The Top 6 Ways to Identify Fake Cartridges

The Top 6 Ways to Identify Fake Cartridges

Today, cannabis vape cartridges are more popular than ever. However, due in large part to their exploding popularity, there has been an increase in fake cartridge manufacturers trying to cash in on the trend. 
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Today, cannabis vape cartridges are more popular than ever. However, due in large part to their exploding popularity, there has been an increase in fake carts trying to cash in on the trend. 

It was quickly discovered that fake cartridges can have detrimental health effects. In fact, fake vape carts went viral for containing vitamin E acetate, a filler used to reduce costs, just a few years ago with coast-to-coast news coverage on the worst-case scenarios from consuming them.  

So, in today’s complex world of vape carts - how can you identify fake cartridges from real ones to stay safe vaping? Keep reading for the top six ways to identify a fake cartridge and the most common FAQs on the topic. 

Fake Cartridges

Fake Cartridge Safety Concerns 

Before we get into the ways to identify a fake cartridge, it’s crucial to know why it’s so important. Fake cartridges became the talk of the town in 2019 when their safety and health hazards came to light. Since then, we’ve learned about a number of safety and health concerns. 

Including - 

  • Users may experience lung pain, shortness of breath, and bouts of coughing from unsafe ingredients for inhaling. 
  • Fake cartridges often come with unsafe batteries, which can cause combustion, or overheating of the vape. 
  • Low-quality materials used for the cartridge container may release poisonous fumes that are dangerous to inhale. 
  • Long-term use may lead to vaping-associated pulmonary injury, which can result in death. 

The severity of this list is why consumers are now educating themselves on safe vape use. That includes, knowing how to identify fake cartridges to protect your health and safety. 

Top 6 Ways to Identify Fake Cartridges 

Now that you know just how unsafe fake cartridges are, let’s get into the top ways of identifying the vapes 

     1. Purchase from licensed vendors & trusted brands

Just like food or other ingestible goods - you wouldn’t purchase or consume any from a vendor or brand you can’t trust, the same should apply to vaping. Especially with the increase in fake cartridges on the market today. So, if you’ve never heard of a manufacturer before, it’s best to do your research before puffing. 

Vape cart manufacturers who are legal and licensed are subject to rigorous testing, to confirm the exact contents, and contaminants of what they produce. This means, if they don’t meet testing standards for safe use - they won’t make it to the shelf. 

Since fake cartridges are not subject to these types of tests - verifying the legitimacy of the brand or vendor first, is the first sign to check for. 

     2. Know your brands

If you’re buying online or from a third-party, don’t just take the source’s word for it when it comes to brands. Again, take the time to research the vape brand you’re considering before you move forward with the purchase. 

Online retailers and sources, like Leafly or I Heart Jane, host a versatile collection of trusted brands that you can use for verification purposes. User forums like Reddit, may also discuss the brand you’re considering so conducting a simple Google search will help too. 

     3. Compare & confirm packaging details

Because some fake cartridges try to mimic legit brands, once you confirm the brand is legit - it doesn’t hurt to go further. To do so, it’s recommended to seek out the brand’s licensed packaging to compare and contrast with the one you plan on purchasing. 

Fake cartridge manufacturers have become savvy at spoofing the real deal. Which means, the difference could come down to small details. Most state regulations require a batch or lot number to be printed on the packaging or label, so that’s a good place to start for verification purposes. 

In addition, if cartridges are branded with cartoons or novelty characters - they’re likely fake. Legal states tend to have regulations that restrict manufacturers from producing any type of packaging that would be desirable to children. That even includes the advertising of fruity or candy-like flavors for certain states. 

So, be cautious of any vape cartridge with packaging that's overly cartoonish or childish.

     4. Beware of fake copycats

Of course, some fake cartridge manufacturers take their imitation to all new levels. With some going as far as building their own website and online presence, to appear legit. 

During your research, make sure there are no duplicate websites for the brand you’re purchasing. To verify the site even further,  look for the license # which is often listed, or inquire with the company directly.

You can also cross-reference locations listed on the web site with the recorded location for licensing by the state in which you live. 

