Welcome to Herbal Vaping 101. I assume if you’re reading this, you’re probably fairly new to the world of dry herb vaporizers. With so many options to choose from, deciding which vape is right for you can be a bit of a daunting task. It’s my hope that by the end of this article you will have the information you need to narrow down the field, and make an informed decision on which vaporizers will best suit your needs.
So… What exactly is a dry herb vape?
Simply put, vaping is an alternative to smoking (aka combustion). Instead of burning your herbs until its ash, a vaporizer heats your material until the active ingredients reach their boiling point, and produce vapor (steam). You inhale the vapor just as you would smoke, but when you’re finished instead of having a pile of ash, you will be left with the same material you started with, except you will have extracted all of the active ingredients.
There are a number of reasons that people prefer vaping over combustion. For me the biggest advantages are Health, Flavor, and Conservation.
When you stop burning your herbs, you also stop breathing in all that extra tar, and carcinogens that come along with the smoke. It’s pretty amazing just how much of a difference this has on your lungs/breathing. If you’re coming from a long history of smoking, it won’t take long before you can feel the difference. Soon you’ll be breathing better, and coughing much less.
The flavor difference is my personal favorite perk of vaping. The difference really is night and day. When vaped, your material actually tastes the same as your fresh herbs smell. As a former long time smoker, I used to think I would get great flavor, when combusting. It wasn’t until I switched to vaping that I realised just how much taste I was missing out on. For me this was enough to permanently make the switch from combustion to vaping.
Many people find themselves consuming far less herb vaping, then they did when they were smoking. I would think that alone would be motivation for people to make the switch to dry herb vapes.
So you’ve decided to take the plunge, and see what this vaping thing is all about, now you just need to decide which vape is best for you. This may take a little bit of research, and it will help to have a basic knowledge on the different types of vaporizers, as well as some of the terminology that is used in describing them.
As I mentioned earlier, when vaping, you are heating your material, instead of burning it. To make this happen vaporizers utilize one of a few different types of heaters (sometimes referred to as ovens). The three main heater types are Conduction, Convection, and Hybrid. A hybrid oven actually just combines both conduction, and convection style heaters. So let’s start by discussing the difference between these two types.
With conduction heating, the walls of your chamber (the bowl) will heat up, transferring heat to the material inside of the chamber. Because the oven is constantly providing heat, your herbs will start vaporizing whether or not you are taking a draw from your vape.
A convection heater on the other hand, is generally located below the chamber. When you draw on your vape, it causes fresh air to be pulled into the vape and over the heater, heating the air is it goes. As you continue drawing, the hot air is pulled over your herbs, and its this heat that creates the vapor.
Because the air you breathe in is creating the vapor, there is a bit of technique involved. As such, you may find there is a bit of a learning curve. One of the biggest benefits to a convection heating, is that your material is only being heated when you draw. This means your not wasting any material while you wait to take your next hit. As I mentioned earlier, hybrid heaters take conduction, and convection, and combine the best of both worlds.
Now that you know the difference in heater types, it’s time to choose which style of vaporizer best fits your usage. There are desktop style vapes, as well as portable vapes.
Desktop vaporizers are generally powered by plugging them into a wall outlet, and are often times (not always) big enough that you may just want to set it up in a designated area, and leave it set up there. One big advantage to using a desktop vape, is the constant power supplied by the outlet. Generally speaking this lends itself to more power, and efficiency. Portable vapes are usually smaller than most desktop units, and you won’t have a cord that keeps you tethered in one place. Many portable vaporizers are powered by either an internal battery, or a user replaceable battery. Either option is rechargeable, but the user replaceable batteries give you the option to have extra charged batteries ready to go, so you will never have to wait for your vape to charge before using it again. There are also quite a few portable vapes that opt to use a small butane torch lighter as its heat source, in place of a mechanical heater.
Having this information should help to guide you in your decision making, but there are still a few more questions you should ask yourself before you decide.
What would your ideal usage be? Will you be at home, or out and about? Do you want to load a bowl and finish it all at once (session vape), or do you prefer to just take a couple of hits, and come back later to finish it off (on demand vape)?
Will the vape be used for personal use only, or shared with a group? How many people are there in the group? Different vapes have different bowl sizes so it’s important to think of all these things before making your final decision.
What qualities are you looking for most, out of your vapor? Is potency the most important thing, or perhaps its flavor, efficiency, or even portability.
Not all vapes are created equal. Each one has it one has its own unique strengths, and weaknesses. That’s why it is so important to ask yourself these questions before making a decision. With so many choices, it can be a bit intimidating to choose. However, with a bit of research, and the right questions, I’m confident you will be able to make a decision that best suits your individual needs.