The ultimate guide to everything you ever wanted to know about vaporizers!
When it comes to vaporizers, there are a lot of different models and types to choose from out there. Ultimately, the vaporizer that you choose will depend on your requirements, what you’re looking to get out of it, and your budget.
Vaporizers heat your favorite dry herbs to the point where the active ingredients and flavor are released without heating them to the point where the dry herbs are combusted. Vaporization heats the material without combusting it so that you aren’t inhaling any of the carcinogens that you would get if the dry herb were combusted in a traditional smoking method such as a bong, pipe, or joint.
Vaping rather than smoking can make the entire experience much more pleasurable and allow you to experience all of the benefits of dry herbs without the smoke and burnt taste.
The two main types of vaporizers that you’re going to encounter fall into either desktop vaporizer category or portable vaporizer category. Desktop vaporizers are more powerful but require mains power and are best suited to static locations. Portable vaporizers can be taken anywhere and utilize rechargeable batteries that last several sessions before you need to recharge them.
We’ll get into more detail about the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of desktop and portable vaporizers later in the article, but first, let’s take a look at the history of vaping.
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Despite what you may think, vaping started over two thousand years ago. We know what you’re thinking, the ancient Greeks weren’t walking around with DaVinci IQ’s taking hits of their favorite dry herbs.
Ancient Greek Historian Herodotus wrote in 440 BC about ancient Scythians throwing their dry herbs onto heated stones to create steam vapor baths. While we have no idea what sort of ‘dry herbs’ they were enjoying, it’s still interesting to think that the idea of vapor has been around for thousands of years.
The next step in the evolution of vaporizers was 1927, when inventor Joseph Robinson was granted a patent for a type of electronic cigarette. Although he never managed to get the device to the commercial stage, the idea for electronic cigarettes was now out in the open.
In 1965, another inventor, Herbert A. Gilbert, was given a patent on his electronic cigarette device. The device that he patented closely resembles the e-cigarettes that we see in production today. One of the interesting things about this device was that Gilbert invented a prototype, unlike Robinson, who never made it to the production stage. Unfortunately, his device never made it into commercial production either. Gilbert claims that it wasn’t the device that was the issue, rather than companies would rather wait for the patent to expire than pay to use it.
Vaporizers stayed dormant for the next thirty years until the 1990s when Eagle Bill, a Cherokee medicine man, released the Eagle Bill Shake and Vape Pipe. It was his idea to make vaping and the benefits he believed that vaping offered, available to the general public.
This model of dry herb vaporizer was basic, yet functional. You placed your favorite dry herbs into the glass bulb and then heated the glass with an eternal heat source until vapor started to appear. If you wanted more vapor, you just gave the device a shake. The popularity of this vaporizer certainly pushed vaporization as a popular alternative to smoking, but it would be another decade until vaporizers started to explode out onto the world stage.
Markus Storz developed the Volcano Vaporizer in 1996. The Volcano was initially designed for the medical community and was built in a basement. The Volcano uses a forced-air heating design, convection heating, that pushed heated air through the dry herb that eventually filled a balloon bag that had its mouthpiece. Two years later, the patent was registered, and the world of dry herb vaping would never be the same again.
The Volcano hit the European vape market in 2000, and the initial response by consumers was fantastic. Jugen Bickel joined up with Storz in 2002, and the world-famous partnership of Storz & Bickel was born. The first Volcano rolled out in the US markets in 2003, and Storz & Bickel leaped to the front of the vaporizer market.
The premium medical-grade materials and high-quality construction of the Volcano led to it being the first device ever to be certified as a medical-use device. It was the high-quality and premium performance of the Volcano that led Storz & Bickel to be considered the pioneers of modern vaporizers that we all get to use today.
Desktop vaporizers were great if you only wanted to use them in the comfort of your own home, but there was a large gap in the market when it came to portable vaporizers that people could use outside of their homes.
In 2007, PAX Labs was founded in San Francisco with the intention of creating a high-quality, portable dry herb vaporizer. The first portable PAX vaporizer opened the huge potential of portable vaporizers. You could now experience the same effects of vaping wherever you liked, not just from the comfort of your home.
The first PAX Labs portable vaporizers were designed to closely resemble the simplicity of electronic devices such as Apple’s iPod. The first PAX Labs portable vaporizers utilized conduction style heating elements that were all wrapped up in an elegant package. Their initial concept was to create a functional, yet stylish personal vaporizer that vapers could use whenever or wherever they liked.
“Functionality doesn’t just mean that something turns on or heats up or produces vapor. Functionality means that components fit their human interface, that buttons are obvious in their functionality or just plain not there, that knobs and indicators are taken to the absolute level of simplicity and necessity. All this is done while pushing the bounds of what is possible from an engineering perspective.” Said James Monsees, the CEO of PAX Labs.
This innovation by PAX Labs led to a flood of portable vaporizers entering the market, all competing for a piece of the growing vaping industry. Grenco Science looked at the market and determined that there was a more reliable concentrate device needed and set out to fill the hole in the market, releasing its first portable concentrate devices in 2011.
The two major heating types were originally convection and conduction heating, but in 2018 we saw a new type of heating style hit the markets. Induction heating is a process of heating that utilizes electronically conducting technology that heats the material from the inside rather than a heating source. It means that there is no contact between the heating element and the material. Not many vaporizers are incorporating induction heating technology into their devices yet, but Dr. Dabber has put it into their Switch Vaporizer.
