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Cannabis 101

Vaping and Marijuana: What you need to know

02.02.22 - 4 min read

Summary:

  1. In recent years, vaporizers have become an increasingly popular method for cannabis consumption. 
  2. Vaping cannabis involves heating cannabis herb or concentrates like live resin enough to convert the desired terpenes and cannabinoids into vapor. 
  3. Cannabinoids in cannabis start to vaporize at around 284°F (or lower) and combustion starts at around 446°F.  

In recent years, the popularity of vaping cannabis has continued to grow. Wondering if vaping is right for you? Take a deep dive with us! We’ll help you explore how to use a vape, how the devices actually work and some of the potential pros of vaping. 

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What’s a marijuana vaporizer? 

Simply put, a vaporizer is a technology-based device that heats marijuana (either a concentrate or dry herb) enough to turn the active cannabinoids and terpenes into vapor. Most vaporizers are designed to heat cannabis products just below the point of combustion, which ranges from 180 to 190 degrees Celsius. This vaporization method offers the benefits of inhaling marijuana while minimizing the presence of potentially harmful irritants that may be present in cannabis smoke. 

Though vaporizers come in all shapes and sizes, the major types are portable vaporizers, tabletop vaporizers, and vape or “hash oil” pens. High-quality devices with precise temperature controls allow the user to choose a suited temperature to whatever terpene or cannabinoid they choose.  

Find yourself wondering “how does a vaporizer work?” We’ve got you! 

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How does a vaporizer work? 

Marijuana vaporizers work by heating up either cannabinoids or terpene into vapor. The vapor then rises and is inhaled through the mouthpiece. Cannabinoids start to vaporize at around 284°F (or lower) with combustion beginning at around 446°F. The cool part is that some vaporizers allow you to control temperatures, so it’s easier to control the amount of cannabinoids and terpenes released in the process. 

Various vaporizers work differently when it comes to turning your vaping flower into vapor for consumption. 

What are Cannabinoids

Conduction method: Vaporizers that use this method heat cannabis more directly onto an electronically heated surface such as a solid metal plate or a screen to convert the cannabinoids and terpenes into vapor.  Since they don’t involve a lot of fancy features, you should be able to hit these vapes pretty much straight out of the box. 

Convention method: With convection heating, the cannabis product does not come into contact with the heating element. In this case, vape heats up the herb indirectly and the hot air moves around it, releasing THC and other cannabinoids into vapor without charring the substance. [Source]  

How to clean a vaporizer 

After starting out shiny and new, a marijuana vaporizer will inevitably become clogged with the remnants of your past sessions. As with anything you use regularly, your vaporizer should be properly maintained and cleaned. Still water in a vaporizer that hasn’t been cleaned can become a breeding ground for bacteria, mildew and microorganisms. If not cleaned, the deposits may form on the head of the vaporizer, inhibiting vapor flow and possibly even causing respiratory problems. 

So, how do you clean your vaporizer correctly? 

Here are simple tips for quickly and effectively cleaning your vaporizer: 

1. Start with a light cleaning 

Most vaporizers come with a small cleaning brush. If the brush was not included in the package, you should look for something small enough to fit into the edges of your herb chamber. 

As part of your daily routine, empty the vaporizer after every use then brush off the residue of your session. Make sure you remove any residue buildup that may affect the smooth passage of vapor. Lightly tap on the top of the table to remove any stubborn chunks that may not have been removed with the brush. Do the same for the mouthpiece. Avoid washing your vaporizer under the tap. 

2. Use 99% isopropyl alcohol 

Probably the easiest and best way to clean your vaporizer is to soak each component in isopropyl alcohol. The general rule of the thumb: the longer the parts are soaked, the easier they’ll be to clean. You can soak all glass and steel elements including the rime of the herb chamber, mouthpiece and any screens overnight, then rinse them in the morning and let them dry properly. 

Pay close attention to any plastic elements or wooden parts, such as the cooling chambers, however. Some of them may discolor or dissolve when soaked in alcohol. Instead of dipping these parts in alcohol, you can wipe them off with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol. This way, the alcohol cannot damage the plastic parts of the vaporizer. 

3. Time for a deep cleaning 

Has the smoke quality changed on your vaporizer to the point where it’s no longer an enjoyable experience? Don’t worry! If your vaporizer is still in good condition overall, then chances are it may simply need a deep clean. If you’ve been using it daily for a month or two since the last clean, then we’d highly recommend performing a deep clean to remove any residue that may have built up in your vaporizer. 