     5. Check the ingredients

Back to our food analogy - it always helps to check the ingredients to ensure you know what you’re consuming. Much of the controversy over fake cartridge side effects was likely caused by filler, which fake manufacturers use to mimic the real thing. The most common ingredients used for this purpose include - 

  • Vitamin E Acetate
  • Polyethylene glycol
  • Propylene glycol
  • Vegetable glycerin

Although these agents are technically approved by the FDA for consumption, they aren’t approved for inhalation. Today, experts are investigating vitamin E acetate as a possible cause for many vaping illnesses and deaths. 

Also, be aware that real vape carts typically contain THC levels of 70-90%. Anything lower than 60% has likely been cut with some type of agent, and anything above 99% would be considered suspect, too.                                                                       

     6. Verify regulatory compliance

Like we mentioned earlier, legal states require rigorous testing, and requirements for packaging and labeling. So, most legal and ‘real’ vape cartridges tend to have extremely detailed information on the package it comes in. For instance, the regulations in California require manufacturers to include - 

  • Date of manufacturing and packaging
  • Government warning verbiage for cannabis use
  • Manufacturer name and contact details 
  • UID number
  • Lot or batch number
  • Instructions or preparation for use 
  • Ingredient list, including allergens, and artificial food colorings used 
  • Use by, best-by or expiration date 

These compliance requirements vary from state to state, and you can check them on the state’s governing website. 

When it comes to fake cartridges - no question, is a dumb question. So, to finish our ultimate guide - let’s answer some FAQs. 

Fake Cartridges FAQ

 Fake Cartridges

Can a fake CBD vape cartridge kill people?

Fake CBD vapes can be made with the same types of harmful fillers that may be responsible for  vaping-associated pulmonary injury. This new condition has already been found in over 530 people, and has killed six. So, yes to avoid any injury or death it’s best to avoid fake CBD or THC cartridges altogether. 

What are the side effects of fake cartridges?

Beyond dealing with a vape pen cartridge with no airflow issue, there are far more consequential side effects of fake cartridges. Like coughing, harmful lung issues, illnesses and conditions, and even death. 

Has this vape cart been tested & approved?

To determine if a vape cart has been tested and approved, review the product's packaging or inquire with the manufacturer or retailer. Legitimate and reputable brands typically provide information about third-party lab testing, ensuring the quality and safety of their vape cartridges.

Is there a fake cartridges list?

Luckily, with the collaboration of consumers and being able to connect online - there is now a long list of known fake cartridges. So far, the following brands are a part of this ongoing collection of fake vendors. This is meant to serve as an example and is not an exhaustive or regularly updated list.

Bart Carts

Supreme Vape Cartridges

Organic Smart Carts

Chronic Carts


Supreme G Carts

Exotic Carts

Dank Vapes

Mario Carts

Space Vape Cartridges


Buddah Bear Carts

Glo Extracts

Cali Carts

Muha Meds

Off White

Lion’s Breath

Cereal Carts

KRT Yang

Springfield Farms 



Legion of Bloom

TKO Extracts

Big Chief Extracts 

West Coast Cartridges 


Also keep in mind, certain brands on this list have legal counterparts or sell other licensed types of products (like edibles, flower). Yet counterfeiters use their brand name to sell fake cartridges on the black market, to make them look more legit. 

fake cartridges

Some brands now equip their packaging with a QR code that consumers can scan to verify legitimacy on the spot. 

Fake Cartridges - The Bottom Line                           

All in all, consuming real cannabis vape carts can provide a plethora of health and wellness benefits. And with a long-lasting 510 thread cartridge battery it’s one of the simplest and most convenient ways to consume. 

However, fake cartridges can do more harm than good. That’s why it’s so important to understand how to identify fake cartridges still lurking in the market today. 

For the utmost quality in vaping, avoid fake cartridges at all costs, and stick with top-shelf brands like O.pen. Now, bookmark this blog for future reference and share it with your friends and family so they can stay safe too! 

As always, turn to O.pen for all of your premium vape accessories, and supplies.