Guide to Understanding Cannabis Vaporizers

Image from Psycho Babble

As the legal cannabis market is growing in numbers, the users are becoming more mature when consuming cannabis products. They start to distinguish qualities that is almost impossible to do so, when the whole cannabis scene was hidden in the shadows of illegality. Moreover, the profile of the average cannabis consumer is changing. Using cannabis is not longer considered a taboo, and people with a more healthy lifestyle start to have contact with the medicinal plant and the different kinds of products. One of the products that seems to revolutionize the market is the growing use of vaporizers.

Here is a small list of notes about them and how they have changed the way people were traditionally smoking cannabis and have replaced it with vaping.

What to vaporize

Once upon a time the options were really limited. People had to choose between their favorite flowers like amnesia haze (buds) or hashish (the product you get after collecting the resin stalks, trichomes, or THC, from cannabis plants). But now the options are much more. Actually what happened with the legalization of cannabis use for recreational or medical purposes is that a lot of products called “concentrates” appeared in the market. These concentrates are much more potent than flowers. They contain more THC mostly. So now we can use a vaporizer for flowers, hashish and hash oil. Hashish is divided in two main types, “hashish” and “hash oil”’. Hash oil includes several products. Both hashish and hash oil are produced by separating cannabis resin from plant material. The difference is that hash oil is extracted through the use of a solvent.

Some find vaping hash oil more risky, because hash oils are mixed with solvents. Although the cannabis used to this kind of oils can be organically grown, the solvents can be inhaled also, with chemicals added to the concentrates without consistent labeling.

Why vaporize

There is a handful of reasons for one to prefer vaporizing instead of smoking.

Health. Let’s make an important notice. What creates the smoke is called combustion and smoke naturally contains substances known to cause cancer (carcinogens). First of all vapor is much healthier than smoke. A substance has to be burned to produce the smoke that contains a lot of dangerous and unhealthy poisons. Vapor on the other hand does not contain any of the carbon-monoxide, tar or other harmful toxins found in smoke. That is also the major reason that many athletes prefer vaping cannabis. They protect their lung health and they can benefit from the healthy benefits of cannabis without the deadly fumes of joints. More over, smoking is associated with bronchitis and emphysema. To be honest, smoking related studies have been for decades now warning how unhealthy can the inhalation of carcinogens be.

Dosing. Another important advantage of vaporizers when using cannabis is how to calculate the dosing. It’s always the question of how much is enough. How much do I put? How much do I use? Controlling your exact dose is better when using a vaporizer.

Money. As smoking gets more and more expensive as a habit, vaporizers can in some way, be a cheaper alternative. Many ex-smokers say that you can actually save money with vaping as you take advantage of the whole part of the plant or the products that you use.

The effects of vaporizing

Vaping as a cannabis consuming method is more potent than smoking. A collaborative study conducted by California NORML and MAPS found that vaporizers could convert 46% of available THC into vapor, whereas the average marijuana joint converted less than 25% of THC. Another important effect is that because there is no combustion, the fragrances and the taste of the compounds are preserved. That means that the terpenes are alive for you to enjoy. It is not only important to keep aromas and tastes like Limonene or Pinene alive just for the shake of taste, it is also another kind of “high” that you get from the terpenes because they work synergistically with the active compounds of cannabis like CBD and THC. While the health effects of vaporizers have not yet been investigated by large-scale studies, we could assume that at least vaping is healthier for your lungs compared to smoking joints.

Different kinds of vaporizers

There are vaporizers for every taste (and pocket). The type of substances that you plan to vaporize is the decisive factor for one to decide on the vape to buy. The two main categories are desktops for home use, and portables. The portables can be also really small at the size of a Pen.

The portables usually have rechargeable batteries. They can get you connected to your smartphone’s apps allowing you a perfect control of their function and they can cost up to hundreds of dollars. In order to be able to release the active ingredients of the plant like tetrahydrocannabinol-thc and CBD-cannabidiol and at the same time to prevent combustion, they are heated up to the ideal temperature for vaporization (360⁰F to 390⁰F but they should not exceed 420⁰F). That is the most important property to search for actually in one of this devices, otherwise the cannabinoids are burned. The temperature can be set digitally or with an analog dial. Many models have presets.

Desktops give a more complete vaping experience, offer lots of options and they are big enough to share the experience with others. They can be “forced-air” vaporizers that include an internal fan that send the vape to balloon like nylon bags or the user just breathes through a whip.

Portables also are whip-like, and their up to date technology gives a nice experience to those vaping dry herbs, they perform better when it comes to heating and produce a tasty vapor.

Pen vaporizers are best used with concentrates. Pens are designed to be compatible either with oils or wax. Usually if you plan to vape mainly dry herbs you should not buy a pen vaporizer, but better a portable one. As some oils can be more fluid than others, you might need some extra small accessories in order to use them.

The method of heating is crucial. Conduction heats by touching the substance, so the risk of combustion is bigger (and in cheap made vape models for example your weed can be burned for example). Convection heats the stuff by transferring hot air in the chamber securing that nothing is burned. Terpenes are safe and taste is better.

As the market is growing the technologies develop more sophisticated vaporizer models. The future looks bright for the vapes.

About the author, Lorna

Lorna Liana is a new media strategist and lifestyle business coach to visionary entrepreneurs. She travels the world while running her business as a digital nomad. Lorna's boutique agency provides “done for you” web design, development and online marketing services for social ventures, sustainable brands, transformational coaches and new paradigm thought leaders. She is also a personal development junkie, and 20 year practitioner of shamanism, with extensive training in Tibetan Bon Shamanism and the ayahuasca traditions of the Amazon Basin.

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