Vaporizing is all the hype these days. Not only is this a healthier alternative to smoking rapidly gaining popularity, the number of vaporizers available is also growing fast.
But how does a vaporizer work? And which vaporizer to choose? The latter is a difficult question to answer, but in the following article, we’ll try to steer aspiring vaporists in the right direction.
What exactly is a vaporizer?
Technically, a vaporizer is a device that heats up plant material (which can be any type of herb such as tobacco, damiana or valerian, although most users prefer to load theirs with good ol’ Mary Jane) to a temperature where it doesn’t burn (combust), but reaches a temperature high enough to release the active ingredients in with the damp. Since there is no smoke, there are also no carcinogenic fumes present in the vapour that is inhaled.
What’s more, the taste of vapour is often described as more flavoursome and pure, as the lack of tobacco – and smoke – makes it easier to identify all the different aromas.
Most vaporizers will pass a flow of hot air through the compartment that holds the herbs (which is most commonly referred to as bowl or herb chamber), preventing direct contact with the heating element. This principle is called ‘convection’ heating. When the herb or tobacco touches the heating element or coil, it is called ‘conduction’. As convection offers a safer way of heating with less chance of combustion, most modern vaporizers now apply this type of heating.
What is the best vaporizer?
To start off with a rather bold statement: At Azarius we believe there is no ‘best vaporizer’. As each vaporizer has its own unique features, it’s all about personal preference. It is therefore important to find the vaporizer that best suits your needs. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Where will I use the vaporizer? Is it home-use only? Or both at home and on the road?
- How often will I use it? Every day? All day? Or once a week?
- What is my budget? How much are you willing to pay for a vaporizer?
Vaporizers may seem expensive but bear in mind that it can save you money in the long run as you’ll require less herb compared to smoking.
Vaporizer features and characteristics
In the following bit, we’ll go through the characteristics that mark the main differences between various vaporizers.
On our website, you’ll find three categories under ‘Vaporizers’:
Portables are small, light, fit easily into a pocket and do not need to be plugged in to use. Most modern portable vaporizers use an internal battery as power source. Battery lives can vary, so this is also something to keep into account. Some use a USB port to charge, others can be charged via a terminal.
Non-portable vaporizers need to be plugged in and are often a bit bulkier. Examples are the V-tower, Extreme-Q, De Verdamper and Volcano vaporizers. Non-portables usually offer a broader range of features and can include a glass bowl or larger tubes (for cooling down the vapour).
Ease of use
The number of hands (as well as time/effort) required to prepare and use your vaporizer can be an important consideration. Some vaporizers require both hands to function correctly, and some take a bit of fiddling to fill the bowl or access the herb chamber. Videos of how vaporizers are used can be found on YouTube and can be a good help in finding the right vaporizer for you.
Because vaping in public is often frowned upon, some users may prefer to keep their vaporizing from unwanted eyes. Small devices that fit in the palm of your hand or disguised as an inhaler (PUFFiT) will do just this.
Vapour itself carries a slight smell but doesn’t linger around like smoke. It can sometimes be visible, but this depends on the type of vaporizer and the temperature used. Just be careful when filling your vaporizer with freshly ground Super Skunk, as it may spread aromas that can get you busted.
Vapour can be delivered directly through a whip (tubing), a tube or stem, or by drawing right from the device itself. Indirect delivery involves filling a bag or balloon using a fan or a pump and is sometimes referred to as assisted delivery.
The Volcano is currently the most popular balloon-type vaporizer. Balloons can be filled and taken around the house, offering more freedom than whip-based vaporizers.
Materials and vapour path
Materials are extremely important when it comes to vaporizers. The combination of heat and inhalation can be a tricky one, as unsafe materials may give off fumes that can be bad for your health. After all, we’re trying to prevent smoke and its toxic by-products, so we don’t need any of this!
For this very reason, Azarius does not carry any ultra-inexpensive China-made vaporizers that can be found in many stores. Not only do these sometimes give off a plastic taste and smell, often they’re also very inaccurate when it comes to maintaining the right temperature, occasionally even causing combustion.
If you’re the impatient type, this is something you’ll want to pay extra attention to. Most portables take anywhere between 30 seconds and 5 minutes to heat up, but non-portables generally require a bit longer to reach their optimum vaporization temperature.
Did you know that temperature plays an important role in both the effect and taste of the vapour? Higher temperatures also give thicker vapour, but you’ll be able to obtain fewer hits from a single bowl. Most vaporizers now offer various (preset) temperature settings, allowing the user to experiment and determine their favourite temperature.
Some vaporizers are considered more efficient than others; this is typically achieved by keeping the vaporization temperature low and the load small. It improves taste and yields smoother vapour, but might not release the components that you need.
Vaporizing is more efficient than smoking, but keep in mind that this efficiency can be offset by an increase in consumption.
Herbs and the appropriate vaporizing temperatures
Nip it in the bud, try something new...Vaporizing is simply a healthy substitute for combustion and so not just something that's confined to the great green grass... These herbs have a long history of being smoked by many different tribesmen and so it's not restricted to vaporization alone, though we should count ourselves lucky that we have the opportunity to conduct a healthier lifestyle.
