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By Ayad Maher.
Do you know who invented the first vape pen? It was actually crafted by a Chinese inventor named Hon Lik. His process used ultrasonic vibration to vape liquid into gas, and that process is patented. Most vape pens today used for cannabis consumption use a resistive heat element to heat cannabis to the relevant range to convert essential cannabinoids into vapor. The proper temperature range for accomplishing this goal is between 300 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit. So how do they work anyway?
The tank is the term used to describe a normally refillable section of the pen where the cannabis oil goes. If this part of the vape pen is refillable it is called a tank, but if not re-usable this piece is called the cartridge.
The atomizer is the heating element inside the pen that vaporizes small drops of liquid into gas. Normally cannabis oil is combined with propylene glycol to increase the viscosity of the fluid for vaping purposes.
Sensors and software are the parts of the pen that allows the pen to operate correctly and to allow all functions of the pen to work in harmony with one another. One example is when a user inhales, a lot of the pens available on the market automatically turn the atomizer on to allow automatic ‘smart’ vaping.
The battery powers the atomizer allowing it to heat up when the user inhales. Vape pens have been around for some time, and allow for a convenient method to consume cannabis.
Vape pens are generally a healthy option in terms of ways to introduce cannabinoids to a person’s body. One might say wait a minute, you mentioned the article spoke of propylene glycol so the product is not pure. But, propylene glycol comes in many forms, and is generally safe for humans due to a low toxicity rate. Still, for a purist, this might be unacceptable. Vape pens present the market with a way to consume cannabis that is better for the lungs of the user. I think the sales of these types of products will continue to escalate rapidly over the next several years.
The act of finding your first vaporizer can be daunting if you’re not prepared. I recently took this voyage alone and was lost several times along the way, became frustrated and confused, and 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 interesting and 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!
Vaporizers are a relatively new way of consuming tobacco, dry herb, cannabis, essential oils, and other medicines. For those in the vape community, it’s believed that vaporizers provide a much cleaner experience, is less offensive to those around the consumer since there is “almost” no smell, and the effects can be much more controllable. Vaporizers are the new technology of consumption and are becoming increasingly popular with health conscious consumers concerned with the benefits of the medicine without the drawbacks and potential harm of smoking. Read more about the benefits of vaporizers here.
So you’ve decided you want to add a vaporizer to your medicating sessions. Maybe you’ve heard about the potential health benefits over smoking, have been tempted to make a purchase after a friend’s sample, or are simply looking for a more discrete or just a new way to consume. Whatever the reason, you’re not alone as many consumers are turning to vaporizers for their medication.
Full disclosure, before doing my research and purchasing my first vaporizer, I had never been interested in consuming weed outside of combustion or edibles. I’ve always been a glass pipe sort of guy with the occasional rolled-up or sweet treat. I enjoyed the smoking experience, and still do. However, the nature of my work recently required me to go solo to a conference and I needed a more discrete way to consume. I started my journey without any direction, other than the desire for discretion. This added a LOT of time to my search and a TON of reading, a path I don’t recommend. Below I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned so that you can make an educated decision on the right vaporizer for you and your needs.
Determine if you are wanting to go with a portable vaporizer or something larger like a desk top version.
What do you hope to get out of your vaporizer, besides being medicated? With me I started with just wanting something portable and discrete. But did you know there are literally hundreds of different devices that are called portable and are quite discrete?? Even some devices that are portable but are not in fact discrete!
Start by determining how you are going to use your device.
Answers to the above questions will help you narrow your search from the very start. For instance, if you are looking for something discrete but also to use daily and with a group, you will need to find a device that has a strong battery, a large internal bowl, and you would probably want a quick charge time, pass through technology so it will work while charging, or removable batteries that can be replaced during sessions; this ensures that a session does not lose the juice just because your device did. In this example, if discretion is not a concern, a desk top vaporizer would probably be perfect since most plug into the wall and produce enough vape to share.
Related article: 5 Essential Tips to Choose a Box Mod Vape for Concentrate
Narrow your chosen style even further to match your needs based on how you like to consume. Note: I’ve deliberately left cost to the end since I started with one budget in mind but found that I was willing to pay a little more to get what I wanted out of my device.
Portable vaporizer: You’ve decided that you would like to have the option of discretion so you’ve opted for a portable device. You’re done now right? WRONG! There are more versions of portable vaporizers on the market than you could possibly imagine, all with varying price tags and boasting unique qualities. Some questions that you will want to ask yourself before you start your shopping:
Desktop vaporizer: Either discretion isn’t a priority or you’re looking for a device for home use that has more power, a better quality vape, and can become your primary consumption tool. Like the portable vaporizers, the desk top versions come in many shapes and sizes to meet all consumers’ needs. Some questions that you will want to ask yourself before you start your shopping:
One other thing to consider when purchasing either a desktop or a portable vaporizer:
Conduction: the plant matter, 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 product using a ceramic bowl, may be able to solve this quality issue.
