Marijuana Vaporizers: A Beginner's Guide - Leaf Science (2022)

Vaporizing is a safe and healthy alternative to smoking cannabis.

Vaporizing (or “vaping”) has been getting a lot of attention lately as a safer way of consuming nicotine than smoking cigarettes.

The e-cigarette has become more popular than ever in recent years, and it seems like vape shops are popping up on every corner.

While marijuana vaporizers are different than e-cigarettes, the principle is the same. Vaporizers can be used to deliver THC from marijuana in a way that avoids the health drawbacks of smoking.

Many people still choose to smoke marijuana, but studies show that vaporizing can be safer and more effective in the long run.

How It Works

Marijuana Vaporizers: A Beginner's Guide - Leaf Science (1)

Vaporizers are devices that heat marijuana to the point where its active ingredients are released in a gas that can be inhaled, while avoiding combustion (burning) and the production of smoke.

Combustion and smoke normally occur at above 230°C (446°F), while vaporizers operate at a lower temperature range.

The vapor or gas produced by a marijuana vaporizer consists mainly of THC, other cannabinoids, and terpenes.

THC is the main active ingredient in marijuana responsible for the high. Terpenes are fragrant compounds that give marijuana its particular flavor and scent.

When you vaporize marijuana, these compounds get mixed together, resulting in a flavourful, potent hit.

Marijuana Vaporizers: A Beginner's Guide - Leaf Science (2)

A typical dry herb vaporizer has a battery/power supply, an herb chamber, a heating element, a mouthpiece, and buttons/dials for control.

When marijuana is placed in the chamber and the device is turned on, the heating element heats the marijuana to the desired temperature, and the vapor is released and pulled out of the device via the mouthpiece.

Popular vaporizers include the Volcano, the PAX 2, and the Magic Flight Launch Box. Vaporizers come in desktop, portable, and pen form, and can be used with dry herb, wax/oil, or e-liquids.

Vaporizing vs. Smoking

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Let’s set the record straight: smoking marijuana is not as bad for your lungs as smoking cigarettes.

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Smoking methods for marijuana include joints/spliffs, bongs, pipes, and dabbing. These are by far the most common ways of consuming marijuana, and casual users tend to be most familiar with these tried-and-true methods of getting high.

Unlike cigarette smokers, marijuana smokers don’t appear to be at any increased risk for lung cancer or permanent lung damage.

However, smoking is still not recommended due to negative effects on the respiratory system.

Smoking marijuana has been linked to respiratory problems, including bronchitis, a type of lung inflammation. Symptoms of bronchitis include cough, phlegm, shortness of breath, and a sore throat.

This could be explained by the fact that smoking weed is known to weaken the immune defenses of the lungs, leaving them more vulnerable to infection. Small tar deposits have also been found in the lungs of marijuana smokers.

Vaporizing avoids these problems by delivering the active compounds in marijuana without the harmful and irritating by-products created by smoking.

Types of Marijuana Vaporizers

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There are 3 major types of marijuana vaporizers: desktop vaporizers, portable vaporizers, and vape pens.

Vape pens and portable vaporizers are small portable devices. Vape pens, like the Dr. Dabber Aurora, tend to be used with oil and wax products, while portable vapes, like the Firefly or the PAX 2 are usually compatible with dry herbs.

Desktop or tabletop vaporizers are bigger devices that can produce large quantities of vapor. The most well known is the Volcano vaporizer. Other popular desktop models include the Extreme Q, Vapir Rise and Herbalizer.

These vaporizers work by filling a bag with marijuana vapor, which can then be inhaled through a mouthpiece on the bag.

One major decision any vape user has to make is whether they want a conduction or convection vaporizer. Conduction models apply heat directly to marijuana, while convection models heat the air around the marijuana to warm it indirectly.

Conduction vaporizers are cheaper, but have the drawback of uneven heating. Convection vaporizers are expensive and take longer, but heat more evenly and produce a better result.

Temperature for Vaporizing

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The best temperature for vaporizing would maximize the amount of cannabinoids and terpenes released, while minimizing toxic by-products.

In a 2004 study, scientists vaporized marijuana using the Volcano vaporizer at temperatures between 155-218°C (311-424°F). The researchers analyzed the composition of vapor produced at different temperatures. They also compared the composition of the vapor to marijuana smoke.

The study concluded that a vaporizing temperature of 185°C (365°F) maximizes beneficial compounds such as THC, CBD, and terpenes, while minimizing harmful compounds found in smoke.

These days, many vaporizers allow you to set and control the temperature. This means users can choose which temperature to vape at in order to enjoy the benefits of specific compounds.

