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Wednesday June 13, 2018

By Erin Hiatt


If you have ever used a vaporizer to consume marijuana, you may have noticed a curious aftereffect: sneezing. Granted, there are not any scientific studies dedicated to why someone might sneeze while vaping, but there may be a few culprits leading to a “gesundheit.” Here are a few, admittedly, very unscientific theories.

An Extremely Imperfect Poll

A general query put out on social media came back with a few ideas, but the one that stood out was size of hit. Christine in Seattle correlated her sneezing with how big of a hit she takes. “The bigger the hit,” the more likely I’ll sneeze,” she says. “Also, first hits as opposed to the 16th.”

Louise in New York City also drew a direct line from hit size to sneeze – but not all the time – and it did not matter what kind of vape she was using. Ozzy, a neighbor, said that, come to think of it, he does sneeze when he vapes. Pulling on his vape to prove it, he offered that he sneezed when he took big hits, especially when he exhaled through his nose.

Vape Pen
Could exhaling through your nose have something to do with vaping and sneezing?

Several members of the PotGuide team also experience sneezing after vaporizing, whether it be a flower vape or a concentrate cartridge. One staff member almost always sneezes at least once after their first hit of a vape cartridge, but hardly ever when they use their volcano. Similar to cannabis itself, it appears everyone is affected differently in regard to bouts of sneezing as it relates to vaporization.

Is It the Actual Vape?

The market for vapes has exploded in the past couple of years. Marijuana delivery service Eaze found that purchases of vaporizer cartridges in California grew from six percent of the market in 2015 to 24 percent just one year later, a 400 percent increase, and that other states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington were following suit.

It’s evident that a lot of people are trading in their bowls for vapes, but what exactly are vapes made of? Vapes are composed of a few parts: plastic, glass, metal, ceramic, wires, batteries, and a vaping oil, some of which may be unhealthy to inhale. Maybe one of those components are to blame?

Vape Cartridges
Additives and cutting agents could play a major role in the sneeze effect of vaping.

Roger Volodarsky, CEO of Puffco, an award winning vape company, explains that most manufacturers have to use cutting agents and additives, like polyethylene glycol (PEG) or propylene glycol (PG) to thin out the cannabis concentrate for marijuana vapes. PEG is particularly worrisome since it has been found that PEG can be contaminated with ethylene oxide, a carcinogen. PG, on the other hand, is used in a variety of common household products, like deodorant, moisturizer, and makeup and is generally considered safe.

But some people have reported allergies and sensitivities to PG, most frequently as sore throat, coughing and headaches. Perhaps the PG irritates the bronchial passageways, which could lead to sneezing?

Is It the Cannabis?

If you use a dry herb vaporizer, you’ll have to handle marijuana, and cannabis allergies are definitely real. Both touching the cannabis flower and inhaling its vapor could contribute to sneezing or other allergy symptoms for anyone who is allergic to marijuana.

It’s believed that over 36 million Americans are allergic to the green stuff, even passively. Those who suffer cannabis allergies, or any allergy for that matter, may experience itching of the nose, eyes and mouth, asthma, runny nose, watery eyes, and aha, even sneezing!

Flower Vape
If you have cannabis allergies, handling and vaping flower could easily promote sneezing.

Another potential contributor to your sneezes might be the fact that you are already allergic to something else or have seasonal allergies. So, with an immune system ready to fight off an allergen enemy invader, commencing your vape could also commence your sneeze.

Don’t Worry, Sneezing and Vaping is Pretty Common

Sneezing while vaping is definitely common, judging by the number of subreddits and other forums where people are trying to figure it out. Here are some interesting tidbits:

Thoughts From the Web:

  • “It’s just your nose that’s sensitive to marijuana vapor, I guess.”
  • “Depends on the vaporizer.”
  • “I let out a sneeze that smelled like dank.”
  • “Steel allergy?”
  • “PG allergy?”
  • “My nose turns into the Amazon River”

With all scientific methods enacted and every theory exhaustively researched and pursued, the clear verdict is that some people definitely sneeze when vaping. But no one really knows why. Hopefully some more studies emerge surrounding this topic so we can know once and for all why some people sneeze when vaping.

Do you sneeze when vaping? Can you correlate it to anything in particular? Share your thoughts below!


Erin Hiatt Erin Hiatt

Erin Hiatt is a New York City-based writer who has been covering the cannabis industry for more than six years. Her work - which has appeared in Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, PotGuide, Civilized, Vice, Freedom Leaf, MERRY JANE, Alternet, and CannaInvestor - covers a broad range of topics, including cannabis policy and law, CBD, hemp law and applications, science and technology, beauty, and psychedelics.

Erin's work and industry insights have been featured on the podcasts The Let's Go Eat Show, In the Know 420, and she has appeared as a featured panelist on the topic of hemp media. Erin has interviewed top industry experts such as Dr. Carl Hart, Ethan Nadelmann, Amanda Feilding, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Dr. James Fadiman, and culture icons Governor Jesse Ventura, and author Tom Robbins. You can follow her work on LinkedInWordpress, @erinhiatt on Twitter, and @erinisred on Instagram.

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