And also because I had been getting a ton of questions on vaporizers in pms and comments after seeing my vape on that thread, so hopefully people find this useful. Feel free to comment/critique, this is my first draft just wrote it today, may have left something out or similar, just let me know!
What is a vaporizer?
A vaporizer is a machine that is used to 'vaporize' herbal substances and produce a vapor which is then inhaled. In the case of us tokers, that herbal substance just so happens to be marijuana, and the inhaled vapor contains high levels of thc which have been vaporized out of said bud. What is meant by 'vaporizing' is essentially heating - without burning - the bud and running air through it to extract thc in the form of vapor.
What does a vaporizer look like?
There are several types of vaporizers, the most common 3 used with marijuana are whip-style, bag-style and portable-style vaporizers which look like this:
(Iolite Portable Vaporizer)
Why do people use vaporizers to inhale marijuana?
The advantages to using a vaporizer over traditional combustion-based smoking are extensive. To name a few:
1) Use less weed than traditional combustion.
2) Get higher from fewer hits due to the high concentration of thc in the vapor produced by the vaporizer.
3) Healthier, none or significantly less of the carcinogens and other toxins associated with combustion-based smoking are inhaled when vaporizing.
4) Vaporized weed can be re-used for other things after the initial use, such as making very potent edibles.
5) Unlike the resin produced via combustion smoking, which should simply be discarded, the resin produced by the vaporizer can be cleaned and collected. We call this 'honey' and it is essentially hash. This can be smoked on a special occasion, and will get you very high.
6) For situations where the smell can be an issue, the vaporizer significantly reduces the smell of marijuana.
I will leave it at those 5 advantages for now, and each will be discussed in detail later.
How are vaporizers used to inhale marijuana?
The ways to use vaporizers depends on which style you're using, but all are extremely simple, don't need to think of vaporizers as sophisticated. Think of it like a car, what goes on under the hood is actually pretty impressive, but all you need to know is how to drive it.
To use a whip-style vaporizer, place bud in the glass bowl on one end of the whip and then connect the bowl end to the pre-heated area of the vaporizer. Let the vapor build up. You can get medium size hits about once a minute, but I often let it build longer and take some monster hits. To draw your hits, breathe deeply and slowly through the mouthpiece end of the whip, you will eventually feel the vapor in your lungs. Stop pulling and take another deep breath, then hold the vapor in your lungs for a few seconds.
To use a bag-style vaporizer is very similar, the simple difference is that instead of letting vapor build in the chamber, it fills up in a bag. To take your hit, hold the bag to your mouth and push the bag down so the vapor comes out and into your mouth.
To use a portable style vaporizer, it's very similar also, just load the compartment and let the vapor build, the portable vaporizer should have a mouthpiece, simply inhale the vapor through the mouthpiece.
In what temperature range should I be vaporizing marijuana?
Marijuana vaporizes in the range of about 340-400F. However, at 340 the vapor may be too light, and upwards towards 400 you will begin burning the weed and smoking it, this is not what you want.
You should stick to vaporizing in the temperature range of about 350-385 degrees Fahrenheit when vaporizing cannabis.
I set my vaporizer to the desired range stated, but my vapor is either: too light (barely any vapor produced) or too heavy (too harsh, smoke-like)
A reason for this may be that, if you're using a lower-end model, they are not always completely precise. Your vaporizer may be running hot, or running cool. Adjust your range accordingly and play with it, you will find the perfect range for vaporizing your bud through trial and error.
If you are finding your vapor is still too light, it's also possible that the bud is the problem. Certain bud will produce more vapor than others, and older, dried out weed typically produces less vapor. It's not akin to the well-cured, evenly burning weed that is optimal for combustion-based smoking and it may help to actually hydrate the marijuana a bit by throwing a couple orange peels in the jar for ~6 hours or so.
Speaking of lower-end models, I'm deciding between a cheap vaporizer and a more expensive one, what are the differences?
Well, as previously mentioned, precision can be an issue on the lower end models. Your cheaper vaporizer may run hot or cool and needs to be adjusted accordingly. Now, I'm asked frequently if this is worth buying a more expensive one or if the less precise will be fine; This depends. If you simply want to get high, yes, the less precise will still get you very high. However, if you are a mmj patient, you can actually use a more precise vaporizer to get exactly the kind of high you wish to achieve for medicinal purposes. Different cannabinoids vaporize at different temperatures, for this kind of usage, you want a more precise model for sure.