Vaporizing points of major cannabinoids and terpenes

CompoundVaporizing Point (°C)

∆-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)157
Cannabidiol (CBD)160-180
Cannabinol (CBN)185
Cannabichromene (CBC)220
Cannabigerol (CBG)52
∆-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (∆-8-THC)175-178
β-myrcene166-168
β-caryophyllene119
d-limonene177
α-pinene156
α-terpeneol217-218

THC and CBD are two major cannabinoids found in marijuana. THC is the main active ingredient in marijuana responsible for the high, while CBD is responsible for non-psychoactive effects such as analgesic and anti-anxiety effects.

Terpenes are fragrant compounds that give marijuana its particular flavour and scent. They also have significant effects on the body, such as pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects.

Benefits of Vaporizing

Studies have shown clear benefits to vaporizing as opposed to smoking marijuana.

The main benefits include a reduction of harmful compounds such as tar, fewer respiratory symptoms and more efficient delivery of THC. Other reported benefits include a cleaner taste and stealth/discretion.

Marijuana vapor contains less toxins.

A 2004 study compared the composition of marijuana vapor and smoke and found the smoke contained many more compounds, including known toxins.

The vapor was more pure and consisted mainly of cannabinoids and terpenes.

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Another study, conducted in 2007, took blood samples from subjects who smoked or vaporized marijuana. They found that the subjects had similar levels of THC in their blood, but vape users had lower levels of carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide is a by-product of combustion that can cause serious poisoning and even death at high concentrations.

Vaporizing avoids the lung problems caused by smoking.

When marijuana smokers switch to using a vaporizer, they tend to have less respiratory problems.

A 2006 study by Earleywine and Barnwell analyzed self-reported respiratory symptoms in cannabis users, and found that vaporizer use predicted lower levels of respiratory problems.

Another 2010 study by Van Dam and Earleywine took marijuana smokers and switched them to vaping for 1 month.

When they compared users’ reports of lung symptoms before and after, they found that switching to a vaporizer led to a reduction in symptoms.

Vaporizing is an efficient delivery method.

A 2004 study, which compared the composition of marijuana vapor and smoke, found that vaporizing is at least as efficient as smoking, and possibly more.

Users generally agree that vaping is more effective and that they require less marijuana to achieve the same high.

This could be due to the fact that some THC is lost in the “sidestream smoke” — smoke that gets lost in the air while a joint is burning.

With vaping, less THC gets lost in this way because the mouthpiece delivers the vapor directly to the user, and the user has control over the heating element.

Smoking methods such as joints or pipes also result in the destruction of some THC due to high temperatures.

Users report more stealth and a cleaner taste.

A 2014 study researched the experiences of vaporizer users. They identified the stealthy aspects of vaporizing as a major benefit, including the lack of odor and lack of visible smoke.

Users also said they enjoyed the cleaner flavor of vapor as opposed to the harsh taste of smoke.

Vaporizing also provides more control over dosing compared to smoking. Vaporizers tend to be more consistent and often feature precise temperature settings.

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Achieving a consistent dose can be challenging when smoking. It’s hard to pack two bowls exactly the same!

Drawbacks of Vaporizing

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Like most things, vaporizing may have some drawbacks as well. One major concern is that there are currently no long-term studies on the safety and health effects of vaporizing.

Vaporizing could pose a health risk.

Dr. Mitch Earleywine, who published two studies on the effects of vaporizing on the respiratory system, suggests that it still makes sense to switch to vaping, because it has been shown in studies to at least be safer than smoking.

“I think it is clear that smoking anything is not ideal for health. What little research we have seems to strongly favor vaporizing over smoking,” he explains.

There are also some concerns with heating propylene glycol (PG), a chemical commonly used in vaporizer e-liquids. Propylene glycol is safe for ingestion and topical application, but it hasn’t been evaluated for inhalation. If you’re concerned, it’s best to stick to dry herb vaporizers.

Certain vaporizers may be of poor quality, and could leach chemicals into the vapor. When it comes to the air you’re breathing, it’s probably best to splurge for a reputable brand.

Vaporizing may seem like an ideal method at first. But it’s important to recognize which of marijuana’s risks it can address, and which it can’t.

Marijuana poses other risks, such as adverse psychological effects and addiction, and vaporizing can’t address these.

Vaporizing has practical drawbacks, too.

Vaporizing has expensive start-up costs. A desktop vaporizer will run you at least $200, while portable models start at $80. For some people, especially occasional users, it just doesn’t make sense to invest that kind of money.

