There are a huge number of ways to consume cannabis, from bongs and edibles to good old-fashioned joints. But while smoking may remain the most popular way of getting high, a new kid on the block is threatening to shake things up. In recent years, vaporiser products have been developed to an increasingly impressive spec, leading to many cannabis users – both recreational and medicinal – to turn away from their regular method of consumption. And it’s easy to see why.
Dry herb vaporisers offer many benefits over the more traditional modes of administration. But as these products are still relatively new in the cannabis world, many people may be dismissive of these benefits. So, we thought we would put together this beginner’s guide to explain what they are, how they work, and how they could be a better option for your consumption needs.
What are dry herb vaporisers?
Vaporiser products in general have become incredibly popular in the UK and pretty much every other developed country around the world. They offer convenience and at least the perception of a healthier and safer alternative. But in a market where disposable liquid-filled plastic pens rule the roost, dry herb vaporisers are often overlooked.
Sure, many of us may associate vaping with nicotine – whether used as a quitting aid or simply an alternative to smoking; but cannabis-oriented vaping is not all that new. Of course, in more recent years, the variety on offer is much wider than it used to be, and higher quality products are becoming increasingly available.
CBD vape pens and e-liquids don’t appear to be going anywhere, but for those of us who still prefer the allure of full-spectrum dried flower, these just won’t cut the mustard. Enter dry herb vaporisers.
How do they work?
These products allow you to utilise your cannabis flower in a similar way as smoking. Simply pack the chamber with your ground product, turn on your vaporiser and start enjoying the thick and smooth cannabis-rich vapour that follows.
Obviously, like more traditional smoke consumption, vaporised cannabis is administered via inhalation. However, dry herb vaporisers apply much lower temperatures when compared with smoking. This means that complete combustion is never achieved and, as a result, fewer toxic chemicals, including carcinogens, are released.
There is some evidence to suggest that smoking cannabis is not as harmful as smoking tobacco. While this may be true, many cannabis users continue to mix cannabis with tobacco for a number of reasons, whether to help with burning, they prefer the taste, or simply because that’s the way they have always done it. But dry herb vaporisers offer an easy alternative.
As we have said, they work by applying lower temperatures to dried cannabis buds. This causes the oils in the plant matter to evaporate and form a vapour which is then inhaled via the mouthpiece of the vaporiser. This vapour is rich in cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes – perhaps even more so than cannabis smoke…
The benefits of vaporising
Avoiding the combustion of plant materials offers a number of benefits. Firstly, as we have already alluded to, you are able to avoid the inhalation of toxic carcinogens and other harmful substances contained within cannabis smoke. This makes using a dry herb vaporiser a much safer and healthier alternative to smoking. But the lower temperatures applied may also help to preserve more of the cannabinoids and terpenes that cannabis users are looking to exploit, too!
Cannabinoids, like other substances, have individual boiling points – that is, the temperature at which they begin to evaporate. For the majority of cannabinoids, the sweet spot sits between 100-200°C (157°C for THC and around 160-180°C for CBD). That’s why a typical dry herb vaporiser will apply temperatures of somewhere between 140-240°C.
In comparison, temperatures in a burning cigarette or joint can reach between 400°C and 900°C! Unfortunately, this can mean that a significant proportion of those valuable cannabis compounds are effectively destroyed before you even have the chance to enjoy them. What’s more, dry herb vaporisers allow you to incrementally increase or decrease the applied temperature, giving you complete control over your experience.
Dry herb vaporisers also offer a more appealing alternative to medicinal cannabis users. In fact, medical cannabis prescribers exclusively recommend the use of a vaporiser when consuming cannabis flower (for obvious reasons). These devices are much less daunting for new users and having a superior level of control has significant benefits for medicinal and recreational use alike.
Which vaporiser should I buy?
It’s fair to say that dry herb vaporisers are changing the way consume cannabis and are here to stay. If you’re keen on making the switch, are exploring a product to consume medical cannabis or just want to add a vaporiser to your cannabis toolkit, here are our recommendations
Best vaporiser for medical patients – Mighty+
Storz & Bickel have a solid reputation in the vaporiser industry and for good reason. No company has done more to progress the use of vaporisers among the cannabis community, and as you’d expect this German brand makes reliable, well-built products from high-quality materials.
The Mighty+ is the latest edition of the reputable Mighty vaporiser that has a wide temperature range and comes with a lengthy warranty. Thanks to the sturdy and robust design, it’s ideal for patients who want to make an investment in a vaporiser that will last.
While not the cheapest on the market, Storz & Bickle provides a number of accessories that help with medical cannabis consumption such as a filling device, cleaning brush and dosing caps.
Best vaporiser for on-the-go consumption – PAX Plus
PAX is another brand that comes with an excellent reputation, often referred to as ‘the Apple of cannabis’, this sleek and stylish vaporiser is perfect for people who want a discrete device to use out of the home.
Don’t be fooled by the pocket-size nature of this device, the team at PAX has crammed in a respectable battery, rapid heating and a large oven into this small vaporiser. Users can control the heating temperature based on their personal preferences, and the wide range of accessories really sets this brand apart. If you’re looking for a dry herb vaporiser that works great and looks amazing, this is the product for you. What’s more, you can get a free 4-piece PAX grinder if you buy a PAX Plus from leafie, while stocks last. Bargain.
Best budget vaporiser – XMax 3 Pro
If budget is a concern the XMax 3 Pro is a great choice. You might find cheaper on auction sites, but you’ll also be compromising on quality.
The XMax 3 Pro comes with a 1-year warranty and a great range of features that pack a punch at this price point. The battery can be replaced unlike other vaporisers, and this device works with both concentrates and dried flowers, so it’s versatile too.
What’s more, the on-demand mode means you can use this vape almost instantly, a great feature for patients who need quick relief.