How to Choose a Vapourizer
A vaporizer is a device used to heat up cannabis plant material so it can be taken into the body through inhalation. It is an alternative to traditional inhalation methods such as smoking with a bong, pipe or joint.
Like any inhaled cannabis, vaporized cannabis takes full effect in the body in 3 - 10 minutes and lasts 2 - 4 hours.
There are several types of vaporizers on the market. Some are specifically for use with dry cannabis herb; others are specific for concentrates and some can do both. We recommend that you choose a vaporizer that is specifically created for use with dry cannabis herb.
Advantages to using a vaporizer.
A vaporizer heats up the cannabis to just below combustion temperature so you only breath in the medicinal components of the plant that ‘boil off’ or ‘vaporize’ at a temperature that is a few degrees below burning temperature.
Because you are not inhaling all the toxins that come with breathing in smoke you are less likely to experience respiratory issues.
A vaporizer is very efficient at releasing the medicine, so you requires much less cannabis with a vaporizer than other inhalation methods such as a pipe, bong, or joint.
While there is still a mild odour when using a vaporizer, that odor is much less than smoked cannabis and dissipates quickly.
If you only need 2 or 3 inhalations at a time you can load your vaporizer once, turn it on to take in your inhalations, then turn it off until your next medication time. Depending on the vaporizer you can get 2 - 4 uses from each load.
Portable vaporizers allow you to easily and discreetly use your cannabis medicine when you are away from home.
Desktop vaporizers plug into a wall outlet and are always ready to use (no waiting for the battery to charge.)
Many vaporizers allow you to pre-load your cannabis. This allows you to just take the vaporizer with you if you are going out for the day. It also allows a caregiver to pre-load the vaporizer for people who require help.
Some vaporizers have a large balloon type bag that stores the vapor for several hours. This is helpful for people who require a steady intake of cannabis, or for caregivers who can fill the bag, thus allowing the person to self-medicate as required.
Things to consider before purchasing your vaporizer:
Portable or desktop?
If you will need to inhale cannabis medication while outside of your home, a portable vaporizer is the best choice. Portable vaporizers are small, handheld devices that utilize batteries for the power supply
If you only use your vaporizer at home then a desktop model is a good choice. Desktop vaporizers plug into a wall socket and therefore always have consistent heating and temperature control. Most desktop vaporizers use a ‘whip’ to deliver the vapor. A whip is simply a flexible tubing (usually plastic or silicone). One end of the whip attaches to the vaporizer and there is a mouthpiece on the other end that you inhale from. A silicone whip is a better choice than plastic.
Some whip-equipped vaporizers have a fan that assist the delivery of vapor through the tube. This can be an important feature for someone who is weak or infirm, but for most users it isn’t necessary.
Many people have both a portable vaporizer to carry with them and a desktop vaporizer for use at home.
Your portable vaporizer with either have a built in, rechargeable battery or use disposable batteries. We highly recommend a rechargeable battery over disposable.
If rechargeable how many uses can you get out of a full charge?
How quickly will it recharge? Some recharge in an hour or two, while others must be recharged overnight.
Does it have both usb and wall-plug adaptor capability for recharging?
Inevitably at some point we all forget to recharge our vaporizer, or not notice that the battery is low, so a great feature to watch for is the ability to use your vaporizer while it is charging.
Convection vs Conduction?
Vaporizers that use a convection method of heating are newer to the market and cost a bit more, but the extra cost may be worth it. The cannabis is evenly heated as you inhale, ensuring each inhalation is consistent.
Conduction heating is a bit faster, but you run the risk of overheating the cannabis, resulting in hot, irritating vapor.
Watch out for vaporizers that rely on a butane torch or other external source of heat such as a lighter. While inexpensive, these are more difficult to use; there is no way to accurately control the temperature and they put you at risk of burning your fingers and lips.
Is there a ‘safe-on’ feature that does not allow a child to inadvertently turn it on?
Is there an auto-shut-off feature?
Does the outside stay cool to the touch to avoid burns?
Is the stem long enough that it gives the smoke a bit of time to cool off and so you won’t burn your lips?
Is the material that comes in contact with your cannabis and your lips non-toxic?
For desktop models, is it stable and sturdy or does it easily tip over (risking burns and breakage.)
The ‘bowl’ is the place on the vaporizer that gets filled with dried, ground cannabis.
If the bowl is to small, you may only get 1 or 2 inhalations out of each fill.
If the bowl is too big, you risk wasting cannabis.
Pen type vaporizers are really designed for use with cannabis concentrates. They may claim to also work with dry herb cannabis, but really are not the best choice.
Medical constituents in cannabis ‘boil’ or ‘vaporize’ at different temperatures
>> See Cannabinoid and Terpene Boiling Temperatures
Choose a vaporizer with some control over temperature settings in order to target specific cannabinoids and terpenes.
Some vaporizers have 3 - 5 preset temperature settings; while others allow you to set an exact temperature.
Without temperature control you may not be getting all the benefits out of your cannabis medicine.
Most vaporizers with precise temperature control allow you to view the temperature setting in both Celsius and Fahrenheit.
How fast it heats up:
Most vaporizers will heat up and be ready to use in less than 30 seconds and some as quickly at 10 seconds.
The more quickly your vaporizer heats up, the more quickly you can take your medication and get on with your day.
Ease of loading:
If you have to take the whole vaporizer apart in order to load the cannabis into it you may quickly get frustrated and be reluctant to use your vaporizer.
Look for vaporizers that are well designed for easy loading. It shouldn’t take more than 30 - 60 seconds to load your vaporizer so it is ready for use.
Ease of cleaning:
Equally important to ease of loading is ease of cleaning.
It should be quick and easy to empty the bowl of the used cannabis.
Overtime resin will build up on the various parts of vaporizer where hot vapor has passed. The easiest way to clean vaporizer parts is to soak them in isopropyl alcohol for an hour then rinse clean. In some cases you may need a cotton swab or other device to reach all the parts.
Does the vaporizer come with its own cleaning tools?
Some vaporizers use screens that can quickly clog up and impede the airflow. Does the vaporizer come with extra screens?
While not necessary, a nice to have feature is a customized carrying case for your vaporizer. The carrying case will protect it when you are traveling.
Some vaporizers have a belt clip.
For longer trips it is nice to space for accessories in the carrying case, such as an extra stem, extra screen or even a small container of extra cannabis.
AVB aka Already Vaped Bud:
One of the bonus features of using a vaporizer is that you can get a second life out of your cannabis after you have finished vaping with it.
We recommend that rather than disposing of your cannabis after it has been vaped, you save your AVB in an airtight container.
Once your vaping session is complete, the cannabis will have turned from green to brown. That means cannabinoids in the cannabis have now been ‘decarboxylated’ or activated.
Be sure to keep THC and CBD strains of AVB in separate containers so you will have a better idea of the potency of your cannabis butter.
We’ve scoured the web to find some useful videos to help you get the most out of your vaporizer.
Vaporizer Tips & Tricks: Getting the most out of your Vape.
Australian Vaporizers | 8 min 26 sec
A very informative, well produced video on how to get the most out of your vaping experience
Vaporizers 101 - A Basic Guide - Portable & Desktop
Sneaky Pete Vaporizers | 13 min 25 sec
A good explanation of the difference between portable and desktop vaporizers.
Choosing a Portable Vaporizer
Australian Vaporizers | 5 min 52 sec
Great tips on choosing a portable vaporizer.
Vaping vs Smoking
Sneaky Pete Vaporizers | 7 min 25 sec
We’d prefer that you vaporize vs smoke, and this video does a great job of explaining the difference.