The steps to a deep clean: 

  • Disassemble your vape device and take apart all removable parts. Place them in a bowl. 
  • Rub each of the parts with a cotton ball soaked in a strong clear spirit like vodka. 
  • After the alcohol is soaked, empty the spirit and fill the bowl with warm water. Make sure you rinse any remaining alcohol. Do this several times to ensure the parts are rinsed properly 
  • Hand-dry the parts with a paper towel or clean cloth. Let them air dry for 5 to 20 minutes to allow any remaining solution to burn off so you won’t inhale harmful chemicals that may irritate your throat. 
  • Reassemble the parts—then get back to enjoying vaping. 
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Is vaping marijuana legal? 

The popularity of marijuana vaping continues to rise. That said, changes to marijuana laws are frequent and dependent on where you live in the United States. First, you’ll want to find out of cannabis use has been legalized in your state, and whether it is for medical use, recreational use or both. 

Additionally, keep in mind that local laws may further restrict where you can legally vape cannabis. 

Testing standards for cannabis also vary across the legalized market in the U.S. For instance, in Washington, vape products sold in stores should be checked for things such as toxins, potency, and residual solvents used in the extraction process. Other states such as California, go a step further to test for other substances like pesticides. [Source]  

How to Vape Cannabis 

When it comes to vaping, you can either choose your cannabis first or the dosage first. It all depends on your priorities and the experience you want to get. 

That said, choosing the type of cannabis you intend to use will help you narrow down your choices to avoid getting overwhelmed by the wide variety of vaporizers for marijuana on the market. 

Whether you’re using a portable or desktop vaporizer, here is how to vape your cannabis: 

how-to-vape-marijuana

Vaping Dry Flower 

  • First, you need some high quality dried or cured herb. 
  • Read and understand the vaping instructions on the manual. Knowing how to use your device of choice is key to maximizing your experience and the device’s lifespan. 
  • Plug in your vaping device and turn it on. Let it heat up until ready for use. 
  • Grind your cannabis vaping flower and load it inside the heating chamber of the vaporizer. 
  • Now, if your device permits, set your desired temperature and inhale from the mouthpiece. You will know it’s working the moment you see and taste the marijuana vapor on each exhale. 
  • As you continue to enjoy your cannabis, the flavors will change gradually, turning flowers from green to brown. Once the cannabis vapor loses its visible color and flavor, it’s time to reload. 
  • When finished, get rid of the leftover materials. Make sure to clean your vaporizer regularly to keep it in prime working condition. 

Vaping Concentrates 

  • Read the manual to understand how your vaporizer works. 
  • Understand what is live resin and what are other types of concentrates.
  • Ensure your device is fully charged and turned on. Adjust the heat to your desired temperature. If you’re vaping for the first time, start with the heat on the lowest setting and gradually increase theha temperature. 
  • Take a very small amount of your cannabis concentrate and place it into the chamber or oven using a dabber or dab tool. 
  • Take a hit by inhaling from the mouthpiece. Start with a very small inhale the first time. If you’re not sure how much to take, wait ten minutes before you take another draw. Long, slow draws allow for a steady burn and maximize cannabinoid intake. 
  • You’ll know your vaporizer is running low on concentrate when the vapor starts to lose its taste and flavor. 
  • Once you finish, turn your vaporizer off and ensure you keep it clean to extend its longevity.  

Vaping marijuana vs. smoking 

The Difference 

Smoking marijuana usually refers to inhaling the smoke from dried plant parts or concentrates.  

Vaping marijuana, on the other hand, refers to heating and inhaling concentrated extracts or heated ground dry herbs. It involves inhaling concentrated cannabis through a THC vaporizer or other device. Vaping is generally considered a much more potent method of administration than smoking. 

Does vaping create more potent effects than smoking? 

Research seems to indicate that vaping can often create a more intense euphoric or stronger medicinal effect than smoking. 

A recent JAMA report from John Hopkins Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit examined marijuana consumption in occasional users. The study showed that participants who vaped marijuana experienced a faster onset of effects than individuals who smoked the same amount of cannabis. The same study showed that the effects were amplified when a higher dose was used, showing that vaping should be done in a more precise dosing strategy than smoking marijuana. This is especially true for infrequent users. [Source]  

Is vaping safer? 

According to recent studies, people who vape marijuana perceive it to have health benefits and often find it to be safer and less harmful than smoking. 

