What is DMT?
DMT stands for dimethyltryptamine — it’s a powerful hallucinogenic compound found in a variety of plants and animals. Our own brains even make DMT — albeit in very small concentrations. It’s thought that DMT contributes to our ability to dream and may be involved with other aspects of conscious and unconscious thought.
This compound is aggressively psychedelic — capable of injecting you into what feels like another dimension entirely. Some people even report meeting entities (AKA machine elves) with breakthrough DMT experiences.
Users often temporarily lose their sense of self — a phenomenon referred to as “ego-death”.
For the most part, this experience is filled with nonsensical visions — that is, an experience that’s so complex, confusing, and bizarre, you won’t even be able to describe it when the trip is over — let alone make sense of it.
With that said, sprinkled in with the nonsensical geometric shapes and patterns are some deep personal insights. DMT is one of the most reliable methods of occasioning a mystical experience. This describes experiences that align with spiritual connection, profound self-actualization, or otherwise meaningful and life-changing insights.
There are two different types of DMT available in vape pen form:
- N,N,DMT cartrides — this is the type of DMT most commonly found in plants. It’s the active ingredient in the traditional Shamanic brew known as ayahuasca.
- 5-MeO-DMT cartridges — this is the form of DMT found in the venom of the Bufo alvarius toad, as well as a few species of plants and fungi.
Other forms of DMT share the same name but are considered to be distinct in terms of the effects they produce.
A good example of this is 4-AcO-DMT — which is more similar to psilocybin and psilocin produced in magic mushrooms. The experience this compound produces is much mellower. It’s unlikely this compound is going to inject you into the types of interdimensional experiences produced by N,N,DMT or 5-MeO-DMT. It also lasts substantially longer (8 hours, rather than 30 minutes).
There’s also 2-α-DMT, 4-MeO-DMT, 5-Bromo-DMT, α,N-DMT, and others.
What is a DMT Vape Pen?
A DMT vape pen combines either N,N,DMT or 5-MeO-DMT with an e-liquid base. It’s then added to a standard vaporizer, just like the type you’ll find from cannabis manufacturers.
In fact, you can even use DMT vape cartridges with any standard cartridge-style vape pens. These pens are often sold with cartridges containing CBD, THC, or nicotine. When the tank is empty, it’s removed, and a fresh new tank is screwed into its place.
Vape pens are designed to heat the contents without burning them. The DMT and its base agent (usually e-liquid) are heated just enough to convert into a vapor where they can then enter the lungs for absorption. Vape pens typically heat the active ingredients to around 400ºF (204ºC).
DMT can also be smoked, but the high heat (over 1500ºF or 900ºC) destroys a lot of the viable DMT and produces potentially harmful byproducts.
Vaping is considered safer, less harsh on the throat and lungs, and more efficient than smoking.
Pros & Cons of DMT Vape Pens
The flood of DMT vape pens on the market is inevitable, and while a lot of psychedelic experts bring up some very serious cautions regarding their use among the general public — they’re here to stay.
Rather than fighting the inevitable, we believe it’s more important to educate users to reduce the potential for harm.
Treating these pens with respect and moderation is critical to avoiding potentially life-altering consequences down the road. DMT is a powerful psychedelic substance with a wide capacity for both healing and harm.
The vape pen version of DMT makes it much easier to use and allows users to “dial-in” the intensity of effects by regulating how many hits they take. Many modern psychedelic facilitators that work with DMT use vape pens for this reason.
While DMT isn’t inherently addictive, providing it in the form of a vape makes it much easier to abuse the substance. Vapes are already widely available for other substances. It’s common for people to use vape pens compulsively rather than for any potential medicinal or therapeutic benefits.
There are accounts of people on Reddit who claim to be using DMT vape pens every day, sometimes a few times per day. This is not a safe way to use this substance and the long-term physical and mental side effects of this is still unknown.
