Why Do Cartridges Oxidize?
There is one issue ubiquitous in the cannabis industry that both operator and consumer need to be aware of, cartridge oxidation. Oxidation of 510 thread cartridges is an unavoidable issue once a cartridge has been opened, but there are several factors that can be addressed in order to minimize the effect of oxidation. Keep reading to learn how cannabis operators can work to protect their extracts, and how consumers can protect themselves from bad cartridges.
What is Oxidation?
Before we discuss how and why weed cartridges oxidize, let's first discuss oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that takes place when a substance comes into contact with oxygen. Once the substance has interacted with the oxygen, it normally begins to change in consistency and color. Examples of oxidation can be seen in rust and the brown color on a cut apple.
Why do Cartridges Oxidize?
Cannabis cartridges oxidize due to exposure to oxygen, temperature changes, and light. Oxidation of cannabis oil can reduce its THC content and terpene aroma and flavor. Exposure to oxygen in the air causes oxidation of the cannabinoids in the oil, decreasing their potency. Changes in temperature or UV exposure from sunlight also help speed up oxidation. All of these factors can contribute to the degradation of cannabis oil, resulting in a less potent product.
How to Prevent Cartridge Oxidation?
The best way to prevent 510 thread cartridges from oxidizing is by keeping them sealed when not in use and storing them properly. It is important to store cartridges in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight or extreme temperatures. The less exposure the cartridge has to oxygen, light, and temperature fluctuations, the better.
Additionally, make sure to use your cartridge within 6 months of opening to ensure the best quality product. A sign that your cartridge has started to oxidize is a change in flavor and aroma. Make sure to change cartridges as soon as you start to notice any changes, being sure to throw the oxidized cart out. Lastly, keep the cartridge upright when in use to prevent oil from leaking out and oxygen entering in. By following these simple steps, you can help preserve the potency of 510 thread cartridges and get the most out of each one.
The material of your cartridge hardware also affects the process of oxidation. As a cannabis operator is it important to know the difference between the materials and how they will affect the longevity and oxidation rate of your concentrates.
Metal as material for 510 cartridges and cannabis pods has been the standard for a number of years. Today most metal cartridges are made of either 304 or 316 stainless steel.
304 stainless steel, also known as "18/8" stainless steel, is the most common type of stainless steel used in metal cartridges. It contains approximately 18% chromium and 8% nickel and is known for its good corrosion resistance. However, it is less resistant to corrosion than 316 stainless steel in certain environments.
316 stainless steel, also known as "marine grade" stainless steel, is a higher-end type of stainless steel that contains a higher percentage of molybdenum. This is what makes the steel more resistant to corrosion than the 304 stainless steel.
Both 304 and 316 stainless steel are considered to be resistant to oxidation, but in some specific environments or conditions, 316 stainless steel will be less likely to experience oxidation than 304 stainless steel.
It's important to note that the resistance to corrosion and oxidation of both 304 and 316 stainless steel can be affected by environmental factors and the surface condition of the material. To ensure the best performance and longevity, it is important to store your cartridges correctly and use them soon after opening.
Ceramic materials, like zirconia ceramics, are generally considered to be more stable and less prone to oxidation than metal materials. Ceramic is a relatively inert material and does not react with the cannabis oil, meaning that it does not cause the chemical reactions that can lead to oxidation.
Additionally, ceramics offer better heat retention and better heat distribution. This means that it doesn't transfer heat as easily as other materials, which can slow down the oxidation process.
It's also important to note that while ceramic itself may not oxidize, the oil or other substance contained within the ceramic material may still oxidize if exposed to air or light. So it is still important to store the ceramic vape carts in a cool, dark place, and to use them as soon as possible after opening to minimize the exposure to air and light.
Choosing the Right Hardware For Your Business
As cannabis operators it is important to choose the right hardware for your business. Selecting the appropriate material can help mitigate the oxidation of your concentrates and prolong the hardware’s lifespan.
If you have any questions or would like help finding the best cartridge option for your cannabis operation, don't hesitate to reach out to S10 Labs' hardware experts.