However, researchers also indicate that neither vaping nor smoking is beneficial to human health. Vaping might seem like a less harmful alternative to smoking, but it’s not completely harmless, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine

The American Heart Association (AHA) notes that vaping marijuana in liquid form contains fewer contaminants than smoking marijuana since it’s heated and not combusted. Although cannabis smoke may be less toxic than cigarette smoke, inhalation of any combusted product still contains gases and contaminants that can cause respiratory or other problems. [Source]  

The benefits of vaping cannabis 

Vaporizers are a more recent innovation, but they’ve captured the attention of the cannabis world. Many people find that vaporizers offer numerous benefits over smoking. Here are some of the common pros associated with vaping cannabis. 

Discreet (less smell) 

Because vape pens don’t require combustion, you won’t encounter that familiar smell associated with cannabis. This is because there is no tar or other chemicals in it that may produce that strong odor. The vapor and odor are minimal and will disperse in minutes. 

Easy to use 

Most vaporizers are fairly simple to use. Some even come with USB charging cables, and you simply need to ensure they’re charged and filled. 

Efficient 

Using vaporizers requires less marijuana to attain the desired effect compared to pre-rolls and pipes. It’s also much easier to administer precise doses at a go. 

Saves money 

Since there is less cannabis needed when using a vaporizer for marijuana, it’s easy to save money over time, especially if your level of cannabis consumption is high.  

Control over the dosage 

It can be hard to measure how big of an inhale you should take from a bong, pre-rolls or bowl, especially for new users. Many vaporizers feature different settings so that you can control the amount of cannabis vape you want to consume. This way, it’s easy to reach the desired high without using too much of it. 

Cleaner hit 

Unlike combusted marijuana, vaporizers can offer a cleaner and more effective experience because THC and other cannabinoids make up a large portion of the vapor. 

Portable 

Vaping with a vaporizer is a lot more convenient since you don’t have to carry anything other than the vape pen itself. The best part is that they come in different sizes and some are as small as a cigarette, which makes them highly portable. On top of that, vaporizers with battery chambers can be used on the go and may last for hours before they need a recharge. [Source]  

Learn-More-Ways-to-consume-cannabis

Vape pens vs. dab pens 

They’re both compact and portable. They resemble each other. They are both pen-shaped. They contain coils that heat the plant material. So, what is the actual difference between a vape pen and a dab pen? Also what is a dab pen?

Basically, a dab pen or wax pen uses “dabs” or waxier concentrates. Dabs are commonly used to produce more potent marijuana effects. They’re created specifically for dabbing and to handle the thick viscosity of wax. These can include: 

  • Wax – One of the most commonly used vaping concentrates.  
  • Budder 
  • Shatter 
  • Crumble

 A vape pen, on the other hand, is a portable battery-powered device designed to take oils and distillates and often cartridges. The liquids are loaded into refillable and disposable chambers, then heated from below with a coil. Cartridges can be discarded after they’re empty. 

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What’s the difference? 

While a vape pen and dab vape pen share a lot of similarities, they also have some key differences. 

The biggest one: the types of cannabis products they’re designed to be used with. Dab or wax pens utilize dab, while vape pens utilize oils. 

Plus, the design of the two pens is quite different. While vape pens usually feature a slimmer shape and use an atomizer, wax pens or dab pens feature a heavier build with a heated coil. 

Also, wax pens are filled with a user-measured amount of wax or concentrate. These materials may build up and need to be cleaned regularly. Vape pens don’t require much upkeep. 

Wrapping up 

There’s no doubt vaping has changed the way people experience cannabis. It’s becoming increasingly popular as many consumers see vaporizers as a convenient and more economical way to consume cannabis.  

Want to learn more about vaping cannabis? A patient care specialist at your local RISE Dispensary will be happy to answer any of your questions. 

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Sources:

  1. Cannabis Vaporizer Combines Efficient Delivery of THC with Effective Suppression of Pyrolytic Compounds 
  2. Convection vs Conduction in Vaporizers – Explained 
  3. Cannabis Testing Standards 
  4. Legal Medical Marijuana States and DC 
  5. Substance use: using cannabis and tobacco together 
  6. Acute Effects of Smoked vs Vaporized Cannabis Use in InfrequentCannabis Users 
  7. 5 Vaping Facts You Need to Know 
  8. Update: Interim Guidance for Health Care Providers Evaluating … 
  9. Online Survey Characterizing Vaporizer Use among Cannabis Users 
  10. Vaping CBD: Pens and oils for pain, depression and anxiety 
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