One of the challenges when taking CBD is the lack of serving sizes, particularly in vaping liquids. Capsules and edibles are sold in single units that you can measure. Just pop one or two in your mouth daily as recommended by your doctor. With vaping, the amount of CBD is not easy to track like a pill or gummy.
The absence of a universal dosage makes it impossible for CBD retailers to provide serving sizes for vaping liquids. There are also a number of factors that come into play when determining how much CBD you should vape. These include:
- CBD concentration
- Body weight
- Genetic makeup
- Body chemistry
- Severity of condition
- Vaporizer type and quality
CBD acts on different molecular pathways in the body so individual experience will be unique based on these factors. [R]
While this can all be very confusing, we can help you find the perfect serving size for your health goals.
Before we go into the details of how much CBD you should vape, here's a quick refresher for those who may not be familiar with vaping.
What is vaping?
A vaporizer is a palm-sized, battery-powered personal machine designed to turn liquid into gas for the purpose of inhaling.
The top half of the vaporizer is a refillable tank that stores the CBD vaping liquid and the atomizer unit. Because CBD oil in its natural form can be highly viscose, CBD vaping liquids are mixed with thinning agents to allow vaporization.
When the battery is activated, the atomizer heats up the vaping liquid and expels inhalable vapor through the mouthpiece. Although the liquid goes through intense heat, it will never reach the point of combustion. This means that you get to enjoy all the benefits of CBD without the nasty side effects of smoke or tar.
Vaping has been around since the 1960s but only came into mainstream in the last decade with the invention of the electronic cigarette.
Dry herb vaporizers are all the rage these days, with many American pot smokers switching to vape pens when consuming marijuana.
Vaping presents a much more convenient delivery method – without the irritants of smoking a joint. Studies have also showed that vaping is far less harmful than smoking, as concluded by cardiologist Dr. Konstantinos E. Farsalinos and tobacco harm reduction advocate Riccardo Polosa in their paper published in the Journal of Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety. [R]
The one caveat to vaping is the burnt hit. Vaporizing the vaping liquid to extreme temperatures can result in losing its CBD content, which renders it useless if your goal is to experience the benefits of cannabidiol.
Why is vaping CBD so popular?
- Vaping CBD works much faster than other methods of administration
When you vape CBD, the effects are almost immediate. Capsules and edibles can take up to 90 minutes to start working. If you feel that a panic attack is imminent, you cannot afford to wait for the pill. One or two hits from your vaporizer can provide quick relief. This also applies to patients who are suffering from seizures.
- Vaping is less harmful than smoking
According to the National Cancer Institute, cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals of which at least 250 are toxic to humans. These include substances such as carbon monoxide, ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide. Around 69 of these chemicals can cause cancer, including arsenic, benzene, cadmium, chromium, nickel and vinyl chloride. [R]
Without these toxic chemicals, vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking according to Public Health England. [R]
- CBD is not intoxicating
CBD and THC are components of cannabis that both have the capability to produce highly therapeutic effects. The problem with THC is that it can get you high and hooked. CBD does not.
- Vaping is discreet
Smoking attracts too much attention while vaping allows you to remain discreet. You can take your CBD anytime, anywhere, without apprehension.
Why is vaping CBD superior to smoking?
There are many reasons why vaping is the optimal choice over smoking when taking CBD.
- Vapor is 95% free of carcinogens
- Your body can absorb up to 95% of the CBD within the first few hits
- Most of the CBD goes up in smoke whereas vapor preserves most of the substance because of the cooler temperature
- Vaping does not make you smell
- Vaping is discreet
- Vaping allows you to appreciate the flavor profile of terpenes better
- Vaping is more cost-effective
Many smokers have made the switch to vaping primarily for their respiratory health. Anything that you burn and inhale can irritate your lungs. The same applies to CBD.
Benefits of vaping CBD
When you smoke a marijuana joint, you are burning plant matter that could potentially damage the most valuable compounds of cannabis – cannabinoids and terpenes. This is not the case with vaping.
When you vape, CBD is not lost to the fire. In fact, all of the CBD in vapor form enters your lungs.
CBD vaping liquids often come with an exact amount of CBD in the bottle. The label also indicates how many breaths you could pull from a single cylinder. Most manufacturers provide a guide on how much vaping liquid you should load on your tank and how long you should inhale.
