The introduction of vaping has taken the world by storm and, for many people, has been a life changing concept. The global vaping population is now way into its millions and consists of three main groups:-
- Firstly, those who choose to vape as a means of relaxation and entirely for their own pleasure.
- Secondly, those who invest in a vaporizer as a means to quit tobacco smoking.
- Finally, there is a rapidly expanding population of people using vaporizers to self medicate.
With such exponential growth in the vaping industry, it is hard to keep up and make sense of all the jargon and technology. There are hundreds of different vaporizers on the market and several different categories which they may fall under.
If investing in a vaporizer is something you are considering, or you just wish to gain a better understanding of vaping as a whole, then this simple guide will provide the basic information that is required.
The Definition of a Vaporizer
A vaporizer is a battery or mains operated device, that allows the user to heat either oils; plants; or waxes, to a temperature that will transfer the solid matter into a vapor.
The vaporizer is then used to inhale the vapor into the lungs, resulting in a number of different physical and mental effects.
Do Vaporizers Produce Smoke?
It is important to clarify this point, as many people still refer to vaporizing as smoking. Vaporizing is NOT smoking. The very purpose of vaping, is to eliminate burning the material the user wishes to inhale. Smoke only occurs when a substance is heated to such a high temperature that it combusts.
Combustion alters the state of the substance being heated. Smoke is emitted when combustion occurs. Rather than a gas, smoke is a mass of tiny particles from the burnt matter. That is why smoking leaves an ash residue and the smell of smoke clings to hair and materials.
When we breathe in these burnt particles, we are also inhaling harmful carcinogens. Carcinogens form as the heat reacts with the fuel it is burning. Even if the substance we are smoking is natural and full of healthy properties, once burnt it will still introduce harmful chemicals into the body.
In contrast to this, vaporizers heat the chosen matter to high temperatures but remain below the point of combustion. The vapor emitted and inhaled into the lungs contains only pure compounds drawn from the material being vaporized.
Which Materials can be Vaporized?
Vaporizers are optimised for one of three materials:-
- Oil Based Liquids – this includes nicotine e-liquids, nicotine free flavoured e-juices, cbd vape liquid and essential oils.
- Dry herbs and Tobacco – herbs such as cannabis, rosemary, chamomile, thyme, valerian root, mint and lavender are regularly vaporized for their beneficial properties. Tobacco leaf can be vaporized as a healthier alternative to smoking.
- Wax – this is usually cannabis resin, high in thc content and extremely potent.
What Happens to the Materials when they are Vaporized?
Oils and waxes are converted into a gas when they are heated at the correct temperature. The evaporated liquid transfers into a gas vapor which is inhaled until no more liquid is left.
Dry herbs are placed inside the vaporizer’s heating chamber. The leaves are cooked at varying temperatures, depending on the specific compounds and terpenes the user wishes to release. The goodness from the plant is transferred into vapor via moving liquid particles. Dry herb can be vaporized until all the vapor becomes tasteless and odourless. This is how the vaper knows they have extracted all the cannabinoids, terpenes and beneficial properties from their herbs.
At the end of a session with dry herb, there will still be matter in the cooking chamber. This is because it has been steamed as opposed to burnt. Already vaped bud or AVB will be much browner in colour and limp in consistency.
Basic Parts of a Vaporizer
There are many categories of vaporizer, but fundamentally they all share basic common parts:-
- Heating Element – The basis of any vaporizer is to cook the material in question until it produces vapor. Generally speaking this is performed using a metal or ceramic heating element. The only exception to this rule are vaporizers that are designed for external heat energy such as a lighter.
- Heating Chamber – The chamber is the oven feature of the vaporizer. The material is either poured or packed directly inside the chamber or placed inside a pod first, then inserted into the chamber.
- Power Source – Vaporizers run either on battery power or electric. Some vapes have removable batteries and the majority of handheld vaporizers are compatible with USB charging systems. The battery capacity varies from vape to vape.
