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The SmokeSmith Gear Guide To Vaporizers

In the past few years vaporizers have soared in popularity, thanks to the fact that they are discreet, easy to use and safer than smoking. Chances are you have seen somebody walking down a street using a vape.  But to many people vaporizers are confusing, both in terms of how to use them and how to find the right one for your needs. There are many different types of vaporizers, and many different ways to use them.  In this guide to vaporizers we will answer all your questions and help you find the right vaporizer for your needs.

The Basics of Vaporizers & E-Cigarettes 

What is a Vaporizer?
A vaporizer is a device that heats up dry herbs, concentrates oils and liquids to a high temperature. In doing so, it produces a vapor containing the active ingredients that are found in these materials. In the case of tobacco, the resulting vapor contains nicotine.  In the case of cannabis, it is THC that is released. 

A properly functioning vaporizer heats oils, waxes or dry herbs to the point where they release vapor but not to the point where they actually reach combustion. This is an important distinction, as combustion produces smoke, which is harmful to the lungs. Unlike smoke, the vapor produced by a vaporizer is cool and thus very smooth and easy to inhale. It doesn’t have the harsh quality that smoke often has, so you can more easily enjoy your favorite herbs, blends or concentrates without coughing or discomfort.

Many people don’t realize it, but many of the beneficial ingredients contained in various dry herbs literally go up in smoke when they’re burned. Even if you take long, deep drags, you’re not getting nearly as many benefits from the experience. It’s different when you use vaporizers. The materials aren’t burned, so their beneficial ingredients don’t simply float away into the ether. Indeed, you will enjoy more of the beneficial, active ingredients by vaping as opposed to smoking.

What Is Vaping?
Vaping is the inhalation of any substance that is superheated into a vapor. With weed/wax/shatter vaping, you’re heating the substance so the THC and other cannaboids are vaporized, but never burned. With e-cigarettes you are vaporizing flavored propylene glycol or vegetable glycerine, usually with some nicotine add. Enthusiasts use the umbrella term “e-juice” for both. Some studies have suggested that vaping is a safer alternative to smoking because the materials vaporize at a lower temperature than is required for actually creating combustion.

Benefits of Vaping
Vaporizers have soared in popularity of late. When you consider the many advantages that go along with vaping, it’s easy to see why:

  • Healthier and safer than traditional smoking.
  • Doesn’t produce secondhand smoke.
  • Vaporizers are not affected by no-smoking laws.
  • Can be enjoyed virtually anywhere.
  • No bad odor is left behind on clothes or in the air.
  • Doesn’t affect the breath, so those who vape don’t have “smoker’s breath.”
  • No butts, tips or papers to clean up, so it’s better for the environment.
  • Cheaper than traditional smoking. Especially true regarding tobacco, but vaping dry herbs is cheaper in that you can derive far more medicinal qualities from a smaller amount of product. In other words, you use fewer materials to achieve the same — or even better — results.

Anatomy of a Vaporizer
Despite the large selection available today there are a few things in common with all vaping devices. At their simplest all vapor devices use a lithium battery to heat a wire coil. A wick is used to draw the heated substance (flower or oil) to the coil. When the substance is heated by the coil it vaporizes and can then be inhaled.

The basic vaping device consists of a tank/chamber/cartridge (for materials), an atomizer that includes the heating element (often called a coil), and a power source with a rechargeable battery that connects to a USB port.

How To Choose A Vaporizer

Choosing the right vaporizer for your needs will depend on a variety of things.  Below are some of the factors to consider when deciding on what vape or e-cigarette is right for you.

How Will You Use It?: Portable vs. Desktop

 

Examples of Portable Vapes

The first major decision to make is whether you want a portable or a desktop vaporizer. Within the portable realm there are two types to choose from:  Pen vapes (so called because they are thin, like a pen) and handheld devices (these are still portable but are bigger than pen vapes).  Desktop vapes are meant to be used at home and typically have to be plugged into an outlet.  What type you purchase depends on your needs.

If you only require a vaporizer while on the go, the decision is easy. On the other hand, if vaporizing at home is just as important, then the decision gets harder. Although portable vaporizers work for both outside and home use, most will not provide the same level of functionality as their stay-at-home counterparts.

Portable vaporizers often have smaller chambers and shorter battery lives compared to desktop vaporizers, so using one at home will require more frequent refills and recharges. This makes desktop vaporizers a better option for those who enjoy longer sessions or sharing with friends. Another advantage of desktop vaporizers is their versatility when it comes to intake methods. Most portable devices only allow users to directly inhale from the mouthpiece. On the other hand, desktop vaporizers offer a variety of ways to inhale, including balloons, whips and even water-pipe extensions.

 

Examples of Desktop Vapes

What Material Will You Vape?:  Flower vs Concentrates
Most vapes accommodate either dry herbs or concentrates (extracts, waxes and oils). There are some portable units that accommodate both, and deluxe desktop models often feature oil attachments. Whether you’re looking at portable or desktop vapes, you will notice that some are designed specifically for dry herb blends while others are intended for oils, waxes and other concentrates. In the case of an herb-style vaporizer, you will need to grind your herbs to a fine consistency before placing them in the chamber. With a concentrate-style vape, you may have to use cartridges that are already filled with the concentrate of your choice. Other styles have dishes or bowls where the concentrate is placed and then turned into vapor. Without a doubt, though, the most convenient models support both dry herb blends and concentrates.

What Heating Method Do You Prefer?: Conduction vs Convection
There are two types heating methods for vaporizers: conduction and convection. Conduction involves the transfer of heat through direct contact while convection involves heat transfer via air particles. Convection is considered a superior method since the heating element and the material never touch.  Conduction heating is more common in portable vaporizers than desktop units. While both methods produce high quality vapor there are some key differences and some unique benefits to each.

Conduction is the transfer of heat through a substance or solid. This means that conduction heating elements make direct contact with your chosen substance. In vaporizers, the heating source is traditionally placed at the bottom of a chamber and your product is loaded directly on top of the element. Some vapers choose conduction-based vapes because they often cost a bit less than convection models and they heat up more quickly. Conduction vaporizers tend to be straightforward and user-friendly because the heating element is less complex. Examples of high-quality conduction vaporizers include the Pax 3 and the Davinci IQ, both of which are sold at SmokeSmith Gear.

Convection is the transfer of thermal energy through a liquid or gas. Convection vaporizers function by circulating hot air throughout the heating chamber. When a convection style vape is in use the heat surrounds and passes through the material. The heat source is isolated and does not make direct contact with the plant material or essential oils. Many vapers prefer convection-based vapes because they allow for a more accurate temperature control, heat materials more evenly, and generally produce better flavor than conduction-style vapes. Examples of popular and well-reviewed convection style vapes sold by SmokeSmith Gear include the Volcano Digital and the Mighty, both by Storz & Bickel along with the Firefly 2, which is the first portable convection vaporizer on the market.

A Final Word On Vaporizers

The vaporizer market is growing and advancements in the technology are being made daily.  Many vapes now feature smart controls and apps that allow you to more precisely control the vaping experience.  There are tremendous health and wellness benefits that vaporizers produce, and this, along with their efficiency and discretion, account for their massive popularity.  As detailed above there are many factors to consider when purchasing a new vaporizer, and we at SmokeSmith Gear are happy to help and educate our customers.  Please browse our entire selection of vaporizers, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions.