Welcome to an introductory guide to vaporization! Because you are reading this, I assume you are probably new to vaporizing, or just want to learn more about vaporizers in general. Being new to the ever growing world of vaporizers, there are some things you should know before you get started.
To start, there are many different styles of vaporizers, but with two main types: Desktop vapes which are plug-in units and are best used at home, and portable units that have internal (and in a few cases, external) batteries, or are powered by butane. These are good if you like to bring your vaporizer out with you since they don’t have to be plugged in and are easy to carry.
They both come in all shapes and sizes, with lots of various attachments, temperature ranges, and levels of discreteness. The ideal range for vaporization is from 360⁰F to 390⁰F (if there are temperature settings, the unit will usually not exceed 420⁰F).
Depending on what type of material you plan on vaporizing, this will determine which style of vaporizer is best for you. For example, if you mainly vaporize flowers, you will probably want to get a portable or desktop unit because at this time, there aren’t many pens that will vape herbs (except for the V2 Pro Series 3 and Series 7) . Instead, they combust the herbs similar to if you smoked them regularly with a lighter.
If you prefer waxes or concentrates though, you will most likely want to go with a pen unit.
So let’s get into the different types…
We start into the powerhouses of the vaporizer world, the desktop units. These are the units for at home use only, because they have to be plugged in. If you are the kind of person who smokes mostly at home, one of these units is the vape for you.
These will “pack the biggest punch,” so to speak, and will deliver the biggest hits.
The units themselves are made of everything from plastic to wood to metal, with either a glass or metal chamber where you put your herbs, and they will either attach to a whip with a mouth piece attached, similar to a hookah but without water, or will fill up balloons with an internal fan or by forcing air through the unit with an external pump (only a few units).
Many of these vapes can be attached to a water pipe, filtering the vapor through water to cool and condense it. Keep in mind that these machines are a bit larger than hand held units, and often cost more as well. But, if you often smoke in groups, a desktop unit will suit you better than most portables, as their larger size makes them more group friendly and fairly efficient with your material.
Because these units are convection-style vaping, the air flowing past the material is heated to vaporizing temperature, and it is this hot air that vaporizes the material. Most desktops tend to use less than half a gram per session, but it really depends on the size of the group and the tolerance of the user how much material you use.
Now, I’m not saying desktops are only good for groups, and that if you smoke alone you shouldn’t get one. The fact of the matter is, desktop units are just better than portable units, because they deliver better flavor and really are very good at what they do. Essentially, if you are at home when you consume your herb of choice, and like the idea of group vaping, a desktop is the way to go.
Next, we move to the realm of portable vaporizers. These are smaller, hand-held, battery powered devices that are perfect if you’re an on the go user or if you don’t want to have to be tied down to a cord when you vape.
In portable vapes, some are conduction powered vaping, meaning they heat the chamber that your material is heated instead of the air passing through it. This can lead to a more uneven vaping of the material. Other portables are convection powered, much like the desktop units.
Now, there are two main sections to portable vaporizers: battery powered and butane fuel powered. Battery powered portables range from the size of your palm to about the size of a Red Bull can. They can have some learning curve depending on the unit, and they aren’t going to pack as much of punch as a desktop would, but they are perfect for on the go vaping with no cords necessary. These also offer more of a stealth factor, because while they may not produce as much vape, they also produce less smell.
The lighter powered butane vapes do not have this stealth factor, minus a few that use butane to create an internal flame, because they require a lighter to be used while vaping. Essentially, a lighter powered vape uses the lighter to provide heat instead of a battery and a heating element. These have less temperature control, and require some trial and error to get to the optimal vaporization range.
Many of these units are able to be put in your pocket or in a small bag or purse, making them ideal for bringing with you to concerts, in the car, even in the movies if you felt like it. However, do so at your own risk, as these units do still smell as they produce vapor.
If you need to hide what you are doing from the people you live with or who are around, invest in a carbon filter to blow your vapor through to eliminate all smell. Obviously you couldn’t be blowing huge clouds if you are in, say, a movie theater, but if you held it in long enough, the air you breathe out would be odor free.
The biggest lie in the vaporizer market is pen “vaporizers”. These are dry herb cartridges that attach to a 510 or similarly threaded battery. These claim to be a small, hand held vape but are really just an exposed coil at the bottom of a small chamber. These vapes go onto batteries of various voltages, but they all work the same: they combust! *This is a warning to all new vapers, do research about the vapes you are going to buy, and to not trust these pen vaporizers just yet for your dry herbs.*
**There is one exception to this rule, and that is the new V2 Pro Series 3 and Series 7 pen vapes. These are the first, and at this time only pen vaporizers that can truly vape dry herb. All of the other pens on the market cannot, even if they claim to (Atmos is one brand that is notorious for saying their units can vape dry herb, but can’t – it just combusts them).**
Pen vapes are great for one thing: vaporizing concentrates. These pen-style attachments that attach to either a 510 or 610 threaded battery (normally it’s 510, but some companies use 610 and even 710 threading sometimes) just like the dry herb attachments, but they are specifically for concentrates and sold as such. Many of these vapes are similar, either having a wick to collect oilier concentrates or a coil that you can deposit the more solid concentrates on. Once loaded, it’s as simple as push a button and draw. Oil vapes are usually pretty simple machines, but the prices can vary drastically based on brand names.
Another thing about vaping is that you actually should hold it in, unlike with smoking. After you take a hit, you should continue inhaling slowly for about five seconds to move the vapor around in your lungs, then. This ensures all the active ingredients in your herbs will be fully absorbed by your body. Remember, exhaled vapor is wasted vapor, so be sure to inhale correctly to get the most out of your material.
I hope this guide is helpful to you, and please check out the links to see vaporizers in each category with reviews of each.