It is most likely that by now you have heard about this new trend called ‘vaping’, one of the most googled words for a few years in a row in the last decade.
If you have stumbled upon these intriguing devices on the internet and you were wondering what they are and how they work, then you have come to the right place.
This ultimate guide to dry herb vaporizers contains all the pieces of information, that we have gathered over the course of the years within the industry. We believe that this article, is a comprehensive source of knowledge for you to find everything you want to know about the topic, whether you are just simply curious or thinking about purchasing your first vape.
From the very basic principles of vaping all the way to the different type of devices, their functions, and useful accessories we tried to include everything so, let’s dive right in.
What is a vaporizer?
So basically, it is an electronic device that heats up the substance to the point where its active compounds, aromas, and other natural ingredients are being extracted in the form of vapor. This vapor then can be inhaled through the mouthpiece of the vaporizer.
Vaporizers come in many different shapes and sizes, with different specs and functionalities, depending on our individual needs.
At this point we need to mention that the vape industry is split into two very different types of devices both confusingly called vapes.
These two major categories are Dry Herb Vapes and Liquid Vapes (also referred to as e-liquid or e-juice vapes).
The main difference between the two is that Dry herb vaporizers, also known as loose-leaf or weed vaporizers are heating the actual herbs in their natural form while liquid vaporizers are heating a liquid to produce an aerosol that users inhale into their lungs
What is a dry herb vaporizer?
To put it into simple terms, think of it like a device that features a miniature oven. It heats up and maintains a temperature that is much lower than what is needed for combustion but hot enough to release the active ingredients and flavors from the herb without burning it in the process. No burning means no smoke which should be healthier, right? I’ll let you decide for yourself;
It is most likely that by now you have heard about all the negative health implications of smoking. Burning a substance, whether it is tobacco in a cigarette or hemp will inevitably produce potentially harmful byproducts that will end up in your body.
Vaporizers were created with the purpose of avoiding the combustion thus avoiding the inhalation of smoke and its negative side-effects while allowing users to still enjoy the beneficial ingredients of herbs. One could say it is smoking without the actual smoke.
So, how is vaporizing different from smoking?
What is vaporizing?
In this age of acute awareness, more and more people are transitioning towards vaping and away from traditional smoking in part because of the increasingly bad reputation of smoking but also because these sleek little devices called vapes are becoming more efficient and easier to use.
As we mentioned above, the secret is in the difference in temperature. Vaping devices usually have the highest temperature setting anywhere between 200- 445°F, while the burnt substance during smoking can reach up to 2100 °F.
From cigarette combustion you will inhale several toxic chemicals and carcinogens that can cause health issues. Therefore vaporizing is widely considered to be a better alternative to smoking.
The consensus of people who try dry herb vaporizing for the first time is that they don’t see as many clouds as with regular smoking. This is completely normal since we are only noticing the vapor cloud that is released from the plant matter. This is a much thinner cloud which tastes and looks very distinct from smoke.
We never fail to notice: ‘the way the herbs smell is the same as it will taste in the vaporizer’. That is the beauty of vaping, it offers the possibility to fully taste the flavors of the herb without the stingy after taste of smoke.
Studies showed that vaping might also be the more efficient method of extracting compounds like THC and CBD by attributed the fact that the release of these active ingredients happen more slowly in a controlled way as opposed to burning where up to 25% of the same compounds are destroyed before it can be inhaled.
Finally let us not forget about the AVB, the so called already vaped bud that can be re-used as edibles or tea whereas by burning the herbs we would be only left with ash.
What is a desktop vaporizer?
These are the bigger versions of vapes for your home, definitely not pocket-size. Talking about pockets, these are also more expensive devices.
They are large and powerful, delivering long sessions. However, they need to be plugged into power outlets.
A desktop vape is not something, that you just pick up and take anywhere. They can hold a large amount of plant substance, and since they are using convection heating, they cook your herb nice and even.
What is a portable dry herb vaporizer?