A pilot study conducted in 2007 compared the vaporization of cannabis to smoking it in a standard cigarette. The researchers observed 18 healthy subjects during a 6-day period, measuring intakes of cannabis per subject as well as the effects of each puff on each participant. Findings showed that all of the THC content administered to each subject was observed in their body. No cannabinoids were wasted – something that is common when cannabis buds are smoked. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. [R]
What is bioavailability?
Bioavailability refers to the amount of CBD that actually reaches your bloodstream and is used by the body. Each delivery method has a different bioavailability rate. Next to intravenous injections, vaping is the most effective way of getting a drug into your blood.
Here's a comparison of the bioavailability rates of different routes of administration:
- CBD vaping liquid – 40-50%
- CBD sublingual tinctures – 20-30%
- CBD capsules and edibles – 5-15%
If you consume 10mg of vaping liquid, your body can only absorb around 4mg to 5mg of the CBD. Take this into account when determining your dosage. If you wish to switch to a different product, you will need to adjust your dosage accordingly.
How to calculate your dosage
Calculate your body weight and start with the lowest dosage. Work your way up gradually if you do not feel any effects. If you take too much at once, you could experience side effects such as drowsiness, fatigue, diarrhea, or change in appetite. [R]
Vaping liquid bottles are typically marked with the total amount of CBD instead of per milliliter. How do you know how much CBD you are getting from full refill?
- If you have a 30ml bottle containing 1000mg of CBD, each ml should contain approximately 33.3mg of CBD
- If your tank has a 2ml capacity, then it contains 66.6mg of CBD
- If your tank has a 3ml capacity, then it contains 99.9mg of CBD
How much CBD in each puff
There is no way to determine how much CBD you are inhaling from each puff. There are hundreds of vape pens and tanks out there, each one built to produce different levels of vapor output. Each individual has unique inhaling styles too, so each person will take in different amounts of vapor.
You can pull around 100 to 200 puffs from a standard 1ml cartridge, depending on puff duration. If the cartridge contains 200mg of CBD, you could get 1mg to 2mg of CBD per puff.
Advanced vape mods are usually designed with a puff counter. This can help you track the number of puffs you have taken. Once you have cleared your vape tank, divide the total amount of CBD in your tank by the total number of puffs to determine how much CBD you inhaled from each puff.
Recommended dosages for CBD
Although there is no universal dosage for CBD, we can estimate how much a patient should take based on body weight. The heavier you are, the more CBD you should take to feel the effects.
Below is a general reference for people who are taking CBD orally.
80-150 lbs body weight
151-240 lbs body weight
>240 lbs body weight
Since these numbers are for ingesting CBD, you would not need as much if you are vaping due to the higher bioavailability.
During the trial period, listen carefully to your body and how it reacts to the CBD. Move up or move down the dosage ladder accordingly.
If you are taking CBD for a medical issue, expect your dosage to change based on the condition you are treating. The Mayo Clinic recently published this dosing guide for various illnesses:
Loss of appetite in cancer patients: 2.5mg of THC orally, with or without 1mg of CBD for six weeks. [R]
Chronic pain: 2.5-20mg of CBD orally, with or without THC, for 25 days. [R]
Epilepsy: 200-300mg of CBD orally for up to 4.5 months. [R]
Movement issues related to Huntington’s disease: 10mg of CBD per kilo of body weight for six weeks. [R]
Insomnia and sleep disorders: 40-160mg of CBD. [R]
Multiple Sclerosis (MS): 2.5-120mg of an oral THC/CBD extract daily for 2-15 weeks, or a mouth spray with 2.7mg THC and 2.5mg CBD at doses of 2.5-120mg in eight sprays within three hours, with a maximum of 48 sprays in any 24-hour period, for up to eight weeks. [R]
Schizophrenia: 40-1280mg oral CBD for up to four weeks. [R]
Glaucoma: 20-40mg single CBD dose (do not go beyond 40mg as it may increase eye pressure). [R]
If you are suffering from these symptoms, we strongly recommend that you speak with your doctor about CBD.
Important notes on CBD dosing:
- Patients who are suffering from any form of mental illness often require lower doses compared to other ailments.
- The ideal dosage for chronic pain is usually between 10mg and 20mg taken in multiple doses throughout the day.
How to find the right dosage for you
While we cannot determine exactly how much CBD you should vape, we can recommend steps on how to find the most suitable serving size for you.
