dry-herb-vaporizer-vs-wax-vaporizer

Vaping Flower vs Concentrates, a Complete Guide!

February 24, 2021

By George Agak

Vaping has become a popular way of consuming cannabis, thanks to its perceived health benefits over smoking. Everybody wants better, and cannabis users are no exception. You always want a better way of getting high—more intense and longer-lasting highs with no side effects. Vaping gives you these and much more.

Vaping isn’t growing popular as a consumerist’s buzzword; it’s an effective, safer, and stealth means of consuming cannabis. Smoking has its highs, but vaping gets you a better experience; the vapor is friendlier to the lungs and doesn’t smell much.

Vaping improves your weed experience in many folds, but it comes in many shades. One of the debates about vaping that never ends politely is about vaporizing dry flower vs. vaping concentrates. A contentious debate that if involved drunk southerners engrossed in the culture of honor, some teeth might fall. In this article, let’s bring a truce between dry flower diehards and concentrates evangelists. Shall we?

Vaping Dry flowers

The dry flower is the closest weed gets to the living plant. It’s the buds with all the essential components dried in them. They don’t go through many processes before they are inserted into the vaporizer. After a successful curing process, the buds are ready for vaporizing. You just grind them for an even burn in the chamber.

Related article: Dry Herb Vaporizer Buying Guide

Whether you are using a desktop vaporizer or a portable vaporizer, dry herb vapes will typically come with features such as precision temperature control to help you experiment with your herbs. The vaporizers also come with a herb chamber near the mouthpiece in which to place your ground herbs, and conduction or convection heating to release the vapors. Some vaporizers may include extra features like stirring tools to improve the convenience for the user.

Main upside: Vaping Dry Flowers Doesn’t Involve Combustion 

Vaporizing dry flowers might seem closer to smoking because they involve the dry herb, but they’re worlds apart. While smoking combusts the weed at higher temperatures that degrade the cannabinoids, vaporizing allows you to extract cannabinoids without combustion. You, therefore, get vapor that’s richer in cannabinoids than when you smoke.

Related article: Vaping vs. Smoking pot: Which is better for you?

The temperature it takes to vaporize the cannabinoids from the buds is lower than you would need to combust it; thus, you take in more active compounds.  

Since the dry flower is the most available and doesn’t require much experience to prepare for the chamber, most people enter the vaping world as dry flower vapers. Come to think of it; the dry flower doesn’t require much processing— you just grind the flower and fill the vaporizer. So beginner-friendly!

Still, not all dry flowers give the same high. The quality of your high will depend on the strain; it’s unique cannabinoid percentages, and how it was grown.

Related Read: 7 Ways to Consume Weed Without Smoking It

3 Reasons Why Should Vape Dry Flower 

Vaporizing dry flower might not be as popular now as it was in the past, but it sure has its highs. More advanced vaping equipment pop up daily, and some deliver on their promise of convenience, elegance, and stealth. Still, some people prefer the good ol’ herb. Here are three reasons why you should vaporize dry flower;

  1. You know what you’re consuming; Vaporizing dry flower keeps you safe from vaping e-liquids you don’t know their components. Counterfeit cartridges are a significant problem that can cause serious health problems, even death if you trip in. With the dry flower, all it takes is to grind the herb. You don’t have to think twice about the chemicals in the cartridge.

  2. The aroma is richer; The dry herb hasn’t gone through any processing that strips the terpenes and flavonoids away. The vapor you take in is rich in both cannabinoids and terpenes, enriching the aroma of your weed. 

  3. Entourage effect: Vaporizing dry weed comes with the advantage of a combined effect. Unlike concentrates that are highly isolated, the dry flower has all the cannabinoids, eliciting a more wholesome high. 

Related article: THC and CBD, and the Entourage Effect!

Vaping Cannabis Concentrates

Cannabis concentrates are highly processed cannabis plant extracts. The extracts are refined to get a higher concentration of a particular cannabinoid per volume. These might be any of the individual cannabinoids; CBD, THC, CBN, et cetera.