If you would like to vape outside the comfort of your home and need something that is easy to carry around and slips right into your pocket, portable loose leaf vapes will be your best friends.
PLEASE NOTE: portable vapes still come in many different sizes so make sure you choose one that is really portable by your standards.
These devices are technologically advanced and still able to deliver great sessions. They are battery operated units so you will only need a wall socket to recharge.
Some feature removable batteries, and others built-in batteries. The pros of having a removable one is that you can take one or more spare batteries with you for when you’re on-the-go longer. On the contrary it is usually bigger in size, than the ones that have built-in battery.
So, these units are usually discrete and can be used anywhere, depending on the herbs you are using them with. Despite their smaller size, they are very functional and able to deliver.
You will also find dry herb vapes, that look and function more like a pipe in the sense that they require an external heat source instead of a battery, so they are completely analog.
The heat source, such as a torch lighter is used to heat up the outside of an enclosed chamber which contains the herbs that are being vaporized. This way the plant matter is not exposed directly to the flames thus combustion is avoided.
What is a liquid vaporizer or vape pen?
Vape pens are usually simpler devices, then dry herb vapes. Most E-liquids vapes use a simple coil to heat up and evaporate the liquids, so vape pens don’t need to be as sophisticated.
This vape pen also allows you to vaporize wax!
Usually, there are 1- 3 temp settings. They can be small and more portable than the portable herbal vaporizers. E-juices or e-liquids are made with the purpose of delivering a concentrated amount of nicotine, CBD or THC. The e-liquid’s substance is mixed with a carrier oil (Propylene Glycol (PG), Vegetable Glycerin (VG), Distilled Water) to achieve the perfect vaporizable form and they come in many different strengths and flavors.
How do dry herb vaporizers work?
Dry herb vapes use either conduction or convection heating to turn the chemical compounds of your substance into vapor.
Pure convection vaporizers, like the AirVape Legacy, use hot air. The hot air accumulates under the heating chamber and only when inhaled, that air flows thought the chamber and distributes heat to the herbs, until the cannabinoids are released in the form of vapor.
During conduction heating, the chamber itself is getting heated up and releases cannabinoids at the desired temperature.
What is the key difference between conduction and convection?
How to use a dry herb vaporizer?
With almost all dry herb vaporizers you need to grind your cannabis before packing the heating chamber.
- Step 1: GRIND
Use a three-layer grinder if you are an advanced vaper and you would like to vape at very low temperatures. Remember, fine grinding means, you must be extra careful not to overheat the herbs.
Use a two-layer grinder, if you just want to keep it simple and you are beginner or advanced. it doesn’t matter! Either way, you should grind your herbs for easy heating.
Say no to taking the pieces apart with your fingers. You can thank me later! :) But really, the reason why we grind the herbs is to achieve an even heating throughout the chamber.
- Step 2: PACK
Now, you can pack the chamber. It is always a big question, how to pack it. Tight or loose? Maybe somewhere in-between?
Well, it is not only preference, but it also depends on the vape, and to be more exact – the type of heating and the airflow of it. With conduction vapes you should grind the herbs finely enough to be able to spread it evenly across the chamber. In the case of convection, you can go a bit coarser but in neither cases should you pack the chamber excessively tight as to block the flowing of air.
How to check if you packed the chamber too tight?
- Take a deep draw from your vape with an empty chamber. Notice the draw resistance of the empty air path 2. Pack the chamber tight.
- Draw air from the mouthpiece and compare the draw resistance to that of the empty chamber.
- If its close, (+/- 20% difference) you are good to go! If the airflow feels restricted. (50%+ difference), then you probably over-packed or compressed the herbs too tight.
- Step 3: PUFF
Close the vape (put the mouthpiece back on or close the chamber) and turn it on. It is recommended to start at a lower temperature. Marijuana vaporizes best between 338°F - 410°F (170°C and 210°C).
