What is a Vaporizer?
A vaporizer, or vape, is a device used to heat cannabis until it produces vapor. This dehydrates the buds and produces a thick vapor from the potent cannabinoids. This process eliminates the dangers of harmful carcinogens found in regular smoke while giving consistently powerful highs to the user.
Vaporizers are rapidly becoming one of the most popular ways to enjoy herb, they spare your lungs harsh smoke, they’re easy to use, they’re discreet, easy to use and come in a whole range of units to suit any need. But just what goes on inside a vaporizer? What mysteries do the sleek casings hold? Let’s take a look.
Types of Vaporizer
Vaporizers come in all shapes and sizes to suit any need. Here are three basic categories for you to start your journey on.
- Vape Pen
Pen vaporizers are the cheapest variety. Often they are designed to work with oils and concentrates. Discreet, affordable, and easy-to-use but unfortunately lack the precision of more complicated models.
There's quite simply a whole helluva lotta portable vaporizers, no question. These vapes can work with dry herb cannabis, waxes, concentrates, shatter. All sorts of capabilities. And they can deliver a much more controlled vape experience than a pen vape. They often come with digital temperature controls and convection heating chambers, however, some units also have hybrid convection/conduction chambers.
Typically, the most expensive variety are desktop vaporizers. These are intended for users who prefer a more stationary experience or sharing with friends. They often come with the options to use a whip or balloon or even an external exhaust for aromatherapy. For a quality example check out the Volcano Digit Vaporizer.
Heating Method - Convection or Conduction
Vaporizers have two ways to heat your herb conduction or convection. Conduction is the original method. This is a heating method by direct contact with a heating element. The main problem with this is that there is a danger of burning your herb, what is known as 'combustion'. Still though, it is powerful and many vapes still use this method.
The other way is through convection. This involves putting your cannabis into a chamber that is slowly heated to a suitable temperature. The main advantage of this is that more of the herb gets used. It also greatly reduces the risk of combustion.
There are also what are known as hybrid heating vaporizers. These vapes combine the best of both worlds and are rapidly gaining popularity in the vaping industry. Many of the top of the line vaporizers coming out now have hybrid heating systems.
Temperature control allows you to adjust the heat levels of the vape. Some units come with digital controls built-in while others have Bluetooth connectivity to allow control through a compatible phone app. Very convenient. Some controls have full LCD or LED displays which allow you to see the exact temperature in degrees.
The importance of temperature control is related to the qualities of the various cannabinoids in the herb. Different chemicals activate at different temperatures, allowing you to fine tune your vaping experience.
The chamber is the part of the vaporizer you load your dry herb into. It’s recommended that you grind your herb first to increase the surface area and allow for more efficient vaporization.
Bags or Balloons
Some vaporizers, especially non-portable varieties, contain a food-grade plastic bag attached to the heating chamber which gradually fills with vapor thanks to a built-in fan. If the vapor inside the balloon can be a bit thin, this is easily remedied by switching to a slower setting on the fan.
Another method is a ‘whip’ essentially a long medical-grade plastic tube. Found in both portable and stationary units, the whip allows for more instant enjoyment of your vape, as you don’t have to wait for a bag to fill. If you’re struggling to choose between a balloon and a whip fear not, as several units feature both.
Obviously your vape needs power to heat your herb. Depending on whether your unit is portable or stationary the power source can either be a rechargeable battery or a plug outlet. Some portable models will allow you to operate from the mains also, allowing you to enjoy your vape as it charges.
Power Saving Settings
Portable vaporizers have a finite battery life, often between two and three hours of continuous use. To preserve power many have battery saving technology. The most basic power saving measure is an automatic shutoff that turns off the heating element after a few minutes. A more advanced method seen in some models includes a sensor in the mouthpiece which senses when the unit is being put to a user's mouth, causing a boost of heat in the chamber. This means that you can rest easy and enjoy your vape without the fear of running out of power.
Phew, That's a Lot of Info!
Right, well if you got through all of that, fair dues! We know there's a lot to take in and even more to learn if you're interested. You could really deep dive on any aspect of the vaporizer. But hopefully this initial, quite comprehensive, insight into the anatomy of a vape will make you better informed for your next, or even your first, vaporizer purchase.