Smoking tobacco is a centuries-old tradition that was first practiced during shamanistic rituals around 5000 BC. This means that smoking has been around since prehistory. It was only in the 16th century that the practice of smoking tobacco has reached Europe. Until today, smoking tobacco is a staple to almost all modern societies.
Smoking is Dangerous
Cigarettes contain toxic substances such as arsenic, cadmium and lead. Those who smoke know the detrimental effects of smoking, yet they still continue with their habit. Cigarettes are cheap and easily available. With the means and the proper circumstances, even children younger than 10 years old can smoke. Given the increased life expectancy of human beings due to the advancement of medicine, doctors have a better view on how traditional tobacco and even cannabis smoking affects long term overall health.
According to a study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2004, smoking tobacco causes more deaths annually than deaths caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), motor vehicle injuries, illegal drug use, firearm-related incidents, and alcohol use combined. Yet numbers do not convince some people.
Those who smoke cigarettes, cannabis and other substances do not want to quit smoking. However, they do want to avoid or minimize the long term health effects of smoking. For this, vaporizers may be the breakthrough they are looking for.
What are Vaporizers?
Vaporizers are handheld devices that are used today to dissolve the active chemical compounds of a certain substance. Weed, tobacco, concentrates, essentials oils and e-liquids such as tobacco-free nicotine are used. Unlike cigars, cigarettes and joints, these inhalation devices use no combustion, thus creating no tar or solid residue. Rather than smoke, they create a kind of steam that contain the extracted active chemical compounds.
People who use them only get to inhale the active compounds of a substance plus additional trace amounts of glycerin, propylene glycol and flavorings if they are using e-liquids and concentrates. There are different kinds of vaporizers. The right kind depends on the user’s preference and needs. Also, there’s a range from cheap to expensive, depending on the quality of the device.
To give you a broad sketch of how they work, they bring the substance to a high temperature in order to release the active compounds. If you use, for example, cannabis, these inhalation devices will dehydrate the buds in the process of vaporization to release.
Different Kinds of Vaporizers
If you are a neophyte when it comes to vaporizers, you should know that the right amount of potency will be achieved through trial and error. Unlike smoking, you can customize how subtle or how powerful you want the active compounds to be. Before you start learning how to use them, you must get to know the different kinds.
Generally, there are three main kinds: desktop, portable and pen-type. There are now hundreds of diversified products under these categories. You will encounter them over time, but for now, let us start with the basics.
A desktop type vaporizer is plugged in to a power source to work. If you only use them at home, then this might be for you. Also, if you tend to smoke with other people, then a desktop unit is much more economical compared to portable and pen-type vapor. A desktop unit typically uses about half a gram of your preferred herb or leaves per session.
This type packs the most potent ones. As a result, you get a strong and noticeable aroma.
The chamber where you deposit the herb is often made out of glass or metal. Desktop type units can either be standard or forced-air (volcano) types. Standard types have a whip mouthpiece attached to the exit. The user inhales or sucks the steam through this mouthpiece.
On the other hand, volcano vaporizers have a built-in fan inside which propels the steam out of the machine. The opening has a special plastic bag attached which collects the steam. Some volcano type units can be attached to a whip. Newer desktop devices have a digital temperature dial to let the user control the temperature better.
A portable vaporizer is almost the same as a desktop type, only that it does not need an external power source. Instead, they are powered by butane or batteries. Units that use butane create an internal flame and require the use of lighters.
This type can fit into your palm well, making it ideal if you feel the need to use your device wherever you want. Because the vapor from this vaporizer has a weak aroma, this type is a better alternative to desktop units if you want to keep your habit a secret from your family or roommates.
Although this device is discreet, the steam from a portable unit do not pack that much “punch” compared to desktops. As a result, you may need to hold in the haze for a longer time before exhaling it. The longer you hold it in, the less noticeable the scent will be. You can also buy carbon filters to further lessen the odor.
To help you choose which portable one are for you, check for portable vaporizer reviews online.
Pen-type units are popular because of their convenience and versatility. Users can buy pre-built models (more expensive) or they can opt to build their own by buying separate components. Pen-type vaporizers are battery-powered tools that can almost replace smoking cigarettes and blunts.
