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By Ayad Maher.
A vaporizer is a device used to extract certain compounds out of dry herbs, concentrates, or e-liquids without burning the substance itself, exposing it to just the right amount of heat to vaporize those compounds before combustion. The main components in the case of cannabis are THC and CBD, and since we're a marijuana lifestyle website, we will be focusing here on vaping weed, marijuana, cannabis or whatever you wanna call it.
Related article: Marijuana Effects: THC and CBD, and the Entourage Effect!
If you were reading this, that means, first, you smoke weed, second, you contemplating the idea of switching from the traditional "unhealthy" smoking methods to vaping. You may want to add a vaporizer or two into your everyday smoking sessions, maybe you heard about the potential health benefits over smoking, tried a friend's vaporizer and liked the taste, looking for discretion to smoke in public (or at home without your roommate or family realizing you smoke weed), or simply discovering a new way to get high. There is no one good reason to switch, and whatever the reason is, you’re not alone as many marijuana consumers are turning to vaporizers for their high.
Related article: 7 Reasons To Vaporize Weed Instead Of Smoking It
Well, undoubtedly less harmful that smoking. So far studies showed no sign of harmfulness to inhale vapor on the long run. Many other factors, however, should also be considered to answer this question such as:
Even large amount of Oxygen may cause cell oxidization and kill you, so inhaling anything abnormal can be harmful, however, undoubtedly, on the long run, using a vaporizer is less harmful that smoking, but we don’t know yet if it’s completely “healthy” way to consume cannabis.
In Germany, vaping marijuana and edibles are both considered safe options. Actually, believe it or not, the medicinal version of The Mighty vaporizer by Storz & Bickle considered as a medicine product and is even covered by national health insurance. The psychological risk (addiction, anxiety etc.) of vaping, however, is similar to smoking.
Vaping marijuana is most likely a safer method comparing to smoking, but surpassed by edibles. As long as you’re not combusting and you trust your herb and where it came from, then any harmful effect would be almost nonexistent to null, till a new study shows otherwise.
The process of finding your first vaporizer can be daunting and sometimes expensive if you’re not prepared. Couple of years ago I took this voyage alone and was lost several times along the way, I ended up getting the wrong vaporizer and $150 down the drain. The whole thing became frustrating and confusing and I almost gave up on the entire process; it was like high school all over again!
On the market today there are a ton of different vaporizers that work in various ways, have unique qualities, and come in a slew of different shapes and sizes. So how can you narrow the field and ultimately find the perfect vape for you? Let me be your virtual guide through the vape selection voyage by providing tips and tricks, along with breaking down some of the basic types and qualities of common vaporizers. Unlike me, you will not be alone in your search and hopefully I will keep you from getting lost along the way!
Let's start with THIS;
Before you jump into the specifics (brands names, prices, etc.), it's very important to read this guide and familiarize yourself with the concept and what you need to look for when you purchase your first vaporizer, this guide will provide you with the following information:
Answering the following questions will help you to make the decision to choose the "right" vaporizer (whatever "right" means for you), or at least to be able to ask educated questions to your local smoke shop rep (you can ask me any question by reaching out here).
Price Range: How much are you wanting to pay? There is no right answer for this, it depends how much you're willing to put aside for a vaporizer. Sometimes the more you're willing to pay, the better. But that's not always the case. Set your budget, my suggestion is to start with $80+, anything less than $80 will probably be a disapointment.
Number of people will be using the vaporizer. Is it for personal use, or mostly to accommodate multiple smokers, if that latter, how many? My vaporizer is for my personal solo toke, when I'm with people, I use either a desktop vaporizer, or my old bong or bowl.
How often do you toke a day? How many hits you need to take per session.
Portable or for your home use only? discrete vs. non-discrete?
Vape Experience: have you used a vaporizer before? Was it your own or just tried it from one of your buddies? What I'm trying to get at here is what's your reference point, or maybe you don't have any.
Batteries vs butane operated portable vaporizers: battery-operated vaporizers will need, obviously, charging. For some of us who smoke frequently, such vaporizer can be "inefficient." Butane operated vaporizers, on the other hand, take a little learning curve, but have more muscle to get the extraction going.
Replaceable batteries vs. non-replaceable batteries.
A quick reminder, again, if you have any questions (or if you'd like a discount on a vaporizer of your choice) please reach out to me here.
Vaporizers are a relatively new way of consuming dry herbs (cannabis, tobacco, etc.), concentrates, and/or essential oils. For those in the vape community, it’s believed that vaporizers provide a much cleaner experience, are less offensive to those around the consumer since there is “almost” no smell, and the effects can be much more controllable and "pure."