The list below is intended for inspiration and the temperatures indicated are also something to experiment with, for not everyone enjoys the same potency…
Herbs with low vaporizing temperatures:
|Blue Lotus||100 to 125°C||212 to 257°F|
|Chamomile||100 to 125°C||212 to 257°F|
|Clove||125 to 150°C||257 to 302°F|
|Gotu Kola||100 to 150°C||212 to 302°F|
|Lavender||100 to 125°C||212 to 257°F|
|Lemongrass||125 to 150°C||257 to 302°F|
|Inebriating Mint (Lagochilus inebrians)||100 to 150°C||212 to 302°F|
|Passionflower||100 to 150°C||212 to 302°F|
|Pink Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)||100 to 125°C||212 to 257°F|
|St. John's Wort||100 to 150°C||212 to 302°F|
|Syrian Rue (Peganum harmala)||100 to 150°C||212 to 302°F|
|Thyme||100 to 150°C||212 to 302°F|
|Tobacco||125 to 150°C||257 to 302°F|
|Tranquilitea||100 to 150°C||212 to 302°F|
|Wild Lettuce||125 to 150°C||257 to 302°F|
|Wormwood||100 to 150°C||212 to 302°F|
|Yerba Mate||100 to 150°C||212 to 302°F|
Herbs with medium vaporizing temperatures:
|Aphrodite Mix||150 to 175°C||302 to 347°F|
|Coffee Beans||150 to 175°C||302 to 347°F|
|Damiana||150 to 175°C||302 to 347°F|
|Ephedra||125 to 175°C||257 to 347°F|
|Fennel||150 to 175°C||302 to 347°F|
|Ginkgo||125 to 175°C||257 to 347°F|
|Guarana||125 to 175°C||257 to 347°F|
|Klip Dagga||150 to 175°C||302 to 347°F|
|Lion's Tail (Wild Dagga)||150 to 175°C||302 to 347°F|
|Marihuanilla||150 to 175°C||302 to 347°F|
|Mexican Tarragon||150 to 175°C||302 to 347°F|
|Papaver Somniferum||125 to 175°C||257 to 347°F|
|Sweet Flag||150 to 175°C||302 to 347°F|
|White Lilly||125 to 175°C||257 to 347°F|
Herbs with high vaporizing temperatures:
|Aloe Vera||175 to 200°C||347 to 392°F|
|Betel Nut||185 to 200°C||365 to 392°F|
|Calea Zacatechichi||185 to 200°C||365 to 392°F|
|Clavo Huasca||175 to 200°C||347 to 392°F|
|Galangal||150 to 200°C||302 to 392°F|
|Garlic||175 to 200°C||347 to 392°F|
|Ginger*||175 to 200°C||347 to 392°F|
|Ginseng||175 to 200°C||347 to 392°F|
|Green tea Gunpowder||175 to 185°C||347 to 365°F|
|Hops||175 to 200°C||347 to 392°F|
|Kanna (UB40 vaporizer extract)||188°C||370°F|
|Kava Kava||175 to 200°C||347 to 392°F|
|Kola Nut||185 to 200°C||365 to 392°F|
|Kra Thom Khok (Mitragyna hirsuta)||175 to 185°C||347 to 365°F|
|Kratom**||175 to 200°C||347 to 392°F|
|Maca Root||150 to 200°C||302 to 392°F|
|Maconha Brava||175 to 200°C||347 to 392°F|
|Marshmallow||150 to 200°C||302 to 392°F|
|Mimosa hostilis||170 to 190°C||338 to 374°F|
|Morning Glory||185 to 200°C||365 to 392°F|
|Muira Puama||175 to 200°C||347 to 392°F|
|Mulungu||175 to 200°C||347 to 392°F|
|Sakae Naa (Combretum quadrangulare)||175 to 185°C||347 to 365°F|
|Salvia Divinorum||210 to 230°C||410 to 446°F|
|Sinicuichi (Mayan Sun Opener)||175 to 200°C||347 to 392°F|
|Valerian||185 to 200°C||365 to 392°F|
|Yohimbe||185 to 200°C||365 to 392°F|
*Using ginger is a clever way of neutralizing the plastic taste that could develop in some vaporizers.
Temperatures over 230°C are not recommended.
Medicinal users pay attention!
The temperature at which you set your vaporizer is of big influence to the effects you can get from it. There are a huge amount of active compounds in cannabis with different effects, which need different temperatures to become effective.
In general, the temperature range of 170 - 200°C is ideal for cannabis. Depending on the vaporizer you should experiment with this range to get your preferred effect. 210°C is nowadays considered the best balance between efficient evaporation of terpenes and cannabinoids and smoothness of the vapour, although lower temperatures are seen as healthier.
- Temperature: 157°C
- Effect: Gives the smoker a classic "high" effect.
- Medical: Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-emetic (agent against nausea) and euphoriant.
- Temperature: 160-180°C
- Effect: Provides a mental sense of well-being and ease.
- Medical: Anxiolytic, analgesic, antipsychotic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antispasmodic.
- Temperature: 185°C
- Effect: A complex compound which acts as an Oxidization Breakdown Product
- Medical: Sedative and antibiotic.
- Temperature: 220°C (beware, in many vaporizers this could lead to combustion because the chamber will become too hot.)
- Effect: Collaborates with THC to increase euphoria. It has a strong resemblance to CBD.
- Medical: Anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and anti-fungal.
- Temperature: 220°C
- Effect: The first cannabinoid to be produced by the cannabis plant. It is mostly sleep-inducing, but not psychoactive.
- Medical: Anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antifungal and hypotensive.
- Temperature: 220°C
- Effect: Influences the speed at which the effect kicks in. Mostly African and Asian strains will have a higher THCV value. The smell that is released during consumption is correlated to this.
- Medical: Analgesic and euphoriant.