S10 Blog

What Causes A Vape Cartridge To Leak?

Published Date:
December 8, 2021

In the hyper-competitive world of cannabis extracts, establishing a brand of vape cartridges is a challenging endeavor. It’s critical that burgeoning brands find a way to distinguish themselves from the competition—but for the right reasons.

Getting a reputation for making leaky cartridges can crush a manufacturer before they even have time to get off the ground, so brands should do all they can to ensure the quality of their hardware before going to market. The key to preventing cartridge leaks is understanding why they leak in the first place. So why do vapes leak? Keep reading to learn more.  

Why Is My Vape Leaking?

A leaky cartridge can ruin the experience for a consumer. Not only is it a waste of expensive cannabis extract, but there’s also nothing worse than a manufacturer spending countless hours perfectly formulating a terpene/flavor profile only to have it spoiled by hot spit back. Fortunately, brands can avoid the vast majority of leaks with high-quality hardware.

Here are the most common reasons your cartridge may be leaking.

Is There Damage To The Cartridge Tank?

Perhaps the most obvious of all the potential causes of a cannabis oil leak is physical damage to the outer housing of the cartridge’s tank. Even the smallest cracks to this housing apparatus can allow for oil to leak out of the cartridge.

Most often, this type of damage takes place after a consumer has already purchased a cartridge. Accidents happen, and it’s unrealistic to expect customers never to drop their vape pens. Additionally, the shipping process may lead to hardware damage before your product ever makes it to the dispensary.

The best way to avoid this type of damage is to use cartridges constructed from a durable material. Outer housings made of plastic may be cheap to produce but are much more likely to become damaged. A material like impact-proof quartz glass dramatically reduces the chance for damage to occur both in shipping and after your customers have purchased the cartridge.

Is Your Cartridge Overfilled?

Improperly filling your vape cartridges will almost certainly guarantee them to leak. Whether you’re filling by hand or using a machine filler, It’s essential you do not overfill vape cartridges. Always follow the filling instructions for your cartridge exactly as they are written.

Typically, this will involve placing a blunt needle filled with your extract between the outer housing and the center post and dispensing the liquid, while taking care to ensure that no extract ends up inside of the center post. If oil does end up in the center post, it can cause air path blockages as well as leakage. If your extract is too thick to dispense through a needle, it may require heating before the filling process can take place.

Is Your Wick Oversaturated?

Cartridges that utilize metal components and cotton wicks are subject to leak from the tip, especially during the first few uses. Wicks can become oversaturated when a cartridge is overfilled or if the wick has simply worn out over time.

Proper filling can help reduce the potential for spit back, but the only way to completely avoid a wick failure is to switch to ceramic cartridges instead. Due to the material, ceramic cartridges don’t require an additional wicking material, which significantly reduces the chance of drip tip leaks.

Is Your Cartridge Capped Properly?

Similarly to the filling process, improper capping may also result in leaks. When using a press cartridge, make sure you are firm enough to create a proper seal.

However, applying too much force may damage the seal, so finding the right balance is important. Tools like an arbor press can make this process more exact. The same goes with screw caps—tighten enough to fasten the cap, but not so tight that it damages the seal.

If using a thicker oil, always wait until the oil settles at the bottom of the cartridge before beginning the capping process.

Is Your Oil Viscosity Right For Your Hardware?

Thinner cannabis oil is much more likely to leak than more viscous varieties, so it’s critical you have the right texture of extract for your cartridge. Standard metal cartridges can not handle thicker extracts, which means manufacturers will always have to use more thinning agents like PG or VG to thin out their oils. Unfortunately, this will also increase the likelihood of leaks.

However, there are other options. Cartridges with ceramic heating coils are much better suited for thicker extracts. Because ceramic retains heat so efficiently, and because the material’s porous nature creates more overall surface area to absorb the oil, ceramic cartridges can deliver satisfying plumes of vapor even with more viscous extracts. This allows manufacturers to create an extract with less filler that’s less likely to leak.

Ultimately, preventing leaks comes down to choosing high-quality hardware. If you are looking for high-quality hardware be sure to check out S10 Labs for some of the best ceramic vape cartridges out there.

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