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Guide to Dry Herb Vaporization

Dry herb vaporizers are a game-changing way to experience cannabis flower. These sleek and powerful devices have emerged in recent years as an alternative to joints and pipes, using electronic means instead of lighters to heat cannabis. The result is a flavorful and more potent experience that preserves terpenes and phytocannabinoids while eliminating the burnt taste that comes with lighting cannabis aflame. This Ethos guide takes you through the what, how, and why of dry herb vaporization. 

How dry herb vaporization works

Dry herb vaporizers use electronic temperature controls to heat cannabis just enough to release phytocannabinoids, but not hot enough to burn the cannabis flower inside. This is done through direct heating, indirect heating, or a hybrid of the two methods. Direct heating, also called conduction heating, involves heating the walls of the chamber into which the cannabis is placed. Indirect heating, also called convection heating, blows hot air over the cannabis. Some models use a hybrid of direct and indirect heat.

Why dry herb vaporization?

With so many other ways to inhale cannabis, why would you consider dry herb vaping? Here’s some of the reasons why you may want to give it a try:

  • Dry herb vaping preserves flavor, terpenes, and phytocannabinoids. Flames are way hotter than the temperatures necessary to convert phytocannabinoids from their acidic form to their active form. These high temperatures also boil off terpenes, causing the cannabis to lose its flavor and the terpenes’ potential effects. By only heating the cannabis to the temperature necessary to achieve your desired effects, you also avoid burning your cannabis and causing a harsh, bitter taste.
  • It’s more discreet: Vaporizing does not smell as strongly as combusting cannabis with a flame, so the scent is less likely to linger around after consuming.
  • You can fine-tune your experience: Many dry herb vaporizers can be adjusted in one-degree increments, giving you unprecedented control over your session. Some models even have accompanying smartphone apps that track and offer insight into your session.
  • You don’t need extra items: Consuming flower with a pipe or rolling papers requires extra accessories. A dry herb vaporizer doesn’t need these items – just pack and go.
  • Some devices can switch between dry herb and concentrates: Some vaporizer models are dual use, which means they are compatible with dry herb and concentrates. Check your device’s instructions to see if your vaporizer is dual use.
  • It may be less harsh for some consumers. While choosing dry herb vaping may be a personal preference, a handful of studies have noted that vaping may be less harsh than other forms of inhalation. A 2015 study in the Canadian Journal of Respiratory Therapy found that vaporizing does not raise exhaled CO2 levels[1], while a study published in the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics in 2004 found vaporization to be an effective way to deliver activated phytocannabinoids without combustion.

Vaporization can have its drawbacks and limitations. You may want to stick with pipes if these factors are negatives for you:

  • They can be expensive: Dry herb vaporizers are an investment, with several models costing hundreds of dollars.
  • It’s not always convenient: If the battery dies or you cannot connect to an outlet, you won’t be able to use your vaporizer.
  • Desktop vaporizers are large: Desktop vaporizers exchange portability for power, but these units can be unwieldy and take up a lot of space.  
  • Maintenance: Vaporizers need to be cleaned after use, often with isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab. Diligent maintenance is critical to keep a vaporizer operational for a long time.

What are your dry herb vaporization options?

Desktop and portable are the two main types of vaporizers on the market. Desktop units are large, powerful, and are meant to stay in place, while portable units condense vapor technology into a rechargeable handheld unit. 

Desktop vaporizers typically have a base with temperature controls built into it, a chamber into which the ground cannabis is placed, and a tube with a mouthpiece called a “whip” for inhalation. Most models use indirect convection heating to generate vapor. Some models have a balloon attachment which can be filled with vapor, detached, and carried around. Most, if not all, desktop units are plugged into an outlet. While they are primarily designed for use with cannabis flower, some newer models have optional inserts so the chamber can be used with concentrates like wax or shatter.

Portable vaporizers come in many styles and there is significant variety between them. Typically, portable vaporizers have a chamber for the cannabis, a mouthpiece, and a pathway connecting them. Many models use direct conduction heating, warmed with the unit’s rechargeable battery, to heat the cannabis. There are some newer models which use a hybrid of both conduction and convection methods to heat cannabis.

How to use a dry herb vaporizer

Portable Vaporizor by G Pen
  • Grind your cannabis: Use a grinder to break down your cannabis into small, evenly sized pieces. This ensures that the cannabis is equally heated throughout the chamber.
  • Place the ground cannabis in the chamber. Be sure to not pack the oven too tightly, as this will constrict airflow and make it harder to inhale.
  • Turn on the device and adjust the temperature. Follow your device’s instructions to set the temperature to your liking. Depending on your device, the controls may be located directly on the vaporizer, or you may need to use an app to adjust the temperature.
  • Heat up your cannabis. Depending on your model, you may wait anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes for your device to reach the right temperature.
  • Inhale. Raise the mouthpiece to your lips, inhale, and exhale. Wait a few minutes to see how you feel before inhaling again.

Dry herb vaporizers offer a new spin on cannabis

For many consumers, vaporizing cannabis flower is preferable to inhaling combusted plant material, offering the same effects without the harsh smoke and lingering odor. Others choose dry herb vaporizers because of the mobility of the handheld devices and the discretion vaping provides. Whatever your reasons for considering dry herb vaping, Ethos associates are standing by to help you find the right device for your desired experience. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4456813/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20451365/
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