Experienced user or not, all the cannabis users wonder what is the safest way to consume cannabis. Here, let’s talk a little bit about the differences between smoking and vaporizing.
Smoking an old school joint or using a vaporizer: what would be better? Maybe your joint will have a lower cost in the short term and you don’t feel ready to invest in a vape. But when you start thinking about your health, the safest way to consume this plant and the preservation of cannabinoids and terpenes, vaporization is the right choice!
In this post, we will explain better to you how these two processes happen. After all, Harm Reduction starts with a conscious choice, made with information! Shall we learn more about this together?
Vapor X smoke
Well, to start differentiating vaporization from combustion, we can mention the results: when you vaporize, you inhale the vapor of the substance. With combustion, the product that will stop in your lungs is smoke. While in the steam you find particles of water and your extract, or dried leaves, in the smoke you have several potentially toxic substances – such as soot, tar, small pieces of paper, among others.
So we can say that vaporization is a cleaner and safer way to consume cannabis. But this only applies if you have the right equipment!
In vaporization, another very positive point is being able to control the temperature of the vapor, which is the main key of this process. Choosing the right equipment for this is important: this way, you can select a temperature where the properties you want are preserved.
In a simplistic explanation, the less heat, the more the terpenes are able to express themselves – because, as you may remember, these are quite volatile compounds! But careful not to have such a lower temperature that nothing will come out of it – you need a low temperature but the right one
The very high temperatures generated by combustion are also risk factors for several diseases – both in the throat, larynx and pharynx and in the lungs. Therefore, we always remember that, if you are going to make a traditional base, use the long cigarette tips. They help cool the smoke on its way to the throat, reducing damage along the way.
Thinking of patients with some specific conditions, vaporization is the most recommended as well.
Equipment for vaporizing
All this talk made you want to invest in a vaporizer but you’re in doubt about which one to choose? Here, we talk a little about each type of vaporizer available:
Vape pen, or electronic cigarette
Vape pens are called that because of their shape – and are also known as electronic cigarettes. They are discreet and one of the cheapest options for those who want to start vaping, and that is why they are usually the first step for people who are leaving the paper aside.
A very common problem with this type of equipment is that, as the heat source is usually directly in contact with the oil, it can burn it instead of evaporating it. It is not so simple to regulate the temperature in vaporizers of this type. Therefore, it is essential to learn how to operate them in the right way. This way, you can ensure that your oil is not burning – which makes any attempted for a Harm Reduction approach further away.
Portable vaporizers are also super popular, and they usually win the hearts of those who use them. They are discreet, fit in your pocket, and already work in a more complex way than vape pens. Nor do they leave that same scent trail as smoke, which allows you to consume your cannabis in a more discreet way – which is very important to ensure our safety.
There are already portable vaporizers with different functionality, which allow you to use dry cannabis or even concentrates.. Always check this possibility before buying! Also prefer the models with temperature control. They are the vast majority on the market today, and give you a lot more autonomy when choosing how to consume your cannabis
Table vaporizers are perfect for those who love to vaporize with friends. They can be transported, but they need electricity to work – so they are less practical than other battery models.
They are widely used by medicinal pacients. Even people with lung cancer that need cannabis are a got fit for a table vaporizer like the Volcano. The volcano ensures that any vapor is lost since all of is “stored” in a plastic bag.
Glass rigs can also be a tool to vaporize! For those who like to take a dab to consume concentrates, these bongs are perfect. There are options with titanium nails (which we do not enjoy) glass nails, or our favorite: quartz! This “nail” is where the concentrate is placed, after being heated with the help of a torch. That done, wait some seconds to cool down the surface and just breathe in the vapor through the dome of the bong and pull slowly
If you’re not ready to invest in a vaporizer yet, let’s give you some tips for choosing the best smoking gear – and doing less damage.
The traditional rolling paper is the ideal one to wrap your smoke. Choose thin papers, with good transparency, or brown paper- it does not go through whitening processes, and therefore it does not have as many chemicals in the composition.
Our biggest tip is to do a little test: when buying rolling papers, burn a unit on a saucer or white plate. The less leftover residue, the better and safer the paper is!
The use of bongs can be a great option for cannabis consumption! Water plays an important role in decreasing the temperature of the smoke, and it also helps in filtering out impurities. Thus, it helps to minimize the possible damage caused by inhaling a smoke created from the combustion process. Bongs that fit ice cubes are also perfect for cooling that smoke!
Always prefer glass bongs; with any other material, you run the risk of deterioration due to the temperature. Waste can mix with the smoke, and you may end up inhaling it in the process.
Oh, and remember that this only applies if the bong is sanitized!
Pipes, just like bongs, come in a variety of designs, sizes and materials! The glass ones are the ones we like to recommend, precisely because there is no risk of loosening residues in your herb.
What about temperatures?
Some studies suggest that the ideal point for vaporizing cannabis is around 170ºC. At this temperature, cannabinoids active in cannabis are converted to vapor and can be inhaled. When smoked, the temperature can exceed 800°C – which is why smoke is more harmful in that sense.
Although the amount of components released depends on the vaporized herb and the temperature, in lower degrees, we can achieve a satisfactory amount of cannabinoids and terpenes, and zero carcinogens. On the contrary, when we smoke, we can lose the form of expression of various substances present in the herb, and we still inhale components that are harmful to our health.
So even vaporizing brick weed is better when it comes to Harm Reduction (even more so if it is well washed and cleaned)!
The tip is: as the terpenes evaporate at a lower temperature, adjust the vaporizer to about 140°C. That way, you take advantage of all the aromas and flavors that your cannabis can provide, and also gain all the therapeutic benefits of your herb’s cannabinoid profile. Wonderful to have this experience, right?
Here, we have a temperature line, showing an average of when each terpene and cannabinoid is expressed:
Points to be aware of
As we already said here on the blog, when it comes to vaporizing, we cannot forget that no territory is 100% safe – especially when we choose to use a substance that does not come from a regulated market or wasn’t done by ourselves.
On October 29, 2019, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – USA) identified 1,888 cases of lung diseases related to “vaping” in almost all American states. The exact cause of the disease has not yet been determined, but one possibility is irregular market cartridges contaminated with vitamin E acetate.
Raw cannabis oil is too thick to work on some vapes. For this reason, producers add diluents to make it the ideal consistency for vaping. Recently, as customers realized that this oil was weaker; the producers started adding a thickener to give the illusion that it is more “natural”.
The user ends up with a THC cartridge that has been cut twice, and tragically, the thickener is also deposited in the lungs, possibly causing the disease. This excellent article reported that up to 60% of THC cartridges in the irregular market could be contaminated.
Therefore, our tips are:
Always prefer dried weed or extracts that isn’t pre packed in a cartridge
Always read the vaporizer specifications before purchasing.
As much as the brick weed is a lower quality cannabis, it is still preferable when compared to the pens refills. We are in a prohibitionist country, with no minimum quality control. At least with the dry cannabis we can see, touch and understand the components!
So, did you understand a little about the differences between smoking and vaporizing? If we could give you some advice, it would be: invest in a good vaporizer when you can! It can make a good difference both in the expression of your cannabis and in your health. And, if you choose to smoke, remember to be careful when choosing materials and using Harm Reduction instruments. Making a conscious choice is the key to a good trip!