New or inexperienced users may also find they accidentally get too high. For one, you don’t lose as much THC in the sidestream smoke. Second, the vapor has a cleaner taste and is less harsh than smoke, so it’s easier to inhale more.

Vaporizing also take a little more time. Vaporizers must heat up before releasing vapor, so they’re not ideal if you just want a quick hit on your way out the door.

Summary

Vaporizers heat marijuana (dry herb, wax/oil, or e-liquids) to a temperature where the active ingredients are released into a gas, but not so hot as to produce smoke.

Smoking marijuana creates harmful by-products and tar similar to what is found in tobacco smoke.

Vaporizing avoids the drawbacks of smoking while offering many of the same conveniences, such as rapid effects and the ability to easily control your dose.

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While vaporizing does require an upfront investment, it pays off by reducing users’ respiratory symptoms.

Long-term studies are still needed to determine the safety of vaporizers.

Marijuana users should compare the pros and cons of vaporizers with other consumption methods to decide what works best for them.

FAQs

Is a dry herb vaporizer better for you? ›

It is healthier:

Because a vaporizer does not utilize combustion to heat the herb, no dangerous pollutants are produced during the vaping process. At least 250 of the over 7,000 compounds included in cigarette smoke are known to be toxic, including hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, and ammonia.

Are herb vaporizers safe? ›

Vaping marijuana is often touted as safer than smoking it. That's because vaporizers heat—but don't burn—herb, oil, or wax forms of marijuana. However, vaping marijuana isn't safe in general, and in some ways, it may be more dangerous than smoking weed.

Is Firefly vaporizer safe? ›

Yes, even the slightly metallic-looking bowl is glass. More specifically, borosilicate glass – a highly safe and heat-resistant glass used in cookware and laboratory glass items. As of now, the Firefly is literally the safest option out there.

What are the pros and cons of a vaporizer? ›

Dry Herb Vape Guide: The Pros and Cons of Dry Herb Vaporizers
  • Introduction. ...
  • Convenience and Discretion. ...
  • Improved Flavor, Smell and Effects. ...
  • Healthier than Smoking. ...
  • Quality is a Must. ...
  • Vaporizers Can be Costly. ...
  • Potency and Effects are Often Stronger than Smoking Cannabis.
9 Jun 2022

Is it safer to vape or smoke flower? ›

Vaping devices heat cannabis to a temperature in which the mind-altering compounds in the plant are released as a vapor that is inhaled. Vaping is thought to be safer for cannabis and tobacco use because it doesn't produce many of the harmful components of burning material such as tar and other cancer-causing agents.

What are the symptoms of vape lung? ›

EVALI may cause the following symptoms:
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Cough.
  • Chest pain.
  • Fever and chills.
  • Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
  • Rapid heartbeat.
  • Rapid and shallow breathing.

Is dry herb vaping safer than oil vaping? ›

Effects of Dry Vaping

One study indicated that using dry herbs may be a more effective and safer way to take THC. The researchers found that if you want to get therapeutic levels of cannabinoids, vaporization may be a good option. It reduces the number of harmful compounds you may get when you are smoking.

Are dry herb vaporizers worth it? ›

Overall, most people that own a dry herb vaporizer think they are definitely worth it! Vaping is less toxic for your health than smoking your herb, it makes your herb taste better, and in the long run, it helps to make your herb last longer than burning it up all at once.

Is the Firefly 2+ worth it? ›

The Firefly 2+ is much easier to use; the herb doesn't need to be ground as fine. There's also a 33% increase in airflow and it's easier to draw from, so that's definitely an improvement. The battery was improved a bit, but also it doesn't include a second battery that the Firefly 2 had.

What temperature is best for Firefly 2 +? ›

I prefer the lower temps (right around 350-360F), and they tend to produce the best taste. You could also crank up the temp to 420 and rip an entire bowl in 2-3 hits if that's your thing. Dry Herb / Concentrate Use – The full Firefly 2+ temp spectrum runs from 200F to 500F.

How many hits does Firefly 2 have? ›

On average, you can expect to get around six bowls, with five to seven hits per bowl on a full charge. Overall, it feels like typical battery life for a vaporizer, and the charging time is quicker than normal. The usb-C dock fully charges the battery in 45 minutes, and up to 80% in just 20 minutes.

Are vaporizers worth it? ›

Turning to a vaporizer is a good way to give the lungs a break, for sure. The biggest benefit most people see is that instead of tar-filled smoke, you're inhaling much finer and cleaner vapor. The reason for that is you're not burning and smoking the plant matter.

Do dry herb vaporizers smell? ›

The short answer is yes, vaporizers do emit a smell. How much of a smell depends largely on how pungent your herb is and the vaporizer you're using. However, the smell emitted from vaporizers is far less potent than smoking.

