Vaporizing Cannabis: Latest tech and its Benefits
Cannabis vaporizers are devices designed to consume medical dry herbs & concentrates in a less harmful way. They allow users to have the option to experience the medicinal effects while reducing possible risks of disease or lung injury. (Benzinga)
Traditional consumption methods like joints and bongs use combustion, which is an uncontrolled heat source that burns your material resulting in the release of toxins in the smoke. Vaporizers use a controlled heating method to cook your material and extract the essential oils with the result of fewer toxins being released. Another benefit to vaporizing medical cannabis is cost-effectiveness, as vaporizing can help lower your consumption while maintaining the desired effect as compared to smoking.
The operation and function of a vaporizer largely depends on the material being vaporized. Dry herbs, Wax, and Oil vaporizers are the most prominent in today’s market. Typically, ground material or wax is placed inside of a heating chamber, and that chamber is heated to a specific temperature. Different temperatures allow specific chemical compounds to be extracted from the original material.
Is Vaporizing Medical Cannabis Better Than Smoking?
Vaporizing medical cannabis is, in general, better than the more traditional method like smoking. Here are the 4 main reasons why:
- Money Saver: People who switch to vaporizers save money due to the more efficient use of material. In our research regarding how vaporizers save money, we found that vaporizing medical marijuana can yield up to 34% more cannabinoids than smoking. This means vaporizing medical weed can lower the amount of material used while maintaining the desired effect.
- Better Health: In general, the only thing you should inhale is oxygen, as that’s what the lungs were meant to do. While edibles are an inhalation-free option, it lacks the immediacy and precision in dosage that vaporizing does. So if consuming cannabis is to be done, vaporizing is far and away the least harmful option to do so¹. Check out our survey conducted on this subject.
- Discreetness: Many of those who use medical cannabis want to be able to do so discreetly for many different reasons; Generally, the odor produced by vaporizing medical marijuana is only 20% of the scent produced by smoking, as per our survey.
- Convenience: Vaporizers as a whole are becoming more and more convenient with every new generation. Not only are some manufacturers working on making them easier to travel with, but they are also fitting more powerful batteries into them, making them last for longer.
While much of the available research indicates that vaporizing medical cannabis is the safest means of consumption, we recommend consulting your physician and researching the topic via scientific journals.
What Types of Medical Weed Vaporizers are There?
Across three generations of vaporizers in the last ten years, the market has blown up with options. These devices run the gamut as far as form factor, heating methods, and flavor delivery are concerned.
Here are the 3 main categories of vaporizers:
- Dry Herb Vaporizers – For dry herb or hemp flower
- Wax Vaporizers – For concentrates like shatter and live resin or CBD isolate
- Oil Vape Pens – For oils like distillate or CBD oils
1. Dry Herb Vaporizers:
Dry Herb vaporizers are used to consume medical ground herbs and flowers such as cannabis, CBD hemp, and even more traditional flowers like sage and lavender.
They can be divided into 2 main groups:
- Portable Vaporizers: Portable Vaporizers are the most common, and as the name implies, users can take these devices around with them and extract dry herbs on the go. Some Examples include the Litl 1, Zeus Arc GTS, and the Utillian 722.
- Desktop Vaporizers: Desktop vaporizers are larger in size and include larger heating elements, creating a more powerful extraction of your herb. Desktops are the first generation of vaporizers; therefore, people tend to choose portables due to the wide variety of options and new features available. Some well-known desktop examples are the Volcano hybrid, Core 2.1, and Extreme XQ2.
Main Benefits of Dry Herb Vaporizers:
- Money Saver: Dry Herb vaporizers are especially good at saving money since they have proven to consume herbs much more efficiently than regular smoking.
- Discreetness: Discreetness is very important for those who use vaporizers in general. Many consumers are looking for a device that can fit in the palm of their hand or covertly in a pocket or purse. Both desktop and portable vaporizers produce less odor and long-term environmental effects than smoking.
- Overall Health: Many studies show that vaporizing medical marijuana is less harmful than smoking due to the differences in the heating process. The act of smoking causes combustion, where the burning of the material allows for toxic chemicals to be released through its smoke and terpenes to be lost due to excessive heat. Alternatively, vaporizers warm up your material to specific temperatures just below the point of combustion, which reduces harm in comparison.
- Convenience: With many technological advancements hitting the vaporizing industry daily, dry herb vaporizers are becoming more and more convenient for everyday medical cannabis use. Upgrades in pre-packing, loading, and charging your devices make vaporizing much more convenient than regular smoking.
Dry herb vaporizers leave leftover AVB (Already Vaped Bud) when you finish your session, which can be repurposed for infused foods such as cannabutter. Disposing of AVB can also be a hassle, as you will need to dispose of it to refill your bowl with fresh herbs. Users with sensitivities to pollen and dust may be more comfortable handling wax and oils as it minimizes dust and airborne irritants.
