Do Weed Carts Expire? How to Tell if They’ve Gone Bad

Here’s the bad news: no vape cartridge possesses a key to immortality. This is true regardless of the weed cart’s origin or quality.

Even if carts are stored as precisely as recommended, the oil has a shelf life. It’s important to remember this if you’re looking to get the most out of your vaping experience. An ancient THC, delta 8, or CBD cart simply isn’t going to provide the same level of potency or flavor as a fresh one.

There are even instances where an expired CBD or THC cart can pose harm to the user’s health. Mold growth is a potential risk, especially if the cart hasn’t been stored correctly.

Our aim in this article is to help vape enthusiasts spot signs of an out-of-date cart. We’ll also expand on exactly why you shouldn’t waste your time on a cart past its prime. To achieve the best high every time you pick up your vape, stick to our recommendations.

No cart lasts forever. The standard weed vape contains a complex blend of compounds extracted or synthesized from cannabis or plants. This often includes the psychoactive cannabinoid known as delta 9 THC. Although THC is the source of your high, the experience is impacted by terpenes and non-THC cannabinoids found in the oil. CBD is one of those cannabinoids.

If any of these key compounds deteriorate, the psychoactive effects of the vape can change. Natural compounds like these break down and change with age, despite careful processing. This can’t be prevented entirely.

How long do vape carts last before expiring?

This level of processing does work in a vape user’s favor. THC or CBD oil will remain potent longer than flower, for instance. But the exact lifespan of a weed cart is dependent on a variety of factors.

Weed cart storage and expiration—why it matters

Storage is key to maintaining the potency of your cart. Cannabinoids and terpenes are bound to break down eventually, but this process is influenced heavily by external conditions like light and temperature.

A cart stored in a cool location and kept in its original packaging shouldn’t age rapidly. On the other hand, a weed cart that stays hooked up to your vape is going to lose potency more quickly. This deterioration may occur sooner if the vape is kept in a warm location with significant sunlight.

Whenever possible, store your weed carts in a dry, cool place. This will keep them potent longer and help delay expiration.

Jot down your weed cart’s manufacturing date

As a rule of thumb, keep your cart’s manufacturing date in mind. If you’re purchasing from a reputable seller, this information will be presented on the product’s packaging.

If your cart is over a year past its manufacturing, you may want to proceed with caution. While there’s no fixed timeline for a weed cart to expire, an older cart is more likely to have gone bad. If you use the cart and then store it, the cannabinoids are more likely to oxidize, which reduces their potency. A cart stored before being used will probably maintain its strength longer.

After two years, it’s best to toss the cart and move on to something fresher. It’s extremely unlikely that a weed cart will have a shelf life longer than this, meaning that the product has probably lost most of its potency.

Naturally, if the cart’s manufacturer does include an expiration date, it should be easy to determine its predicted shelf life. Not every marijuana or hemp product provides this information, however.

What happens if you vape an expired cart?

Generally speaking, vape users aren’t going to suffer major consequences when they use an expired cart. Just because the safety risk is low, however, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

Expired cannabis oil lacks potency and flavor. It may even come with an unpleasant smell—or no smell—from degraded terpenes. A bad-tasting, low-potency weed vape isn’t going to offer a great high or a positive overall experience.

It’s worth noting that an expired weed cart could grow mold. This is more likely if the cart has been improperly stored for an extended period of time after being used. Temperature can have a significant effect on mold growth. Warmth encourages mold and bacteria to thrive.

On top of the health risk that comes with inhaling mold spores, it won’t be enjoyable. Mold tastes awful and may contribute to lung-related illnesses—all in all, it’s better to accept the loss and dispose of the cart.

What does an expired cart look like?

When determining whether a THC or CBD cart looks expired, try to recall its appearance when you purchased it. If the color or transparency has changed, this could be a warning sign that the cart has gone bad.

There are a few visual clues that vape users can keep an eye out for.