Benefits of DMT Vape Pens
- Simple to use — Breakthrough experiences are available to virtually everybody. When used responsibly, this may offer a substantial capacity for healing.
- Ability to control the dose — By regulating how many hits you take and the amount of time you hold the vapor in your lungs, you can control the intensity of effects with a reasonable degree of accuracy.
- Less harsh on your throat and lungs than smoking — Let’s be clear, vaping DMT is going to be harsh, but it’s far less harsh than smoking DMT.
Negatives of DMT Vape Pens
- Potential for abuse — vape pens are very easy to use too often and can become habit-forming.
- Expensive — DMT itself is expensive, so whether you’re using a vape or smoking it, the price will be fairly high.
- Potential health risks — DMT requires high heat to vaporize and can be harsh on the throat and lungs.
- Highly illegal — DMT is a controlled substance in the United States and many other countries around the world.
What Types of DMT Vape Pens Are There?
DMT vape pens can be broken down according to two categories:
- The type of vaporizer products (cartridges, disposable vape pens, refillable DMT e-liquid)
- The type of DMT used as the active ingredient (N,N,DMT or 5-MeO-DMT)
A) Types of DMT Vaporizers
Vape pens are well established at this point. You can find companies in many different markets selling vape pens of all different styles. The main industry for this is cannabis, but you can also find vapes for nicotine, caffeine, melatonin, and other substances as well.
DMT vapes come in all the same formats as these other vapes.
In general, the easiest form of DMT vapes to use are DMT vape carts.
The trick is to order a nice vape pen battery that allows you to recharge it and control the battery’s voltage output. This way if you find the hits are a little too harsh, you can turn down the voltage to vape at a lower temperature.
Cheap vape batteries won’t offer this functionality.
1. DMT Vape Cartridges
- Convenient to use
- Cost efficient
- Easy to swap out for other types of carts
The most common form is replaceable vape cartridges. These devices use the standard 510 threading found on most vape batteries on the market. They allow you to use an existing vape battery.
You’ll need a couple of hits to “breakthrough,” but this is more of a positive than a negative. It’s much more controllable than mesh pens or smoking DMT in a dab rig or pipe.
2. Disposable DMT Vape Pens
- Works right out of the box
- Low barrier to entry
DMT vapor also comes in the form of non-refillable vape pens. These standalone devices come with a battery and internal tank that holds the DMT and e-liquid base. Once the tank is empty or the battery runs out, you simply throw away the device.
The downside of these devices is that they’re wasteful and usually use cheap materials. Cheap heating elements may off-gas heavy metals like lead.
3. Refillable DMT Vape E-Liquid Pens
- Designed to vape E-liquid
- Convenient & easy to use
- Customizable settings
You can also find refillable E-liquid vapes that can be filled with a DMT-infused E-liquid. You can buy these E-liquids or make it yourself by combining DMT freebase with any e-liquid.
4. Mesh Pens or Mod Pens
- Can vape powder, resin, or e-liquid
- Requires some effort to get it to work properly
Mod vape pens are designed to be customized. You need three main components — the battery, the coil, and a stainless steel mesh. This method requires a bit of tinkering to get it to work, but once it’s going, it’s the only method aside from smoking that’s going to deliver breakthrough experiences with just one or two hits of DMT.
These vapes also offer the most accurate dose because you know exactly how much DMT you’re getting based on the amount of powder you’re using.
B) Types of DMT Commonly Found in Vapes
The two main forms of DMT found in vaporizer format are N,N,DMT and 5-MeO-DMT.
While both are forms of DMT, the experiences they produce differ quite a bit. In general, 5-MeO-DMT is more “spiritual” in that it tends to make users feel connected with the universe. Users often experience out-of-body experiences.
N,N,DMT is similar, but has a stronger visual component with sharp fractals and constantly changing geometric patterns. N,N,DMT is also strongly spiritual, but not as likely to result in a “god encounter” type experience as 5-MeO-DMT.
