Vaping is not a new method of consuming weed. It has been practiced for a long time. However, the act has only become popular over the last few years.
Mostly down to the fact that vaporizing cannabis is widely regarded as being healthier than smoking joints, bongs, or even pipes. It allows you to enjoy the weed while avoiding most of the toxic and carcinogenic components created by combustion.
I am going to break down everything you need/should know about the industry. A little history, then I’ll discuss the pros, cons, health and safety and the different types of vaporizers.
Hopefully leaving you with a better idea as to which kind of device you would like.
A Brief History Of Vaping and Cannabis
Vaping cannabis started to take off in the mainstream around 2013 when Grenco Science and Snoop Dogg announced that they were releasing a line of vape pens together.
The first of which was the ‘Double G’ series. The first rendition of these wasn’t really up to much, but there was a name involved, so they took off regardless.
However, It was some 90 years earlier in about 1930 when Joseph Robinson took the first steps towards “modern” vaporization with his butane powered vaporizer.
Unfortunatly, it didn’t get much attention. Then some 30 Years later a man called Herbert Gilbert applied for a patent for the first smokeless non-tobacco device.
Fast-forward another 30 odd years, and it was Storz & Bickel’s turn to change the game for the better in the Cannabis Industry!
In 1999 Storz & Bickel released the Volcano Vaporizer. This thing was revolutionary. So much so that studies into the medical ability of the device started in 2005 and by 2009 it became the first cannabis vaporizer certified for medical use.
One year later in 2010, the Volcano Medic was released along with the plenty. And, by 2014 they also had two portable vaporizers called the Mighty and the smaller, Crafty.
All of these devices are still widely regarded as the best in the industry by the connoisseurs and the old school vapor alike who want a simple but consistent vaping experience.
What is Herb Vaping?
Vaping Cannabis is a method of extracting the cannabinoids by heating the weed in a chamber. You will have to cook the cannabis buds or extracts to a temperature between 350 – 425°F(175 – 218°C).
At this temperature, the vital components of the herbs get extracted without combusting. I like to float around the 375 – 410°F(190 – 210°C) depending on what device I am using. You can actually control your vape high by adjusting the temperature and a few other factors.
What Are the Advantages of Vaping Weed?
Vaping has multiple health and social benefits. Here are some of the notable ones:
- Less Carcinogenic chemicals: Vaping cannabis releases mostly cannabinoids as opposed to the nasty chemicals associated with smoking the weed.
- Safer for your loved ones: When you vaporize cannabis there are a lot less carcinogenic chemicals going into your lungs which means there is less in the air. We have an article on the safety of passive weed vaping.
- Efficiency is vital: I feel I am getting a lot more for my money when it comes to cannabis use. After you get over the negative feelings from the smoke, you will begin to realize your high lasting longer. There is a small study that seems to back this up.
- It is discreet compared to smoking: If you go for some of the smaller devices, you may be able to smoke in public spaces without raising to much suspicion.
- They don’t release a strong scent of weed: Instead, it will emit an aromatic odor, especially if you use waxes and oils.
- You can alter the taste and effects: The taste and high is altered by changing the temperature of the device. You will find vaping at a lower temperature is good for the daytime and the flavor will be excellent. If you smoke, you get one heat and that’s that. I personally just wanted to sleep all day when I smoked weed.
- Many vaporizers are aesthetically appealing: You can take a look at my Tubo Evic for example. It is made using a regular vape box mod and some wood. Not everyone’s taste but I love it
- Reuse your AVB: There is still some life in your Already Vaped Weed so you can put it to some use. Follow my best things to do with your vaped weed article
- Convenience: Once you learn how to use vaporizers, you will find them highly convenient. All you need to do is fill the chamber with weed and then hit the power. No mess, no lighter.
Heating Methods in Vaporizers
There are two main heating methods used in vaporizers: conduction and convection. Both of these are meant to heat the cannabis without causing combustion. The point of vaporizing weed is to release its essential elements and avoid unhealthy chemicals as much as possible. Both convection and conduction can achieve that.
Conduction Heating Vaporizer
Conduction is the most common heating method in vaporizers. It involves the passing of the heat directly through the herb. The cannabis sits directly on the heating element, usually in a ceramic or stainless steel chamber.
A key advantage of conduction is that it allows for more precise temperature control. and they are usually the smaller of the two types. The Pax 3 being the most common example at the time of writing this.
One notable disadvantage of this heating system is the herb continues to vaporize even when you aren’t vaping, well that is until the oven cools.
You will also tend to notice an uneven extraction of the cannabis in a conduction device. It will be dark around the outside and lighter (sometimes still green) in the center.
Convection Heating Vaporizers
In convection, the cannabis gets heated indirectly. You will have to heat the air around the dry herbs, and this air will then heat the buds.
