Medical marijuana patients have many consumption options, but vaporizers are easily one of the most popular choices. Unlike smoking, vaporizers don’t burn the herbs, so you’re not inhaling smoke. Edibles take a while to kick in, so it’s more difficult to dose.
With so many options, you may feel overwhelmed and confused. To find the right model for your needs, it’s important to understand how vaporizers work and the different types that are available.
How do Vaporizers Work?
Vaporizers are electronic or battery-powered devices that heat herb to create vapor. This vapor contains all of the essential and active ingredients of the herb, making it ideal for medicinal use.
Vaporizers heat herbs in one of two ways: convection or conduction. The heating method is probably the most important feature to consider when choosing a vaporizer. The way in which you heat your herb has a significant impact on your herb’s effectiveness, flavor and vapor quality.
It’s important to understand the difference between these two heating methods.
A convection vaporizer works like a traditional oven. When you bake something in your home oven, your food sits on a rack above the heating element. The food never touches the element directly. It’s the hot air surrounding the food that cooks it.
Convection vaporizers work in the same way. The heat source never touches the herb directly, so there’s no risk of combustion (i.e. burning).
The herb sits in a bowl above the heating element.
The hot air passes through and around the herb, vaporizing the material in the process
For medicinal purposes, convection vaporizers are the preferred choice. There’s no risk of inhaling smoke, and because the herbs are heated gently, the herb’s active and essential ingredients aren’t burned off.
Convection vaporizers offer a number of benefits:
Precise temperature control
Relatively quick heat-up time
Cleaner, smoother vapor
As far as operation goes, there really aren’t any drawbacks with a convection vaporizer. But because these vaporizers have more complex designs and deliver higher quality vapor, they tend to come at a higher price.
Convection vaporizers typically have a better quality build, so they are worth the extra cost.
With a conduction vaporizer, herbs come in direct contact with the heating element. This allows for a quick heat-up time, but it also increases the risk of combustion.
Despite this, conduction vaporizers do offer some benefits:
They can usually be used right out of the box.
Operation is quick and easy.
They come at a more affordable price.
They produce bigger clouds.
The simplicity of a conduction vaporizer makes it an attractive option for beginners. You don’t have to worry about a complicated set-up. Just pack your herb into the heating chamber, and let the vaporizer work its magic.
Conduction vaporizers generally do not offer precise temperature controls. Some models don’t offer any temperature controls whatsoever. Others allow you to choose from different temperature settings that heat herbs to a certain temperature range.
If you’re just getting started with vaping, the easy operation of these vaporizers makes the process less intimidating.
Understanding the Different Types of Vaping Devices
Now that you understand how vaporizers work, it’s time to consider the types of vaping devices available. Medicinal users have more options when it comes portability and function.
There are three main types of vapes: vape pens, portable vapes and desktop vapes.
One of the most portable options available, vape pens can typically be used for dry herbs or wax and concentrates. Although they’re easy to use and discreet, they don’t offer many options in the way of temperature control.
Vape pens like Kandypens can only vaporizer small amounts of herb at a time. These are very popular for nicotine users but for medical cannabis their appeal is limited.
Tabletop vaporizers are one of the oldest types of vaporizers and are designed for stationary use. They’re bigger and heavier than portable vapes and vape pens, but they offer more advanced functionality.
Most use convection heating to vaporize herbs.
Precise temperature controls allow you to set the exact temperature you want.
Accessories give you more options for consumption.
Most use whips or bags.
They take a little longer to heat up.
They produce more vapor than other types of vaporizers.
They are wired devices that must be plugged into a wall socket.
A tabletop vaporizer will have either digital or analog temperature controls.
Analog temperature controls use a dial to set and adjust the temperature. The original Volcano had analog controls, but its dial had temperature markings that make it easy to find the optimal setting for your material.
Digital controls allow you to set a precise temperature – down to the last digit.
There are two main type of desktop vapes:
With whip-style desktop vapes, vapor is drawn through the heating element using medical-grade tubing (i.e. the whip).
Each draw pulls hot air over the herbs to create a stream of vapor as you inhale. Whip-style desktop vapes are a popular choice because they are so easy to use and usually come at a more affordable price than their forced air counterparts.
Many of these vaporizers have a hands-free connection, allowing you to consume your vapor without having to hold the whip in place.
A forced air tabletop vaporizer has a more advanced design. It comes equipped with a fan that pushes the heat over the herbs. The vapor is pushed up through the top of the vape and into a balloon (or bag). The bag is then removed from the vaporizer. A mouthpiece is attached to the bag for easy consumption. Bags can be passed around and shared, but they’re also great for solo use.
Most models also allow you to use a whip attachment instead of a bag or balloon. They also have different fan settings that allow you to control the speed of the air flow.
Many consider forced air desktop vapes to be the healthiest way to vaporize herbs.
The Volcano Hybrid is arguably one of the best forced air desktop vapes on the market, and it’s a prime example of how this type of vaporizer is evolving. This model uses a combination of conduction and convection heating to vaporize herbs, which allows for a faster heat-up time without combusting the herb.
A portable vaporizer is exactly what it sounds like: a portable device you can use to vaporize your herb. Think of a portable vape as a handheld version of a desktop vape. Desktop and portable vapes operate in similar ways. The primary differences the size and source of power. Potable vapes are battery operated.
Models vary in size, but they’re all easy to take with you on-the-go. They’re larger than vape pens, but still pocket-sized (in most cases).
Most portable vapes heat herbs in one of two ways:
Hybrid (a combination of conduction and convection heating)
Models like the Crafty+ use convection heating, giving you a desktop vaping experience in a portable package. The Crafty+ and other similar models give you temperature control options and other more advanced features to enhance the experience.
Some models allow you to set precise temperatures, while others have preset temperature settings to choose from.
Preset temperature settings usually have one-button operation. Just click the button to turn the vaporizer on and toggle the different temperature settings.
Precise temperature models usually have “+” and “-” buttons to toggle through different heat settings. Most of these models have LED displays that make it easier to choose the right temperature setting.
Despite their small size, portable vaporizers can pack a heavy punch. Although they are battery-powered, handheld vapes typically offer a few hours of use on a single charge. Most also recharge relatively quickly via either USB or an A/C plug.
The greatest benefit of portable vapes is their stealth. They allow you to vape discreetly and carry your device without hassle. Some portable vapes have Bluetooth connectivity, which allows you to control your unit using a smartphone app. The app may allow you to set a more precise temperature or adjust different settings to enhance your experience.
Portable vaporizers may be small in size, but quality models are equipped with efficient heating systems and high-capacity batteries.
No matter the size of your budget, you can typically find a portable unit that meets your needs and price point. But like with anything else, cheap vaporizers won’t deliver the best quality vapor or have the best quality build.
Medical marijuana patients have many options when choosing a vaporizer. It’s important to consider the oven style and the type of vaporizer you want to ensure that it meets your needs.
Generally, patients prefer convection vapes because of the quality vapor it delivers and the low risk of combustion. The type of vaporizer will depend on your budget, lifestyle and personal preference. Some patients have one portable and one desktop vape. This ensures that they can vape whenever and wherever they want.