Convection: hot air is blown over the plant matter, oil or wax; much like a convection oven. This allows all of the product to be heated more evenly and consistently
The writers at HighTimes have written a great article comparing the different types of heating elements. That article can be found here if the type of heating element is particularly important to you. Keep in mind though, in addition to these two main styles, there are also others that will claim conduction or convection, when in fact is a cross between both. Trust me, it can get confusing if you don’t stay focused on the above questions regarding what you want from the product.
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!
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 HOW 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.
Taste AND Glass, bump up that budget! I dove back in! You can see where this is going. Search after search for different specific qualities of my “perfect” vaporizer; marijuana dry herb versus oils, ceramic bowl versus metal, convection heating versus other styles. It felt like a never ending circle until I found the device that I feel like was made just for me! I came in a little over budget, but not much and even ended up with a pretty nifty carrying case by searching around for the perfect seller. One important thing that I learned through this process was that vaporizers are more than just being able to consume discreetly. They are full of technology and can provide a fantastic medicating experience. I concluded that having a vaporizer for that one trip lost was no longer important when I realized all of the great qualities I could get in a device. I selected a piece that not only will work great for my trip but will be a regular staple in my kit. It provides fantastic taste, heats up pretty quickly, has a great battery life, is easy to clean, and is just an overall perfect product for me.
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.
Well yes, there is one more thing you should think about. At this point you have decided whether you want portable or desktop, dry herb/oil/concentrate only or multipurpose, you’ve found one in your modified price range, and you’ve done enough research to receive a PHD in vaporizers. Hell, you’ve even made the purchase, what more is there?? Now it’s time to MASTER your device!
Every device works just a little differently based on their heating elements, composition of the parts, power, bowl size, and a million other little specifics. Plus, what’s the best way to clean your chosen device? Now, you could just practice and keep trying different draw lengths, packing techniques, heating temperatures, or even different products within your vaporizer. All of this takes time and can get expensive if you are burning through herbs, oils, and waxes. Besides, why not learn from those who have been down the same road as you? RESEARCH TIME!
This is actually quite simple. If I want to know the best way to get large vape clouds from my device, I simply type into a web search engine “getting large vape clouds with product A”. If I want to know the different experiences that I can get from different temperatures, I can go to an article like Leafly published and add that information to my bank of knowledge.
Related article: Best Temperature to Vape Weed.
This can be completely dependent on the vaporizer. Check our focusvape Pro reviews which will give you a good idea of how much cannabis (dry herb) you should back every time.
Different temperatures can provide a different result from the product being vaporized. For instance, a higher temperature will heat the product more quickly, may cause a deterioration in taste, but may also provide a higher effect. Whereas, a lower temperature will provide smaller hits and a lower high, but will conserve product. Again, for more on temperatures, check out this Leafly published article.
Also check High Times article about Nail Temperatures and Flavor.
All devices need to be cleaned and maintained. What products should be used and how often can depend on how the device is made. Let the experience of others guide you.
I found a great little tip for my device from a search just like this. The device I chose actually comes with a couple of small glass jars that can used for concentrates or oil. If you place this jar on top of a small amount of weed in the bowl, it will work as a spacer and I can use a very small amount and still get medicated. Something that I never would have thought of had I not done my research!
“Best way to use oils/concentrates in product A”
I ran some research on something like this since I chose a versital device that could use all products. The device was pretty straightforward for pot but I had never experience oils or concentrates. To find tips and tricks, I just asked the web browser and bingo, another vape tool in my tool box! Check here how to use The Tourist for dab.
The list could go on and on. What you’ll find is other folks out there with YouTube tutorials or blogs telling you exactly what you need to know. No need to reinvent the wheel when our brothers and sisters already have the bus rolling!
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 by all the work I did and what I learned through my journey. Make sure you ask yourself the 6 questions mentioned above to narrow your process before you get too bogged down. I promised that I would guide you through this process and I think that, not only did I get you through it, I’ve given you the tools and tips to find the device that will make your medicating sessions more enjoyable, less harmful for your lungs, and have helped you to become a MASTER of your vaporizer. Kinda like a kungfu master, but with more pajamas and less swords. Some swords, but just less.
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!
Medicate on my friends!
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