Whether your preferred smoking material is tobacco, cannabis or something else, you know that the act of smoking is not good for you. The worst part of smoking often isn’t the compounds in the smoking material — it’s the smoke itself. A dry herb vaporizer is an alternative that can allow you to extract the active compounds of your material without combustion and all of its negative effects.
Are you new to dry herb vaporizers? You’re not alone. The vaporizer is a relatively new product that’s definitely a bit more complex than lighting a cigarette.
Never fear! Our ultimate guide to dry herb vaporizers is here to help you through your first purchase. Having trouble understanding the differences between desktop and portable vaporizers? Need to know whether a dry herb vaporizer or wax vaporizer is the right choice for you? Read on for more information. Click any of the items in the Table of Contents to proceed directly to that section.
A dry herb vaporizer is an electronic device that heats a smoking material to convert the material’s active compounds to vapour. The vaporizer heats the material to below the smoke point so it does not burn. If you vaporize tobacco, you’ll still get the nicotine. If you vaporize cannabis, you’ll still get the THC. You simply won’t get any smoke, tar or carbon monoxide.
People use dry herb vaporizers because vaping makes smoking obsolete. If you smoke tobacco, you know how hard it is to quit. Maybe you’ve even tried nicotine replacement therapies. They probably didn’t work — because they don’t work for most people. If you smoke cannabis, you enjoy its effects and want to continue using it. In either case, you know that the inhalation of smoke is by far the most unhealthy aspect of your tobacco or marijuana use. If you vaporize the material instead, you won’t inhale smoke.
The health effects of vaporizing rather than smoking cannabis or tobacco have not been extensively studied. However, we do know that many of the most harmful effects of smoking come from the smoke itself. It seems logical to conclude that using a dry herb vaporizer would most likely reduce the harm that smoking causes.
The greatest benefit of dry herb vaporizers is the fact that using one produces no smoke. Although the lack of smoke may have potential health benefits, there’s more to it than that. Vaping doesn’t leave the strong residual odour in your house and on your clothes that smoking does. Since vaping doesn’t create harsh smoke that irritates your throat and lungs, you can inhale more deeply — which means that you can achieve the desired effect while using less material. With tobacco and medical cannabis both at all-time high prices in Australia, switching from smoking to vaping can easily pay for itself before long.
When you smoke marijuana, cannabinoids comprise only a small percentage of what you inhale. The rest is simply the byproduct of combustion. When you vape, cannabinoids are almost all that you inhale. Nevertheless, because smoke is an efficient carrier of a material’s active compounds, you may find that achieving your desired state of mind takes a few minutes longer if you vaporize cannabis rather than smoking it. Start slowly and wait for the effects to build before you decide whether you want to use more.
Since you’re not getting the effects of the smoke when you vaporize marijuana, you may find the high slightly different. Some people call it a “cleaner” high. Others call it a “functional” high and say that they don’t feel quite as compelled to sit on their couches all day. Still others notice no difference at all. Either way — just like smoking — vaping can definitely get you as high as you want to be.
Most people who use dry herb vaporizers for weed believe that the taste is far superior to that of smoking — especially for the first few hits and particularly with dank strains. If you appreciate the care and selective breeding that separates a dank strain from a mid strain, you’ll taste those subtle flavours even more clearly when you vape.
People tend to compare the taste of vaporized marijuana that’s nearly spent to that of slightly burned popcorn. When you begin to taste that flavour, you’ll know that your vaping session is almost over.
Opinions vary as to what tobacco tastes like when vaporized. Since vaping tends to cause tobacco to express its true flavour, you’ll find that the quality of the tobacco makes a big difference in vaping. Use high-quality tobacco if possible.
Regardless of the material you use, we suggest that you try vaping for at least a couple of weeks before deciding which taste you prefer. If you try smoking after vaping for two weeks, you’ll probably find the flavour of the smoke intolerably harsh.
You can vaporize any herb that you can smoke. Some people combine other herbs with cannabis in their vaporizers to stretch the marijuana and enhance its effects. Other people simply vape a variety of different herbs for relaxation and mind expansion. Some of the most popular herbs other than weed to vaporize include catnip, valerian, passion flower and lemon balm.