The two most common types of the vaporizer are the desktop vaporizer and the portable vaporizer. As we already discussed, it was the desktop vaporizer that dominated the vaporizer market in the beginning. The larger devices allowed vapers to vape their favorite dry herbs using customizable heat settings, and the bigger size of the device made it great for multiple people to use during the same session.
Over the last ten years, portable vaporizers have exploded in popularity, but there is still a place for desktop vaporizers. Of all the different portable vaporizers, vape pens are the most discreet, affordable, and easiest to use. Portable vaporizers are the easiest to use with pre-set temperatures and heat up fast. Larger portable vaporizers are more powerful than pen-style vaporizers but cost more than pen vapes.
E-Nail vaporizers manage to fit into both categories. E-nails are designed to be used for more powerful cannabis concentrates but don’t require an external heating source. Instead, e-nails utilize an electronic heating device. There are large desktop e-nails as well as smaller portable e-nails that people can take with them wherever they go.
The three main types of heating you’re going to encounter are conduction, convection, and induction. Whatever heating method you choose will ultimately depend on your vaping requirements as well as your budget.
If you love vaping on the go, then you’ll probably prefer a conduction style heating method that heats up quickly and doesn’t take up a lot of space. However, convection heating gives you a more efficient and pleasant vaping experience. The final method, induction heating, will give you precise heating that’s perfect for true connoisseurs that are looking for exact temperatures to enjoy their favorite cannabinoids.
One of the great things about vaping is that there is a variety of different materials that you can vape in different types of vaporizers. You can vape dry herbs, concentrates, and e-liquids. The type of material that you want to vape will have a direct impact on your choice of vaporizer because not all vaporizers are compatible with all types of material.
Some types of vaporizers will vape multiple materials, but not all of them have this compatibility.
E-Liquids & E-Juices
It’s vital if you’re going to be vaping your favorite dry herbs that you invest in a high-quality grinder. One of the great things about premium grinders is that they aren’t going to break the bank, and there are some truly affordable models available to choose from.
There are a variety of different herb grinders to choose from, but there are two main types that we’ll focus on for the purpose of this article. The two types of grinder that you’re most commonly going to run into are the 2-piece grinder and the 4-piece grinder. These small and portable grinders are easy to use, great for storing your dry herb between sessions and also, most importantly, easy to use.
If you’re going to get a good vaporizer and grinder, then it makes sense that you want to get the most benefit out of your investment. To get the most out of any vaporizer, it’s important that you are grinding your dry herb effectively. If you grind and load your vaporizer correctly, you’re going to have some great vaping sessions. Different types of vaporizers will require a different load and grind.
Conduction style vaporizers work best when you’re using a very fine grind. The dry herb is heated by coming into contact with the heating element, so the more contact you get, the more evenly the dry herb will vaporize.
If you have a convection style vaporizer, you want to aim for a fluffy, middle of the road grind on your dry herb. Convection heating involves having heated air pushed through the dry herb, so you want air to be able to work its way through.
When you can control the temperature of your vaporizer, you can have a more enjoyable vaping experience. There is a perfect temperature range for different cannabinoids, and they will be released at different temperature points.
If you get too hot, you’re going to burn your dry herb and defeat the point of vaporization. Some vaporizers have pre-set temperature points that you can select based on your preference.
The best temperature for your dry herb marijuana flower is approximately between about 170°C and 210°C. One of the great things about vaping with a dry herb vaporizer is that you can choose temperature ranges that suit your personal preferences. It’s recommended by most experts that you should start at lower temperatures and then gradually increase temperatures until you find a level that you are comfortable with.
Different cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are released at different heating points, and by adjusting your temperature, you can choose a temperature that suits your favorite preferences.
THC is released at 157°C, CBD is released at 160-180°C and CBN are released at 185°C.
You can fine-tune your vape temperature to suit you. However, remember that the combustion point of cannabis is approximately 230°C, and if you reach that point, then you’re going to burn your dry herb and start to inhale smoke rather than vapor. If the dry herb looks brown or lightly toasted after you have finished vaping it, then you’re vaping it at the right temperature. However, if it’s black, burnt, or ashy, then you’re just burning it and need to adjust your temperature down to a lower heating point.
Another important aspect that you need to consider when you’re getting started using vaporizers is heating up times. When you are looking at purchasing a new vaporizer, check out what the heat up time is and how long it’ll take before you can enjoy your favorite dry herbs or concentrates. Each vaporizer will have its own heat-up time.
Generally, pen-style vapes will have the fastest heat-up time, then portable vaporizers, and finally, desktop-style vaporizers. Rapid heat-up functions are great, but you need to be careful that you don’t burn your dry herb or concentrate and cause combustion.
With all the different types of vaporizers, you’re going to get a different power source. Let’s check out some of the different power sources that you’re going to encounter in vaporizers and how they work:
Different vaporizers are going to have different warranties. Most desktop vaporizers will have the longest warranties, and pen-style vapes will have the shortest warranties. However, some more expensive portable and pen-style vapes offer fantastic warranties, including the Magic Flight, which offers lifetime protection.
Whenever you’re looking at warranties, don’t just look at how long the warranty covers your device. Instead, pay attention to what is and what isn’t covered by the warranty. Look at what’s covered and what you can replace if it breaks. Some parts of vaporizers such as the atomizer and batteries can be replaced, but internal electronics cannot.
Whatever vaporizer or style of vaporizer you choose, there are a variety of different price points.
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