The Ins and Outs Ups and Downs of 510 Cart Vaping

The Ins and Outs/Ups and Downs of 510 Cart Vaping

August 17, 2023

Cart vaping--what the hell is it? Most stoners are already familiar with dry herb vaping, as it’s one of the most popular ways to vape weed. Cart vaping (or oil vaping) is quite different. This guide will serve as a master list of everything you need to know about cart vaping, including the following topics:

  • How to purchase a quality cart/battery
  • Why cart vaping is a good way to consume weed
  • What you can expect vaping your first cart
  • Pros and cons of cart vaping

And more! So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn all about the ins and outs and ups and downs of cart vaping. 

Okay, But What Is 510 Cart Vaping?

Cart vaping is another way to consume marijuana, one that’s particularly favored by stoners who still live at home due to its discrete nature. The carts (cartridges) contain cannabis oil, usually either a gram or half-gram. Instead of actually smoking bud, the oil vaporizes via convection, so you can still enjoy a high without the smokey aftertaste.

510 simply refers to the kind of threading that’s used to screw the cart into the battery. 510 carts are the most popular and the most common, although there are other kinds as well. When purchasing your cart/battery combo, be sure to ask your budtender if it’s a 510 cart. Chances are, the answer will be yes!

Conduction Versus Convection

When you smoke weed using fire of any kind, you’re practicing conduction. This means that you’re inhaling your weed, of course, but also particles that are produced from the actual flame. It’s really fun to smoke, but isn’t necessarily so great for your lungs in the long run, especially if you’re a frequent user.

Convection, however, does not involve any actual flame. Instead, your weed (in this case, the oil) is heated enough that it turns into vapor, which you then inhale. This way you aren’t inhaling any additional chemical  toxins from combustion. Keep in mind, this is a safer way to consume, however, long-term inhalation of anything that isn’t straight air can have a negative impact on your lungs. 

Dry herb vaping also uses convection instead of combustion. If you’d like to learn more about dry herb vaping as opposed to oil vaping, you can check out this article. 

Batteries/Carts Versus Disposable Pens

There are essentially two ways to vape oil: with a cart and battery, or with a disposable pen. Both are great options, however, purchasing a battery is, in my opinion, the better way. Of course, there are pros and cons to both options:

  • Disposable pens leave you with a lot less variety of what you smoke. Essentially, the cart is built into the battery, so you can’t change it out. They’re typically cheaper than a battery+cart combination, but again, they’re a one-and-done thing. If you don’t smoke all that often, you could be stuck smoking the same weed for months. And if you do smoke frequently, you’ll be having the same high repeatedly.

  • Battery+cart combinations are a bit more expensive, but worth it in the long run. By purchasing the battery and cart separately, you can switch out what cart you’re using at any point. If you’re ready for a nap, then an Indica-heavy cart would be perfect. But if you feel like a bold, energetic high, you can switch it out for a Sativa cart. Most batteries also come with a ‘preheat’ setting, which warms your oil thoroughly before you inhale it, giving you a stronger high. They are, however, more expensive than a disposable pen. 

Both disposable pens and battery/cart combos use convection to heat the oil, so you’re only inhaling vapor, not actual smoke, and both will eventually need charging. Most of them take a micro-USB but talk to your budtender about any special charger you might need. Nothing worse than sitting down for a smoke session and realizing your pen is dead!

How to Purchase a Quality Cart 

There are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing your vaporizer. Keep in mind the following criteria to avoid purchasing a product you don’t like:

  • How does it charge? Like we just talked about, making sure you’re able to charge your battery/pen is super important! You don’t want to buy a product that you can’t use. Make sure you have the proper charger, or purchase one soon after picking out your product.

  • What strain is your cart? Most vape carts are THC-heavy, however, more CBD products are coming out practically every day. If CBD products are more your style, make sure to share that with your budtender. If they’re knowledgeable (which they pretty much have to be), then they’ll be able to find the right product for you!

  • What other cannabinoids are in your cart? Obviously, THC and CBD are the most common cannabinoids, but there are over 113 different cannabinoids out there. Ask your budtender about what cannabinoids are in your product, because they all work together to give you a good high. Be sure to check the label and chat with your budtender about everything in your product and what kind of high to expect.

  • Is your cart distillate oil or CO2 oil? Distillate oil is a “blank slate,” meaning that there’s more room for artificial or synthetic flavors. CO2 oil more closely resembles the plant it’s extracted from, meaning you’ll notice more natural terpenes and flavors. If you’re a close-to-the-earth kind of stoner, I recommend CO2 carts/pens--in general, I prefer them, anyway. 

  • How expensive is it? As mentioned before, the cart+battery combination can be more expensive than a disposable pen. If you’ve never smoked a cart before, I recommend purchasing a disposable one first. If you don’t like it, then it’s less money down the drain. However, if you end up enjoying it, I recommend purchasing a cart and battery combination. The batteries tend to be higher quality, come with a ‘preheat’ setting, and you can always switch out your cart if you want a different high.