Examples of concentrates include hash, budder, distillates, cannabis oils, tinctures, dabs, and isolates. Distillates are the most popular form of concentrate for vaping, thanks to cartridges that come pre-filled with the oils. Vape pen cartridges come with pre-filled with cannabis oils and have become popular for their convenience, portability, and ease of use. 

The process of making concentrates begins with extraction, where the oils are squeezed out of the plant. The extract is crude; it contains various chemicals from the plant. The only thing taken out is the plant matter.

There are varied ways of obtaining cannabis extracts. It can be done by using heat press machines or solvents like ethanol, propane, or butane. Each of these methods has its pros and cons, but it’s good to know that where solvents are used, the residues remain in the final product.

Main Downside: The Risk of Residual Solvents

Ethanol is the most commonly used solvent in the extraction process. Later, it is evaporated, but it never dissipates completely, leaving residues in your concentrate. Though the residual solvents can be removed through decarboxylation, most users are still wary of the insignificant proportions that remain.  

With concentrates, you’re moving closer to the purest form of individual cannabis compounds. The compound you’re targeting becomes more concentrated as the process continues until you have the compound in its most potent, dominant state. If you need cannabis in its medicinal form, you can benefit from CBD oil, but if you just want to have a high you’ve never had before, vaping THC oil will do you great.

The process of making concentrates aims to potentiate the final product. Every level of refining gives you a product that’s purer than its previous state. If you continue to refine the cannabis oils further, you get isolates. An isolate contains a single cannabinoid in its purest form. An isolate is more concentrated, giving you over 90% percent of the cannabinoid per volume.

If the world of cannabis isolates intrigues you, I wrote a complete guide to CBD isolates that you’ll find enlightening. It’s got a ton of valuable information to boost your concentrates knowledge.

Vaping Flower Vs. Concentrates; The Dilemma

The best method of vaping will depend on what you’re trying to get. To help you choose the best vaping method, let’s compare these methods using the following metrics;

1. Potency: Whether you’re a dry flower diehard or a concentrate evangelist, you know that potency matters. Everybody wants to take the rich vapor into the lungs. When it comes to potency, concentrates win. Unlike the dry flower that is crude, concentrates go through a series of refinements that isolate the individual compounds and make them more concentrated per volume.

With dry flower vaping, you can only expect between 10-25% of THC concentration. On the other hand, THC oil gives you higher concentration percentages—expect between 50-80% of THC, thus a more intense and longer-lasting high than dry flower vaping.

However, vaping the flower means you’re consuming all the compounds in the buds. When all the terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids join forces, they give a different experience. The synergy between the compounds gives a unique high, something most commonly called the entourage effect. Concentrates are more isolated; thus, the entourage effect gets lower with every step in the refining process. The dry flower diehards say the high might not be intense, but it's more wholesome. The good ol’ dry herb still got it.

Related article: How to Use a Dry Herb Vaporizer - Vaporizer Tips and tricks for Beginners

2. Purity: The process of making concentrates is a long-winding refining endeavor that purifies the extract every step further. The process strips unwanted compounds, plant matter, pesticide residues, and other cannabinoids. A CBD concentrate, like CBD oil, is richer in cannabidiols than other compounds. Thus, you know what you’re getting before you consume it.

Vaping dry flower doesn’t allow you the convenience of imbibing different cannabis compounds individually. You get all the compounds in different concentrations. It might also contain remnants of pesticides, among other contaminants, thus less pure. 

3. Stealth: Sometimes we forget that there is still stigma around cannabis use. Stigma aside, cannabis might not be legal in your state, in which case you’ll need to be more discreet about your weed.

Vaporizing dry flowers leave the scent of cannabis; hence it gets harder to conceal your consumption. On the other hand, cannabis oils don’t emit the characteristic weed stank, making it a stealthier choice. The plant matter that usually leaves a strong scent during combustion doesn’t exist in the concentrates, giving you a high without the smell.

