attach a cartridge. If the battery does have a button, you can turn it on by pressing the button either three or five times quickly.

How to Turn off a Cart

A vape battery without a fire button turns off automatically when the cartridge is removed. If your vape battery does have a fire button, you can turn the battery off by pressing the button either three or five times.

How to Hit a Cart

Image of a man exhaling from a vape cart.

To hit a cart, start by making sure that your vape battery is charged. You’ll also need to turn the battery on if it has a fire button. Screw the cartridge into the battery’s threading until it is just finger tight.

If you’re using a vape pen without a fire button, your device has a puff-activated firing system. That means you can hit a cart just by puffing on it. The majority of vape pens for beginners work this way. If your device has a button, you can hit a cart by puffing on it while holding the button. Inhale and exhale the vapor as if you were smoking, and you’ll be on your way.

When you use a cart, one important thing to remember is that vape oils are much more concentrated than dry herbs. A good oil cartridge can deliver the equivalent of a lengthy smoking session in just a few puffs. That means you should start slowly with vape cartridges until you’re certain that you understand what the full effects will be.

Why Does My Cart Taste Burnt?

The biggest benefit of using a vape cartridge with a ceramic core is that ceramic is an extremely heat-resistant material that delivers a pure flavor even with very thick oils. It is still possible, however, for a ceramic vape cart to produce a burnt flavor under certain conditions.

  • Are you using a full vape cart that produced a burnt flavor from the very beginning? If you’ve just filled the cart for the first time, you probably haven’t given the ceramic core sufficient time to become saturated with oil. After filling a new cartridge for the first time, you should wait at least a half hour before using it.
  • Are you using a new pre-filled cartridge? It’s possible for a cartridge to clog if the oil is very cool; you can resolve that issue by warming the cartridge gently. Learn more about how to unclog a cart.
  • Does the cart taste burnt intermittently – sometimes it tastes good, and other times it doesn’t? After you hit a cart, don’t use it again immediately. Always wait several seconds for the ceramic core to refresh itself with oil before hitting the cart again.
  • Does the cart taste burnt every time you use it, and have you been using it for a while? It’s likely that the cart is empty. With some 510-thread batteries such as the CCELL® Silo, the cartridge is partially hidden inside the body of the device. It’s a good idea to remove the cartridge periodically and examine it.

When Is a Cart Empty?

The majority of vape carts have transparent enclosures, which allows you to see how much oil is in a cartridge simply by looking at it. If you don’t see any oil in the cartridge, you might get one or two more puffs out of it as you exhaust the supply held in the ceramic cylinder. When the ceramic is dry, the cartridge will taste burnt or won’t produce vapor at all. At that point, the cartridge is completely empty.

If you look at a vape cart from the side, you’ll see that there are several small openings in the metal enclosure surrounding the ceramic core at the bottom. If you’re using a refillable cartridge, you should refill the cart when the oil is below those openings to prevent a burnt taste.

If you’re using a disposable cartridge that isn’t refillable, you can place the cartridge on its side and rotate it slowly to keep the oil in contact with the openings and squeeze out the last few puffs before throwing the cartridge away.

Why Is My Cart Loose on the Pen?

If you have a vape cart that’s loose on your device, the most likely reason is that the threads are crossed. Always turn a cartridge slowly and carefully when attaching it to your vape pen. If the cartridge gets stuck before it’s screwed all the way in, the threads are probably crossed. Don’t force the cartridge; back it up and try again.

If you try to force a cartridge into your device multiple times, the threading could become misaligned permanently. In that case, every cartridge that you attach to your device will seem a little loose. The only way to fix damaged threading is by replacing the vape pen.

Are you using a vape pen with cartridges that attach magnetically? It’s normal for a magnetic cartridge attachment to wobble a little. The magnet should be strong enough, however, to prevent the cartridge from falling out.

The final reason why a cartridge can be loose on your device is because oil has leaked into the device’s threading and is acting as a lubricant. Clean the threading using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Dry the threading completely before reattaching the cartridge.

How to Get a Cart Unstuck

Image showing how to get a magnetic base unstuck from a cartridge.

If your cartridge is stuck to your vape pen, it’s probable that the cartridge is cross threaded. It can be difficult to get a cross-threaded cartridge unstuck – especially if the outside of the cartridge is slippery. Try gripping the cartridge with a silicone jar opener. To avoid cracking the cartridge, grip it around the metal base.

If you’re using a device with a magnetic cartridge attachment and are having trouble removing the base from a cartridge, try gripping the base with pliers. It’s important to exercise special care when attaching a magnetic base to a cartridge because the small base can be exceptionally difficult to remove if it’s cross threaded.