  • Where are you purchasing your product from? We all know there are weed dealers/plugs out there, even in the states where weed is 100% legal. Carts, because they’re oil, are easy to spike.

Story Time

A friend of mine from college would purchase carts from a buddy of his, who purchased them from a buddy of his, and so on. This was all well and good, and he didn’t notice anything was wrong for a long time. Eventually, his parents caught on that he was smoking and decided to drug test him--everyone expected it to come back positive for THC. What they didn’t expect was that the test would also come back positive for fentanyl. Somewhere down the line (not from his buddy, but probably the person originally distributing the carts), someone was lacing the products with fentanyl. 

When purchasing a cart, always purchase from a licensed, legit dispensary! Even if you trust your plug, you don’t know where they’re getting the products. Odds are, your plug won’t even know they’re selling laced carts, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry, even if that means paying a few extra bucks. 

What to Expect When Vaping Your First Cart

If you’re not familiar with cart vaping, don’t worry. It’s fun, enjoyable, and fairly safe. When you smoke your first cart, here are some things you can expect:

  • It won’t have that signature weed smell (unless you cough or exhale early). The longer you inhale/hold the vapor in your lungs, the less it will smell like weed when you exhale. Perfect for bathroom-based smoke breaks!

  • It won’t have that smoky taste you get from a blunt. In fact, vaping a strain like lemon bean is extra nice because you can enjoy all the wonderful citrus-y terpenes without the smoky flavor. In general, you’ll be able to taste your terpenes better. 

  • You might cough a bit more, depending on how deeply you inhale and how long you hold your breath. In my experience, holding the vapor in your lungs for a few seconds can help you get the most out of your puff.

  • You’ll feel the effects almost immediately. Just like smoking a blunt or bong, vaping a cart can have you feeling high in 2-10 minutes. If you have a battery with a ‘preheat’ setting, you’ll feel it even faster. If you’ve only taken edibles before, this will be a big difference!

Pros and Cons of Cart Vaping

Like all methods of marijuana consumption, there are pros and cons to cart vaping. Everything in life has good and bad qualities, but when it comes to carts, I find that there are a lot more perks than pitfalls!

The Pros

There are a lot of pros to carts, including the number one reason why most people use them: discretion. Disposable pens and carts+batteries are both very discrete for a number of reasons. Firstly, they have almost no smell at all. They’re perfect for bathroom breaks at family gatherings that are going on a bit too long! They’re also compact--I’ve found my pen in my pocket on more than one occasion, having completely forgotten it was in there. Carts/pens are also good if you’re stuck at home with your folks, although you can also show them this article about the health benefits of marijuana if you’d like to open up a dialogue about it.

As mentioned before, you also don’t have to inhale any actual smoke, which makes cart vaping somewhat safer than actually smoking weed. Plus, carts tend to be cheaper than real bud. For stoners on a budget, this is probably the best way to go. 

If you’re a low-maintenance kind of person, pens/carts are a great choice. You don’t need to roll anything, clean anything, or trouble yourself pretty much at all. They’re super convenient, which adds to their discretion. No more furiously washing your hands in the bathroom sink after rolling a blunt at your parent’s place!

The Cons

As I said before, all things in life have pros and cons, even cart vaping. The biggest con, as of right now, is product selection. Most carts are THC-heavy, however, more CBD-based products are coming out pretty much as I write this. 

Again, you do need to make sure you purchase your products from a reliable, certified dispensary. Purchasing from an unsafe source could mean purchasing a laced product--we want to know exactly what we’re putting in our bodies!

Another con to carts is that they can be too discrete. As someone who’s pretty forgetful, I need to keep them in a safe place so that I don’t lose them. This also means keeping them upright--placing them upside-down or on their side can lead to clogging. That’s not an issue so much as an inconvenience; you’ll just need to pull really hard to unclog it on your next hit. 

Lastly, even disposable pens need charging. Luckily, more efficient batteries don’t need to be charged too frequently, but if you use your ‘preheat’ mode, you’ll notice it needs charging sooner. For not having to roll or clean anything, I think having to charge your battery every once in a while is worth it!


Cart vaping is one of the most discrete and concealable ways to smoke weed. It’s safe, easy, and mess-free, plus you can taste the terpenes in your product even better. There’s no reason not to try it!

I hope you have a good cart vaping experience, and that it enhances your next session. Stay safe, stay hydrated, and stay toasty.


Emma Grace is a full-time student, writer, and lover of Marvel movies. She spends most of her time ignoring her responsibilities in favor of reading, learning global geography, and finding new ways to prepare instant noodles. She lives with her parents and sister and a very needy dog named Eloise.

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