4. Impact on Your Health: We all want to enjoy the benefits of cannabis with minimal health risks. Concentrates are more refined; the plant matter that often irritates your throat is left behind, hence a healthier choice.

Though you still take in vapor when you vaporize dry flowers, you might still suffer throat irritation because of the flower's many impurities. And when it makes you cough, it irritates your lungs too. You’ll want to choose a vaping method that’s fairer to your respiratory system.

An important caveat; concentrates are refined and potentiated. From extraction to refining, the extract is exposed to different temperatures, pressures, and chemicals. Besides, the refining process leaves room for contamination. Cases of recalled CBD products aren’t new. Last year, a Florida CBD company had to recall CBD tinctures for having high levels of lead.

You’ve got to watch Vice reports about the world of counterfeit vape cartridges to know how risky it is to use vape cartridges that haven’t been tested. To save yourself, buy from the legal market; most producers have their products tested by third-party agencies, hence more reliable. 

5. Natural Weed Aroma: If you enjoy the natural weed aroma, vaping dry flowers will be your best choice. Since the plant matter isn’t removed, the vapor you get from vaping dry flowers is richer in terpenes and flavonoids, making the aroma more pronounced.

Cannabis concentrates go through extraction and refining, processes that expose the terpenes to harsh chemicals and heat. Being volatile compounds, terpenes will be lost in the process. By the time the concentrate is ready for the market, it has lost the natural weed aroma.

Other manufacturers have figured a way to add the terpenes afterward, but you’ll still prefer the pure, natural weed aroma.

Most users still prefer the herb retained its natural aroma. The fruity, earthy, or floral scents that weed emits enhances your experience, and the concentrates deny you this. Vaporize flower if you would love to savor the terpene profile of the strain you’re vaping.

6. The Devices Used in Both Cases: The vaping market is awash with devices that require different levels of vaping skills to use. Though the vaping process might be different among devices, the core of the vaping process is to subject the weed (in whatever form) to temperatures high enough to extract the terpenes and the cannabinoids without the degrading effects of combustion.

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With the rare exception of a few vaporizers that are capable of handling multiple substances at a time, most devices are built to handle one kind of product at a time. Whether that is an e-liquid, a dry herb, or a wax concentrate, each device is tailored to provide the best experience possible when you are using one of these main choices.

It doesn’t matter if you’re vaping CBD or THC. Many are aware of the technology that goes into a typical e-liquid vape pen but the technology that powers dry herb and wax vaporizers may not be as well-known. If you are considering a dry herb or wax vape for your next purchase, here are some of the differences between them and what you can expect to get out of your device

Related article: Dry Herb Vaporizer Buying Guide

Differences Between Wax and Flower Vaporizers

Vaporizers are specific. They are designed to vaporize different substances, thus, there are key differences in their build. These include differences such as:

1. Chambers: The biggest difference between the two products is the chamber that is used to heat up the substance. In dry herb vapes, this chamber is more like an oven. It is designed to hold a certain capacity of herbs and then uses conduction or convection heating to gradually heat up the herbs within this chamber.

With a wax vaporizer, powerful coils (sometimes flat coils) are used instead. These chambers won’t be as deep and are designed to heat small amounts of dab concentrate at a time. When you are using marijuana concentrate, a little at a time is usually all that is needed. As such, dry herb vaporizers have a bigger chamber than vapes for concentrates. 

2. Temperature: Precision temperature control is rarely a feature we see in wax vapes. This is due to the fact that it was not initially a popular feature when vapes were first developed. Heat plays much more of a central role to the dry herb experience than it does to the concentrate experience. Also, the temperature will vary in these products in terms of heat settings. Wax vaporizers need higher temperatures to melt down the concentrate while dry herb vapes can use much lower heat settings to achieve the same goal.

