Vaping 101: How Does A Vaporizer Work And How Do I Use A Vaporizer?

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One of the most common questions about vaporizers has to do with how the technology works. Vapes are high tech devices, and the have many components.  Many consumers are attracted to vaporizers because they are discreet and because research suggests they are offer a healthier alternative to combustion.  Vaping is smokeless because the heat required to vaporize dry herb or wax is lower than than that required for combustion.

But if you want to understand how they work then keep reading....

Conduction vs. Convection Heating: Two Types Of Vape Heating

How Does A Vaporizer Work? SmokeSmith Gear

The first thing to understand about a vaporizer is that there are two basic types of heating mechanisms--conduction and convection.  In a conduction vaporizer heat is applied directly to the material.  In a convection vape the heat moves AROUND the matter to vaporized but it does not directly touch it.

In both cases vaporizers heat the dry herbs or concentrates to a point where they begin to release their active chemicals but they never reach a point where they actually reaching combustion.  Cannabinoids begin to vaporize around 284°F, with combustion beginning at around 446°F, so vaporizers work between these two heating ranges. Most vaporizers allow users to control the temperature (and thus the amount of cannabinoids and terpenes released in the process).

So the first answer to "how does a vaporizer work?" is that they work by heating the materials to a point where vaporization occurs.

How To Use A Vaporizer

How To Use A Vaporizer SmokeSmith Gear

In terms of components, all vaporizers have a heating chamber (metal or ceramic), a power source (either a battery or plug to go into a wall outlet), a wick that draws the heated substance to the coil and a fine screen or filter.  The heating element (usually a coil) heats up to a specific temperature required to vaporize the active ingredients in the material but not above the temperature where the materials will actually reaching combustion.

Every vape requires the user to load the vaporizer with the dry herb or concentrates. This area is called the chamber.  Once the material is loaded the user can begin the vaporization process. With desktop vapes the vaporization process begins when the unit is plugged in and the device is turned on.  Desktop units, such as The Herbalizer or the Storz & Bickel Volcano are "ready to go" and allow users to draw at their leisure with the vapor already produced.  In pen and portable vapes, such as the Pax 3 or the DaVinci IQ, the process begins when you take a draw (either through a straw or mouthpiece).  Most heat up quickly and begin to produce vapor within 5 to 30 seconds.

Once the vaporization process has begun the vapor moves through the device.  As you inhale the vapor is drawn into your lungs. 

Additional Points About How Vaporizers Work

Keep in mind that knowing the answer to, “How does a vaporizer work?” does not necessarily translate to detailed knowledge as to how a specific vaporizer will actually function. Study the instruction manual before attempting to use a newly acquired vaporizer for the first few times.  Or email us using the contact form on our website and we will happily walk you through it and point you to help manufacturer videos.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. For example, do not leave a vaporizer on longer than the manufacturer recommends. And do not modify the vaporizer or you may void the warranty.

Vaporizing legal dry herbs and medicinal substances is different than other methods of consumption. Many people tell us that that the effects are less felt during the first few uses. And those making the moving from hand or water pipes will see dramatically less evidence that they are consuming because there are no large billowing clouds of smoke.  So be careful not over medicate.


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