510 Cartridges: The Difference Between Full Spectrum & Broad Spectrum Distillate

Updated: Oct 13


What is a 510 Thread Cartridge?


510 thread cartridges are the most common type of cartridges when it comes to vaporizing cannabis. These types of cartridges consist of a glass casement, a small internal heating element, and a mouthpiece. They are usually filled with a concentrated cannabis oil known as distillate. “510 thread” refers to the size of the threaded connection used to attach the cartridge to a rechargeable 510 battery.


How Do I Use a 510 Thread Cartridge?


Using your cartridge is easy! You just need to attach the 510 cartridge to your 510 threaded battery by gently screwing them together, be careful not to overtighten or you may damage the components. Make sure that the cartridge is properly attached to ensure full contact with the battery. You’re ready to vape!


Most batteries have an on/off button, while others have multiple heat settings or no button at all. Pen-style 510 batteries are simple and easy to use, but it’s always best to follow the specific instructions included when you purchase your battery and ask your knowledgeable budtender any questions you might have. Check out our article on everything you need to know about 510 cartridges to get more detailed information on 510 cartridges, how to use them, and troubleshooting.


What Are The Types of Extracts Found in 510 Cartridges and How Are They Different?


Distillate - This is a concentrated cannabis extract refined from a liquid extraction to isolate one compound (usually THC or CBD) but also to isolate other cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant. Distillate is essentially an isolate of one compound and is much stronger and more pure than cannabis flower.



Distillate is often used in vape cartridges, edibles, and topical products. This product gets its name from the process of distillation used to heat and condense the liquid extract from the cannabis plant to isolate a desired compound. THC and CBD are usually the desired compounds. Distillate is often mixed with MCT oil in cartridges to allow the product to flow easily since THC is crystalline at room temperature.



Live Resin - Live resin is a concentrated cannabis extract made from fresh cannabis plants that are flash-frozen immediately after harvesting, whereas other extraction processes typically use buds that have been dried and cured. This process ensures a greater retention of terpenes in the finished product since the trichomes on the plant remain intact. A solvent and high pressure are used to extract the trichomes as resin in facilities kept below freezing temperatures. Manufacturers use a variety of different finishing methods to produce different looking extracts that are easier to handle than distillate or shatter, making them excellent for 510 cartridges.




Since there are more terpenes present in live resin, it is described as more fragrant, having a better flavour, and enhances the entourage effect. ‘Live’ means that an extract was produced with uncured, fresh cannabis, so all of the plant’s terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids are still present.


Why Are Some 510 Cartridges Labeled ‘Full-Spectrum’ and ‘Broad-Spectrum’?


Some cannabis extracts (like distillate) are isolates of one compound from the cannabis plant, usually cannabinoids like THC or CBD , or specific terpenes which give cannabis a flavour and aroma. 510 cartridges can have different products (like live resin) and different concentrations of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids as well as specific flavour profiles. Some are single-strain origin from one type of cannabis plant, while others are a combination of strains and botanical terpenes. ‘Full-spectrum’ and ‘Broad-spectrum’ are used to describe what type of extract you’re getting and what sort of experience to expect.


Full-Spectrum - Currently, ‘full-spectrum’ is the term often used for cannabis extracts that have the widest variety of their naturally occurring cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids present and no other botanical additives. Live resin is an example of a full-spectrum extract. These types of extracts take advantage of the ‘entourage effect’, the synergistic relationship that all the different compounds in cannabis have with each other that can have stronger overall effects.



Full-spectrum extracts are the opposite of isolates because they have all their compounds, but full-spectrum distillates are extracts that have isolated all of the cannabinoids and terpenes from the source cannabis plant separately and reformulated them in the post-extraction refinement process. This allows the finished extract to retain all of the original compounds of the source cannabis plant. Additionally, full-spectrum distillate can be achieved by a rigorous and precise method of controlling the temperature and pressure during the extraction process so that the final product has the same naturally occurring compounds as the source cannabis plant without further refinement or reformulation. Full-spectrum CBD distillate is produced by isolating THC out of the finished product.



Broad Spectrum - These concentrated cannabis extracts go through a similar process as full-spectrum extracts, but are usually reformulations of specific isolated cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant and not others (a 510 CBD cartridge for example.) While they do not trigger the entourage effect in the same way full-spectrum extracts do, they offer a more consistent, tailored experience and are cheaper to produce. Broad-spectrum extracts can also be created by adding other cannabinoid isolates back at specific levels, as well as specific botanically sourced terpenes to achieve a pleasant and consistent flavour that is more appealing to many users. They are then tested rigorously for consistency and purity.


It is important to note that there is presently no regulated use or certification for the term “full-spectrum”, so extracts labelled as such could be single-strain/single-source extractions OR reformulations of multiple cannabis-sourced compounds.


So... Which Cartridge Should I Pick?


It really depends on what you’re looking for! If you would like the relaxing full-body feeling in addition to the euphoria you get from smoking a heavy indica flower, a full-spectrum distillate or live resin of a similar strain might be a nice option. If you’d like to experience the benefits of using CBD with either some or none of the psychoactive effects of THC, a broad-spectrum distillate with a 1:1 or 2:1 CBD to THC, or a CBD only cartridge would work well. Many 510 cartridges come in a variety of flavour profiles like different fruit, herbal, spicy or citrus, and are usually available in 0.3g, 0.45-0.5g. and 1g options. If you have a favourite strain of flower, try it as a 510 extract if it’s available. If there’s a grower whose products you enjoy, give one of their cartridges a try.



While the choices may be overwhelming, vaping with 510 cartridges is a discreet, smoke-free way to enjoy cannabis products. As long as they are stored properly, 510 cartridges can be removed from the battery and put away for later use giving you the option to switch from a sativa to an indica or from a juicy berry flavour to a refreshing lemon or herbal mint. Much like cannabis flower, there are many options to suit everyone.



Don’t forget, at Leaf Lab Cannabis there’s always a helpful budtender around to help you figure out which cartridge can get you the reaction you’re looking for so you can leave happy and confident!