Is dry herb vaping more potent? ›

But when it comes to getting the best potency, dry herb vaporizers come out on top every time. So if you were considering going for a dry herb vape, but weren't sure if it was the best option, now you know that it will offer you much more potency, flavor, and overall experience.

How long does it take for your lungs to heal from vaping? ›

After two weeks: your circulation and lung function begin to improve. After one to nine months: clear and deeper breathing gradually returns; you have less coughing and shortness of breath; you regain the ability to cough productively instead of hacking, which cleans your lungs and reduce your risk of infection.

Which is the safest vape? ›

If you are looking for the safest vape kit then you might want to consider disposables or pod kits. These are often low powered and have safety cuts offs as well as other features to prevent them from overheating. Not only as disposables one of the safest vape kits, but they are also super easy to use.

Is dry herb vape better than oil? ›

Dry herb vaporizers are more smooth compared to smoking and vaping oil cartridges. Advantages of dry herb vaporization is you get the most full spectrum use of the plant. In comparrison, smoking which using high temperatures will only give you access to mostly THC.

What is the point of a dry herb vaporizer? ›

A dry herb vaporizer is a device that heats up dry cannabis flowers in order to create a gas (vapor) that contains plant material. The flavors and aromas of the dry herb are extracted during the process, and users of this type of vaporizer will feel the effects when inhaling the vapor.

Why should I get a dry herb vaporizer? ›

Dry herb vaporizers are perfect because they offer the user discretion. For one, it does not produce a smell so you don't have to worry about lingering smells on your clothes, hair, and fingers. There is also less smoke produced with this consumption method which is great for being discreet.

Are dry herb vapes more potent? ›

But when it comes to getting the best potency, dry herb vaporizers come out on top every time. So if you were considering going for a dry herb vape, but weren't sure if it was the best option, now you know that it will offer you much more potency, flavor, and overall experience.

Is vaping better than flowering? ›

Studies have shown that vaping is the most efficient delivery of THC into the body. Dosage for dosage, flower can't compare to vaping. With such high concentrations of THC, cartridges hit the bloodstream faster than flower. The concentration of THC hits with a high often described as a “cleaner” high.

Why does flower get me higher? ›

With high THC flower, more THC enters the bloodstream with every inhale, making these effects appear more quickly and with more ferocity. Simply put, if you're all about the buzz, then high THC flower gets the job done quicker and easier. Medical patients may also prefer high THC flower for this reason.

Do dry herb vaporizers smell? ›

The short answer is yes, vaporizers do emit a smell. How much of a smell depends largely on how pungent your herb is and the vaporizer you're using. However, the smell emitted from vaporizers is far less potent than smoking.

What are the benefits of using a vaporizer? ›

A warm steam vaporizer provides multiple benefits, especially when you feel sick: The moisture of the steam helps relieve your cough and reduce congestion in your chest and sinuses. Proper humidification with a vaporizer can also reduce the irritation in your nose, eyes and throat, triggered by a cold or allergies.

Does a dry herb vaporizer make smoke? ›

Most dry herb vaporizers gently heat herbs and produce vapors. However,some dry herb vaporizers called combustion vapes burn the herbs and produce smoke.

Do dry herb vaporizers produce visible vapor? ›

Dry herb isn't capable of producing much visible vapor, and even liquid cannabis extracts keep clouds to a minimum. In fact, if your weed or extract pen is smoking that much, it is probably faulty, and something might actually be burning. Vaping could be considered an electronically heated, smokeless bong.

How long does it take to feel the effects of a dry herb vaporizer? ›

You will begin to feel the effects within the first 5 minutes or so, depending on how potent your cannabis is. Once you feel satisfied, turn off your vaporizer and dump out your dry herbs to prevent them from staying hot. This will make them last significantly longer.

Is a herb vaporizer worth it? ›

Turning to a vaporizer is a good way to give the lungs a break, for sure. The biggest benefit most people see is that instead of tar-filled smoke, you're inhaling much finer and cleaner vapor. The reason for that is you're not burning and smoking the plant matter.

What is the best way to use a dry herb vaporizer? ›

How to vape your dry herbs
  1. Step 1: Grind your herbs. Many vapes can vaporize whole flowers, but grinding produces the best results. ...
  2. Step 2: Pack your vape. ...
  3. Step 3: Power on your vape. ...
  4. Step 4: Pick your temperature. ...
  5. Step 5: Inhale your vaporized herbs. ...
  6. Step 6: Power off & clean your vape.
1 Mar 2022

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