There’s a lot of debate about what type of DMT is “better,” but the truth is that neither one is better than the other — both are profound and formidable psychedelics that demand respect. Both substances have a similar potential for healing, as well as harm (when used irresponsibly).
1. N,N,DMT Vape Pens
These pens are the most common form of DMT vape pen. This is the same active ingredient that’s found in ayahuasca, changa, and yopo.
This form of DMT is associated with profound psychedelic and mystical experiences, introspection, and deep realizations about the self and consciousness.
Many experts consider this type of DMT to be a little bit better for self-realization and introspection. From a spiritual sense, this molecule tends to correlate more with a “feminine” embodiment. It’s more nurturing and guiding than 5-MeO-DMT.
2. 5-MeO-DMT Vape Pens
This compound is virtually identical to N,N,DMT — with just a few extra atoms attached. This is the same active ingredient that’s found in the secretions of the Bufo toad. Traditionally, the venom from this toad is collected and either eaten or smoked. Today, it’s more common to see shamans administering 5-MeO-DMT in the form of a dmt vape pen instead. The experience is virtually indistinguishable between the toad venom and synthetic DMT from a vape.
From a spiritual perspective, 5-MeO-DMT has more of a “masculine” embodiment and tends to be a little bit “rougher” on the participant. It’s less nourishing and introspective than N,N,DMT — but offers stronger visuals in exchange.
How to Use a DMT Vape Pen
The whole point of a DMT vape is that it’s simple to use. Nevertheless, there are a few steps to follow if you want to get the most efficient hit from your vape.
Step 1: Shake the Pen
Always give the pen a good shake before you use it. The DMT will have a tendency to separate from the e-liquid base, so if you skip this step, you’re either going to get a hit of pure DMT, or pure e-liquid.
Step 2: Take one Long Inhale, and Exhale Completely
This does two things; it calms you down before the hit, which is going to help reduce the chances of having a challenging or anxious experience. Secondly, it prepares you to take a longer, deeper breath during the next step, ultimately making the DMT more efficient.
Step 3: Take a Deep Inhale
Don’t rush it — inhale the vapor from the device slowly. It’s going to be pretty harsh, so taking longer, slower breaths is going to cut back on some of this harshness. Once you’ve taken a full inhale, release the pen and take one more inhale to bring all the vapor into the lungs.
Step 4: Hold Your Breath for a Few Seconds Before Exhaling
The DMT will immediately start absorbing through your lungs. Keeping the vapor in the lungs for a few seconds before exhaling allows you to get more efficiency from the DMT you’re using. The longer you hold your breath, the stronger the hit is going to be.
Step 5: Repeat as Necessary
Depending on the potency of your pen, the amount of vapor you inhaled, and the time you held the vapor in your lungs, you may need to take a few hits to reach breakthrough levels.
For a standard 400 mg, 0.5 mL vape cartridge, you may need between 5 and 15 hits to reach this level of effect.
If using a mesh pen or stronger vape cartridge, you may only need 1–3 hits to reach breakthrough levels, so don’t rush it.
How Strong Are DMT Vape Pens?
There are few psychedelics that compete in terms of the depth of psychedelic experience than a DMT vape pen. They’re comparable in strength to ayahuasca but have substantially higher celerity.
Celerity is a term that describes the speed at which the psychedelic state of consciousness appears and disappears again.
Think “acceleration.” The faster a psychedelic accelerates, the sooner the race is over.
DMT vape pens are like a drag car — capable of reaching top-speed almost instantly. But this comes at a cost — drag cars burn through their fuel quickly.
Substances with low celerity, like ayahuasca, take longer to get up to speed (reach peak effects) but also last much longer (6–10 hours). Ayahuasca is like a rally car — it’s much slower off the line but has the efficiency and fuel capacity to run for several hours.
