How To Tell If Your Vape Cartridge Is Safe And Not Counterfeit

The use of e-cigarettes in 46 states and the US Virgin Islands is related to 805 affirmed and possible cases of lung injury. The previous month, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared that the agency is aware of the case. 17 of the above-mentioned passed away. There isn't a definite reason of this sudden occurrence on a nationwide level, yet. Health officials focus their attention on several possible reasons. One of them is the usage of products with high amounts of THC.

As stated in a report by the Washington Post, state and federal investigations aim attention at black-market and fake products in order to expound the confusing outbreak of serious lung diseases caused by the use of e-cigarette i.e. vaping. An anonymous official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared for the Post that compounds in false and black-market vaping liquids “can differ greatly”. Compounds sold for mixing vaping liquids at home can be mislabeled as well, stated the official. Ex food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott stated for the Post that probably they are adding something in the liquids which makes them simple or inexpensive to mix, which makes them inappropriate and bad for using.

There was a restraint established by Gottlieb while he was an employee at the FDA. According to him, regular electronic cigarettes, for example those produced by Blu or Juul, are not usually part of those occurrences. He stated that these products can be the reason for chronic issues, but the current outbreak of cases is related to acute illnesses. People are not familiar with those acute illnesses and their presence is unevenly throughout the country.

Simultaneously with the increase of popularity of vape pens, the amount of fabricated THC cartridges is increasing. The problem with fake cartridges has been discussed by several well-know vape shops and brands, such as: Vape4Ever, Heavy Hitters, Connected Cannabis Co., and Kingpen. Customers can easily confuse the real cartridges with the fake ones, because the fake cartridges use almost the identical logo, branding and packaging as those produced by these famous companies.

What Are The Distinctive Features Of Counterfeit E-cigs?

You can hardly make a difference between real electronic cigarettes and fake ones. A fake product focuses on having an identical appearance as the real one, and everything else differs. Quality and safety are far from the real ones’, because they simply do not care about those aspects. The package and the serial numbers of the fake e-cigs is usually an identical copy. Nothing on that package refers to the producer of the fake product, meaning they have nothing to worry about because they cannot be held accountable.

The most important thing that needs to be remembered is that the packaging is completely the same. There might be a slight difference in the color, but everything else is the same. Therefore, you cannot decide whether an electronic cigarette is real or fake only by its packaging. Fraudulent authenticity codes are very often used by those who produce fake electronic cigarettes.

How Are Counterfeit Electronic Cigarettes Placed On The Market?

There are a few reasons why counterfeit electronic cigarettes are widely represented in the market. Money is the main and most apparent reason. The dealers love the fact that they can buy counterfeit at a low price. Therefore, they can sell low-priced false brand products. In this manner they could undercut the market. The forgers merchandise their trashy products by each and every possible way, so there are dealers who are not aware that they sell counterfeits.

The considerable quantity of counterfeits is another reason for their popularity. There are a large number of them on the market. Imagine how many factories are currently producing lots of fake electronic cigarettes. It means that a large quantity of inexpensive products is created.

How To Know Whether Your Vape Cartridge Is Safe and Not Fake

It is very important to know whether the one-use vape cartridges that you are using are safe.

Unfortunately, there are not any reliable practices because even the markets whose regulation is perfect are dealing with requests for return. However, there are several ways to lower the risk of getting a fake cartridge. You can find all the necessary information below about recognizing which vape cartridges are fake and which are the safe ones.

Never buy vape cartridges from the illegal market. Always remember this if you do not want to get a harmful product.

1. Even Though Licensed Products Are Safer, They Are Not 100% Safe

We have spoken to consumer affair and public health agencies in California, to numerous professionals from the cannabis industry, and with several testing lab specialists and all of them share the same opinion: it is safer to get the cannabis from the legal market because there exists a higher level of accountability and the state law requires carrying out proper testing.

According to Lindsay Robinson, the California Cannabis Industry Association Executive Director, none of the illnesses can be directly related to cannabis vaping products which have been obtained from certified cannabis businesses.