- Vapor Pathway – Once vapor has been produced it must travel from the chamber, through the vaporizer until it reaches the point of exit. This is known as the vapor pathway. It can be isolated inside the device or it can appear externally.
- Mouthpiece – All vaporizers require a mouthpiece from which the user can draw out the vapor to be inhaled. Mouthpieces come in various styles and materials. They are usually detachable which is essential for cleaning and replacing should they break.
Different types of Vaporizers
Portable vaporizers are devices that can be carried around in a bag or pocket and used on the go. Within this category that are various styles:-
Vaporizer Pens – As the name suggests, these vaporizers are shaped like pens. Vape Pens are often sleek, slender and lightweight. However there are models such as the Flowermate Aura which are classified as a pen but are substantially bigger than the average e-cig. The Aura is a 2-in-1 pen as it can be used to vaporize both dry herb and oils.
Originally only designed to be used with e-liquids; vape pens are now commonly optimised for dry herb, cbd vape oil and wax concentrates. Models such as the Atman Pretty plus and the Hashmate have the classic e-cigarette look but are used to vaporize dry herb and wax respectively.
The design of a vape pen is straight forward. Pens usually come with one button technology which will power on/off as well as fire up the heating element. Pens can come with replaceable cartridges or fitted chambers. The mouthpiece sits at the top of the pen and is often made of silicone or food grade plastic.
Dry Herb Vaporizers – These are handheld vaporizers, more boxed in design and usually with more features than a vape pen. Dry herb vaporizers use either convection or conduction to cook the herb. Some weed vaporizers use a combination of both, these are called hybrid heating systems. In a conduction vaporizer, the herbs are cooked using direct contact with the heating source. Convection vaporizers have a separate heating chamber which sits away from the heating element. The hot air is passed through the chamber and this is how the dry herb is baked.
Handheld vaporizers are cordless and designed for on the go. They are fitted with rechargeable batteries and can be easily charged using either wall sockets or USB connections.
Dry herb vaporizers greatly vary in size and shape, however they are always far smaller and more compact than desktop vaporizers.
CBD Vaporizers – More often than not, CBD vaporizers are small in size and discrete in design. Very much like a vape pen they are simplistic and easy to use. A CBD vaporizer is commonly preset at the correct temperature to decarboxylate. CBD vaporizers can come pre-filled with CBD cartridges, or with chambers that allow the user to fill with CBD themselves. Sometimes the user will opt to mix the CBD vape juice or extract with their own e-liquid.
There are three main types of desktop vaporizer:-
- Forced Air Vaporizer – Commonly known as a balloon vaporizer, this unit is fitted with an internal fan. The fan blows the vapor into the balloon and once filled the balloon is filled it is attached to the mouthpiece and the vapor can be inhaled. The most prestigious balloon vaporizer is the Volcano by Storz & Bickel. It is a giant in this category and sets the standard at which other forced air desktop vaporizers try to follow.
- Direct Draw Vaporizer – More commonly referred to as a whip vaporizer, this device consists of three main parts: the wand, which is where the material is placed; a mouthpiece where the vapor will be inhaled into the lungs; the tubing that connects the other two parts.
Some whips vaporizers are manual and require the user to hold the whip in place whilst taking their draw. Others have hands free connections.
- Combination Vaporizer – As the name would suggest, these desktops allow the user to fluctuate between balloons and whips. The fan can either be turned on to fill a bag or switched off to allow the vapor to move directly through the whip. The Arizer Extreme Q is probably the best example of an effective and efficient combination desktop vaporizer.
To Sum Up
Hopefully now you feel a little more knowledgeable on the subject of vaporizers and have a greater understanding of their function and purpose.
When shopping around for a vaporizer, it is important to consider what your exact needs are first. Consider the common elements, which we have discussed in this blog, before leaping into high-tech features and revolutionary designs. No matter how much state of the art technology is applied to vaporizers, the basics remain the same. Happy vaping!
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.