- Start low. One to two drags is a good jump off point.
- You can inhale mouth-to-lung or direct to lung, depending on your vape device.
- The effects of vaping CBD are almost instant so expect to feel relief within a few minutes.
- Stick to your starting serving size for a few days.
- Write down any side effects.
- If you do not feel anything, take another drag.
- Repeat this process until you achieve the desired effects.
In his recent paper for Harvard Health Publishing, Dr. Peter Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School noted that, "one of the most difficult challenges in CBD dosing is that the substance is not currently recognized as medicine". This has forced vendors to market their CBD products as supplements which the FDA does not regulate.
As supplements, CBD products might not be accurately labeled. There is no way to know for sure what active ingredients are in the CBD vaping liquid and how much CBD you are getting from each dose. There is also concern that the product may contain unknown elements in order to make CBD inhalable.
For these reasons, it is impossible to come up with exact therapeutic doses of CBD for specific medical conditions.
CBD is only approved by the FDA for treating intractable epilepsy, particularly two rare forms of the disease – Dravet’s syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
CBD is the most active ingredient in Epidiolex. With the FDA granting approval to Epidiolex back in June 2018, the pharmaceutical label comes with specific dosing recommendations for physicians through an official Prescribing Information document.
There are clinical trials currently ongoing but it could take years before CBD is finally recognized as a therapeutic agent. Until then, CBD products will continue to be sold as supplements with no Reference Daily Intake (RDI). This means patients are left to self-medicate and figure out the right dosage for their specific condition and lifestyle.
While experimentation can scare away beginners, you must know that one cannot overdose on CBD. There is no established lethal dose of CBD and there has never been a reported case of CBD overdose. Even chronic high doses are well tolerated by humans.
The most significant side effect of CBD is its interference with the CYP450 enzyme system in the liver. This enzyme is responsible for breaking down approximately 60% of pharmaceutical drugs on the market. It might not be wise to vape CBD if you are currently on medication due to the possibility of drug interactions.
How to choose a CBD vaporizer
There are four options when choosing a device for vaping CBD.
- Disposable CBD vape pens
Disposable CBD vape pens are cheap, small, and convenient. The size of a standard cigarette, it comes pre-charged and pre-filled. These devices are ideal for travel and in situations where you need to be discreet.
- Pre-filled CBD vape pens
These pen-style devices are sold in what is called a CBD vape shot kit. It includes two components – a battery at the bottom and a cartridge on top. Pre-filled CBD vape pens are perfect for beginners as they are very easy to use and relatively inexpensive. Just screw the cartridge into the battery and vape away! When the taste starts to go bad or the vapor starts to thin out, throw away the spent cartridge and install a fresh one.
Pre-filled cartridges allow you to easily swap different CBD strains and different flavors. You don't even have to finish a cartridge if you want to try a new one.
- Refillable tank-style vaporizers
Tank-style refillable vaporizers are most popular among pot smokers who want the same sensation as smoking.
Tank-style vaporizers have two components: a battery and a vaping liquid chamber. Instead of replacing a cartridge, the tank is refillable so you simply add more CBD oil when you run out.
This refillable style allows you to experiment with different strains and blends, choosing specific flavors or terpenes that you want to add.
- Table-top vaporizers
Table-top vaporizers are the least popular way to vape CBD because they are bulky and heavy. They rely on a wall outlet as power source which makes it impossible to move around. Vapor is inhalable through a bag or hose-like mouthpiece.
But if you are vaping at home and you have the space for it, the table-top vaporizer is the best device for maximum flavor enjoyment. High-quality tabletops can preserve the natural aroma of cannabis way better than any other intake method.
The sophisticated technology of table-top vaporizers allows you to navigate through complex features in order to find your sweet spot. Tweak settings with unparalleled precision until the devices reaches the optimal temperature for specific terpenes and cannabinoids.
Tabletops are ideal for patients who are vaping for therapeutic purposes as well as cannabis connoisseurs with discriminating tastes.
Determining the perfect dose for vaping CBD not only depends on your body weight and medical condition but the type of vaporizer as well. Check the product page as some manufacturers do provide instruction videos for their cannabis vaporizers.
Always start with the lowest dosage and work your way up if needed. If you feel like you are not getting enough relief, try increasing dosage in 5mg increments.