Out of the different types of dry herb vaporizers, desktop vaporizers usually hold the most material. If you want to enjoy your vaping sessions with others, you definitely want to use a desktop vaporizer. Desktop vaporizers are generally the only dry herb vaporizers that use convection heating, which means that they vaporize your material more evenly and completely. Some desktop vaporizers even have “preheat” modes that keep your material warmed and ready to use.
Desktop vaporizers almost always require mains power to operate. If you want to vape outside your home, you’ll need a portable vaporizer or vape pen. Modern portable vaporizers work nearly as well as desktop vaporizers, but most do not use convection heaters. If you use a vaporizer with conduction heating, you’ll need to shake the vaporizer occasionally or stir the contents of the oven to move the unused material to the oven’s walls.
A portable vaporizer makes it possible to vape discreetly outside the home, but a vape pen is even more discreet. Since a vape pen is about the same size as an actual pen — hence the name — it’s easy to carry in your pocket and is unlikely to draw attention from bystanders. Most of the people who see a vape pen will assume it is an e-cigarette since most vape pens actually are e-cigarettes with slight modifications. It is often possible to convert a vape pen into an e-cigarette simply by changing the attachment that connects to the battery.
Most vape pens are not dry herb vaporizers — they’re simply not large enough to hold a usable amount of dry herbs. Instead, vape pens usually vaporize wax concentrates.
For using cannabis, a dry herb vaporizer isn’t terribly different from smoking because you’re consuming the whole herb. In many dispensaries, though, you can also find wax concentrates that are very close to pure THC. A wax vaporizer is small and discreet, and it can give you the potent effects of THC very quickly from a small dab of wax.
The main benefit of wax vaporizers is their small size. However, the effects of vaporizing THC concentrates are not the same as the effects of vaporizing dry herbs. With wax concentrates, you get more THC and less of the rest of the cannabinoid spectrum. Whether that fact makes wax concentrates better or worse than dry herbs depends on your preferences. While a wax concentrate can get you high very quickly, some people find that it’s easy to use too much and experience negative effects when vaping waxes rather than dry herbs.
E-liquid is a flavoured liquid — often containing nicotine — that smokers use in place of tobacco. You can also get THC e-liquid from many local dispensaries, so an e-liquid vaporizer — like a dry herb vaporizer — provides an alternative to both tobacco and smoked cannabis. Since e-liquid vaporizers do not have chambers for dry herbs, they are often very small and portable.
Like wax concentrates, THC e-liquids do not contain the full cannabidoid spectrum of the whole herb. In other words, the high will feel different. Only you can choose your preference.
People also use terms such as “personal vaporizers,” “mods” and “e-cigarettes” to describe e-liquid vaporizers.
Begin by grinding your herb very finely. If you don’t already own a fine herb grinder, grab one before you check out. Finely ground herb packs more easily and vaporizes more evenly.
Your dry herb vaporizer may include a tamping tool. Use it to distribute the herb evenly in the vaporizer’s oven and pack it down.
If you are using a conduction vaporizer, the heat radiates inward from the outer walls of the oven. Use the tamper tool to pack the oven fairly tightly without restricting airflow. You want as much of the herb’s surface area to touch the oven — and the rest of the herb — as possible.
If you are using a convection vaporizer, a fan blows hot air through the oven to distribute the heat. If you pack the oven too tightly, you’ll prevent the fan from doing its job. Push down with the tamper tool firmly enough to distribute the herb evenly — that’s good enough.
If your vaporizer has a temperature setting, it’s best to start at a low temperature until you become accustomed to vaping. Vaping at a lower temperature preserves the flavour of the bud and prevents the vapour from tasting harsh. If you aren’t getting the effects that you want, dial the temperature up slowly.
Inhale slowly and deeply when vaping. Remember that, unlike when you smoke weed, you can’t get a stronger effect by inhaling more quickly because fast inhaling doesn’t increase the temperature of the oven. If you’re using a portable vaporizer, you can expect about 10 deep hits before the bud begins to lose its flavour and potency.
If you’re using a conduction vaporizer, try shaking the vaporizer gently to redistribute the weed as you near the end of your vaping session. Shaking helps to move any unused herb from the middle of the oven to the outside. Shaking shouldn’t be necessary with a convection vaporizer that’s packed properly.
