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Mending Hearts and Broken Carts: How to Fix Busted Vape Cartridges
culture  |  May 7, 2019

Mending Hearts and Broken Carts: How to Fix Busted Vape Cartridges

There’s nothing worse than a defective vape cart when you’re trying to get stoned. But there are options to salvage your vape — and your high.

There’s nothing worse than a defective vape cart when you’re trying to get stoned. But there are options to salvage your vape — and your high.

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The vapes currently on the market vary widely in performance. Depending on the make and model, a cartridge can underperform, malfunction, or outright break. And while the glistening weed oil is held hostage by a defective cartridge, consumers are left frustrated-as-hell wishing they were stoned. 

Before tossing away your oil, know that you have options. Here’s what you can do to potentially salvage a broken vape cartridge.


Fix It Yourself

If you're reading this article, there’s a good chance you’re combing the internet for tips and tricks on how to fix your vape. And we’re happy to report that just because it seems broken, doesn’t mean it’s dead. But maybe your battery is?

If the vape hardware is such that you can switch out the cartridge, test out some other carts to see if they work. If none are pulling, it may be a battery issue rather than the cartridge.

Is the battery area saturated with sticky oil? If that's the case, take a Q-tip and dab a small amount of alcohol onto it. Then, lightly clean the contact points where the battery and cart meet. Let the battery dry and try it again.

Related: Here's What Fake Vape Cartridges Actually Look Like

If this option fails, consider opening the mouthpiece of the cartridge. In some models, you can remove the mouthpiece and clean its components. 

Also, though this may seem obvious and juvenile, make sure your vape is charged before you dismiss your vape cart as defective. And don’t be ashamed if you find it just needed a charge — we’ve all been there.

Transfer the Oil

Before giving up on your vape cart, try re-homing the oil. Though it takes some effort, doing so can give the oil or concentrate a fresh life. And, when done successfully, the sense of victory that will accompany your high will feel out of this world, fam. 

Transferring the oil from a faulty cartridge to a new, empty model is actually easier than you’d think. You can buy empty cartridges online or in stores for a relatively low price, depending on the brand. (Some multipacks can run for under $15!)

You’ll also need to buy a syringe so the oil can be extracted and transferred to its new cart. Using one ensures little to no mess. From there, cap the concentrate and test it. If it pulls, you’re back in business. 

Try Returning the Faulty Cartridge

A few years ago, returning a faulty cart wouldn’t have been an option. But now, with legalization creeping across the globe, dispensaries and retailers often accept returns just like any other vendor. Certain states, like California, require all retailers to accept returns when a product is deemed faulty. That said, cannabis flower is excluded under that Golden State law.

Thanks to science, however, flower is not applicable when talking about modern vape cartridges. Numerous reports in online forums state that many dispensaries and businesses accept returns and exchanges within a specific window of time. Before buying any products, though, consult with employees or the manufacturer to understand a product’s return policy. 


Eat the Oil 

Another way to repurpose cannabis oil when a cartridge fails is by going the edibles route. Keep in mind that this changes the consumption method, and thus, the experience that comes with it. Rather than the quick onset of a vape, edibles can take up to two hours for some people to feel them. 

Before eating, however, you must determine if the concentrate is activated. In some cases, oil may not be decarboxylated before its consumption. As Westword explained in 2017, "If it’s not decarboxylated, you’ll have to heat [the oil] for ten to fifteen minutes at around 220 degrees Fahrenheit. After that, you’ll want to figure out how much the oil weighed before you started using it, and how many milligrams of THC were in it. This will help you dose your infused food or drink."

Use the Oil As a Topical 

When you can't vape oil, consider...rubbing it on yourself? That's right, your broken vape cartridge could be the key to making some handy CBD and THC topicals for your skin. Several recipes for making your own salve can be found online. The additional ingredients needed tend to be low cost, as well, so you shouldn't have to break the bank to make your oil useful again. 

In most cases, you'll need coconut oil, beeswax, cheesecloth, jars, and essential oils of your choosing. From there, twenty or so minutes of stirring over a heated pot should leave you with a cannabis salve worth slathering on once it cools. Who doesn’t love a good DIY weed project?


Dab the Oil

Cartridge oil is pretty much ready for dabbing once it’s extracted from a faulty cartridge. To pull the oil out, you’ll need a syringe. Believe it or not, needles are the perfect tool for dropping a controlled dose of oil onto the rig's nail. 

But there are other ways to do this, too. If a syringe isn’t an option, whatever you have that can scoop out the oil will suffice. Keep in mind, however, the oil will run and most scoopers won’t hold the oil in place. This can lead to a messy cleanup. 

Add The Oil to a Bowl or Joint

Flower is likely to reach 20 to 30 percent potency, at best. But concentrates, on the other hand, can reach near 100 percent potency. So, adding concentrates to a bowl will surely ramp up the effects. People have been doing this for ages with kief and can now do the same with a series of other concentrates, including cartridge oil. Follow the same extraction tips you would when scooping the oil for dabbing, though be careful when heating your bowl. 

Make Moon Rocks

One of the West Coast’s more recent additions to high-level cannabis consumption is the moon rock. These highly-potent buds rolled in oil and coated in kief feel like a rocket ship to Pluto, even for those with Hulk-like tolerances. Best of all, people can make their own spacey moon rocks at home. See! Faulty cartridge oil does come in handy. 

All you have to do is roll or dip your flower in oil, then roll it in kief. Once dried, it should increase the potency of the flower immensely. 

While annoying, a broken cartridge does not necessarily mean you have to throw away your cash and product. Instead, these options hopefully show you that a faulty cart gives you ample opportunities to get creative and high along the way. Here’s to hoping this helps brighten your day! 

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Andrew Ward is a Brooklyn, NY-based freelance writer. He is the author of "Cannabis Jobs" (out October 2019). His work can be found at https://iamandrewward.contently.com.