Weed oil color and freshness

Before expiring, weed oil will usually appear amber or light yellow in color. It should also be transparent, meaning that you shouldn’t struggle to see completely through it.

On the darker end, weed oil can resemble honey. Lighter cannabis oil may even look like lemonade.

Sometimes, older vape carts will lose their golden hue and take on a duller brown color. In extreme cases, the oil can even grow so dark that it appears almost black. This is caused by oxygen introduced to the oil. The more the oil oxidizes, the darker it gets.

Additionally, pay attention to uniformity in color. High-quality vape oil that hasn’t expired will be a single, uniform shade. If it’s cloudy, toss it.

Is it bad to vape a brown cart?

Although some weed carts are a rich golden color, they will not be dark or dull enough to look brown. As such, brown oil is one of the tell-tale signs of an expired cart.

A brown cart has likely lost much of its potency and flavor due to the breakdown of cannabinoids and terpenes. If you’re looking for a comfortable high and first-rate flavor, stay away from brown weed carts.

Cloudiness and changes in weed oil consistency

Expired cannabis oil may undergo a change in texture or consistency. At the peak of freshness, the oil in your THC, CBD, or delta 8 cart should move smoothly and evenly when you tilt the cart from side to side. It shouldn’t look like dirty motor oil.

Cloudiness is another dead giveaway that the oil in your vape cart has gone bad. Again, check to see if the oil is a uniform hue with adequate transparency.

Sometimes weed oil begins to crystallize. When this occurs, you’ll find crystals stuck to the interior walls of your cart. Crystallization lets users know, with certainty, that the cannabis or hemp compounds have begun to break down.

How to stop a weed oil cart from expiring

While you can’t prevent a weed cart from expiring altogether, there are certainly ways that the process can be delayed.

We’ve said it already, but it’s worth stressing the value of proper cart storage.

When your cart isn’t in use, it’s never wise to keep it attached to the battery. Although the battery is necessary to vaporize the oil and extract the benefits, it isn’t always harmless.  Although that’s rare, batteries can malfunction and fire spontaneously, causing the cart to heat. A major problem with the battery could even cause a fire. Aside from those potential calamities, carts can also leak and damage batteries. For those reasons, it’s best to detach carts you’re not using and store them separately.

Try keeping your weed cart away from heat or extreme cold. THC molecules degrade more rapidly when exposed to temperatures over 70°F (21°C).

Does this mean you should keep your cart at a freezing temperature to prevent deterioration? No, as vape carts do best at room temperature or slightly cooler. Sticking your weed cart in the freezer poses numerous risks to the health of your cart and oil (like a cracked cart or oil that crystallizes).

Refrigerators aren’t much better, since cold boosts the possibility of condensation. Weed oil prefers a dry environment, and condensed moisture can speed up expiration.

Keeping a weed oil cart out of direct sunlight is essential to keeping it fresh for longer. If you don’t have a case designed for storing carts, then cool, dry drawers or other enclosed spaces are reliable options. In temperate climates, nothing beats a box kept in a dark basement corner.

Finally, since weed carts all degrade with age, using them quickly can decrease expiration risk. This doesn’t mean you need to rush through your cart. Instead, avoid purchasing carts if you aren’t planning to break them out in the near future.

Fresh weed carts mean a better vaping experience

While it may feel wasteful to throw away an out-of-date vape cart, it’s better than the alternative. Best case scenario, expired weed oil carts will provide a lackluster high and a taste that seems slightly “off.” But in the worst case, you could be exposed to nasty mold and bacteria, especially if your cart was stored in warm or moist conditions.

For optimal results and a superior high, use weed carts within a year of manufacturing and store them in a cool, dry location. It’s true that expiration is unavoidable. Regardless, it’s possible to care for your carts and enjoy them before they go bad.

I’m a Pennsylvania-based cannabis enthusiast and writer. As a part of the Vaping360 team, I’m eager to help cannabis consumers explore vaping and get the most out of their experience. You can also find me @faeberrystudios on Instagram.

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