If safety is important for you, then it will be the best if you follow the medical cannabis programs established in your state, or buy products from the legitimate and recreational markets in Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Colorado, Massachusetts, California, and Nevada. Even though there has been a vote about allowing cannabis stores for adults in Illinois, they cannot be opened until 1 January 2020. The states of Vermont and Maine do not have products tested in a laboratory, because there are still no stores which are licensed by the state.

2. Check If There Really Is A License

One of the main issues, most specifically in larger cities, is clarifying which companies are really licensed. A lot of infirmaries can be found on the illegal market and that is why it is vital to double-check if the store where you get your products belongs to the regulated market.

The license number needs to be shown by the stores in California. If your store is reliable, i.e. if it is licensed and registered, then its name can be probably found on the state Bureau of Cannabis Control website.

If you cannot see the license number, then there is a place for doubt. Either that shop belongs to the illegal market or it does not follow the rules about licenses. In Los Angeles, the number of shops which do not have a license is predominant.

3. Examine The Packaging

Even though the most important thing is to buy your products from regulated markets, it is always a good idea to examine the product packaging. The following details should be found on the labels of the products which belong to the regulated market in California:

  • The date of manufacturing
  • The date of packaging
  • A batch number
  • A lot number

4. Check If Some Of The Seals In Packaging Are Broken

According to the details regarding the most sophisticated deceits related to CBD and THC cartridges, the boxes used were identical as the ones from the companies. That can easily mislead a person and make it hard to see any differences prior opening the package. The majority of reliable companies use stickers which are made of high quality materials and place them on the edges of the packages. So, check if some of those labels have been somehow opened. It is also very beneficial to know exactly how the vape cartridges of your favorite company exactly look like, so that you can easily notice when you see a different product.

If you got yourself a new THC cartridge and even though it looks perfect from the outside, when you try it at home and something does not seem right, it means that probably the liquid has been taken out and replaced with a mixture diluted with water. This is most often done through the seal that is placed at the bottom of the tank. So if you notice any marks on the seal, do not use that cartridge, because you have absolutely no idea what it contains.

5. Check For Ingredients/ Product Description Info

Pictures of false brands are often featured on Instagram and many other social media sites. A lot of them have a professional appearance but we should all know that it is just an attractive design without quality substance. There can be seen images of the cartridges full of something that looks like cannabis oil.

The producers of fake products usually include false information in the section about the content of cannabinoid or they do not include any information at all. In order to properly lab test the false cartridges, the cheaters use lots of pesticides in huge amounts. People spend $25 on these cartridges not realizing that they are actually not getting the real and safe product they hope to get.

If you think that the vape cartridge is strangely low-priced and there must be something wrong with it, then you got that right! You can recognize the real concentrate by its high prize. In the end, if there is no information provided about the so-called “brand”, you should not risk your health looking for something lower priced.

6. Examine The Oil

Instagram images are not a reliable reference for the oil quality. The quality of the oil can be checked when you have the oil in your hands. It should be very concentrated and its color should be distinct and clear gold. If the color of your oil is dark or orange, then you probably have fake oil in your possession.

If the oil moves very fast when you turn the cartridge upside down, then that’s product is most likely counterfeit. Also, it means the same if you notice a moving bubble inside the liquid. Reliable and safe cartridges have a static bubble.

7. Keep Your Distance From Fake Copycats

Deceivers create both fake products which usually contain toxic substances and products which are fake copies of well-known brands. For only $18 you can find online a pack of 100 empty glass tank cartridges with fake labels that resemble the legal cannabis brand Cookies.

If you want to get a safe product, you need to search a packaging icon issued by the state such as the warning sign of California’s THC. If the label does not follow the established standards for packaging, it means that the product is produced illegally and it doesn’t fall under the scope of the state’s safeguard for purity and potency.

However, that is not a reliable sign, because the fake copies of Cookies have also the warning sign of California THC on the package.

