Cannabis education

Dry Herb Vape 101

With the correct set-up and approach, dry herb vaping is every bit as fun, relaxing, and inebriating as smoking.

By:
Riley

With legalization and adult-use cannabis in Montana on the horizon, now is the time to know your options for consuming cannabis. With the correct set-up and approach, dry herb vaping is every bit as fun, relaxing, and inebriating as smoking. Vaping flower is healthier, tastes better, and is more efficient than smoking. I will also talk about some of the different types of vaporizers and which brands I use and recommend.


Stay Safe And Dry Vape

What is dry herb vaping?

Dry herb vaping is when cannabis or marijuana is exposed to a high enough temperature to release cannabinoids but not high enough to cause any of the cannabinoids or plant material to combust. Depending on the cannabis, combustion is usually around 460℉. There are many types of desktop and portable devices, usually referred to as vaporizers, that can be used to vaporize cannabis. There are three main methods vaporizers use to heat up dry herb:

  1. With direct contact to a round heating element connected to a hose or whip.
  2. Heated in an oven connected to a small straw-like opening to a mouthpiece. These work like traditional conventional ovens.
  3. Heated with controlled air into a bag or hose. These work like convection ovens, using fans to push the hot air.

I will discuss the pros and cons and recommend a product for each method in the next section.

Health

Dry vaping cannabis is commonly known and accepted as the safest and healthiest way to inhale cannabinoids and is even recommended by doctors. It is commonly believed that cannabis smoke is far less toxic than tobacco smoke, however, Researchers were able to identify 536 chemicals in cannabis smoke, while 110 were known toxins. This study found 1 toxic chemical in the vapor of cannabis, while remarkably over 95% of the vapor is cannabinoids. Not only does smoking result in toxins, but smoking actively destroys a significant fraction of cannabinoids.


Effect

Researchers gathered light cannabis smokers and used the same 25mg sample of cannabis for each. Then, they had their subjects either smoke or vaporize the product. The test revealed that those who vaped cannabis had significantly higher levels of THC and other cannabinoids in their system than those who smoked cannabis. Their theory is that cannabinoids and terpenes are lost during the combustion process, and actually break down, as opposed to vaporizing which was a much more efficient conversion of cannabinoids, resulting in more of the high-producing chemicals being imbibed by the users.

Taste

Not only can the effects be amplified, but the taste is significantly cleaner and stronger. My favorite metaphor for this is burnt popcorn. When cooked correctly, popcorn is a delicacy. However, as soon as the popcorn gets burnt, the smell and taste are overwhelmingly horrific. Chocolate is a great metaphor too if you have ever tried to melt chocolate without the proper equipment. Burning the terpenes responsible for the aroma of your cannabis is always going to result in an inferior taste.


Medicinal

Linked is data from Steep Hill Laboratories that goes over the boiling point and potential benefits of some of the most popular terpenes and cannabinoids. Each cannabinoid and terpene has a slightly different boiling point. In medicinal circumstances, one might not be trying to ingest every cannabinoid but to achieve a desired effect. That can be done with higher-end vaporizers. The high-end vaporizers allow for complete control of the temperature. If the user wants all of the D-Limonene but doesn’t want the sedative effects of linalool, keeping the vaporizer between 350℉-389℉ will get the job done. This allows for the manipulation of the cannabinoids and terpenes being imbibed by the users. 



How To Dry Vape Marijuana

There are many types of devices on the market for vaporizing cannabis. Ranging in price from about $60 - $700, there is a device for every consumer. One of the biggest things to keep in mind before looking for vaporizers is when and how you plan on using them. If you need one for the go, then restrict your search to portable, chargeable vapes. If you are looking for the most efficient vaporizer and you will be vaping at home, a desktop vaporizer is the way to go. I will start out by saying I have tried many vapes and I personally use the Volcano by Storz and Bickel and the Pax 3 handheld vaporizer on the go. I will go through some of the different types of vaporizers and some of their advantages and disadvantages.


Direct contact with the round heating element

Direct Heat Vaporizers are just a heating element (usually some type of knob) that is hooked up to rudimentary controls. The users pack the end of the hose with cannabis and place it against the knob, effectively heating the cannabis. These vaporizers don’t offer very much control, and it is quite easy to accidentally combust your material if you touch it directly against the knob. I wouldn’t recommend these types of vaporizers, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t start out with this style. These are the cheapest desktop vaporizers, at usually around $75-$300.


