Your body is constantly trying to maintain a balance between hundreds of different systems. Adding dietary supplements to this mix incorrectly can throw off the balance and be detrimental to your health. As a result, working with any type of dietary supplement has its nuances, including vaping coconut oil.
At Smoky Mountain, we strive towards 100% transparency in our products and educating our readers about the Do’s and Don’t’s of CBD. So in this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about coconut oil, MCT, and vegetable glycerin to make healthy CBD choices.
Despite the caveats, Smoky Mountain CBD’s official stance on using coconut oil to vape is to simply not do it. There are serious risks in doing so and there are better, safer ways to enjoy CBD without putting your health on the line. With that out of the way, let’s dive deeper.
Vaping Coconut Oil (and What is MCT)?
If you’ve been in the hobby long enough, you’ve probably heard of MCT oil but what exactly is it? Well, MCT is short for medium-chain triglycerides, referring to the composition of certain oils. MCT oil is often made from coconut oil and is one of the most popular carrier oils for CBD products. Needless to say, for its intended use, MCT is completely safe and is used by all major CBD manufacturers.
Similarly, coconut oil is used all over the world for hundreds of use cases and it is tested thoroughly, including by the FDA. However, there is a very big caveat to this – coconut oil is tested for use on the skin and for oral consumption, but not for inhaling.
This means that there is still a lot of debate about whether or not coconut oil should be used for vaping (as a cut). It’s also worth noting that a lot of recent discussion around coconut oil stems from back in 2019 when people started using items such as vitamin E acetate as a cutting agent for vaping, and numerous health issues started arising. It was termed vaping illness but it was officially called EVALI, short for E-cigarette, or Vaping, product use–Associated Lung Injury.
Doctors found out that while vitamin E is completely safe for topical (skin) application and oral consumption, it is very toxic to lung tissue. More importantly, in addition to vitamin E acetate, doctors also found small amounts of plant oils, medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, and, coconut oil among other things.
In a research paper later published, investigators with the CDC ruled out medium-chain triglyceride oil and coconut oil as primary causes of EVALI but it was still unclear whether or not they are safe for inhalation.
Today, there are still many groups that using coconut oil in small amounts for vaping is safe but there isn’t any peer-reviewed study that provides overwhelming evidence for this. With this in mind, Smoky Mountain experts and other industry veterans recommend you to not vape with coconut oil or any other additives.
We only recommend using tested vape juices and pure cannabis oil that is safe to vape should you choose to dilute your vape juice. In addition to this, we recommend buying vape cartridges that do not contain MCT oil such as our Broad Spectrum CBD Vape Carts.
What Happens if You Inhale Coconut Oil?
Inhaling coconut oil is not recommended due to a number of reasons but if someone does inhale coconut oil, they expose themselves to the risk of lipid pneumonia.
Lipid pneumonia is a medical condition where lipids or oils enter the lungs and cause damage, ranging from dyspnea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, and fever. Unfortunately, the long-term effects of lipid pneumonia are unclear.
On the bright side, it’s difficult to develop lipid pneumonia unless you’re inhaling large quantities of coconut oil. It may be safe to vape in very small quantities and infrequently but we’d rather not risk it.
What is Vegetable Glycerin (VG)?
Another common cutting agent is vegetable glycerin, more popularly known as VG. A lot of confusion stems from a common belief that glycerin is similar to oil and since VG is plant-based, it should be safe to use as a cutting agent. This, however, is not true.
Vegetable glycerin can cause inflammation within the lungs and equally concerning is the fact glycerin tends to break down into acrolein which is carcinogenic meaning you’re opening yourself up to even more dangers.
Another common vape juice base is called propylene glycol (PG) and it can be just as dangerous as vegetable glycerin.
Many e-cigarette and vape manufacturers do use vegetable glycerin in their vape cartridges but it’s still difficult to talk about the full extent of side effects due to limited research. One thing that you can be sure of though is that glycerin and oils have difficult chemical composition and information that applies one thing may not apply to the other.
That said, Smoky Mountain CBD highly recommends you only buy vape carts with zero vegetable glycerin and zero propylene glycol. We’ve specifically designed a range of delicious vape cartridges that contain zero PG and VG.
Which Oils are Safe to Vape?
The safest oil to vape would be pure isolate cannabis oil. Ideally, you’re looking for thoroughly-tested cannabis oil made from high-quality hemp. Another option is to use terpenes which are natural compounds found within the hemp plant. Terpenes are responsible for the unique characteristics of different CBD strains including smell and taste.
Terpenes can also be used as a cut to dilute the cannabis oil enough to make it fluid and vapable. That said, make sure to only add 3-7% terpenes to your cannabis oil as smoking high concentration or pure terpenes is not very pleasant.
Unfortunately, pure cannabis oil may be difficult to procure so the best so you may find yourself forced to choose from MCT oil, propylene glycol (PG), or vegetable glycerin (VG), understand the risks and if you still want to go through with it, use very small quantities of PG or VG and it should limit the risk.