The heating element mostly sits under the chamber. Then the air is moved over the herb by a fan or your lung power. These devices tend to be more efficient, taste better and produce more potent clouds. However, they are usually bigger.
My favorite convection device right now is the Tubo Evic. The Boundless Tera is also a good budget convection vape. Read my Boundless Tera V3
Hybrid Heating Vaporizers
Yes, there is a third. A hybrid simply put, is a combination of both heating systems. Usually destined to be a convection device but to keep it compact it results in the chamber heating a little as well.
Read our in-depth article on the difference between Conduction, Convection, and Hybrid cannabis vaporization.
Pros and Cons of Conduction and Convection Vaporizers
Pros of Conduction Vaporizers:
- Easy to use because the designs are often simple.
- Highly popular and have been in the market for a very long time, making it easy to find a product that suits you.
- They take a short time to heat up, and that means you can adjust the temperatures quickly at any time.
Cons of Conduction Vaporizers
- There is a higher risk of combustion, especially for people who are new to vaping.
- The quality of the vapor may not be as good as that of convection vaporizers since the cannabis that sits against the chamber will be heated more than the rest of the weed.
- These vapes don’t extract the elements of marijuana as efficiently, and that means you will need slightly higher quantities of cannabis to use these vaporizers (not as much as smoking)
Pros of Convection Vaporizers
- Tastes better for longer
- The dry herb will be heated evenly.
- They produce a higher quality of vapor.
- There is a much lower risk of combustion in convection vaporizers.
Cons of Convection Vaporizers
- They are usually more expensive than conduction devices.
- Usually, they take longer to heat up.
- They can be challenging to use, especially for newbies.
Types of Cannabis Vaporizers
- Pen Vaporizer
Pen vaporizer or vape pens are shaped well… like a pen, Some are designed to resemble e-cigarettes and some, actual pens. Vape pens are highly portable and easy to use.
They mostly heat the cannabis through conduction, meaning you have to learn how to use and pack them correctly. However, The Grasshopper is the exception to this with its ultra-fast convection heating system.
Dry herb vape pens are best for people who want small and discrete devices. Unfortunately, since they are designed to be very small, many of them don’t have long battery life. For this reason, you will have to keep the sessions short.
There is however the Dynavap’s which are small portable pen vaporizers that are heated using a lighter. I got an Omnivap XL, and this thing was a game changer for me. It rarely leaves my side.
Some vape pens can be used with other cannabis materials beside the dry herb. These include e-liquids, oils, and waxes.
The advantages of these cannabis materials are their consistency and texture. They also contain high concentrations of essential weed components like cannabinoids, CBD, THC, and CBC. One great dab wax pen on the market is the Puffco pro.
Portable vaporizers are slightly larger than vape pens. They are everything in between Pen and Desktop devices. They are quite popular among weed enthusiasts, and that is why new products are released frequently.
These devices are generally better than vape pens, except for the fact that they are slightly larger and less discreet. Portable vaporizers will give you a better quality of vapor than a pen, more features, and has higher capabilities. Unfortunately, the increased functionality will ‘as always’ raise the price.
These vaporizers are mostly used to heat dry herbs but the ability to uses concentrates is becoming more popular. Most of them come with replaceable batteries, but a few have them built-in. But, they also offer a very high value.
First, they are still quite discreet, mainly because of their size(with the exception of things like my Tubo Evic above) and users do not need a flame to power them. You will also be able to control the temperature better and enjoy a consistent vaping session.
Miss the nostalgia of the flame?
If you don’t have access to electricity, you can choose to buy butane-powered vapes like the Sticky Bricks or one of the Dynavap models. As you will see, I have 2 and I wouldn’t be without them.
To use these types of products, you will need to burn the butane lighter to heat the cannabis in the vaporizer. One advantage of butane-powered devices is the fact that you will not need to recharge or replace the battery continually. All you need is the external lighter or any flame.
Also, since the device doesn’t have any electric parts, it is failure-free and generally reliable. You can also find some cool designs out there made by some proper expert metal workers.
Which is for you?
Whether you choose a battery-powered or butane vaporizer will depend on your budget, preferred vaping place, and the purpose of your cannabis use. If you use cannabis for medical purposes, you will be better off using the electric device since you will be able to control the temperature better.
Butane-powered vaporizers are ideal for people with strained budgets, and those who like to vape their cannabis indoors. These devices are also great for people who don’t have access to electricity or like to spend time in the wild.
Some of the best portable vaporizers are large and heavy. One good example is Mighty by Storz and Bickel. This device is a convection unit, and has precise temperature adjustments of between 104°F – 410°F (40 – 210°C), and it packs plenty of power.