The type of high you get from vaping your dry herb can be different comparing to the common smoking methods (bong, bowl, joints, etc.). It's also different from a person to another. I personally go through phases. I’ll smoke blunts straight for a month, then get sick of it and just start vaping (mostly dry herb vaping). Continue reading the complete article here.
Related article: Wax vs. Dry Herb Vaporizers: What’s better?
Besides getting high, what do you hope to get out of your vaporizer? Since different vaporizers suit different lifestyles, narrowing down your chosen vaporizer style further to match your needs based on how you like to consume, what you like to consume (wax, dry herb, etc.), where and when, is a key.
Keep in mind, the most important thing in any vaporizers is the process of extracting the major Cannabinoid components (THC and CBD). This process is directly related multiple factors, the heating design, how the airflow is constructed in the vaporizer bowl and heat distribution. With that said, don't rely on the vaporizer specifications, try to look more into people's reviews and what they think. Continue reading the complete article here.
Conduction: the dry herb, oil or wax is heated up by coming into contact with something that is already hot. This method can sometimes cause inconsistent heating through the product which can cause taste and vape quality issues. However, a quality vaporizer has a ceramic bowl (the oven), which might solve some of those quality issues.
One of the downsides about conduction vaporizers, they cook off some of your bud even while idle; after you're hitting it, the herb may keep burning, which makes the method a bit wasteful. Continue reading the complete article here.
Won't waste your time on this one, they all fairly easy to clean, and I don't suggest this to be a criteria to choose a vaporizer. The easiest, however, mostly any of the Arizer vaporizers, all you have to do is dip the stem in ISO liquid or warm water and you're good to go! In general, as I mentioned earlier, I've never found any of the vapes much of a problem to clean.
You can read more about how to clean your vaporizer here.
I’ve saved budget for end because I myself found that once I answered the above questions and discovered my “must haves”, I found that I needed to pay a little more than anticipated. My process is laid out below, please use what I learned and answer the above questions first, it will save you a LOT of time!
Narrowing Your Budget Based on Your Must-Haves: I started by thinking that what I wanted would cost me less than 100 dollars. I mean come on, I’m a glass pipe smoker, not a vape guy, so I can get by with an economical device. Not to mention I was getting my device for a special occasion and didn’t see myself using it beyond that week. I started my research there, vaporizers under 100 dollars. Immediately desktop versions were knocked off my list because of their size and cost, the most affordable being around 300 dollars. I thought ok, I’m fine with that, those are too big for my needs anyway. This should be easy… or so I thought.
There are MANY vaporizers in that price range? Once I got into the portable vaporizer under 100 dollar list, I realized that there are a lot of options out there and some of the products seem pretty good based on reviews. I picked a few names and began a web search for them to see what bloggers and YouTubers were saying about the product. What I found was that a lot of them were kinda hit-or-miss and a lot of the reviews mentioned a lack of flavor from their vaped herb. Well I gotta taste it, right? And how good could the taste be with a little more money?
Budget increase for taste: Next I expanded my research to include best tasting, inconspicuous, marijuana/dry herb portable vaporizer (I stuck with the dry herb because I didn’t know I had a choice at this point) Guess what, a couple of options in my budget! Whoopy I’m done, right? NOPE!
See, when I read a review of a product, any product, I like to read the comments below the review also, the positive and the negative ones. In one of those comments my mind was officially blown along with my budget. One person mentioned that the device being reviewed was good, but had the reviewer tried another vaporizer that had glass tubing rather than the plastic? Ummm… what?? I love my glass pipe, you mean I can have GLASS?? Well, not for my budget but close.
Quick tip: after finally narrowing down to a glass tube, among other little specifics that I decided I wanted, I realized that I had two or three that were in my top list. What I found was that there are a LOT of reviews that actually compare similar devices to each other. These reviews, and the comments included, proved to be extremely useful in my search. All I had to do was put vaporizer name A versus vaporizer name B into a web search and, presto, there it was (obviously insert real names of products for generic names listed above). These reviews are usually written by those in the industry with a familiarity with various products.
Once you set your budget, don't cross it. And reach out to me here, I can talk prices with you to get you the best vaporizer for your budget, I consider myself a consultant, not a salesman.
There you go my friends, your guide to purchasing your first vaporizer. Though my process is time consuming, you will save a lot of time and money.
I encourage you to check out this subreddit, they have a fantastic and a very very (very) helpful and informative community. I personally learned a lot from it.
One last note: vaping can be a very individual experience, just like combustion. Some people like their medicine rolled up, some like it packed in small wooden bowls, some like it in large bubblers, and even others like it in a wax form heated with a torch. When researching devices, you will find both positive and negative reviews. Go with your gut, stick to your list of what you want from your device, and remember that you know yourself and your needs better than anybody else. Get the one for YOU!
Stay toasty my friends!
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in August 2017 and has been completely revamped and updated as needed for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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