In recent years, the development of increasingly effective devices and a growing concern around the effects of smoking have helped to bolster vaping as one of the most popular consumption methods for cannabis – particularly among medicinal consumers. But despite the growing availability of devices such as dry herb vaporisers, using them to the highest effect can often be confusing. For example, what is the best temperature to vape weed? Well, we’ve done the research to help you understand your vaporiser settings and the best temperatures for getting the most out of your cannabis.
How does vaping weed work?
Inhalation has long been accepted as the most effective method of consumption for cannabis. It delivers active ingredients from the plant directly to your lungs, where thin barriers allow them to enter the bloodstream within seconds. From here, cannabinoids such as CBD and THC can begin interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system, triggering effects associated with cannabis, from intoxication to a wide range of therapeutic benefits.
However, until relatively recently, the only way to achieve this was with smoking. Of course, while evidence suggests that smoking cannabis doesn’t carry the same risks as smoking tobacco, it may still be associated with some serious health issues. So, it should come as no surprise that vaporisers – widely believed to offer a healthier alternative to smoking – have taken off in recent years.
While smoking remains by far the most popular method of consumption for cannabis users, many – particularly medical cannabis patients – have embraced vaporisers. One of their most compelling benefits is their ease of use. Once the chamber has been filled with your product, all it takes is a pull on the mouthpiece and the device will release a burst of cannabinoid-rich vapour ready to be inhaled in the same way as smoke from a joint.
In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that vaporising cannabis may be even more effective than smoking – and this all comes down to temperatures.
How does temperature affect cannabinoids?
Anyone who has tried numerous methods of cannabis consumption will vouch for the speed at which the drug takes effect when smoking. Most of these effects are owed to cannabinoids – the most significant active compounds found within the plant. Yet, by smoking, we might actually be missing out on many of the properties associated with these and other compounds such as terpenes and flavonoids.
When lighting a joint, you are exposing your cannabis to temperatures upwards of 400°C – potentially reaching up to 900°C! These temperatures convert the predecessors of cannabinoids into their active forms – for example, THCA is converted into THC and CBDA is converted into CBD. This process is known as decarboxylation. However, at such high temperatures, many of these newly formed compounds may actually be lost before they reach your bloodstream.
In contrast to smoking, dry herb vaporisers apply much lower temperatures – just enough to activate most cannabinoids and trigger the release of vapour from plant matter, but not enough to cause combustion. In theory, this means that consumers who opt for vaporisers are able to more effectively utilise their product and get the most out of their cannabis. What’s more, many consumers report that vaporisers offer a less aggressive and more flavourful experience than that achieved with smoking. But what about the different temperature settings on vaporisers? How do you know which temperature is best for extracting the most cannabinoids?
The different boiling points of cannabinoids
Cannabis is an extremely complex plant consisting of hundreds of active ingredients. All of these compounds possess their own unique qualities – and many of them volatilise at different temperatures. But let’s focus on cannabinoids. As the most abundant and potent of cannabis ingredients – and the most medically relevant, cannabinoids are arguably the most important consideration when determining the temperature setting on your vaporiser. So, let’s take a look at the boiling points of some of the most common cannabinoids.
Low temperature settings
It might surprise you to learn that some cannabinoids, including CBG, are purported to reach boiling point – meaning they will start to vaporise – at temperatures as low as 52°C. However, on most available dry herb vaporisers, the lowest temperature setting is around 120-180°C (although the Storz and Bickel MIGHTY Plus can be set to as low as 40°C). This is good news as the boiling point of THC is believed to be around 157°C. For those simply looking to experience a high, it is therefore unlikely that you will need to set your vaporiser’s temperature setting lower than this.
Using lower temperatures to vape your weed will also mean a cooler and smoother vapour that is less harsh on the throat. What’s more, your bud will last longer, allowing you to puff on your vaporiser for longer.
Mid-range temperature settings
When you start to turn your vaporiser up a little further (different dry herb vaporisers offer different increments of change), you will begin to release different cannabinoids. However, for the most part, these temperatures shouldn’t destroy the cannabinoids that are activated at lower temperatures.
At around 180°C, CBDA will have been successfully converted into CBD which will begin to evaporate. So, if you’re looking to benefit from the properties of this popular therapeutic cannabinoid, it is recommended that you set your vaporiser to at least this setting. In fact, opting for a mid-range setting (around 180°C to 200°C) should allow you to achieve a good balance between most of the active ingredients in your cannabis, as most terpenes will also begin to vaporise at these temperatures.
Maximum temperature settings
The maximum temperature setting can vary between different vaporisers; however, most tend to reach between 220°C and 240°C. While it is likely that most cannabinoids will survive these temperatures, and you may well experience the most prominent effects of these cannabinoids, the vapour will also be harsher, and your bud won’t last as long. Furthermore, most terpenes will begin to be depleted at higher temperatures which may affect both effects and flavour.
All in all, determining the best temperature for vaping your weed is a trial-and-error process to find the settings that work for you. For those looking to experience the benefits of as many cannabinoids as possible, it is probably best to stick to the mid-range temperature settings. This is also the best range for medicinal users as these settings are less likely to trigger the release of harmful compounds that may occur at higher temperatures. Finally, the classic advice of “start low and go slow” that is often applied to CBD products may be just as relevant here. Happy vaping!