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One might argue that despite the numerous beneficial effects of marijuana on your health, the act of smoking is still very harmful. In fact, your lungs can be very badly affected by smoking, as a study from the University of Pisa suggests. While plenty of people enjoy smoking, and some of them can do pretty cool tricks with it, fitness enthusiasts and medical users of marijuana might be forced to use the cannabis in baking recipes. Fortunately, there is another way of consumption: Vaporizing.
Dry-herb vaporizers are currently on the rise in the United States, Canada, and Central Europe. In Europe, many patients use cannabis vaporizers to use medical marijuana. Aspects such as heating elements, as well as temperature settings and precise temperature control, allow cannabis patients and aficionados to achieve the relaxing and healing effects of marijuana without the downsides that come with the smoking of herb. Let’s take a look at how dry-herb vaporizers actually work.
A background on cannabis vaporizers
The idea behind it is as simple as effective: Instead of burning the flowers, you heat-up the hemp in a chamber. As a consequence, you extract the desired substances without inhaling the toxins produced in the burning process. Every vaporizer works after the same principle — it heats up the herbs to a vaporization temperature which releases active substances without generating combustion products. In detail, the vaporizer must deliver the right temperature to the herbs stored in the chamber and, depending on the specifications of the herb, a certain temperature releases the active substances into the air. Now the consumer just has to inhale the air through the mouthpiece. The steam can be inhaled directly from the oral piece of the device or via a silicone tube balloon.
Vaporizers are using electricity to generate heat. Some vaporizers come with a range of different temperatures, ranging from 140 to 210 degrees Celsius to ensure that you only extract the substances you want to inhale. For example, THC starts to evaporate at 157 degrees Celsius, at that point, it has been converted from its non-psychoactive form THCA (THC acid) to its psychoactive form THC. The higher the temperature, the faster the extraction process takes place. There are also other cannabinoids that get released with increasing heat, such as CBD (~ 170 °C), CBN (185 °C) and CBC (200 °C). From 200 °C onwards, there is a risk that very dry herb will begin to glow, if it gets to 230 °C, it will sooner or later ignite, which will not only result in harmful smoke but also in a very unpleasant taste.
Modern devices can be precisely adjusted to the degree, ensuring maximum efficiency with minimum pollutant development. The balloon function is found on devices like the Volcano and is interesting for users who either have no desire to “suckle” on a hose, want to inhale large amounts of steam with a few drags or want to enjoy the social interactions at parties.
How vaporizers differ
When it comes to choosing one of the countless vaporizers, there are a few aspects you need to take into consideration to find the one that suits you best.
A vaporizer heats up herbs or cannabis by either conduction heating (direct heating) or convection heating (hot air). Conduction occurs when the herbs are directly touching the heating element. The main advantage of this is that the herbs evaporate considerably fast. Within seconds of turning on the vaporizer, it is usually ready for use. The most significant downsides are a higher risk of burning and a more irregular heat distribution, compared to convection.
Another key element would be the size of your vaporizer. Stationary vaporizers often have the benefit of providing a better user experience at the cost of immobility. Portable vaporizers can usually be carried in a small pocket and don’t draw too much attention in public. If you want to choose the right gadget for yourself, it is crucial that you figure out where and how much you want to use your vaporizer.
Other important aspects might be the strength of the implemented battery, vapor quality and steam volume, taste, used materials and the user experience in general.
A cheap alternative
If you are looking for a vaporizer but you are not willing to pay up to hundreds of dollars, there is an old-school alternative that costs no more than 20 dollars. A simple glass pipe, known as eagle bill, does basically the same job just without the exact temperature control that the high tech gadgets are capable of. Add another dollar for a lighter and you are ready to go.