Fake THC Vape Cartridges: How to Tell Real from Fake Carts

The continuous boom of the cannabis industry has attracted a lot of fake products to the black market. Due to the lack of awareness, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between a fake vape cartridge and an original one. This guide has been put in place to provide all the information you need to know about fake vape cartridges and how to identify phony vape products like a pro.

What are Vape Cartridges

A cartridge for a vape pen is a cartridge filled with THC or CBD liquid oil. It varies depending on the oil it’s used with. These cartridges can come in various forms but they generally look the same. They also work the same throughout different cartridges.

Vape cartridges are usually 510 threaded meaning they generally have a universal fitting. They either get screwed onto the threading or attach magnetically.

Health Risks of Vape Cartridges 

Generally, human lives and our environment are exposed to real dangers whenever adulterated and counterfeit products hit the supply chain. This is usually because of the harmful compounds and substandard materials they are made with.

The vape market is even worse due to its unregulated nature. This exposes users to health risks whenever they buy and use fake vape cartridges while enriching the pockets of the fraudulent manufacturers.

Here are some of the additives and chemicals to look at when shopping for an authentic and reliable vape cartridge.


Pesticides are substances used by farmers to control pests such as bacteria, insects, fungus, plant diseases, and sometimes weed. Some Plant Growth Regulators contain pesticides too.

Studies have shown that pesticides such as ivermectin and myclobutanil are harmful to human health and can cause medical issues like nose bleeding and coma. Frighteningly, reports from California suggest that about 80% of vaporizer cartridges failed pesticide testing, including real carts.


Herbicides are just like pesticides. The only difference is that herbicides are used to kill unwanted plants and weeds. Just like pesticides, marijuana products nowadays have big problems with herbicides like Acrolein. Studies have shown that inhaled Acrolein is highly toxic and can cause respiratory distress.

fake vape cartridge

Polyethylene Glycol

Polyethylene Glycol is a compound that is used as an ingredient in making laxative solutions and skincare products. It is also used in making vape oils as it helps in making big clouds. While polyethylene is safe for consumption at a controlled level, it has great contamination concerns. Polyethylene glycol can be easily contaminated with Ethylene glycol, a very toxic compound that is not safe for ingestion.

Propylene Glycol

Propylene Glycol is a very popular food additive used in e-juice oils and it serves as an alternative for Polyethylene Glycol. It is also used as an ingredient in both cosmetic and hygiene products. Although the toxicity of this substance is very low, there are lots of conflicting information about its health effects. A few websites note that it is harmless and does not cause cancer. Other people state that it has been linked to medical issues such as heart attacks, liver, kidney diseases, and brain damage.


Lead is a chemical element that you need to avoid when buying vape cartridges. Studies have shown that many dab pen cartridges, including some from recognized brands, contain toxic metals like lead. Medical issues like neurotoxicity and cardiovascular disease have been linked to lead. To top it all, this chemical element does not have a “safe” amount of ingestion.

Fake Cartridges and the Black Market

The black market is constantly flooded with fake carts and fake counterfeit vapes and the lack of regulation seems to worsen the situation. Funny enough, these counterfeit cartridges are designed and well packaged that most consumers would hardly be able to differentiate them from the authentic ones.

People who reside in states where marijuana is illegal face more risk of buying fake vape carts as they don’t have access to legal dispensaries. If you’re lucky enough to live in a state where cannabis is legal, it’s safer to buy all your carts from legitimate dispensaries. The most reputable companies test their products several times in their labs before releasing them to dispensaries for sale.

For those who prefer buying their carts, it’s best to avoid buying off social media platforms like Instagram. You can either buy directly from any of the company’s “authorized” resellers of a brand’s products.

fake thc cartridges

Fake Brass Knuckles Vape 

Before buying a Brass Knuckles vape, you must first learn how to tell a fake from the original. The easiest way to do this is through the hologram. Only authentic Brass Knuckles vape cartridges come with holograms around the package, so always check for them before making a purchase. Once you notice that the hologram is missing, that’s your cue; it’s a fake Brass Knuckles cartridge.