A single hit of a vape pen can inject the user into deep psychedelic states in a matter of just a few seconds. The effects usually reach peak experience by the 10-minute mark and quickly fade out from there.
Just as fast as the experience begins, it goes away again. The total experience from a DMT vape pen rarely lasts longer than 30 minutes in total.
Is DMT The Strongest Psychedelic?
Some might argue that DMT (especially 5-MeO-DMT) is the strongest psychedelic based on the depth it’s able to bring the psychedelic explorer. The states of consciousness this compound can bring you to are hard to get to with any other psychedelic compound.
While this may be true, technically speaking, DMT isn’t the most potent psychedelic. This title goes to LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and LSD derivatives. The standard dose of 5-MeO-DMT (inhaled) is about 40 or 50 mg. The standard psychoactive dose for LSD, AL-LAD, PRO-LAD, ETH-LAD 1P-LSD, or related LSD-derivatives is only about a tenth of a milligram (100 mcg).
This makes LSD roughly 500 times stronger than DMT.
But it isn’t quite that simple. The top-level of the experience is higher with DMT — meaning that even high doses of LSD won’t provide an experience as strong as the standard psychoactive dose of DMT, even if both substances were used at the same dose (something that is definitely not recommended).
Is Vaping DMT Safe?
There are a lot of concerns around the safety of using DMT vape pens. There’s a higher potential for abuse with these devices than most other psychedelics. The short-term and long-term side effects of using vapes are still not well understood.
Additionally, vapes make it much easier to use DMT irresponsibly, which could pose a serious risk to the mental health of people who aren’t applying the right context and integration with their experiences.
DMT Vapes & The Potential For Abuse
One of the main concerns psychedelic experts are flagging for these devices is the potential for abusing them.
This may seem unlikely at first because, conventionally, psychedelics have a very low incidence of abuse.
Psychedelics force you to confront aspects of your psyche you’ve been suppressing (learn more about shadow work and psychedelics). They can also force you into a state of consciousness that’s far removed from conscious control.
Both of these experiences can be terrifying — especially the first couple of times to go through it. It’s uncommon for someone to want to jump back into these experiences right away when it’s all over.
Compare this to substances that have a high incidence of abuse, like cocaine, heroin, or alcohol — which are more likely to provide a positive experience that temporarily removes your problems, rather than stuffing them in your face like DMT.
With that said, the potential for abuse is higher with DMT vapes than most other psychedelics. The very fact that it’s in a vaporizer increases the potential for abuse. It’s common for people to use these devices out of compulsion rather than for any direct therapeutic or spiritual benefit.
DMT should not be used on a regular basis for any reason.
The experience can be extremely insightful and valuable, but only when it’s paired with the right intention, context, and integration afterward. This takes time.
Even dedicated psychonauts should only use DMT a few times a year, and most people should only be using it every couple of years.
Mental Health Risks
The convenience of a DMT vape pen also increases the potential for risks associated with mental health.
Imagine a scenario where you’re at a party, and someone whips out a DMT vape pen. “It’ll blast you off into outer space,” they tell you — “and it’s over within 20 minutes tops”.
This would classify as irresponsible use and could lead to serious mental health issues as a result. You might not know anything about the experience you’re about to endure. If you happened to have taken any other substances beforehand, or are already susceptible to mental health disorders, taking DMT could be dangerous.
The convenience of these pens removes the need for proper vetting, consideration, and intention before going into the experience. Ayahuasca, the other main method of using DMT, requires all of these important steps before the experience itself happens. Most people need to sign up for a retreat, travel to another country, and are first coached and prepared with the ritual of the experience before they ever attend a ceremony.
Additionally, there’s always a highly skilled shaman present who’s had a lifetime of experience with the substance watching over you. None of this is present when DMT vapes are presented at a party or outside the traditional infrastructures set up to protect psychedelic explorers.
While it’s likely the experience will be substantial but harmless in the long term, there’s always a risk of something bad happening.
