For those medical cannabis patients who want immediate relief and do not want to smoke, vaping may be a better choice for you. In this article, I define vaping, list the benefits, talk about the importance of regulating the vaping temperature, describe different types of vaporizers and point out considerations when choosing a vaporizer. Please be aware that I am only discussing desktop vaporizers.
What is Vaping?
Vaping describes the delivery method in which cannabis, either dry flower or concentrates, is heated to a temperature that causes the vaporization of the cannabinoid compounds. The vapor is released into the air as a fine mist whereby it is ingested. The temperature does not reach the level of combustion, so the terpene profile is preserved.
Benefits of Vaping Compared to Other Delivery Methods
- Avoids respiratory problems and consumption of carcinogens associated with smoking
- More immediate effect and less caloric intake than edibles
- Easier to control ingestion than using a dab rig
- Most beneficial method of ingesting cannabis for those with debilitating conditions such as chronic pain, cancer, anorexia, epilepsy, glaucoma, AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, MS and those undergoing chemotherapy. Vaping may immediately relieve chemotherapy side effects of nausea and vomiting.
- Lack of smell, lack of smoke and better flavor compared to smoking
- More economical than other methods; vaping converts 46% of available THC from plant matter to vapor. Less product is required to achieve more benefits than other delivery methods.
- Users describe vaping as an overall better experience than other delivery methods
- For novice users, inhaling short puffs rather than deep breaths is more appealing
- Preserves terpene content when compared to smoking
- More discreet than smoking
Temperature Control Is Very Important
The temperature to which you heat your cannabis will determine the effects that you will experience. If the temperature is too low, the compounds won’t evaporate. If it is too high, your cannabis will burn, producing unwanted byproducts without any benefits.
Here are the temperatures at which cannabinoids and terpenes are released:
- THC 315°F
- CBD 356°F
- CBC 428°F
- CBN 365°F
- CBG 126°F
- Pinene 311°F
- Limonene 349°F
- Myrcene 334°F
- Linalool 388°F
- Beta-caryophyllene 320°F
Different Temperatures Deliver Different Effects
Mellow and relaxing – 320°F. Best suited to maximizing the benefits of pinene, beta-caryophyllene and THC
Energetic – 365°F. Best suited to myrcene, limonene and increased THC absorption
Soporific – 428°F. Best suited to maximizing CBC and linalool. Great for deep pain relief, appetite stimulant and sleep.
What is a desktop vaporizer?
Before there were vape cartridges, vape pens and dabbing rigs, there were desktop vaporizers. They were the only vaporizing product available to medical cannabis users. The main difference is that it is a stationary device rather than a portable one. It is much larger, has many more controls, produces more benefits and is more expensive than the portable devices.
2 Major Types of Desktop Vaporizers
- Whip-style consists of a heating element and a whip which includes a mouthpiece, medical grade silicone tubing and a glass chamber to hold the dry herb.
- Forced air or balloon type in which a fan blows extremely hot air through the herbs which is collected in a balloon bag in vapor form.
Pros and Cons of Convection vs Conduction Heating Styles
- Uses direct heat via the walls of the compartment to vaporize its contents
- Enables more control over the intensity of the temperature
- Requires little or no upgrade nor maintenance
- Heats up quickly in as little as 5 minutes
- Simpler unit is more affordable
- Direct heat is more likely to burn the dry herb and cause the inhalation of smoke
- Transfers the heat through a medium such as steam to vaporize its contents
- There is no control of temperature intensity
- Requires regular upgrade and maintenance
- May take over 10 minutes to heat up
- A more complicated unit which is more expensive
- With no direct heat source, no possibility of burning the dry herb
Things To Consider When Choosing a Vaporizer
- How long it takes to heat up
- Selection of temperature controls
- How easy it is to operate
- Noise level
- What type of product you vape; dry herb, concentrates or both
- Whip-style, forced air or balloon, or a hybrid
- Quality of materials used to produce it
A 2014 self-reporting study was conducted by the Department of Psychology in New South Wales, Australia, using 100 subjects who had both smoked and vaped. The majority of participants preferred vaping over smoking and planned to continue vaping after the conclusion of the study. Here are the reasons for their preference for vaping:
- Lack of smoke and odor
- Better flavor
- More benefits
I do not want to overwhelm new consumers with too much information about vaporizers. If I have piqued your interest and you are considering purchasing a desktop vaporizer, please check out some of my sources listed below for more information.
vapingdaily.com, Best Desktop Vaporizers Guide
vapingdaily.com, Convention vs Conduction in Vaporizers – Explained
leafly.com, Cannabis and Debilitating Medical Conditions: Why Vaporization Works Best, April 12, 2016
leafly.com, Is Vaping Safe? The Differences Between Vaping vs Smoking Cannabis, Jacqueline Havelka, April 27, 2017
siranaturals.org, What Do Different Vape Temps Mean for Cannabinoids and Terpenes, Andrew Sharp, Sept 12, 2017