Why Are My Vape Cartridge Different Colors?

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Why Are My Vape Cartridge Different Colors?

Both cannabis and hemp vape cartridges are becoming increasingly popular as the years go on. They are touted as being a much healthier alternative to traditional consumption methods such as smoking.

For those who don’t know, vape carts are portable units, small tanks full of cannabinoid extract,  that connect to a special battery, which creates heat that causes the cannabis or hemp oil to turn into vapor. Now, something that you may have noticed is that your vape carts are different colors. Maybe your vape carts got darker over time.

As a retailer, this may seem troublesome, because you want your products to be confident. As a consumer, you might wonder if the vape cart in question is up to standard. So, why are my carts different colors? As you’ll see, there are quite a few factors that can affect vape cart color.

An Introduction to Vape Carts and Their Components

Just for some background, vape carts consist of several components. First, we have the cartridge. The cartridge itself is where the cannabis or hemp oil is contained (usually in a glass tank), and of course, hemp or cannabis oil is another component.

The third and perhaps the most important component of a vape cart is the coil or heating element. This generates heat and causes the liquid oil to turn into a gaseous vapor that can then be inhaled. Explore our article on “How Are Vape Cartridges Made “.

The quality and color of the vape cart, by which we mean the oil or extract on the inside, can be influenced by a variety of factors. Let’s find out what these are.

The Factors That Affect Vape Cart Color

Many factors affect the color of your vape cart, and it all starts with the manufacturing process, with extraction and refinement processes being large parts of the equation. Quality control standards may also play a certain role here.

The Manufacturing Process

How a vape cart is manufactured plays a role in the final color, as there are many ways to extract and refine cannabinoids from plant matter. Exactly how these processes are carried out affects the vape cart color.

The Extraction Methods

Various methods can be used to extract cannabis oil from the plant matter, with CO2, ethanol, and hydrocarbon extraction being three common methods.

With CO2 extraction, carbon dioxide and low temperatures are used to extract the oil, which results in very clear and light-colored oil.

We then have ethanol extraction, which involves using ethanol as a solvent to remove vital cannabinoids from the plant matter. Due to how chlorophyll dissolves in ethanol, the resulting oil is often substantially darker than with CO2 extraction.

Finally, we have hydrocarbon extraction, which uses propane or butane to separate the cannabis oil from the plant matter. Depending on the refinement steps taken after the oil is extracted, the color can differ greatly, so let’s take a look at those refinement methods.

The Refinement Methods

There are three main refinement methods that are usually used to refine cannabis oil into a product fit for vaping, and these include distillation, winterization, and filtration.

If we are talking about distillation, this separates and removes various compounds from the oil based on their individual boiling points. The color can vary greatly as it depends on what components are left behind.

However, if the winterization technique is used, which removes lipids, waxes, and other compounds from the cannabis oil, you can expect the final product to be quite clear and light.

Cannabis oil can then be further filtered to remove even more impurities, particularly ones such as chlorophyll. This can significantly lighten the color of the cannabis vape cart oil.

Quality Control Methods

These oils must all be tested for quality, particularly for the presence of contaminants like pesticides and heavy metals, as well as solvents left behind from the extraction process. If there are any such contaminants present, it may cause the oil to be darker than it should be.


We then have to consider that the types of ingredients used to make the vape cart in the first place also play a large role in its color.

The Type of Extracts

First, you need to consider the type of extract being used. For instance, full-spectrum extracts contain many cannabinoids, terpenes, and plant compounds, therefore resulting in a darker color. Broad-spectrum extracts are generally lighter than full-spectrum, but still quite dark. We then have isolates, which are pure cannabinoids, and these are very light in color, or sometimes even clear.

Synthetic and Natural Ingredients

Also, consider that vape carts can be made with both natural and synthetic ingredients. For instance, synthetic ingredients usually don’t affect color much, whereas natural ingredients, such as terpenes and flavors, can darken the oil.

The Terpenes

Related to the above point, vape carts often have additional terpenes for flavor. These terpenes can also affect the color of the vape cart. Those terpenes that naturally come from plants, such as cannabis, may cause the vape cart oil to be darker than usual.


Storage is something else that must be considered here, as how vape carts are stored can affect their color.

Exposure to Light

Vape carts should be kept in the dark. UV or sunlight causes terpenes and cannabinoids to degrade. This will cause the oil to darken.


Also consider the temperature at which vape carts are stored. Cool and dark areas tend to preserve the original color, whereas warm high temperatures can lead to darker oil. The hotter the temperature, the faster the oil degrades, and this can lead to darkening.

Expiration Dates

Unfortunately, vape carts don’t last forever, and as they get older, they can also darken. Therefore, always check the expiration date before making any purchase.

Other Factors That Affect Vape Cart Color

There are some other factors that can affect vape cart color as well, with oxidation being the main one.


Oxidization is a process where the various components in the oil react with oxygen, and this can cause the components to degrade and darken over time. During the manufacturing process, these oils should not be exposed to oxygen.

Colorants and Additives

Some manufacturers purposely add colors or additives to the oil with the express intent of changing the color, flavor, or overall smoking experience.

Is a Darker or Lighter Vape Better?

Both light and dark vape cart oil can be high-quality. Color is not necessarily an indication of the quality of the oil.

Does a Dark-Colored Vape Indicate a Low-Quality Product?

No, a darker oil is not necessarily lower quality. For instance, full-spectrum extracts are often quite dark, and different refinement processes can also contribute to differences in colors. That said, sometimes those color differences may be due to oxygen or UV exposure, or due to contaminants, in which case a darker oil may be of lower quality.

Do People Prefer Lighter or Darker Vape Carts?

The connotation among many consumers is that lighter-colored oils are better, so many prefer lighter vape carts. However, those who recognize that darker colors may be a result of the extract being full-spectrum, as well as due to additives, may recognize the value of darker vape oils.

My Vape Got Darker – Is it Still Safe to Consume?’

If your vape cart has been properly manufactured and stored, and it has not yet reached its expiry date, it should be perfectly safe to consume. However, beware that the darkening of the oil does indicate that the cannabinoids and terpenes have degraded over time.

Final Thoughts – Why Are My Vape Carts Different Colors?

The bottom line is that although darker oil may indicate a lower quality product in some cases, this is far from a rule of thumb. In many cases, dark and light oil can be of equally high quality. The color depends on the manufacturing processes, storage, and additives more than anything else. You might find a darker full-spectrum vape cart that turns into a fan favorite thanks to its awesome cannabinoid and terpene profile!

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