Is There Lead in Your Cannabis Vape Cartridge?

by Lindsey Winsemius - Posted 2 years ago

You may have heard reports of metals, like lead, being present in vape cartridges.

First, let’s address the concerns of many cannabis consumers: Is there lead in your cannabis distillate? 

No, there is no lead in the product you are purchasing. The lead found in vaping products comes from the type of cartridge used in the vaping process.

You probably have a few questions, and educating yourself is the first step to purchasing better, safer cannabis products.

Let’s talk a little more about this concerning finding, and what you can do to make sure you’re safely consuming your favorite cannabis vape products.

How was the lead in vape cartridges discovered?

Legalization of cannabis products, as we’ve discussed before, has opened a lot of doors to increased research into cannabis and products used to consume cannabis.

Following a rash of vaping deaths in 2019, several labs performed detailed studies of vaping cartridges. During these investigations, they stumbled across another potential danger - the undeclared lead in the cartridge was leaching out. The longer a cartridge was stored, the more lead was found.

After the initial findings were discovered, more research is being done to discover the cause of the heavy metals, like lead. 

Researchers of an article published in Chemical Research in Toxicology found in their study that multiple metals such as chromium, copper, nickel, as well as smaller amounts of lead, manganese, and tin migrate were possibly being inhaled during vaping. These metals migrated into the cannabis oil and inhaled vapor phase, resulting in a possible acute intake of an amount of inhaled metals above the regulatory standard. But, they noted that smoke and vapor from cannabis flower and cannabis concentrate did not produce the same results, indicating that the vape pens’ heating devices were to blame.

Fun Fact:  As an interesting side note, the metal content of vaping aerosols decreased with the addition of terpenes to the cartridge liquid. 

Why and how terpenes help reduce the amount of metal being released into the vape product is unknown. More research is being done to find out if this is a trait unique to terpenes, or a general trait of “less viscous liquids.” 

Just another amazing feature of terpenes to add to the list!

What vaping cartridges are lead-free?

If you want to avoid lead contamination, it’s best to totally stay away from vape cartridges containing metal parts! Ceramic vape cartridges would be a good choice. If you aim to buy lead-free, you need to know exactly what you’re buying and who you’re buying from. 

According to WikiLeaf, “This applies doubly in Oregon, where there are no heavy metal testing standards. It is likely that Chinese cartridge-producing companies, knowing their vape cartridges would be rejected elsewhere, are depleting their supply of so-called Hot Dog Carts (because you don’t know what they’re made of) by flooding the market in Oregon right now!”

How do you know if your cannabis vape cartridge is lead-free?

The only certifiably lead-free vape cartridges are going to be 100% ceramic, containing no plastic or metallic parts. 

If you’re buying vape cartridges from your local recreational or medical dispensary and you don’t see an overt advertisement stating “lead/heavy metal-free” and “100% ceramic”, you’re not buying lead-free.


As more research is done, the industry will continue to improve. Keep yourself safe by educating yourself, talking to your local dispensary staff about your concerns, and supporting organizations that help bring public awareness to the cannabis industry.

Have questions about safe vaping products? Ask us!