The next difference is also often the efficiency of the device. More expensive models are often even more efficient at utilizing your marijuana and can produce more high-thc-vapor hits than some of the lower models. This is pretty self explanitory, you get more efficient vaporizers as you go up in the price range. (Although, not ALWAYS. A $150 vaporizer may out perform a $215 vaporizer, it's not always a strict rule. read reviews of the particular model you are interested in and form a decision based off those + price.
Next, the higher end models also may out perform lower end models in another way. This has to do with a) The thc content of the vapor, and How many toxins are left in the vapor. Lower end models are generally less efficient in regards to both. How much less efficient? Once again that will depend on the models you are comparing, some may be significantly less efficient, others only slightly. Read up on the model you are looking to purchase first. High end models such as the volcano have been found in studies to have as high as 95% thc content in the vapor and no impurities, which is exceptionally good. Lower end models still produce some impurities and lower thc-content, but all are significantly better than combustion-based smoking.
What smell does using a vaporizer produce?
A very frequently asked question about vaporizers is regarding the smell. While a vaporizer does not 100% completely eliminate all smell, it greatly decreases the smell, and produces a vapor that does not distinctly smell like marijuana. The total smell altogether will be SIGNIFICANTLY LESS than smoking, and a different aroma than you would experience from smoking. If you walked into a room that had been using a vaporizer you may notice a smell, but unless you are an experienced vaporizer user yourself (sometimes not even then) you likely won't be able to know that smell = marijuana.
If you are overly worried about being caught, blow the vapor out through a spoof. (If you don't know what a spoof is, it's essentially the cardboard from a used toilet paper or paper towel roll filled with dryer sheets. If you need more help than that, there are tutorials on this forum)
Using a spoof to blow the vapor through, and possibly the addition of odor eliminating sprays such as febreeze air effects should completely eliminate the smell entirely.
How should the bowl of a vaporizer be packed?
It is important that the marijuana be ground up, typically through using a grinder but if you do not own one, breaking up by hand will work, it's just more tedious. (As an aside, if you don't own a grinder, get one. It is the second best investment for your toking, next to the vaporizer.)
This is important because of the way the vaporizer works. The vaporizer works by heating the marijuana and running air through it. Because of this, it is important to cover as much surface area as possible to maximize vapor production. By grinding the marijuana up and packing the bowl evenly, we achieve this.
Be sure to pack down the marijuana slightly, especially if you're using a whip-style where the bowl sits on the heated area at an angle. This may cause the weed to fall over if not packed correctly and then, obviously, it is not covering the optimal surface area.
How should I pull the hit from my vaporizer?
The slower you pull your hit, the marijuana will cook longer. To produce a cooler hit take a quicker drag from the mouthpiece.
If I pack a bowl on the vaporizer, how many hits will it produce and how long do I need to wait between hits?
The answer to this question depends on a lot, so in order to best answer the question, I will generalize. However, it's worth noting that what it depends on is the size of the bowl packed,
the vaporizer being used, the particular bud packed, how thick or thin you want the hits, and the type of pull taken once you are actually taking the hit. With that out of the way, generally, on a bowl of about .3 grams of high-grade marijuana it's possible to achieve anywhere from 3-5 quite large, thick hits with quicker interval, thinner hits producing upwards to around 6-8 hits. The time waiting between hits is somewhat of a preference, I would suggest waiting at least 30 seconds to one minute for average hits, but letting it sit longer will produce some monster hits. A nice thing to note is that if you wait, the vapor is not being 'lost'. The vapor remains in the first 3 or so inches until you pull. I often times will turn the vape on, let it heat up, and while it is producing hits, do something else such as browse this lovely forum. When I want another hit, there is generally a monster hit sitting, waiting for me.
I left my vaporizer sitting on after a hit and noticed some vapor was leaking out, why was this?
As previously stated, the vapor being produced should stay in the chamber area until you pull and should not leak out, and it is. The vapor that is normally found leaking out is when the previous hit was not fully cleared. This means the vapor was pulled down the tube, and then left just near the end. In this case, that excess vapor may leak out of the tubing and is likely the cause for your leaking vapor. If you are having this issue and it is NOT because of a hit not being cleared, be sure your bowl is securely fastened to the vaporizer and that there are no holes anywhere in the tubing.