Once the device reaches the ideal temperature, you should inhale deeply and slowly. At a lower temp, you will be able to taste the full flavor of the herb, but at higher temps you will experience more vapor clouds. The best dry herb vapes out there produce a nice cloud, but don’t expect something that you would see from an eLiquid vape pen. Remember, those devices use PG, to boost the amount of vapor.
How to see more vapor cloud from my dry herb vape?
Other than raising the temperature and sacrificing the flavor, there is a little trick for increasing the amount of cloud produced by your vape: put 1-2 drops of eLiquid on top of the herbs.
With one load you are usually able to take 5-10 hits (1 session) before the dry herb is evenly cooked and ready to be replaced.
If the fresh, green substance turned into light brown and nicely toasted, you did a good job. Dark, burnt, ashy leftover means you combusted the herb.
How should dry herb vapor taste?
This might come as a surprise, but a successful vape session can produce an all too familiar scent. Nicely vaped herb tastes like they smell, with a hint of popcorn smell/taste.
How can I choose the best vaporizer for my needs?
There are many people, with many different needs, and there are just as many loose-leaf vapes on the market. It’s almost overwhelming. Let us try to help you a little bit with making the best possible decision, so let’s see what you need to consider before choosing the right one
1. What is your price range?
The prices of dry herb vaporizers can range from as low as $60 up to $300-$400. Sometimes the good old saying “you get what you pay for” applies here too, but luckily, that’s not the case all the time. If you are new and don't know how often you are going to use the vape, or not even sure if you are going to stick with it, you can find a good quality vaporizer for up to $100.
If you are more experienced and using it often choose something around the mid-range. If this vape is going to be your full-time partner, and you need high performance, durability, and great battery life, go up on the price ladder. Beware of dry herb vaporizers for under $50 for there’s a high probability of a low-quality device. These vapes often use cheap, chemically infused materials, that can melt or evaporate when heated. It is tricky to know what to buy as your first vape, so it is usually recommended to start out with a device that has a simple, user friendly interface and grab a more sophisticated unit once we you are more accustomed with the subtle art of vaping.
2. How often do you want to use it?
Where you find yourself to be on the spectrum of vaping frequency, should play a role in deciding which device is best for you.
Do you vape daily, just a couple of times a week or maybe you’re only an occasional vaper?
You should look at it like say, when you’re buying a car. Your driving habits will determine what type of car is best for you, right? Same thing with your vaporizer. For frequent, high dosage vaping you should look at units that are built to handle that type of usage.
If you are going to use it only in the comfort of your home, battery life won’t even matter that much since you can recharge with ease.
If you fall somewhere in the middle with your vaping habits and like to switch it up sometimes you might be looking for a vape that does it all.
A high-end portable, hybrid vaporizer that can handle larger amounts but ideal also for micro-dosing, has a respectable battery life, maybe even the removable kind so you can prepare for longer trips. Sometimes it might even help for it to have the wireless charging capability like the AirVape Legacy.
3. Where are you using it most of the time?
Are you the type, who likes to hit it at home at night or do you love your vape on-the-go?
Do you need to be discreet with it, or that doesn’t really factor in for you?
If you know you are going to have sessions at home, you probably need to worry less about the size and the weight of the vaporizer.
However, if you need to have access anytime, anywhere you might be looking for a sleek, light weight, pocket size devices. For example, the AirVape X is our thinnest vaporizer, that comes with a smell proof, dirt proof, splash proof hard case for extra discretion.
You also want to consider bowl size if you are often on the move since you might not always able to easily refill your vape.
4. Do you like on-demand or session mode?
The main difference between on-demand and session vapes is the way you consume your material.
Session vapes usually have a preset session time (3-5minutes) and during this time the vaporizer reaches the required temperature and keeps that temp until it shuts off. You will be trying to take as many draws as you can, since the herb won’t stop cooking while it sits idle.
One load of the chamber is enough for one session. During on-demand mode, the vape only heats the herb while you are using it, taking a hit.