When you use DMT, your entire worldview can become shattered, leading to a condition referred to as “ontological shock.” This can have physical side effects that overlap with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Enduring a challenging experience (aka a “bad trip”) and failing to integrate it with the help of experts can cause long-term issues with anxiety, depression, paranoia, or worse.
Side Effects of Vaping
Vaping itself brings its own level of inherent risk. In small doses, vapes appear to have little to no adverse effects.
It’s when you’re using vapes on a regular basis that they can become a real problem for users.
There have been thousands of reported hospitalizations from vaping. There’s even a specific medical condition that refers to this type of injury — called e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI for short).
EVALI causes severe lung damage and infection in otherwise healthy individuals. It’s still unclear what exactly causes this condition, how to tell whether someone is susceptible, or whether this condition can happen from DMT vape pens or not.
Never use a vape pen that contains vitamin E or MCT oil on the ingredients list. This is already well-known for increasing the risk of a condition called lipoid pneumonia, which can be fatal.
Risk of Adulteration
Right now, DMT vapes are highly illegal. This means the people that are selling them are doing so outside the confines of regulation. Most of these vape pens are put together by amateurs who may lack critical knowledge in terms of safe manufacturing methods.
Synthesizing DMT involves many steps, and if something isn’t done correctly, it can cause contamination in the final product. Contaminants could be harmless, but they could also be carcinogenic or directly toxic depending on what molecules are created.
Some vendors may even intentionally add harmful or addictive substances to their DMT vape pens. Without the ability to properly vet the vendor or view lab tests from a reputable tester, you can never know for sure what’s in your pen.
It’s also hard to test these pens using reagent drug testing kits because of the addition of E-liquid in the mix. This can throw off the results and make the tests unreliable.
Are DMT Vape Pens Legal?
DMT cartridges is illegal in virtually every country on Earth, including the United States, Australia, and Europe.
Canada and Mexico are an exception. DMT isn’t explicitly banned in these countries, but it isn’t exactly legal either. Technically, you can legally own DMT pens here, but it’s not legal for companies to sell it.
In the US, DMT is classified as a schedule I drug — a class that brings the highest degree of punishment for breaking the rules.
There are a few exceptions to this rule in the US. For example, groups that use DMT cartridges in the form of ayahuasca for spiritual purposes have been granted access to use it. Only a select few groups of people have been granted this exception, and it doesn’t apply to DMT vape pens.
Psychedelic facilitators working with 5-MeO-DMT in Canada and Mexico are surprisingly common these days. In Mexico, there are a couple of retreat centers that administer 5-MeO-DMT in vaporizer form to their participants.
The traditional ceremony involved smoking the venom of the Bufo alvarius toad, but due to environmental concerns, many have made the switch to synthetic 5-MeO-DMT instead.
The ceremony and ritual surrounding the application and integration of this substance should remain intact for these groups despite the more modern method of administration.
Suggested Reading: Legalization vs. Decriminalization: What’s the Difference?
How Does DMT Work?
DMT interacts with the 5-HT2A receptors within the brain. It’s thought that the activation of this receptor is the primary mechanism used by DMT to produce its hallucinogenic and introspective effects. This is the same mechanism used by other classical psychedelics, including LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline.
Early research led by Dr. Calvin Carhart Harris and his colleagues have discovered psychedelics like DMT are able to inhibit what’s known as the default mode network (DMN). This is a series of interconnected brain regions that function to maintain our grasp on reality and keep other regions of the brain in check. When we take DMT, the default mode network is temporarily inhibited, allowing other regions of the brain to interact that wouldn’t normally. The term used to describe this is “entropy,” — which was borrowed from the field of thermodynamics.
Higher levels of entropy are associated with type II consciousness, more creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, and hallucinogenic episodes.