Keeping your device clean not only allows your device to perform at maximum capacity but may also help reduce discomfort for those who are sensitive to allergens. You can learn about the intricacies of cleaning a dry herb vaporizer by following the link.
How to Use a Dry Herb Vaporizer
- Step 1: Charge your dry herb vaporizer or ensure you have an extra battery.
- Step 2: Add your ground-up dry herb into your chamber
- Step 3: Pack the chamber lightly, enough to flatten the surface and leave enough airflow for optimal extraction.
- Step 4: Set your desired temperature or preset temperature and wait till the heat-up time is complete.
- Step 5: Activate your vaporizer through buttons, a display screen, or a simple draw-in.
- Step 6: Inhale by choosing your desired inhalation method:
a- Mouth To Lung (MTL): This is when you hold your vapor in your mouth before inhaling fully. Think of it as the way normal smoking is done. Take into consideration this is the way most people inhale.
b- Direct Lung (DL) hit: Direct Lung hits are when the vapor passes straight through without it being held in your mouth. For a better comparison, think of DL as if you are breathing through a snorkel. DL is commonly used to produce bigger clouds. If this method is one you want to use, we recommend a device that can provide cool hits and a good amount of airflow.
2. Wax Vaporizers
Wax Vaporizers are used to consume waxes and extracts such as CBD Isolate, Terp Slush, and THC Diamonds.
These are the 3 main categories:
- Wax Pens: A Wax Pen is a device that vaporizes wax or concentrates and always includes an atomizer or coil, battery, and mouthpiece. Wax pens are the most commonly used wax vaporizers and typically use the form factor of a literal pen, which increases portability. These devices are usually very simple to use but can offer various options for wax users. An example of a portable and powerful wax pen is the Utillian 5.
- E-Nails: A Nail is a flat-bottomed glass bowl, also known as a banger which is attached to a dab rig and heated with a torch. An E-Nail takes the danger out of the traditional torch system and heats your concentrate with an electrical current. This results in a safer experience and makes it easier to use and control than the original rig and torch method. The G Pen Connect would be a good example of an E-Nail.
- E-Rigs: An E-Rig is similar to an E-Nail, but the rig includes the glass percolator, whereas the E-Nail does not. E-Rigs are closer to traditional dab rigs because they include the heating element and water filtration in one package. E-Rigs are easier to use and more portable than traditional dab rigs. They are also safer than a dab rig because you don’t need to use a dangerous torch. An example of a top-notch E-rig would be the Shenzhen Crossing Core 2.1
Our friends at Leafly.com² made a few notes on the benefits of E-Rigs and E-Nails in which they explain that both e-rigs and e-nails offer consistency, exact temperature control, and safety as opposed to using the old handheld torch system.
Main Benefits of Wax Vaporizers:
Here we will list the benefits as compared to glass contraptions that have many more components.
- Money Saver: Vaporizing medical cannabis uses much less wax than if you were to try and smoke it. With a Wax vaporizer, a small amount of wax(0.3-1g) can give you a more substantial effect than the same amount when smoked.
- Discreetness: Odor is much less of an issue when vaporizing as opposed to smoking and does not last as long in an indoor environment. The small form factor of wax vaporizers makes them extremely discreet and easy to travel with.
- Overall Health: As previously stated, vaporizing, in general, is less harmful than smoking wax. Many consumers choose to use wax due to the higher concentrations of material, meaning they will use less material overall compared to smoking.
- Convenience: Wax Vaporizers are extremely simple to use and can be powerful extraction tools despite their small size. Wax vaporizers are convenient because they eliminate the need for a clumsy torch heating method.
How to Use a Wax Vaporizer
- Step 1: Charge your wax vaporizer or make sure it is plugged in.
- Step 2: Add your wax into your device’s atomizer(you may need to remove the cap depending on the device)
- Step 3: Set your desired temperature or press and hold the button if your device provides on-demand mode.
- Step 4: Choose the Inhalation method:
3. Oil Vape Pens
Oil Vape pens use pre-filled oil cartridges, typically filled with medical THC or CBD oil.
Oil vape pens can be categorized into 2 main groups:
- 510 Threaded Battery Vaporizers: 510 Threaded battery vaporizers are extremely simple and easy to use. They are the more popular group when it comes to people who vape weed in oil form. One of the market’s top units is the Tronian Pitron.
- Oil Vapes: Oil Vapes are also very simple to use and usually extremely budget-friendly. A great example of this is the Tronian Alfatron.
The most common style of oil vape pen is known as a 510 Thread Battery and is simply a cartridge screwed onto a 510-compatible body, commonly referred to as a “battery.” Oil vape pens have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, largely as a result of the growing availability of medical cannabis products.