Between draws, it doesn’t cook the herb, so one load of the chamber can be used more than once, without wasting anything.
If you are the type of person who likes to take only one or two draws and come back later, on-demand could be your answer. Also, on-demand vapes are designed to heat up and cool down very quickly. High-quality vapes can offer both on-demand and session mode in one device as well.
5. Are you using it by yourself or are you gonna share it?
If you plan to share your vape sessions with other people, your best bet is probably a desktop vaporizer. They are great for home sessions. They can take more load, they are more powerful, and can be passed around. However, they might require some more experience, so it’s a good idea to start it with someone more advanced in the vaping game.
What can you vape besides Marijuana?
Thyme (302–374°F, 150–190°C)
It is a cleansing herb for your lungs.It can help heal respiratory infections such as the flu, whooping cough, or bronchitis. It's a strong antiseptic as well.
Basil (266°F, 130C°)
It helps alleviate gas, bloating, cramping, and other digestive discomforts. Also good for releasing tension in the body.
Lemon Balm (288°F, 142°C)
It is commonly used to help gastrointestinal issues, the nervous system, and liver issues. Lemon Balm is also said to help aid in blood circulation and restless sleep.
Eucalyptus (266°F, 130°C)
It is believed to be one of the more effective antibacterial herbs to vape. The pleasant aroma of eucalyptus can be helpful for those with an upset stomach, cold, or lung infection.
Peppermint (320°F, 160°C)
This is one of the top herbs used by people who want something other than “dry herb” in their vaporizer. It is often used in conjunction with herbs that may have health benefits, but don’t taste very good.
Lavender (212°F, 100 °C)
Vaporizing lavender acts as a quick mood elevator and can uplift those suffering from depression. It has potent antibacterial properties. Helps with pain relief and relaxation.
Hops ( 320°F, 160°C)
Most people only know about hops from drinking beer, but it is also one of the best herbs to vape for restlessness, tension, and excitability. Hops offer a mild euphoric feeling with their complex flavor profile, making this the best dry herb to vape for beer enthusiasts.
Kava Root (284°F, 140 °C)
Kava is a tropical herb from the islands of the pacific ocean. Thanks to its muscle relaxing properties it has recently become one of the more popular herbs to vape. High heat (combustion) destroys its compounds, so people used to drink it as tea, before dry herb vapes become popular.
Raspberry Leaf 374°F (190°C)
If you’re in need of reliving your sore throat or common cold, Raspberry Leaf is here to help you out. It is a longstanding herbal remedy for gastrointestinal tract disorders and respiratory system problems.
In this next section we gathered the most frequently asked questions about vaporizers for you:
Why are dry herb vaporizers so expensive?
A few reasons.
It depends a lot on the quality of manufacturing and the warranty program that backs it up. These can hide lots of extra expenses for the manufacturing company.
Also, vaporizers are not only using advanced technology but the research and development that goes around the fast-paced industry that requires an always up-to-date model.
The engineering to fit the latest technology in the smallest body possible also adds to the final price tag plus the high-quality materials that are used to build the unit.
Why invest in vaping rather than smoking?
Simply put vaping is considered healthier than combustion-based methods, of course these vapes would have to be to be built from quality materials that are not going to expel dangerous byproducts at high temperatures. Higher quality always comes with a higher price tag but when it comes to products that can affect our health, we need to be considerate. On the other hand, you can save in a long run, since you need very little substance to get the same results, that you would get from smoking.
Does dry herb vaping hurt your lungs?
This is a yes and no kind of answer. Human lungs are meant to breathe in fresh air. Period. However, if we compare vaporizing to smoking, the intuitive answer matches the one that was suggested by many studies which is that inhaling smoke into your lungs is far more detrimental than vapor. However, some substances like THC are irritants to your throat no matter how you inhale them so even vaping can cause coughing in some people. You also need to take into consideration that by vaping you are inhaling dry, hot air which can slightly irritate the throat and lungs so beware of the temperature your vaping at, if you notice discomfort try to lower the heat. If you are unsure have or had any kind of respiratory complications, we recommend consulting your doctor.