3. Battery: While dry herb vapes and wax vapes both use batteries, the amount of power needed to vaporize the substances varies. For example, dry herb vapes will almost always require more power as the process of heating up herbs takes a lot of energy. The process of heating up dabs, on the other hand, is nowhere near as energy-consuming. This is why most dab products can last longer than the average dry herb vape. Be careful and use vape battery safety.

The vaporizing devices for cannabis dry flowers are made for just that— the dry buds. You put the ground dry flower into the heating chamber to heat up to a temperature that boils the oil in the flowers to give the vapor you inhale.

To vape the oils, you’ll use vape pens that hold the refined liquid in a chamber. The pen has a wick that pulls the oil to a coil, which is heated to produce the vapor you inhale.

The vaping devices come as either disposable pens or refillable cartridges.

The Difference Between Disposable Vape Pens and Reusable Vape Cartridges

Disposable vape pens come pre-filled with the distillate (oil in most cases) that you’ll deplete before discarding the pen.  You can use the vape pen as long as it has the oil, which could take a few days. Once it’s depleted, you have no use for it.

Disposable vape pens are the easiest to use. You don’t have to mix the oils or crush buds. Just press a button and enjoy your vapor.

They’re also the most available. Walk into any dispensary, and they’ll be stacked on the shelves waiting for your curious eye to spot them. And since they’re single-use, they are the cheapest to acquire but more expensive if vape regularly.

The problem with single-use, disposable cartridges is that they’re expensive in the long run and degrade the environment too. They also limit you to what is in the cartridge. You can’t experiment with e-liquids.

Reusable vape pens are more advanced than their disposable counterparts. They are rechargeable and come with replaceable cartridges. Once the liquid runs out, you replace the cartridge and continue using the device.

The best thing about reusable devices is that they open the world of flavors you can use and thus enhance your experience.

Reusable devices might seem more expensive than disposable ones, but over time, they save you money. Though most vapers begin with disposable vape pens, seasoned vapers use reusable devices since

they are also more advanced and get the most out of the cannabis oils.

Vaping Dry Flower Vs. Vaping Concentrates; The Verdict

It is hard to choose between vaporizing dry flowers or vaping concentrates. Each depends on your preferences and the kind of high you’re going for.

Cannabis flowers give you the plant’s natural flavors in more pronounced forms. The terpenes and flavonoids are still fresh and uncontaminated (as the case with artificial flavors), giving you the distinct strain aroma.

Dry flowers also give you the benefit of knowing for sure what you’re imbibing. The world of vapes is full of counterfeit cartridges counterfeit cartridges, and sometimes you might not be sure of the chemical compositions in the cartridge.

Related article: How to Choose a Vaporizer: Vaporizer high or Smoking high?

Vaping concentrates give you a more refined substance. As the refining process continues, the unwanted components are removed, leaving behind a higher percentage of the cannabinoid (THC/CBD) per volume. This makes concentrates more packed in value; more potent.

They’re also more discreet as you don’t have to deal with the smell. You can vape in a movie theater as long as you keep the smoke too thin to be seen. Nobody will catch a whiff of the distinct strain aroma.

Vape devices for concentrates are cheaper and easier to find than vaporizers for dry flowers. The reason being, most dry flower vaporizers are not single-use devices.

In Conclusion

Vaping gives you a brilliant way to enjoy weed without smoke and fire. The vapor you inhale is kinder to your lungs and your entire respiratory system. Knowing the difference between vaporizing dry flowers and concentrates helps to get a better vaping experience.

Whatever method you choose, ensure you get your stuff from a legally-operating dealer. The black-market cartridges have been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Do your research and take responsibility for your choices. Some distillates are so concentrated in THC, as high as 90%--nobody prepares you for such a high. 

About The Author

George Agak loves cannabis and spends his days writing about it— for the culture! He runs Weedmania420.com, where he shares insightful information about growing and consuming cannabis. When not writing, he’s either tending plants or sharing smokes at poetry events.