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The issue with fake vape carts isn’t just about inferior-quality products. What’s in these products can harm your health. Learn how to spot a fake vape cart to ensure your personal safety and satisfaction with the products you buy.


A list in white lettering on a brown background. The headline states: "WHAT MAKES YOUR NY VAPE CART LEGIT?" Underneath the headline in red lettering it states: "Check For:". The six items on the list include: "New York license number", "New York specific label", "A packaging date", "A batch number", "Quality hardware", and "Ingredients + color". Red stars are used as bullet points.



The telltale signs of a fake vape cart

Being able to tell the difference between real and fake vape cartridges is essential to navigating the world of cannabis products. To make things easier, we’ve compiled a list of telltale signs to spot fake vape cartridges and make more informed choices.

Fake vape cart packaging

Typos, blurry images, and off-center text are alarm bells that your vape cart may not be authentic. New York State-licensed products are required to display essential information like lot numbers and manufacturing dates. The manufacturer’s license number must also be prominently displayed on the package. If any of this information is missing, run the other way.


The design of the package plays into this as well. All cannabis product packages sold in New York State must be childproof. If your vape cart comes in a simple box with no additional seals or layers, that may be a sign that you have a fake cart on your hands.

Beware of knockoffs of brands you know

Some brands are more susceptible to counterfeiting than others. The more popular cannabis brands may have knockoff counterparts floating around the illicit market. While these dupes are getting harder to tell apart, it’s still important to closely examine the details to confirm that you’re holding a legitimate product. Compare the branding on your cart to one purchased from a trusted source like a licensed dispensary, or look at photos online from the brand’s official website for clues.

The bottom line: If it’s not sold in a licensed dispensary like The Travel Agency, there’s a good chance it’s an unsafe knockoff.


Some brands are almost exclusive to the illicit market. If it’s an obvious ripoff of a famous logo like a cereal or candy brand, that’s a clear giveaway that the cart is fake. Others may have branding or packaging that would not be approved for use in the licensed market. For example, packaging with bright colors that may appeal to children is not allowed in New York’s adult-use cannabis program. If you see this coloring, it’s an indicator that the brand isn’t legit.

Fake vape cart hardware

Pay attention to the material used in each vape cartridge when assessing authenticity. Genuine cartridges are typically crafted from durable materials like stainless steel, glass, or high-grade plastic. Suspiciously flimsy plastic may be an indicator that the cart is not produced in a licensed facility.


You should also be attentive to the build quality to ensure that components fit together seamlessly. Legitimate cartridges feature secure mouthpieces, seals to prevent leaks, and the hardware itself is often branded. While leaks can happen in licensed vape carts, they are way more common in counterfeits.


Finally, there’s the taste test. A vape cart from a licensed dispensary should not taste off when you go to use it. If you notice a metallic taste or a weird smell coming from your cartridge, it’s best to not use it.

Fake vape cart color and consistency

Legitimate vape cartridges tend to exhibit relatively consistent color and uniform viscosity in their oil content. Notably, color and consistency can change from product to product, and even from batch to batch. What’s important here is understanding what’s within the range of normal and what’s not. We’ll talk a bit more about that later in this blog.


What you should look out for are cartridges that contain anything not in that spectrum of ordinary. Overly bright and unnatural colors are the first red flag that something isn’t right. If you see clear separation of the oil in your cart, that’s another giveaway that the vape cart is fake. Always trust your instincts – if the color or consistency appears off, it’s best to exercise caution.



What are the normal colors for cannabis oil in a vape cart?

Amber hues, golden shades, and some light browns are all normal for cannabis extracts. These variations in color arise from several factors, including the product’s origin cultivar (strain), the extraction method used, and the cultivation method used to grow the source cannabis.


Lighter colors like pale, gold, and amber are generally considered to suggest a well-refined oil that has undergone a thorough extraction and filtration process. Darker shades, such as deep amber, are associated with supercritical CO2 extraction. Any darker than a light brown, and your vape may be headed into unsafe territory.


It’s important to remember that the colors of cannabis oil in a vape cartridge can vary widely, and there’s a lot of debate over what’s considered a “safe” appearance. Understanding the range of normal colors can help you make informed decisions, but color alone is not a definitive indicator of a fake or unsafe product. Instead of relying solely on color, consider the brand’s reputation, third-party lab testing, hardware quality, where the product came from, and the presence of legitimate packaging and safety features.


