The basis of vaporizing is to extract sought after components from your chosen plant material. Portable and Desktop Vaporizers, in particular have been widely popularized for their designs and effectiveness. In this guide, we will focus on the aromatherapy aspect of vaporizing plants, which has shown promise for therapeutic and medicinal applications. The purpose of aromatherapy is to improve one’s psychological or physical well-being and can be offered as a form of complimentary therapy or alternative medicine.
That aside, there are inherent risks when burnt plant matter is inhaled. Yes, some of the beneficial plant matter is ingested, however we are taking in far more carbon monoxide, ammonia, and countless amounts of other carcinogens. Nearly all of the harmful problems associated with smoke inhalation can be avoided if plant matter is heated to a temperature that releases desired components without igniting the material. That is where Vaporizing comes in.
How Do Vaporizers Work?
Vaporizing is the process of heating a dried or extracted oil substances just below its combustion point. The combustion point of cannabis is around 392 Degrees Fahrenheit. The sweet spot is around 338 Degrees Fahrenheit even though the plant begins to vaporize at 285 Degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, a joint can get hotter than 800 Degrees Fahrenheit in a short amount of time. Slowly building up to the “sweet spot” will ensure your desirable compounds release with little to none of the toxic by-products.
Vaporizers have been around for a while now, however the last fiver years have been pivotal in the sense of consumers recognizing the immense benefits. Accordingly we have seen vaporization devices flood the market with hopes of catching on with consumers. The different vapor products come in a variety of names based on their functionality. You have your vape pens which are pen like designs made to fit effortlessly in your hand. There are also portable vaporizers, desktop vaporizers and e-cigs. No matter the name, all vaporizers consist of a heating source and a delivery mechanism. Most use a system or combination of conduction, convection, and radiation to disperse heat.
Conduction heating works by directly heating the herb with an electronically heated surface, that is often solid metal, glass, or screen. A common issue with conduction based heating systems is burning of your herb due to the lack of temperature regulation. Often times manufacturers incude screens to prevent direct heat contact. This category includes vaporizer pens, vape pens, or e-cigs such as Cloud and Grenco Science Products, which are also compatible with essential oils or concentrates.
Convection heating conversely, works by passing heat regulated air over suspended dry herb, vaporizing the material more efficiently. With the convection vapor method, the material is never in contact with the heating element. Air is forced through by a fan or inhalation system that evenly distributes heat. These elements are commonly made of Ceramic or Stainless Steel, both of which retain heat extremely well.
Radiation Vaporizers work by using radiant energy produced by either electricity or internal light source to provide heat. The radiant energy is absorbed by the herb, increasing in temperature till the material vaporize. Although these vaporizers are more rare, they are in the class of convection vapes in terms of quality and vapor taste. One of the best vaporizers that uses a combination of radiation (Infrared Heating) with conduction is the Magic Flight Launch Box. It works by utilizing a battery to send a current across a metal screen and transferring heat to your herb loaded on top. During the process, the hot screen emits infrared rays to disperse additional heat across the herb.
Induction Vaporizers are somewhat new and are being pioneered by the fine people at lotolabs. The Evoke vaporizer utilizes a magnetic field that is formed when current is passed through a copper coil. An alternating magnetic field induces currents that heat a metal “wick”. The herb is placed into the metal wick and the transfer of energy heats the wick. The magnetic field heats the wick evenly with no hot spots, burning or bad taste. This technology is very durable as the heating element will not wear out and break. The metal wick is not in contact with the coil so it be removed, cleaned and reused very easily.
The vapor produced by the heating system is transferred to the heating chamber where the means of delivery vary. Most desktop vaporizers we carry use convection to heat, then force air over the herb via fan or pump. The heated vapor is carried through to a “whip” or into a bag or “balloon” for inhalation. Whips are generally made of silicone piping and measure about 3 feet long. One end of the whip contains the mouthpiece and the other houses a “wand” or glass connection with screen to filter out debris. The wand holds your herbs and slides over the heating element.
The bag style employs a food grade plastic similar to oven-roasting bags. The bags attach and detach from the unit by way of a valve that prevents vapor loss. A mouthpiece can then be attached to the bag when it is detached, allowing the bag to effortlessly be passed around a room.
Many portable vaporizers use tubes or stems made out of anything from ceramic, glass, to wood. Other units such as the Pax 2 Vaporizer require you to draw directly from the device via an attached mouthpiece. While direct draw streams offer little opportunity for loss of taste, many users find direct streams to be too hot and concentrated. Box vaporizers are the most common direct draw units.
Many of the vaporizers we carry feature a digital temperature control that allows you to alter the amount of active components you’re vaporizing. When using a lighter, the extreme heat releases all plant components at once. This often destroys desirable components and terpenes, which give the plant its taste.
Terpinoids have the lowest boiling point and are typically the first compounds released when vaporizing. To get the most taste out of your herb, it is recommended to select the lowest temperature and gradually increase till you reach your desired temperature. As you approach the various boiling points each component is released, increasing the compounds inhaled. Drawing too fast can cause cooling so vapor does not form, and puffing too slow can cause overheating. For this reason it is important to have some sort of temperature control whether it be digital display, graduated dial, or fixed temperature points.