The Full Interview with Anthony Carnevale from Calyx Labs
Updated: Apr 18
Buried in the back of the 2021 4th quarter OCS insight report is the quality assurance section and within that, is the product complaints section. It's not surprising that there would be issues with Cannabis products, beyond it being an organic product with a finite shelf life, it can also have issues with packaging, labelling, and shipping. However, there is one stunningly high statistic: complaints-per-million-unit (CPMU) for vape cartridges. The complaints for vape cartridges exceed those of any other Cannabis product category by a 4x magnitude and are greater than all the complaints in the other product categories combined (flower, edibles, topicals, and extracts).
Burning Tree spoke with Anthony Carnevale, a vaporizer expert from Calyx Labs on how retailers can help educate themselves and their customers on proper vape cartridge use to reduce returns & complaints, improve user experience, and build customer retention.
Here is the full text of Burning Tree's interview with Anthony Carnevale (AC) from Calyx:
BT: Looking at the same OCS insights report mentioned off the top, concentrates seem to be growing in popularity as flower sales start to taper off. With products like vape cartridges more likely to see more volume, consumers should know how to purchase, use and care for these products. What do you think is the #1 thing a retailer could do to ensure the user experience is good and minimize any product complaints?
AC: You’re definitely right about vapes growing in popularity, especially amongst the growing Gen Z market. At Calyx Labs we believe education at the point of sale is the #1 way for retailers to help limit the number of complaints and returns they see related to vapes.
"[W]e believe education at the point of sale is the #1 way for retailers to help limit the number of complaints and returns they see related to vapes."
Reputable companies like CCELL manufacture vape carts that are very well engineered and leave the factory with nearly a 0% fail rate. Other popular manufacturers experience fail rates below 5% as well. This shows us that most vape complaints about leaking and clogging are because of user error and can actually be avoided!
Ensuring that consumers understand a vape pen is not a dab rig is crucial when it comes to the proper use of their carts. A vape cart will never hit as hard as a proper dab rig and no amount of inhalation will make them do so. Oftentimes, users will draw far too hard on their pens, burning the terpenes and flooding the atomizer. A flooded atomizer is the leading culprit behind leaking and clogging carts.
"A flooded atomizer is the leading culprit behind leaking and clogging carts."
In terms of maintaining the cart, having some 99% isopropyl alcohol handy to help wipe down the threading on your battery and cart is always advisable. If a cart isn’t firing properly, a dirty thread connection is typically the cause.
BT: Is there anything that a retailer should look for when purchasing or adding a new vape SKU to their inventory?
AC: There are a few things to keep in mind when making your purchases for vape products. Most LPs are open to letting customers know what vape hardware they are using. All carts come from China and the most well-known manufacturer is probably CCELL. They have been engineering cannabis-specific vapes since 2016 and has invested considerably in R&D to maintain its place as the industry leader in the market. Since CCELL invented the ceramic atomizer back in 2016, many other brands have copied their recipe to various levels of success.
Like I said earlier, most carts are made with an incredibly high level of attention to low failure rates. The biggest red flag for me would be LPs not divulging the source of their vape’s hardware. Most brands investing in a reputable supplier of vape hardware will look to promote that supplier. If an LP is keeping their hardware supplier hush-hush, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re purchasing from a supplier with a bad reputation in an attempt to cut costs.
"Most brands investing in a reputable supplier of vape hardware will look to promote that supplier."
BT: Similarly, what should a consumer look for when purchasing?
AC: From my experience as a consumer, Reddit is an invaluable resource for product research. Most products available will have at least a review or two about it on one of the Canadian cannabis subreddits. Similarly to retailers, it usually isn’t too hard to find out what hardware your vape cart is using. Be warry of LPs who are ashamed to divulge the source of their carts’ technology.
BT: How long should a vape cartridge be expected to function if properly cared for?
AC: That’s tough to say for sure since there are a lot of factors that play a part in why vape carts stop functioning properly over time. If you want to keep your carts for a long period of time my professional advice would be to store them in the fridge. The biggest factors affecting the shelf life of your vape’s oils are temperature, sunlight, and humidity. Storing a cart in a room with high temperatures will encourage the delicate terps inside to begin evaporating or oxidizing. Like any other cannabis product, the sun's natural UV rays can be very harmful to the shelf life of vapes. Make sure to store your carts out of direct sunlight. Lastly, high levels of humidity can both damage your vape’s oils as well as the delicate electronics inside. It isn’t advisable to take your vape cart into a steamy bathroom or a sauna.
"The biggest factors affecting the shelf life of your vape’s oils are temperature, sunlight, and humidity."
BT: Are there any carts that should be avoided? And conversely, any carts that are superior?
AC: Luckily Health Canada does a great job of certifying Licensed Producers are using vape hardware that is safe. All vape carts on the legal Canadian market must meet a lengthy list of certifications ensuring they’re safe to use. This should give most consumers the peace of mind to at least know their cart won’t hurt them as we saw back in 2019 during the widely publicized “2019–2020 vaping lung illness outbreak”.
With this being said, there are definitely carts manufacturers that have gone above and beyond when it comes to ensuring safety through R&D. CCELL is one company that has stood out as an industry leader in the vape space. They manufacture carts backed by over 6 years of experience and improvement.
BT: Are there any usage tips that should be implemented with in use or when not being used?
AC: Like I said earlier, storage in a fridge is best in the long term. Don’t pull too hard and keep some ISO alcohol handy to clean up in case of leaking. I also like to keep a toothpick on me to help unclog carts, especially during the colder winter months. On that point, all vapes will struggle in the cold since they need to work harder to achieve the same heat. If you are using your cart in the cold, try to keep it stored close to your body so the device doesn’t get too cold to function properly.
BT: Do you have any product recommendations available in vape carts that you'd recommend?
AC: I don’t like to play favorites but I’m a big fan of legacy-to-legal brands like Phyto Extracts and Glacial Gold. Both of these options use superior CCELL technology and they are brands I’ve come to trust from years of experience.
BT: Thank you so much for time Anthony. I really appreciate it. It's been great to talk with you on tuis important issue.