Try vaping marijuana at a temperature between about 170° and 210° C. One of the greatest things about using a dry herb vaporizer is that, if you are using cannabis to treat a specific condition, you can actually select the compounds that your vaporizer releases from the bud to a certain extent. THC, for example, is released at 157° C. CBD is released at 160-180° C. CBN is released at 185°. You continue to increase the number of compounds released from the cannabis up to a maximum temperature of about 220° C. Be careful, though; marijuana combustion occurs at about 230° C. If your herbs burn, you’ll smoke them rather than vaporizing them.
Are you vaping at a good temperature? Check your spent buds when you open your vaporizer. If they’re brown, you’re vaping. If they’re black or ashy, you’re smoking.
The maximum length of a vaping session before the weed loses its potency depends on the vaporizer and the quality of the buds. In most cases, though, vape sessions last about 10 minutes. When you taste burned popcorn, your session is nearly over.
Many people find it difficult to vape an entire bowl of weed in one sitting. Whether you can vape part of a bowl and return to it later, though, depends on the design of the vaporizer. If your dry herb vaporizer uses conduction heating, the marijuana will remain in contact with the hot oven for some time after your vaping session ends. During that time, the weed will lose most of its active compounds. Try packing smaller bowls to reduce waste.
If your vaporizer uses convection heating — and the heating element isn’t too close to the herbs — you can stop a vaping session and come back later because your herbs won’t continue cooking when the vaporizer’s fan is off.
If you want to stop vaping and return to your vaporizer later, note that the experience may not be exactly the same as it was when the herbs were fresh. Compared to the other compounds in cannabis, THC vaporizes at a relatively low temperature. While a partially vaped bowl of weed may still contain beneficial compounds, much of the THC may be gone.
If you taste burned popcorn when vaping, your buds are almost fully cooked. You can also examine the herbs themselves. Fully vaped marijuana is brown and dry. If your weed looks brown and tastes bad, it is probably done.
If your dry herb vaporizer has a removable mouthpiece and screen, remove both items and soak them in isopropyl alcohol. Rinse them thoroughly, and dry them with paper towels.
You can clean the oven of your vaporizer with a cotton swab or pipe cleaner moistened with isopropyl alcohol. Dry the oven thoroughly before using the vaporizer. Keep all batteries and electronic components away from water.
If you want to release specific compounds from your cannabis, it’s wise to buy a dry herb vaporizer with precise temperature control. If you don’t have room in your budget for a vaporizer with full temperature control, simple settings such as “Low,” “Medium” and “High” are fine. The more control you have over your vaping temperature, though, the more you’ll enjoy the experience.
Most dry herb vaporizers — and almost all portable vaporizers — work with conduction heating. You place your marijuana or other material in the vaporizer’s oven, and the walls of the oven warm up to heat your material directly.
In a convection vaporizer, the heat source usually doesn’t touch the herbs. Instead, a fan blows hot air from the heat source through the herbs. Convection leads to faster, more even heating. Convection ensures that the herbs in the middle of the bowl vaporize at the same rate as the herbs on the outside of the bowl.
While a convection vaporizer may do a better job of heating your herbs, you shouldn’t let that fact stop you from buying a conduction vaporizer. The portable vaporizers of today are far more consistent, reliable and long lasting than they were several years ago — and the fact that you can use a portable vaporizer anywhere is a huge benefit.
If you’re vaporizing your cannabis at the right temperature, it’ll still have a bit of THC remaining after your vape session — so don’t throw it away. Use your vaped weed to make cannabutter. Measure equal parts marijuana and butter by volume. Grind the herbs as finely as possible with a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder. Place the buds and butter in a pan with some water. Cook the cannabutter over low heat, stirring frequently, for about one hour. Pour the mixture through a strainer into a bowl, and allow it to cool in your refrigerator. When the mixture is fully cool, remove the butter and discard the water. Cook with the butter as you normally do.
You can also make cannabutter without water if you like. However, many people believe that using water improves the flavour of the final product by removing some of the chlorophyll from the cannabis. In addition, using water makes it easier to filter the marijuana solids out.
If you’ve never eaten foods made with cannabutter before, start slow. Compared to smoking or vaping, eating cannabis produces a high that comes on much more slowly. Until you can gauge the effects, wait a few hours between servings when eating foods containing marijuana.
Dry Herb Vaporizers: The Ultimate Guide
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