According to the managing director of the cannabis company NUG based in California, Jason Guillory, consumers need to search other indicators of credibility. They need to look for stamps, because almost all of the certified cartridges have the stamp of the manufacturer on them. The stamp can prevent you from making a mistake and buying a copycat product. There are also some brands which use QR codes. Scan them and verify the information.

8. Check The Ingredients List

Diluents, for example medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oil, propylene glycol, and vegetable glycerin, are usually part of numerous vape tanks.

The purpose of adding these oils is providing a greater liquid consistency to the cannabis so that it can be used more smoothly, or lowering the price of the product since it will contain less-expensive substances. Right now, these additional substances, especially Vitamin E acetate or tocopheryl-acetate which is used as a thickener, are closely examined because there is a belief that they might be the reason for the unexpected appearance of illnesses related to vaping.

According to the California Department of Public Health officials the reason for these illnesses is still unknown, but they advice that until the cause is confirmed, removing these substances from the products would be a great idea. They have been on the specialists’ radar for a certain period of time.

For Samantha Miller, the chief science officer and founder of cannabis testing lab Pure Analytics, these diluents have been the greatest concern regarding vape cartridges. The very small drops of liquid that are created obviously covering people’s alveoli while vaping, thus causing health issues.

9. Familiarize Yourself With Your Brands

It is not a good idea to try brands that you haven’t heard for before or are new on the market. The best thing to do is buy products from brands that you are familiar with and have positive safety records and protocols.

Miller’s recommendation is to buy well-known brands. She says that the best thing to do is to buy from brands that are long present on the market, that have a great reputation, and are present on social media. They need to maintain the reputation that they have acquired and they are closely examined by the BCC. Other brands which are relatively new or are part of the illegal market can easily insert harmful ingredients in their products, sell large quantities of their products to retailers who do not feel any suspicion, and later vanish when things do not go as planned, but not those well-known brands.

10. Examine The Results From The Brand

If a brand is licensed it means that it gives the retailers the test results of the products. Feel free to ask for the certificate of analysis (COA) when buying your products.

Photoshop is an amazing program, but unfortunately, it can be used to create false lab results, i.e. false certificates of analysis. Even though licensed infirmaries need to always check the certificates of analysis, they can easily be deceived. A fake COA may appear totally legit and illegal products can find their place on the shelves of regulated shops. Nonetheless, ask the lab if the product was tested and make sure that the results are reliable.

11. Do The Math

Check for some suspicious signals on the test results. Do the numbers seem reasonable? If there are some low percentages of THC, especially under 60%, Miller states that those vape cartridges are usually diluted by other substances. Also, you should be aware that the number 99.9% is a very suspicious number.

12. Trust Your Instincts

Besides all of the above-mentioned advice, if you have a strong feeling that something is simply not right with your vape cartridge, just rely on what your instincts tell you and do not use it anymore. Stower emphasizes that the majority of diluents cannot be noticed unless a lab analysis is conducted, due to the fact that they do not have any taste, color, or odor. But there are instances when you will notice a smell or a taste which is not right, and that is an indicator to stop using the tank immediately.

13. Switch To Rosin, Sift, Or Flower

If you want to be on the safe side, then you should not use any distillate and tanks at this point. There are numerous different kinds of extract that you can use. Rosin, dry sift, and live rosin are some alternatives which do not have solvents and are not refined with unpleasant chemicals. The traditional flower is always a good idea as well.

All of the above-mentioned advice are beneficial for vapers. However, double check the regulations about packaging in your state when confirming if a brand is licensed, because they might differ. Also, read the cannabis program written by your state to become more familiar with this information.


The greatest advice about protecting yourself from fake products is to become familiar with the vape pen that you intend to buy by reading for it on the official website of the company. Read carefully everything about their packaging and methods for verification. Always double check the serial numbers and the packaging. It is a boring process, but extremely beneficial. If you notice that your device is not working as it should or you have some suspicions that it might not be the real deal, inform the relevant company. Check for how to look into fake vs.real EBs and dap pen vs.carts articles. 

17th Oct 2019 Guest Blogger

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