And How It Works
Although historically most medical patients and recreational users have smoked marijuana or used tinctures there is a huge variety of consumption methods that are available today. One of the most popular methods of cannabis consumption is vaporizing. Over the past decade vaping has become increasingly popular as an alternative to smoking cigarettes or joints. Vaporizing gives the user all of the benefits and effects of cannabis without having to smoke.
What is Vaporizing
A marijuana vaporizer is a device that heats up the dried cannabis plant or concentrate to the point where the cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are extracted from the marijuana and turned into vapor that is drawn in or inhaled by the user. The dried flower or concentrate is placed in the chamber and heated to the point where vapor is produced, but, unlike a joint or bong, vaporizers don’t allow the cannabis to combust or burn. Research shows that the 100+ cannabinoids and terpenes found in marijuana vaporize between 220 degrees and 451 degrees Fahrenheit while cannabis burns as hot as 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit! When patients or users vaporize their marijuana they are able to enjoy the benefits of these cannabinoids without burning the cannabis.
Experts recommend vaping at different temperatures based on your desired outcomes. A maximum of 356 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended for best flavor, while 356-392 degrees produces good flavor and good vapor. In order to get the highest medication level and the best vapor it is recommended to use a temperature over 393 degrees Fahrenheit.
Medical patients and recreational users can vaporize both dried herb or flower and concentrates such as oil distillate, shatter, crystal, wax, etc. Vaporizing solid concentrates is often called dabbing and usually uses a higher temperature. Dabbing is known for creating an intense high for many users.
How Does Vaporizers Work?
When using a vaporizer, a person puts the herb or concentrate into a chamber or oven. The power supply, either a rechargeable battery or an electric plug for a wall socket, activates the heating element. The heating element warms the cannabis in the chamber and produces the vapor. The delivery system allows the vapor to be drawn from the chamber to your lips. Some vaporizers use balloons or tubing, and devices have users draw vapor directly from the vape.
Vaporizers use either either a conductive or convective heating element to heat the cannabis which extracts the cannabinoids and turns them into vapor.
When using vaporizers that utilize the conduction method of heat, the cannabis is placed on a “hot plate” or heated metal surface. As the marijuana heats up the terpenes,THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids go through the chamber and become vapor. Conduction is the most popular form of heat for vaporizers, but it is not necessarily the best one. While conduction heating is fast and quickly produces vapor, it can burn the cannabis, be hard to regulate, and the heat can be unevenly distributed.
Other vaporizers use convection heat to produce the vapor. With these types of vaporizers heated air is passed over the cannabis by inhalation or a fan. The hot air heats the cannabis, extracts the cannabinoids, and produces the vapor. Although usually more expensive than vaporizers that use conduction, convection vaporizers provide accurate temperature control and are often made out of ceramic or stainless steel which retains the heat. Convection heating may take a little longer, but it is a more efficient way to produce vapor and will not burn or char the cannabis.
Types of Vaporizers
There are many different models of vaporizers, but they can be broken down into two main categories, tabletop/desktop and portable. A desktop vaporizer is a larger device that is plugged into a power source. They usually have a hose type delivery device that is used to draw the vapor to your lips. Table top vaporizers offer accurate temperature control which allows the user to customize the vaping experience for their needs. These types of vaporizers are excellent for medical patients and for sharing the cannabis experience with friends.
Today the most popular form of vaporizers are portable vaporizers. These vaporizers are heated by a rechargeable battery and come in a wide variety of designs and functionality. You can find many quality portable vaporizers for sale on Big Dream Cannabis Co.’s website. There are portable vaporizers that are designed to be used with concentrates such as shatter and budder, or with dried flower. There are also dab or wax pens and portable oil vapes. The portable vaporizers are small, discreet, and allow you to take your medication with you on the go. Some portable vaporizers offer a slight level of temperature customization which allows you to manipulate the heat and produce a variety of results, but most use a set temperature. These types of vaporizers don’t require you to put the cannabis into the chamber and are extremely easy to use on the go.
Portable oil vape pens use a distillate oil concentrate. Some have a mouthpiece, but often look like a pen or stylus and are extremely discreet. Most users who prefer vape pens choose to use single use pens or prepackaged oil cartridges that can be easily attached to the vape pen. Some vape pens allow you to add your own cannabis oil as well.