Some newer units can be charged through a USB port. Because pen-type vaporizers don’t have a temperature dial, users have no control over the temperature unlike with desktop units. This type is best used for with concentrates, extracts, oils and even e-liquids.
However, there are units that can also be used together with dry herbs. These substances are loaded on the coil located in the atomizer. Be careful when using dry herbs because the exposed coil of pen-type’s can burn the dry herb. This defeats the purpose of vaporizers because users will be inhaling smoke rather than fog.
Pen-type vaporizers have 3 main parts: the mouthpiece, atomizer and battery. The atomizer is what heats the substance and converts it to vapor. Some atomizers have wicks, some do not. Wickless atomizers are ideal because wicks have the possibility to get burnt, causing a burnt plastic tasting. Because of this, a number of manufacturers have replaced traditional wicks with ceramic rods which produce a better flavor.
Conduction Powered vs. Convection Powered
For beginners, one of the challenges in choosing a suitable vaporizer is understanding the technical terms. When you are browsing for them on the web, you may encounter “conduction-powered” and “convection-powered” in the device specification.
When it comes to conduction, the substance (oil, herb, concentrate, etc.) is directly heated as opposed to convection-powered units, where the air is heated first before passing through the herb or substance. The substance is placed in a metal or glass chamber and the heat from the chamber releases the active compounds.
First time users should be extra careful when using conduction-powered units especially when they are vaporizing herbs because the heat can quickly combust or burn the substance, rather than just running a hot vapor through them.
The advantage of conduction-powered devices is the price. They are cheaper because of their limited capability and lower vapor quality. In addition, conduction-powered units offer uneven punches as opposed to convection-powered units. Some portable ones are powered through either conduction or convection so be sure to check the specs first.
The best ones use convection heating wherein the heat is transferred to the substance by vapor. The hot air touches the surface of the substance, carrying fresh active substances immediately with it. Most modern units that employ convection heating have digital thermometer dials that allow users to specify the amount of heat of the vapor.
There is a low risk of burning dried herbs with vaporizers using convection heating when the user sets the temperature on an excessively high setting.
Pre-built units are around $20 to $25 more expensive than DIY units. These top ones are priced at around $50 to $200, depending on the batteries, atomizers and materials used. Pre-built packages also come with complete components and additional accessories and instructional leaflets.
Pen-type units are the most affordable kind of vapors, but as mentioned before, they are not recommended for dry herbs. However, there are newer pen-type units that claim to accommodate dried herbs and flowers without charring them. If you only use concentrates, wax and oils, then a pen-type unit is good enough.
However, if you want a stronger punch or if you “smoke” with other people, try a desktop vaporizer. If you want something in between a pen-type unit and a desktop unit, then browse among different portable units. Always remember that at some point, individual parts may need to be replaced.
Vaporstore.com and Gotvape.com offer wide and comprehensive selections of all kinds of devices, spare parts, e-juice, e-liquid and accessories. Both websites include blogs, testimonials, reviews and questions from their customers. They also offer discreet shipping on all addresses.
Benefits and Advantages of Using Vaporizers
People who switch to using vaporizers want to minimize the health risks of smoking tobacco cigarettes. Here are a few benefits over pipes and cigarettes.
- Secondhand smoke is greatly eliminated.
Unlike typical forms of smoking, using vaporizers leaves no secondhand smoke. There is no combustion taking place inside the glass and metal chambers, thus you are inhaling purely extracted active compounds, whether you are using tobacco, cannabis or concentrates. Smoke acquired through combustion has very minute solid particulates.
These particulates are less dense than air so they tend to float around until they stick to clothes, hair and skin. It will not make you smell like tobacco or cannabis. Although the released vapor still has a distinct scent to it (depending on the substance used), the odor will not linger for long.
You can smoke in a closed room without worrying about the odor. This is also ideal if you want to go incognito when it comes to smoking.
- The vapor does not include combustion by-products.