I normally wouldn’t recommend anything I don’t use regularly, but this isn’t a terrible place to start. If you're looking for a desktop vape that will definitely get the job done and expose you to the vaporizer world, I would recommend the Silver Surfer Vaporizer® by 7th Floor Vapes. These are just over $200.

 

Oven (conventional oven)

This is the most common method for mobile, on-the-go, vaporizers. The cannabis is packed into an oven tightly, and the oven walls are specifically heating the cannabis. Some of the higher-cost vaporizers, like my Pax, allow for temperature control, which lets me set the temperature to whatever my heart desires. My newest Pax, Pax 3, connects to an app on my phone which allows for complete manipulation, plus different modes of smoking. For example, one of the modes, “Boost,” increases the temperature of the oven as you pull on the device, keeping consistent vapor for the entire length of your draw. 


The drawback to oven-style vaporizers is that although users can control the temperature, the cannabis directly touching the oven walls is going to be exposed to higher heat than the cannabis that is in the middle. I usually try to compensate for this by mixing the cannabis halfway through vaporizing to ensure all of the cannabis gets exposed to similar amounts of heat. These vaporizers can range from $60-$300.


I have been using the Pax 3 by Pax for the last 2 years now, and the original Pax the 4 years before that. Not only is this extremely convenient for on-the-go, but it is also perfect for solo applications anywhere. This is a perfect intro to vaporization because the oven isn’t too large, so it is harder to overdo it, while still offering all of the benefits and advantages of vaping. They have been perfecting the Pax app to add even more control to your device, with a slider to control temperature and multiple types of modes to enhance your vaping experience. At $250, it has paid for itself over the years.

Air (Convection oven)

This is the most effective method of vaporization, usually used by desktop vapes. The vaporizers heat air and use a fan to expose the cannabis to the heated air, which then traps the converted cannabinoids and terpenes in a medical-grade bag or a hose. Most convection-style vaporizes allow complete temperature control. Because the heated air is evenly distributed throughout the cannabis, this is the most effective and efficient way to vaporize cannabis. The users don’t have to pack the bowls tight like with oven-style vaporizers, and all of the cannabis gets exposed to the same temperatures. I personally use a digital Volcano. They are the most expensive vaporizers on the market, but for good reason. They come with a 10-year warranty, and they are the most used vaporizer for clinical and medical cannabis studies. The newer Volcanoes even connect to an app for hands-free temperature manipulation. Again, these vaporizers tend to be the most expensive on the market, but for good reason, and would be my #1 recommendation.


The Volcano by Storz and Bickel is uniformly recognized as one of the nicest desktop vaporizers, if not the nicest on the market. Not only has it been my favorite choice for cannabis vaporization for 8+ years, but it has been the most studied vaporizer by the medical community. They are a brand that stands behind their products, including a 10-year warranty with every device. I personally use a solid valve bag attachment and get more bags through one of my local head shops. These Volcanoes are $700, but they have upgraded their hardware and software to include the connectivity and control from an Android app. That app isn’t required for use but included for convenience.

Personal recommendations

As stated above I use the Pax 3 for mobile use and the Volcano by Storz and Bickel for desktop use. I have tried many vaporizers over the years, but I always seem to go back to these two brands. There is a reason these extremely well-built vaporizers are some of the more expensive on the market. They are simply the best vaporizers available. Both of these units have concentrate attachments, but I prefer dabbing concentrates. When I dab, I use high-quality quartz and a carb cap that seals perfectly, which reduces pressure in the quartz that allows for a lower boiling temperature of the concentrate. I use an IR temperature gun to gauge temperature, giving me complete control, but this is another topic for another day.

Conclusion

Vaporizing cannabis is the healthiest, tastiest, most effective way to inhale cannabis. Combusting cannabis results in unwanted chemicals, and the destruction of cannabinoids and terpenes. Smoking cannabis has yet to show signs of cancer, but can be related to other respiratory problems. Vaping cannabis can be used to achieve specific effects and gets you the most out of your cannabis. Although vaporizing dry herb is often associated with myths of less potency or effect, clinical and medical studies have disproved these myths, and even gone as far as to prove the opposite. Ease your mind and dry vape on.


Apr 22, 2021

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