The Benefits of Vaporizing
Many people view vaping marijuana as a safer alternative to smoking. Like tobacco cigarettes, smoking marijuana releases carcinogens into your lungs and body. These carcinogens can be chemicals, substances, or environmental factors that are found in plants including the tobacco and marijuana plants. “When you combust any plant, you’re creating significantly more carcinogens,” according to Dr. Jeffery Chen, the director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative. There has been significant research that has linked carcinogens to cancer. Vaporizing marijuana keeps the cannabis from combusting, which means when you vape cannabis you are not releasing those carcinogens into your body.
Research has also found that smoking, whether cigarettes or marijuana, releases tar into your lungs. In fact the American Lung Association has stated that because marijuana users typically inhale for longer, they are actually exposed to more tar per breath than cigarette users. Although more research needs to be done, some reports show that people who switch from smoking marijuana to vaping actually notice improvement in their lung and respiratory health. In 2007, a small study in the Harm Reduction Journal found that “vaporizing marijuana can reduce respiratory issues caused by smoking marijuana” and that vaporizing resulted in temperatures “cool enough to avoid the smoke and toxins associated with combustion.”
There are also practical benefits to vaporizing cannabis. Portable vaporizers are more discreet than smoking and produce far less odor. Portable battery operated vaporizers allow a patient to quickly warm up the cannabis with a push of a button and inhale without the process of lighting up. Vaporizing marijuana allows the patient or user to experience the effects of the cannabis quickly, with typical onset occurring in 10-15 minutes. Table top vaporizers are ideal for sharing cannabis with others. For many users, vaporizing feels cleaner than smoking and they are able to get a better appreciation of the terpenes, aroma, and taste from the various strains.
Although vaporizing has many benefits, there are some things that both medical patients and recreational users should be aware of when it comes to the safety and use of vaping marijuana.
Over the last year there has been an increase in vaping related illnesses and death. These cases have been linked to THC and CBD vape oil pens that use marijuana extract cartridges. These vape pens are different than other vaporizers that use dried flower or concentrates. The cannabis distillate that is found in these cartridges are highly concentrated and can contain various contaminants. These contaminants and toxins can include heavy metals or fertilizers that the cannabis was exposed to during the growing process or solvents such as butane or hexane that are used while processing. Because the extract is so concentrated, the patient can be inhaling a concentrated amount of these toxins as well.
Some vape cartridges or “vape juice” contain various additives similar to those in e-cigarettes that can act as thinners or thickeners, or can change the vapor production or the way the vapor feels in the mouth of the user. These additives can be FDA approved such as polyethylene glycol (PEG), propylene glycol (PG), and vegetable glycerin (VG). While these additives have been deemed safe for human consumption, research shows that when heated, these additives can break down into carcinogens such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. This obviously poses a concern for many users since vaping involves heating the oil.
Recently there has been news about some vape pen cartridges containing dangerous chemicals such as the thickening agent vitamin E acetate and vegetable oil. It is believed that these chemicals, often found in illegal vape cartridges are the cause of the vaping related illnesses and deaths. This is why it is extremely important to buy vape pens that are tested, labeled, and packaged correctly from reputable and licensed dispensaries.
Like all methods of consumption, patients should go slow and be aware of how vaping affects them. Vaporizing marijuana may have a stronger effect on some people, especially infrequent or newer users. Unlike eating an edible, taking a tincture, or smoking a joint, it is very difficult to determine how much cannabis you have consumed when vaping. Although some vape pens signal when the user has reached a specific dose, most vaporizing methods don’t give the patient or user information about how much they have consumed and they don’t offer normal visual cues that come with being able to look at a dropper or joint. This can lead to the patient over consuming.
While there are some possible concerns about vaping, most cannabis experts believe that when used correctly and with licensed and regulated product, vaporizers, especially those that use dried flower or concentrate, are a great method of consumption for both new and experienced users. Table top and portable concentrate or dried flower vaporizers are considered very safe. Vaping gives you the benefits of cannabis but is easier on your throat and respiratory system. It offers a quick delivery method and can be done in a discreet way with the use of a portable vaporizer, or enjoyed with friends using a tabletop system.
While many users enjoy smoking marijuana, there are many reasons to try vaporizers. Experts believe that tar and over 100 different types of carcinogens can be released when cannabis is burned. Vaporizers do not combust or burn the marijuana and therefore does not release those carcinogens into your body. The terpenes and cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are extracted from the cannabis and turned into vapor that can be full of flavor and benefits that are enjoyed by the patient.
Like always we encourage you to purchase quality vaporizers and other products as well as tested, high quality cannabis from licensed dispensaries. We also encourage you to always check with your medical practitioner if you have any questions or concerns about medical marijuana or about the benefits or concerns when it comes to vaporizing cannabis.