What is normal consistency for cannabis oil in a vape cart?

The consistency of cannabis oil within vape cartridges can range from runny to viscous depending on factors such as extraction methods and the temperature where the cart was stored. Viscosity variations are natural, with some oils flowing like honey and others as thick as molasses. For example, live resin carts can present darker and thicker than distillate, so thickness is normal consistency for that type of vape cart.


Vape cart ingredients: What should and should not be in them

Understanding what should and shouldn’t be included in the ingredients of a vape cartridge is essential for a safe and enjoyable vaping experience. Let’s break down the components you might encounter in a vape cartridge and differentiate between those that are safe and those that should never find their way into your cartridge.


Typical ingredients that should be in a vape cartridge include:

  • Cannabis extract: The primary ingredient in a vape cartridge is cannabis extract formulated specifically for vaporization in a cart. This extract contains cannabinoids like THC and CBD and terpenes that contribute to the aroma and flavor.


  • Terpenes: Natural compounds known as terpenes are responsible for the distinctive flavor and aromas of different cannabis cultivars. Some vapes contain the terpenes as-is from the source cultivar, while other manufacturers add terpenes back into the mix.



Ingredients that should never be in cartridges include:

  • Cutting agents: Agents like vitamin E acetate (VEA), propylene glycol (PG), or polyethylene glycol (PEG) should never be present in vape cartridges. These additives may lead to serious health risks when vaporized.


  • Synthetic cannabinoids: Vape cartridges should never contain synthetic cannabinoids, often labeled as “spice” or “K2.” These substances can have unpredictable and dangerous effects.


  • Artificial flavoring and additives: Cartridges with artificial flavorings and additives might compromise your health. It’s best to stick to products that only contain cannabis extract and naturally derived terpenes for a safe vaping experience.


  • Heavy metals: Any traces of contaminants like nickel, lead, and manganese should be absent in high-quality vape cartridges, as these substances can be harmful when inhaled. The New York State Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) requires that all vape carts are tested for heavy metals before they can be sold.


What are fake carts made of?

Who knows. Because fake carts are not regulated and tested, fake vape manufacturers can effectively put whatever they’d like in them. Tests done on fake vape carts have found myclobutanil, which turns into harmful hydrogen cyanide when heated, in many kinds of counterfeit vapes.


What happens if you hit a fake cart?

Since counterfeit products often contain unknown and potentially harmful substances, inhaling them can adversely affect your overall health and well-being, including damage to your respiratory system. Fape vape carts can irritate your airway or cause a cough that won’t go away, among other serious health issues.


It’s crucial to prioritize your well-being by only using genuine and trusted vape cartridges from reputable sources. This ensures you make product choices that promote a safe and enjoyable experience.


How to tell if a vape cart is legitimate

From packaging and hardware to regulatory compliance and testing, this cheat sheet offers a rundown of all the factors to look for when determining if a vape cart is legitimate.


  • Clear packaging information: Legitimate vape cartridges will always display accurate and detailed information on the packaging, including batch numbers, manufacturing dates, and license numbers.



  • Professional design: The packaging on a legitimate vape cart features high-quality graphics, clear typography, and consistent branding.


  • Security features: Look for holographic seals, embossed logos, or unique color-shifting inks on the packaging. Many legitimate manufacturers use these security measures to prevent tampering or counterfeiting.


  • QR codes and verifications: Vape cartridges are subject to strict regulations in New York. Reputable brands won’t bury lab test results. This transparency ensures the quality and safety of the product you’re about to buy.


How to store your vape carts

Properly storing vape carts ensures product quality and longevity. You should always store your vape cartridges in a cool, dark environment to prevent light and heat exposure. Avoid extreme temperatures that can affect oil quality, color, and viscosity. Keep them in an upright position to avoid leakage and ensure even oil distribution.


Disconnect your vape cart from the battery whenever it’s not in use. If your cartridge came with caps to protect the mouthpiece or connectors, replace those whenever they aren’t in use.


Shop safely at The Travel Agency

Shop for vape carts with confidence at The Travel Agency. Shopping with a reputable, licensed dispensary is the best way to guarantee the authenticity and safety of your vape carts. With a commitment to offering only legitimate, high-quality products licensed and made in New York State, we prioritize your well-being and satisfaction. Whether shopping in person or ordering for delivery, elevate your vaping experience with peace of mind by choosing The Travel Agency as your trusted vape cartridge provider.


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