The drawback is that it weighs 0.5 pounds and is 5.5 x 3.2 x 1.2 inches so you won’t be carrying it around in your pocket comfortably.
Another issue you will experience with portable vaporizers is the short battery life. One of the portable vaporizers with the best battery life is the Arizer Solo 2. It can run for up to 3 hours without needing a recharge. However, I always try to opt for a device with replaceable batteries which is why I went for the Arizer Go.
Desktop vaporizers are large, and most cannot be comfortably carried around. However, some of them come with carrying cases so you can take it to your mates for a sesh. These devices are usually powerful and high in quality, and that is why they are costly. The high quality of the vapor is a key reason why table-top vaporizers can be the best choice for serious consumers and medical patients.
Pretty much all desktop vaporizers like my VapeXhale Cloud Evo heat the cannabis materials through convection. The heated air is propelled past the heating element, either automatically with a fan or manually by you. It then goes through the cannabis, extracting the cannabinoids on the way.
My favorite right now is the Evo, It consists of a glass tube from top to bottom which holds a basket in the top. You then add the water piece and pull the best clouds you will get in the industry from my experience.
Some desktop vaporizers are capable of using whips, bags or waterpipe attachments. These devices are multifunctional units. They are highly versatile and probably the best way to get your cannabis hit.
Dab rigs and Enails are used to consume cannabis concentrates by heating a “nail” then placing the wax onto the hot nail (conduction heating remember). The concentrate then vaporizes and you inhale it through a glass pipe.
I remember back in the 90’s taking a couple of knives, heating them on the cooker, placing my hash between them and using a plastic bottle with the bottom cut of to inhale the fumes. This is how it has advanced in that time… I’m impressed.
The Dome Nail was the first mainstream nail that could turn pretty much any glass bong into a dab rig. Following that came the quartz banger which is a glass bowl made of quartz and it’s attached to a pipe which then attaches to your bong. You heat the ‘banger’ using a small blow torch for approx 45 seconds, then let it cool for 30secs before ‘dabbing’ your resin in the bowl. I broke my original dome nail and I’ve only got a picture of my little dab rig setup with my little ducky carb cap. This is a double walled Quartz Banger, The Second wall helps retain the heat in the central bowl. Totally worth it.
Enails come in many shapes and sizes from portables like the Puffco Peak and the Dr Dabber Switch. Then there is the traditional enail which basically consists of an electric heater coil that attaches to a titanium nail or quartz banger. This is my preferred method of dabbing because, in my opinion, the quartz banger is the best dabbing experience you will get. So, add into that the ability to set a constant temperature and we have the low temp dab king… A flavor monster.
Vape carts are becoming more popular by the day but it isn’t something I have tried much. Mostly because I am drawn to the fresh cured herb in its more natural form and every time I have had a cart, I haven’t really enjoyed it.
These are the same as your standard e-cigarette and are often used due to their stealth abilities. You can buy or make your own e-liquid and add in your own flavors meaning it doesn’t smell like weed.
When it comes to vaping cannabis it is important to keep safety in mind. Afterall you could be dealing with blow torches and combustibles when you’re high. There isn’t much for me to say because a lot of the safety measures will be device specific.
A few important things to remember:
- Never overindulge. Always keep yourself compos mentis when dealing with electronics and torches.
- Always read the manufacturers instructions and follow them. This is important to make sure you don’t void the warranty.
- Never use old or damaged batteries and always carry them in the device or in a battery case.
The Final Puff
Vaping marijuana has many health benefits. If you are using cannabis for medical purposes, you will find it beneficial to vape instead of smoking. Smoking weed releases many toxins and reduces the health benefits of the substance.
There are many types of vaporizers on the market today. They include vape pens, desktop vaporizers, and portable vaporizers. Desktop or table vaporizers are usually large and heavy, and this makes them ideal for indoor use. They are often a lot more functional and more efficient than other models.
Vape pens are the smallest vaporizers on the market. They are designed to resemble pens, and that is why they popular for stealth. Unfortunately, many vape pens have basic functionalities. Most portable vaporizers are larger than vape pens, but they can be carried around comfortably. Many portable vaporizers are designed to be highly functional, although the average device will not be as powerful as a table vaporizer.
When choosing a vaporizer, you should also consider the method of heating the herbs. They can be conduction, convection or hybrid. Conduction is ideal for people who want their buds to heat up fast. The quality of the vapor will not be as outstanding, but the user will enjoy a traditional vaping experience. Convection vaporizers are ideal for people who prefer the higher qualities of weed vapor and spend a lot of time indoors or don’t require much discretion.
I hope this has helped you out a little when it comes to taking the step into the vaping world.
If I have missed anything, then please ask away in the comments. I do my best to answer everyone
Thanks for reading