The advantages of vaporizing marijuana over smoking
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Vaporizing is the latest craze in the cannabis community, promising to be a new, clean way to get high and/or medicate with cannabis. To better understand vaporizers and the benefits they provide to both recreational and medical cannabis users, it's important to understand how they work.
WHAT IS VAPORIZING?
Vaporizers come in all shapes and sizes. However, what they look like, they work on the principles of either convective or conductive heating.
Convective vaporizers work by heating the air around cannabis, while conductive vaporizers usually heat the surface beneath the cannabis. Either way, the aim of the vaporizer is to heat the cannabis slowly and evenly to a point where the cannabinoids within the plant material begin to vaporize. Doing so creates vapor rather than smoke, which is far less damaging to the lungs when inhaled.
THE PROBLEM WITH COMBUSTION
Traditional smoking methods involve combusting cannabis (whether it be flower or a concentrate) in order to release the active compounds within the plant into the atmosphere as smoke, which is then inhaled into the lungs and the chemicals absorbed by the body.
The problem with combustion anything (be it cannabis, tobacco, or a groovy herbal blend you got from the headshop) is this:
The heat applied applied to cannabis when smoking is so hot that it breaks the chemical bonds between the carbon atoms which make up the natural compound found in the plant. This creates a new group of compounds known as free radicals.
Free radicals are a group of compounds which can combine with each other to create new compounds, most of which are highly toxic and carcinogenic. By inhaling the smoke from a cigarette, bong, joint, or blunt, you’re inhaling these chemicals deep into your lungs and exposing your body to a deadly cocktail of these resulting compounds, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
VAPORIZING VS. COMBUSTION: THE BASICS
Vaporizers were designed to avoid the combustion associated with smoking cigarettes, joints, blunts, bongs, etc. The invention of the first e-cigarette (which works on the same principles as a regular vaporizer) is attributed to Hon Lik, a Chinese smoker and inventor.
However, the first cannabis vaporizer is associated with Eagle Bill, a cannabis celebrity and Native American medicine man who is often regarded as one of the main promoters of vaporizing. However, some archeological evidence suggests that vaporizers may date back as far as 5,000 BCE.
The cannabinoids found in cannabis begin to vaporize at around 140°C (285°F) and dried cannabis plant material generally begins to combust around 200°C (392°F). A regular joint or blunt can easily burn at temperatures above 1000°C (1832°F).
And while you might have reason to believe that, by burning your weed at higher temperatures you’re delivering more cannabinoids into your system faster, you’re not. In fact, the smoke from a joint can contain close to 90% non-cannabinoids and over 110 PAHs.
Vaporizers allow you to gently heat your herb to just the right temperature needed to release the key compounds within the plant material without causing any combustion. This ultimately exposes your body to far less chemicals and allows you to enjoy cannabis (or whatever you’re usually smoking) in a much healthier and cleaner way.
THE BENEFITS OF VAPING:
By vaporizing your weed instead of combusting it, you’re doing your body a huge favor. While most cannabis connoisseurs like to argue that smoking marijuana is less harmful than tobacco, that isn’t true.
Numerous studies have shown that smoking cannabis is linked to many of the same respiratory problems as smoking tobacco. Some studies have even found that cannabis smoke contains higher concentrations of some chemicals, like ammonia and hydrogen cyanide.
By switching to a vaporizer, you’re able to dodge all the adverse health effects associated with smoking while still enjoying cannabis in all it’s glory.
YOU GET MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
Smoking actually wastes a lot of weed. A study by California NORML and MAPS found that smoking delivers less than 25% of the available THC in the cannabis into your body. In fact, over 80% of the compounds in cannabis smoke are non-cannabinoids.
A vaporizer, on the other hand, was shown to deliver over 45% of the available THC in your bud to your body. Other studies suggest that up to 95% of the vapor from a vaporizer is made up of cannabinoids.
Because vaporizers deliver more cannabinoids into your system, you essentially end up using less cannabis when you vape than you would when you smoke, regardless of whether you’re a recreational or medicinal user.
YOU GET A RICHER HIT
Whenever you combust cannabis, you lose many of the terpenes that give your bud its unique aroma and flavor.
Terpenes are renowned for being really fragile, and a lot of them are already lost during the curing and drying process cannabis goes through before it gets to you, so you don’t really want to waste anymore.
Because vaporizers burn at lower temperatures, you’re able to preserve more of the unique flavours and aromas of your bud. If you treasure the flavour and aroma of your weed, vaporizing is a great way to preserve what's left of the terpenes in it and really appreciate them.
YOU GET MORE CONTROL
The ideal vaping temperature is about 200°C; the temperature where vapor comes close to the temperature of starting combustion. Most modern vaporizers (even simple portable models) now come with complex temperature controls. This really allows you to get more control over how you use your cannabis, and allows you to experiment with lower and/or higher temperature settings.
For example, using a vaporizer with temperature controls allows you to vape slightly lower than 200°C and possibly preserve a few more terpenes and aromatic compounds in your bud, ultimately allowing you to preserve the flavour of your weed.
Alternatively, you may also set your temperature settings to maximize the extraction of one particular cannabinoid, like CBD, for example. Cannabinoids vaporize at different temperatures, and using a vaporizer allows you to target those that matter most to you.
YOU GET A CLEANER BUZZ
Many recreational cannabis users swear by vaporizers for producing a clean and clear high, especially when comparing it to traditional smoking methods like joints, bongs, or blunts.
If you find that smoking can make you feel slightly nauseous or lethargic (common side effects felt by smoking, seeing as it inhibits the delivery of oxygen into your system), then vaping may be a great alternative for you.
Plus, using a vape may make it easier to control your dosage and avoid any negative effects often associated with cannabis use, like grogginess, fatigue, paranoia, or anxiety.
Whether you use cannabis recreationally or for medicinal purposes, we highly recommend trying a vaporizer. Even if you find its not your thing, you can always go back to smoking.