When paper, tobacco and weed are burnt, the smoke will contain the nasty combustion by-products which are then inhaled by smokers. Vaporizing cannabis and tobacco eliminates every last harmful chemical and preservative. If you are a regular or a heavy smoker, consider investing on a good one because it will significantly lessen your exposure to carcinogens.
- Users get to inhale and benefit from the active substances.
Around 80% of the smoke in traditional smoking does not contain the active substances; rather it consists of combustion by-products. The flame during smoking destroys delicate flavors and compounds of the substance.
If you are prescribed with active ingredients found in herbs, you will better absorb them as vaporized gases rather than smoke gases. Vapors consists 95% of the active compounds of the substance.
- Users don’t suffer from teeth stains.
Combustion produces nasty by-products such as tar and resin. These substances are present in smoke and can stick to the teeth and lips.
Over time, regular smokers will have yellowish teeth with splotchy discoloration, unless they regularly have their teeth bleached. Because vaporization does not produce smoke or tar, there is no risk of discoloring your teeth and lips.
- It spares you from smoking-related health problems.
As mentioned earlier, harmful combustion by-products are eliminated in using vaporizers. There are a number of studies that prove that using a vaporizer leads to significantly fewer adverse health effects ranging from simple coughing and tightness in the chest to lung cancer.
There are even findings that the benefits are equivalent to quitting smoking altogether. Switching to a vaporizer can help regular tobacco and cannabis smokers decrease respiratory symptoms. If you want the desirable effects of smoking but still want to preserve your health, you should consider using one.
- It helps you save money in the long run.
It will squeeze out every last trace of active ingredient from your chosen substance. In traditional smoking, the cigarette or joint continues to burn even if you are not inhaling it. You cannot control how fast your cigarette burns. With vaporizers, users have the choice when to inhale or to preserve the vapor inside the chamber or bag.
Since the best vaporizers produce the most concentrated vapor, you would only need fewer servings of your choice of substance. Depending on how often you smoke, they can save up to 30% of your preferred substance, whether it’s tobacco, marijuana or other herbs. This is good news for people who are prescribed with cannabis for depression and anxiety.
How to Use a Vaporizer
The proper way to use them depends on the kind of the unit (desktop, portable and pen-type). All brand new units come with an instructional leaflet. The challenge is finding the right amount of potency without burning the herbs. If your device has no temperature dial, you may need trial and error to find the best temperature for you.
For forced-air vaporizers, you can either attach a whip mouthpiece or a special plastic bag to store the steam for inhalation. For standard desktop units, users should suck and inhale the steam and then hold it inside their lungs for a few seconds. The saying when it comes to vapors is that “exhaled vapor is wasted vapor.” Remember that vapor is not smoke.
It contains a superior amount of active compounds compared to cigarettes and pipes.
- Warm up your device to around 300 to 390˚F (149 to 177˚C). If your device doesn’t have a digital dial, turn the knob 3x right and half a turn to the left.
- Grind your herbs or prepare your oils, concentrates or wax.
The succeeding steps depend on the unit you own. For forced air or volcano vaporizers, attach the bowl containing the herbs or concentrates to the bag and attach the bag to the heating device. Make sure that the bowl piece is covered with screen. Turn on the air pump and wait the bag to be filled with vapor. Turn it off once the bag is full. Detach the bag and start inhaling.
For standard vapors, attach the tube containing your preferred substance then start inhaling. If you inhale slowly, you can parch or burn your herbs. If you inhale fast, you will get the strongest punch.
Medical and Culinary Use of Vaporizers
A number of beneficial substances are found in plants. Sometimes, they are too delicate to be extracted or too laborious to be synthesized.
Thus, doctors prescribe these plants instead. Cannabis is rapidly becoming famous for its medicinal properties.
The active ingredients in this plant are best extracted and consumed through vapors. People with HIV, AIDS, epilepsy, depression and chronic pain are sometimes advised to smoke cannabis (which contains THC and cannabinoids) for medical purposes.
For culinary purposes, some spices and herbs release flavors best through vaporizers. Chefs have a better control of the temperature that heats the herbs, thus avoiding overheating that can otherwise spoil the flavor.