Dry herb vaporizers come with one of three different heating systems in place. Either convection, conduction or a hybrid of the two.
This feature of a weed vape impacts significantly on performance and the quality of experience the user will receive. As such, it is important to understand the main differences between the styles before purchasing a dry herb vaporizer.
Traditionally, it was standard practise for all herbal vaporizers to come with a conduction heating system. More recently, manufacturers have begun engineering devices with convection technology and, as is always the case, with choice comes preference.
The decision regarding which method is best for cooking dry herbs in a vaporizer is a subjective one. Each vaping expectation is personal to the user.
However, defining key features of each method and making comparisons between the two can help us decide whether convection or conduction is best suited to us.
What is Convection Heating?
Most of us utilise convection heating daily in our ovens at home. Hot air is dispersed evenly and efficiently into the cooking chamber. This heat transfers into moving fluid ie steam which passes through the surface of the food. Heat transfer in convection ensures the raw matter becomes thoroughly cooked. So long as the temperature is not too high, or the food is not left in the oven too long, there is no burning due to the fact that the food is not coming into direct contact with the heat source.
The exact same process occurs within a convection dry herb vaporizer. The hot air generated from a heated coil, passes through into a separate chamber where the herb is waiting to be cooked. The heat penetrates the herb and transfers into steam. The cannabinoid and terpenoid components are extracted from the cannabis and are passed through the vaporizer, into the lungs as moving fluids.
There is no smoke, only vapor which then disperses as it hits the cool atmosphere outside of the vaporizer. Smoke is as a result of combustion and with a pure convection heating system, there is zero combustion.
The design of a convection vaporizer will ensure the heat source and the cooking chamber are always completely separate and as far from one another as possible. Consequently, the heat up time in a convection vape will be slower. This is due to the fact, the hot air is having to work very hard to pass through all the packed herb, not simply the outer surface.
In exactly the same way we wish our oven to cook the chicken evenly, the user expects a convection vaporizer to leave no raw green spots in the middle of their herbs.
What is Conduction Heating?
If we continue with the domesticated analogy to illustrate our point, the conduction method is akin to bbq-ing your sausages. In this scenario, the sausage is placed directly onto the grate which has been sufficiently heated to very high temperatures by a fuel such as coal or gas.
When we bbq we quickly see the outer area of the sausage begin to smoke and the skin darkens. This happens so quickly that common sense tells us, the centre requires further cooking time before it is safe to eat.
As a way of trying to ensure the heat penetrates throughout the raw sausage, we continually turn and move it around, until we are confident it is done. More often than not, the cooked sausage will be fairly charred or even burnt on the outside before the rest is done.
A conduction dry herb vaporizer runs on the same technology. The herb is placed inside a chamber and the walls of that oven are heated to high temperatures in order to vaporize the weed. The heat of the chamber begins at the outer edges of the packed herb and works its way through to the middle. Therefore, the outer surface area is receiving more intense heat for longer than the herb in the very middle.
Conduction heating does achieve the heat up of herb super quick and the first few pulls from a conduction vaporizer can be very powerful and intense. This does tend to slow down and fade though as the heat battles to cook the rest of the herb. The key to more even and efficient heating with a conduction vaporizer, is a very fine grind and a full bowl. Avoid packing too tightly at all costs!
There is the possibility that a conduction vape set too high will combust the weed however. Consequently, at times the vapor can be harsh and hot with a distinct over toasted flavour.
Comparing and Contrasting Convection and Conduction
Heat up Time
As previously mentioned, the speed at which the opposing systems work differs due to the science behind it.
Convection will take longer to reach the desired temperature, once it gets there though, the vapor will be consistent density and flavour. Most importantly, it will retain the temperature throughout the session ensuring the user gets all the wonderful compounds in their full glory. The Flowermate Uno is a true convection vaporizer which does exactly that.
Conduction vaporizers pride themselves on the lightning speed at which they can heat up. It is a huge selling point for many vapers. Whereas convection systems can take several minutes, some conduction vaporizers reach their green light status in a matter of seconds.
This a big plus for some impatient users or those looking to self medicate for the quick onset of pain.
The vapor quality received from a convection vape is generally considered to be better than the average conduction vapor. This is due to the even cooking and the ability to control temperature better throughout the packed herbs.
Accurate temperature affects the vapor quality extensively and those users who are trying to pick up specific terpenes and cannabinoids from their session rely upon this feature. The reliable consistency of quality vapor from convection models makes them the better session vape. If vaping with mates, you need not panic that the vapor is going to run out of steam by the time it gets passed to you.
Convection transfer tends to provide fuller, sweeter tasting vapor with a smooth consistency.
In contrast, conduction vaporizers will pack more of a punch, at least at the initial stages of the session. The Black Mamba is a great example of this. The first few hits are likely to be harder hitting and to reach any level of consistency will normally require a mid session stir or two.
It is much harder to control accurate temperatures throughout the herb due to the nature of conduction. Therefore if the user requires a specific temperature in order to extract specific compounds then they will struggle.
The degree of efficiency with conduction vaporizers does vary of course. There are conduction vaporizers out there that are known to heat far more evenly than others. Vaporizers such as The Flowermate Aura are renowned for a fantastic even bake. There are also those that utilise state of the art technology to ensure precise temperatures are true and reliable.
In general terms a weed vaporizer using convection heating will be more expensive than those with conduction ovens. It is far easier to source a budget conduction dry herb vaporizer than it is a convection one.
That being said, at the top, in the high end category, there is little between the price tags. Conduction vaporizers remain incredibly relevant, with many of the vaping community still preferring what they have to offer.
Many high quality conduction vaporizers are now installed with clever cooling systems which vastly improves the vapor quality but retains the intensity of the hit. For hardcore stoners this is the perfect balance.
Likewise the hybrid vaporizers on the market, such as The Crafty, encompass the best worlds of both convection and conduction. These are priced just as highly as many true convection vaporizers and there is a huge market for them,
It is important to mention it is not only the cost of the device to consider. Vaporizing herbs can be an expensive business if the vaper chooses the wrong model. The user needs to understand exactly how the herbs are cooked in order that they do not waste their supply. Consider what it is you are expecting from your vaporizer first; convection and conduction offer very different experiences.
Susan Henretty became a natural health activist over 10 years ago, after personal experience led her to research the benefits of alternative therapies.
In 2018, Susan and her partner decided to combine their business skills with their shared interest in herbal health and vaporizers. As a result they co-founded Kronicvapes.
Based on her previous interest in the holistic field, this inspired Susan to begin her own regular, health blog. Her writing aims to inform and inspire others; specifically in regards to the beneficial properties of vaporizing natural herbs.
Furthermore, as a herbal health advocator, she endeavours to bring her audience the latest global news and politics, regarding cannabis law; science; opinion and fact based evidence.