Main Benefits of Oil Vape Pens:
- Discreetness: Oil Vaporizers are extremely discreet, and any odor will completely disappear in a matter of minutes, as per our survey conducted.
- Money Saver: Oil Vape Pens are generally very inexpensive and budget friendly. Cartridge prices, however, can range from inexpensive to costly, so it is important to get a pen with efficient extraction.
- Overall health: Oil vaporizers, as opposed to traditional smoking, can hold a set temperature. Vapor is also produced at a lower temperature than smoke, therefore, making it much less likely to overheat your oil.
- Convenience: Oil Vapes usually resemble the shape of a pen, making them extremely easy to take with you anywhere. Also, their builds tend to be super simple; therefore, you don’t need to worry about an abundance of delicate moving parts.
Although Oil Vape Pens are a very good option for many consumers, they can create challenges regarding their disposal, as the cartridges must be recycled at dispensaries using specific protocols in some places.
How to Use an Oil Vape Pen
- Step 1: Ensure your device is charged and ready to be powered on.
- Step 2: Remove the seal and screw in your pre-filled cartridge.
- Step 3: If your cartridge is not pre-filled, Add your oil into your cartridge and then screw it onto the battery.
- Step 4: Set your desired temperature or press and hold the button if your device provides on-demand mode. Many Oil vape pens are draw-activated, so you only need to inhale on the mouthpiece.
- Step 5: Choose your desired inhalation method:
Is Vaporizing Medical Cannabis Safer Than Smoking?
While the research surrounding vaporizing medical marijuana is relatively new, there is enough evidence to prove its tangible benefits over smoking.
The biggest issue with smoking medical cannabis is the ingestion of Carbon Monoxide. The study, “No smoke, no fire: What the initial literature suggests regarding vaporized cannabis and respiratory risk” for The Canadian Journal of Respiratory Therapy³ , delves into the pulmonary effect of smoking and vaping cannabis.
They found that medical cannabis vapor is almost exclusively composed of cannabinoids, without any pyrolytic compounds. The subject’s cannabinoid levels rose without also raising exhaled CO2 levels. The results of a clinical trial showed that users with respiratory illnesses could reduce symptoms and improve lung function when using a vaporizer.
Another study by The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine⁴ found that regular smoking of medical cannabis was associated with high levels of central airway inflammation. Additional studies by the Annals of the American Thoracic Society found microscopic injury in the lungs of smokers, with an increased chance of bronchitis.
Does Vaporizing Medical Weed Smell?
The smell created by vaporizing medical weed can vary depending on what material you’re vaping. Oil pens are notoriously stealthy, creating a very faint smell. This odor can easily be masked by a scented candle or air freshener.
Waxes and concentrates can vary, but typically the smell is stronger than an oil pen and weaker than vaped medical weed. This is also dependent on how refined your wax or concentrate is.
Dry herb creates a slight burned popcorn aroma when vaporizing. This smell is nowhere near as strong as smoking, and our research found the smell only lasts for ten to fifteen minutes.
Overall, the lack of burned plant matter makes vaping a far better option for discreet indoor sessions. Vaporizer smell dissipates in under an hour, whereas smoke smell can last for days. 80% of those who took our survey agreed that the effects of vaporizing do not linger indoors.
Is Vaporizing Medical Marijuana Practical & Cost-Effective?
As a result of recent studies, there is a growing amount of evidence that vaping may be the best delivery method for THC.
A study by the Hopkins’ Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit⁵ found a higher concentration of THC in the blood of people who vaped, as opposed to people who smoked. The average concentration of THC for people who vaped was 7.5 nanograms per milliliter at the 10mg dose, whereas people who smoked measured 3.8 nanograms per milliliter at the same 10mg dose.
This implies that users can maximize THC consumption while vaping, therefore reducing the overall consumption of dry herbs. With this comes a number of cost-saving, harm-reducing benefits. While users also have the option of edibles, the effects take far longer to kick in. Research suggests that vaporizing yields up to 34% more cannabinoids than combustion so that you can save money on dry herb.
What are medical cannabis vaporizers?
Vaporizing in general is becoming increasingly popular, and newer consumers are starting to take over the space. So, all in all, 3 main types of vaporizers can be differentiated based on the material they vaporize. These include dry herbs, wax, or oils. No matter the material used, we can see that vaporizing, in general, is more cost-effective than smoking and will allow you to save money by purchasing less material overall. The other key reason to switch to vaporizers is harm reduction. 92% of those who participated in our survey agreed that vaporizing benefits their overall health as opposed to smoking.
Over the years, vaporizer companies have advanced technologically, with a focus on convenience, portability, and ease of use. One clear way we can observe this is in the portability of 2nd and 3rd generation vaporizers. Devices are becoming smaller yet more powerful, giving users more options to choose vaporizing as their main form of consumption.