Is it better to take big hits out of the vaporizer or smaller ones?
it comes down to /mostly/ preference. As long as you can handle larger hits, they will definitely have you feeling the effects quickly. However, the generally recommended practice is to take smaller, thinner hits and hold them in until the vapor does not come back out. The reason this is recommended has to do with the properties of vapor and the rate of absorption of thc from said vapor. Without getting overly technical, I also recommend the smaller thinner hits as the best practice for vaporizing marijuana.
How much marijuana should be used during vaporizing?
As vaporizers are more efficient than combustion-based smoking, you can pack bowls with less marijuana about .1 - .3 grams is a pretty good range, the more efficient your vaporizer, the less weed you need to use. Some may need even less, few should need any more than about .3 grams.
I saved my vaporized marijuana to be used for edibles (or something else). How much do I need and how do I use it?
As a general rule of thumb, to use vaporized weed (which has had thc vaporized out of it) You need to use anywhere from 2-3x as much as you normally would. If the marijuana was lightly used about 2x is a good measurement, if more hits were garnered from it, 3x is better. This means for a batch of brownies, I would suggest about 1-1.5 oz of vaporized marijuana. You want to save vaporized weed that is light-brown to brown, by the time it starts turning darker it's less useful (and closer to being 'burned' than other vaporized weed) It is worth noting that making edibles using vaporized weed is definitely worth it, the high is generally very strong, sometimes almost narcotic-like; I highly recommend it.
How much marijuana will I need to get an ounce vaporized marijuana?
The vaporized product, fortunately doesn't lose a ton of weight, only some. Approximately 1 oz + 1 quarter should produce about 1 oz of vaporized marijuana, but it can vary.
How do I get the resin off the glass bowl of a whip-style vaporizer aka 'honey'?
The process isn't too bad, you can use a metal pick to get it off. First, remove the screen using the pick. Next, scrape the bowl for the resin. This can take a while to get all/most of it, but the finished product is fantastic. It can be rolled into a ball and smoked, this product is very potent.
Speaking of scraping the resin off, how should I clean my whip-style vaporizer?
Your whip should be cleaned as follows:
1) Scrape any resin you desire from the bowl.
2) Remove the tubing from the bowl. This can be accomplished by cutting the tubing, or simply pulling it off if yours is made that way.
3) Get out the old 91% isopropyl alcohol + sea salt and throw them into a zip-lock baggie.
4) Shake, Shake, Shake.
5) Rinse the piece off with water.
6) Repeat this process for the tubing if that has become dirty/clogged.
7) In case the rinse missed any, allow the alcohol to evaporate off for several hours after cleaning to be safest. Leaving it out after cleaning before going to bed is a good idea to be sure none is left in the piece.
I am a medical marijuana patient and have bought a high-end model for precise vaporizing, at what temperature should I be vaporizing?
As previously stated, different cannabinoids vaporize at different temperatures. To treat a specific condition through vaporizing marijuana depends on the type of relief you wish to receive. That is to say, for example, a patient with MS using medicinal marijuana will tend to prefer the lower end cannabinodis that are vaporized in approximately the 350-375F range. While patients who need more pain relief prefer the higher cannabinoids that are released just before combustion in the range of 375F upwards. If you're somewhere in the middle, experiment with different ranges and figure out what works best for you.
[B]I feel a different kind of high from vaporizing than when I smoke the same marijuana, why is this?
This may be for two reasons:
First, as just stated in the explanation for medical marijuana usage, different cannabinoids are released at different temperatures. During combustion-based smoking, all the cannabinoids are vaporized at once and inhaled with the smoke. If you're vaporizing in the lower temperature spectrum, you may be noticing the lack of some of the effects of the higher range cannabinoids you're used to.
Secondly, during combustion-based marijuana smoking, carcinogens and other toxins are inhaled. The body reacts and activates antibodies to fight the toxins which results in an intoxicating feeling. When inhaling only vapor, that feeling is not achieved and that may be the difference you are noticing.
Writing this up has taken me a while and I still know I haven't covered everything, if you have any further questions, post them and they will be answered, and possibly added to the guide itself.
I hope you enjoyed this article on vaporizers, if it goes over well, I will likely do another article on some other topic in the future. A likely topic is marijuana curing / storage or information about types of marijuana and their highs, but I don't get quite as many questions on those subjects as I do on vaporizers, so for now, enjoy this article.
Happy Toking, GC
Edited by majicbunnie, 15 January 2010 - 04:25 PM.