You can also tell if the Knuckles is fake by looking closely at the packaging for incorrect spellings and misinformation. Furthermore, look out for pieces of information at the bottom. Counterfeit Knuckles cartridges usually don’t have any information around that area.

fake brass knuckle vape cartridge

Fake Dank Vapes 

Fraudulent manufacturers in the black market are so dubious that they replicate the exact designs used by reputable companies. For this reason, many companies like Dank Vapes have moved to rebrand their packaging completely.

So how do you identify a fake dank cart? Real danks have holograms on every side of the packaging. The side of the package should read @DANKVAPESOFFICIAL ACCOUNT because that is the official Instagram account of the real company. The fake Dank carts usually have something like @DANKVAPESOFFICIAL, @DANKVAPES, or something different.

Another way to differentiate the real from the fake is to look at the bottom of the cart for the type of ring it has. Authentic Danks have clear rings while the fake ones have white, ceramic or plastic rings. Still looking at the bottom of the cartridge, you will see a CCELL and a unique code. Original carts have clear, small texts while the counterfeited ones have stretched, ugly write up.

real fake dank vape

Fake Heavy Hitters Cartridge 

Fake Heavy Hitters cartridges are very difficult to identify because they look very identical to the original. However, the best way to get a real Heavy Hitters Cartridge is to buy from an authorized reseller. Luckily, the official manufacturer has a list of authorized retailers on its website. Buying from the black market will only expose you to fake Heavy Hitters carts that contain harmful substances and elements like pesticides and lead.

Fake Exotic Carts

Exotic Carts have become some of the most popular vape cartridges in the market. However, not very much is known about the manufacturer. The cartridges contain pesticides after lab tests, which is very worrying. Fake Exotic Carts are everywhere. Since the Exotic has failed to provide adequate information about itself, it seems they are not an official company, so you have to be extremely careful.

Fake CCELL Cartridges

The best way to identify a fake CCELL cartridge is to check the bottom of the cart. A real CCELL cartridge has clear prints of the CCELL logo and alphanumeric code while the fake one has larger and unclear prints. Also, fake CCELL cartridges are made with a white plastic ring at the bottom of the 510 threading, unlike the original one that is made with a clearer ring.

real fake ccell cartridge

Fake Space Vape 

It’s very easy to differentiate between a fake Space vape and the real one. With so make fake vapes in the black market, Space decided to restyle its package into something difficult to replicate. When you hold an authentic space vape, you will be able to feel the SPACE VAPE logo on the package, unlike the fake ones that are just smooth.

Fake Mario Carts 

Mario Carts are in the same category as Exotic carts. There is no background information about the company, and its products have failed pesticide tests. With no official information about Mario, we can consider them untrustworthy so you should think twice before buying this cartridge.

Fake TKO Cartridges

Fake TKO carts have become more popular than the original cartridges. The real company is TKO Products, and it is one of the oldest cannabis brands in California. However, another company known as @_tkoextracts on Instagram claims to be the official company of TKO Extracts, and they have been accused of selling untested products with fake lab test results. The best way to tell the real TKO cart from the fake is to buy from the TKO authorized retailers. Another way to know the difference is that all original TKO carts are disposable-style pens. Lastly, the real TKO company currently offers four different flavors, while the counterfeits offer about 20.

Fake Stiiizy Pods 

It is not very easy to tell the difference between a fake Stiiizy pod and an authentic one because they look very much alike. Although the company is still in the process of restyling its package, you can identify a fake Stiiizy pod by doing a bubble test to determine the quality of the oil.

Stiiizy is known for producing quality products so the fake ones will have lesser quality. To do a bubble test, simply flip the Stiiizy pod upside down while closely watching how fast the air bubble rises. If the speed is slow, then the oil is of high quality, but if it is fast, you’ve got yourself a fake Stiiizy pod.

fake real stiiizy pod

Fake Cookies Cartridge

The manufacturer of Cookies cartridges also produces other cannabis products, including herbs and concentrates. This has led to an increased number of fake vape products with the Cookies brand name. While there are so many counterfeit Cookies cartridges with different packaging, the real company has only two official packagings which you should always look for.

How to Make Sure You Get Real Stuff 

The best way to ensure that you get the real stuff when buying vape cartridges is to be very cautious. Always look for pointers mentioned in this guide whenever you want to make a purchase. Most importantly, buying from the black market is not safe because you face a higher risk of getting fake vape cartridges.  Using a legitimate dispensary or buying from authorized dealers are the best ways to get authentic dab pen cartridges.

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