Vaping has become increasingly popular as an alternative to smoking. Instead of burning dry plant matter — such as tobacco and cannabis — these electronic devices produce aerosol vapours that are generally recognized as safer for users to inhale.
But can you vape kratom, and is it safe to do so? Let's find out!
As the vaping industry as grown to meet demand, its product line has expanded. Today's customers can vape nicotine, cannabis, CBD, and even vitamin B12. And even though these products are available in other formats, users have flocked to vaping for its ease-of-use. Assuming your device is charged, vaping is easy as inhaling and exhaling.
Naturally, the convenience of vaping has led many consumers to wonder if they can also vape kratom. Many vape products are sold alongside kratom products in various stores and head shops. But kratom, which is typically sold as a powder, isn't nearly as convenient to consume. Kratom users typically pour out and measure their kratom powder before dosing. And in the process, the powder can easily spill, transfer onto other surfaces, or stick to one's hands and clothes.
Some kratom vendors have produced kratom e-liquids for the purposes of vaping. But unfortunately, unlike kratom powders and capsules, existing research doesn't support the effectiveness of kratom vape products.
The main challenge of vaping kratom stems from heat. Most vape devices need to reach high temperatures to produce inhalable vapours. And although drugs like nicotine and cannabis are stable at these temperatures, kratom is not. Studies have found that kratom alkaloids — the natural organic compounds responsible for the plant's effects — are destroyed at high temperatures.
In one study (Basiliere & Kerrigan, 2020), researchers observed that mitragynine (MG), one of kratom's primary alkaloids, was lost within 6 hours at 80C (176F). Another kratom alkaloid, 7-hydroxymitragynine (7-HMG), was "unstable at all pH at temperatures of 60C (140F) or above."
For reference, "top coil" vaping devices operate at temperatures of 145 ‒ 334°C and 110 ‒ 185°C when wet (Chen et al., 2018). At those temperatures, mitragynine and 7-HMG in e-liquid would be destroyed or become unstable — although perhaps not immediately. After all, vape e-liquid is typically only exposed to high temperatures for a few seconds while the user fires the device and inhales. Other vaping devices may operate at varying temperatures, and some even allow users to control the temperature themselves.
However, given that MG and 7-HMG have a low heat tolerance, it's unlikely that kratom could be vaped without reducing the alkaloid content to some extent. As a result, vaping kratom might be considerably less effective than consuming kratom powders or capsules.
Vaping kratom might seem like a novel and alluring way to consume kratom. But unfortunately, our research suggests that kratom becomes less bioavailable and effective when vaped.
Unless someone comes along and revolutionizes the kratom vape scene, you're probably better off sticking to traditional kratom products. Although they might not offer the convenience of vaping, high-quality kratom powders and capsules are generally effective. In some areas, traditional kratom products are also subject to strict quality and purity standards, while kratom vape products typically remain entirely unregulated. For this reason, kratom powders and capsules purchased from a trusted source could be safer to consume.
We hope this post has been helpful! To learn more about kratom's uses and properties, be sure to check out our other blog posts.