Competitive vaping has been a thing for just under a decade now, and enthusiasm among both cloud chasers and gazers doesn't look to be dying down in the slightest. Whether it's shows to see who throws down the thickest, fattest clouds or trick meets to showcase the technical skills of the vape space's most renowned influencers, competitive vaping is as popular as it's ever been, with new contenders emerging every day.
Any rookie to intermediate cloud chaser knows the basic tricks of the game when it comes to blowing impressively consistent vapor trails: the use of e-liquids with high ratios of vegetable glycerin (VG) to maintain cloud density, the preference of unregulated mods to get full control over firing temperature and hit the sweet spot on any formulation, and the use of proper breathing technique to avoid ever choking under the spotlight mid-competition. But what separates elite-level vapers from average ones?
Aside from skill, talent and a little bit of luck, the cream of the competitive crop leave as little as possible to chance by staying on top of every aspect of their gear — including hardware components as well as e-liquid ingredients and their respective ratios. Given that the devil is in the details, one way an aspiring cloud chaser could get ahead is with the use of natural terpenes.
What are Terpenes, and Why Do They Matter?
Terpenes are naturally-occurring aromatic hydrocarbons found in all plant life. Aside from being a great alternative to synthetic flavoring agents, terpenes have been shown to work within the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to produce a variety of medicinal and therapeutic effects.
The benefits of terpenes can range from physiological to physical, as with the use of the natural bronchodilator known as alpha-pinene. As its name suggests, pinene gives off the distinct aroma of fresh pine and opens up the lungs, aiding the use of proper breathing technique over long periods of competitive vaping.
Terpenes are widely available and legal across all 50 states. Reputable sellers market as many as 60 different flavors, and even strain profiles perfectly emulating popular strains of cannabis, if that's your thing. The best part? Terpenes are very easy to infuse, and are already regularly incorporated into everything from vape juice to homemade aromatherapy candles by DIYers everywhere.
Flavor, Aroma & Style Points
If you inhale at all when you vape, chances are you prefer e-liquids that taste good without synthetic admixtures filling your lungs. Terpenes are all natural compounds that give you everything from the flavor and aroma of fresh lemon zest to your favorite cannabis strains, such as Banana Kush, Fruity Cereal OG and Cannalope Haze.
When vaping competitively, it definitely helps keep your endurance up over longer events if you actually enjoy the juice in your tank. As an added bonus, you won't have any trouble standing out as a contender if your clouds happen to smell better than everyone else's.
Bactericidal Activity of Select Terpenes
If 2020 has taught us anything, it's the dangers of respiratory infections. Given that competitive vaping entails jam packed venues with dozens of enthusiastic cloud gazers cheering at any given time, it can certainly carry the risk of waking up with a touch of tonsilitis the morning after.
Terpenes such as humulene, geraniol, limonene and alpha-bisabolol are currently being studied for their viability in antibacterial medication and natural food preservation because of their documented potential in inhibiting gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria proliferation, as well as fungal activity. In other words, incorporating terpenes into your e-liquids could add an extra layer of protection against throat infections during a hard night of competitive vaping.
Analgesic Terpenes to Prevent Throat Pain & Swelling
As any veteran cloud chaser will tell you, common side effects of competitive vaping include throat pain, swelling and significant hoarseness in the days immediately following particularly intense events. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic terpenes like myrcene and linalool are shown not only to provide relief from pain, but symptoms of chronic inflammatory disorders such as gout and tendinitis as well.
Analgesic terpenes are one of the most commonly-infused plant compounds in sports medicine products, second only to CBD. They are used in recovery balms, massage oils, icy hot patches and roll-ons to make use of their well documented potential in ameliorating both external and internal conditions characterized by pain or swelling. For this reason, there's a good chance that incorporating these terpenes into your vape juice could save you from what cloud chasers commonly call "morning after sickness."