Other Ways to Use DMT
There are plenty of ways of getting DMT into the body besides vaping it. The conventional method is to drink it in a traditional preparation of herbs such as ayahuasca, but you can also smoke it or snort it.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the other methods of consuming DMT:
Ayahuasca is a mixture of two or more Amazonian plants. Taken on their own, neither plant is psychoactive, but in combination, provides a long-lasting DMT experience.
The first component is the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi). This vine is a rich source of harmala alkaloids. These alkaloids inhibit an enzyme in the body called monoamine oxidase (MAO). MAO is responsible for breaking down certain neurotransmitters in the body, including serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and DMT.
The second component is a source of DMT. There are a few plants that can be used for this, but Mimosa pudica or Psychotria viridis are the most common.
Normally, when one consumes a plant rich in DMT, it’s immediately destroyed by MAO in the digestive tract — so there are no psychedelic effects. When an MAO inhibitor (like the ayahuasca vine) is included, it blocks this effect and allows the DMT to exert its effects on the body.
Ayahuasca is consumed in the form of tea, usually facilitated by a trained shaman. It’s been studied extensively and is respected for its effects on mental health, existential anxiety, depression, addiction, spiritual development, and much more.
Changa is often referred to as “smokeable ayahuasca.” It leverages the same sort of combination as ayahuasca, but is designed to be smoked rather than consumed as a tea. It’s capable of producing very similar effects as ayahuasca, but the total experience is much shorter.
Changa is the closest natural alternative to vaping DMT.
3. Psychedelic Toad Venom
A toad found in the United States and Mexico secretes a cocktail of psychedelic and poisonous substances in venom glands on its back. This is designed to be a deterrent for predators trying to eat the toad. It’s toxic in high doses. In lower doses, it’s profoundly psychedelic — owing to the high concentration of 5-MeO-DMT.
This toad has many names, including Sapo, Bufo toad, the Colorado River Toad, or the Sonoran Desert Toad.
Shamans living in the region use the venom of the road to occasion mystical experiences for the sake of healing or divination.
The toad venom is used by smoking or vaping it. This destroys a lot of the toxic elements in the compound while preserving most of the DMT.
4. Freebase DMT
Both N,N,DMT and 5-MeO-DMT are available in freebase forms as well. This comes as a fine white or brownish powder that can then be smoked or mixed with E-liquids to use in a vape.
The benefit of freebase DMT is that you have the opportunity to test it before you use it.
You can use the Ehrlich reagent to ensure it’s an indole alkaloid and then the Marquis or Mendelen reagent to differentiate DMT from other indole psychedelics (like LSD or psilocybin). The Mecke reagent can then be used to rule out the presence of opiates.
Pharmahuasca is the pharmaceutical version of changa or ayahuasca. It’s made by combining a pharmaceutical MAO inhibitor with freebase DMT.
This preparation is not recommended. Prescription MAO inhibitors can be very dangerous if used incorrectly. Based on pharmahuasca trip reports available on Reddit or other psychedelic communities, this mixture is often far less “healing” than any of the other forms of DMT.
Summary: ‘Breaking Through’ With DMT Vape Pens
DMT Vape Juice
DMT vape pens are the next evolution of using DMT. They combine the convenience of a digital vaporizer with the psychedelic experience of DMT.
While there are a lot of concerns surrounding these devices (like long-term health effects, the potential for abuse, side effects of vaping, and adulteration), there’s also a lot of potential benefits.
If you’re planning to use a DMT vape pen, please take the time to learn more about this substance before you dive into it.
The great Carl Jung once said to “beware of unearned wisdom.” This is especially important to consider when we talk about DMT vape pens because of just how easy it is to access deep wisdom about consciousness we may not be ready for. The implication of this could manifest as damage to the psyche — a condition referred to as ontological shock.
Other methods of using DMT, like ayahuasca, involve a lot more rituals and are administered in a setting that involves more intention and professional oversight and gives the psychonaut access to psychedelic integration experts after the experience is through.