Should I buy a dry herb vaporizer?
Do dry herb vaporizers smell?
That depends on your substance. Vapor doesn’t stick your clothes as smoke, so you won’t smell nasty. However, if you vaporize the cannabis plant, you can smell the fresh, ground plant from your vaporizer. Lots of vapes have smell proof cases though.
Are dry herb vaporizers safe?
Are dry herb vaporizers healthy?
Dry herb vaporizers have sophisticated electronic systems, that evenly heat your herb to the point where cannabinoids are released. That's what you inhale with air. There are several opinions on whether it’s completely healthy or not, but the fact is that vaping avoids the inhaling of the toxic byproducts of burning so simply put, there’s no smoke involved or a number of nasty chemicals, that you would get from smoking.
Does It Feel Different Using A Dry Herb Vaporizer Compared To Smoking?
Yes, it does.
Since you are combusting the herbs, when smoking, you get a harsher taste, more visible smoke, and the burnt scent tends to linger and stick to your finger, clothes, hair, etc.
Vaporizing is more discreet.
With a lower temp, you don’t combust your herb, just release cannabinoids, terpenes, natural oils. These tend to be more flavorful, smell way better, and vapor is not as visible as smoke. They also have different effects; some people believe burning gives them a stronger high while others claim vaping is way more potent than smoking and it provides a cleaner high.
How long does an average vaping session last?
3-10 minutes, depending on your vaporizer's bowl size and the temperature you are vaping at. In one session, the vaporizer heats up to a chosen temp, then keeps the device at that temperature while you are taking hits. With full conduction heating the herb is still being cooked between draws, so you can go through a bowl faster, then with a full convection or on-demand vaporizer.
Can I stop during a vaping session and then come back later?
You can do that with a convection/on-demand vaporizer.
A session vape heats the herb through an extended period, even if you don’t hit it. While you are vaping on-demand, the vaporizer heats only when you are taking a draw and then cools back down. That allows you to hit it once or twice, then come back later to it, without your material becoming completely cooked.
How do you know when you have used all the dry herb in a bowl?
When you got the most out of your plant, it starts to taste like burnt popcorn. If you look at it, you will see that the fresh, green material turned into a nice, light brown, evenly cooked substance. If it is too dark, ashy, with a harsh smell, you have probably overdone it..
What’s the best way to clean a dry herb vaporizer?
First remove the pieces, soak them for 30 minutes to an hour, then let them completely dry on a paper towel.
If your vaporizer has non-removable parts use a cotton swab.
Dip it into rubbing alcohol then gently rub the pieces until they are clean.
Let the alcohol evaporate completely.
Accessories can be extremely useful to customize and enhance your overall vaping experience. The number of accessories that can be used with a certain vape depends on the functionalities of that device. Some of the most popular accessories are things like water bubblers (also called water bong attachments), protective carry cases, replacement batteries, grinders, different mouthpieces, packing capsules and even wireless power banks.
Most vaporizer kits include some replacement parts, such as extra screens, micro-dosing baskets, or wax pad insert for oils/concentrates, rubber gaskets. Hold onto those since they might come handy in the future, but you can always purchase more replacement parts on the manufacturer’s website.
You need a grinder to break your herb into smaller pieces so it can be efficiently vaporized.
You want a good, easy to use, well-built grinder, made from quality materials. Cheap grinders can have small pieces break off and get mixed with your herbs which is something you absolutely want to avoid.
Your best bet is going to be stainless steel in this case. You can read more about grinders here.
Most vaporizers will come with a cleaning kit. If they don’t, you just need a tiny brush to clean off some sticky leftover from the chamber. Get some cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol as well, and you are good to go. If you want to dive into this deeper, you can do that here.
Replacement battery, Wireless Power Bank
Some vapes have removable batteries, some are built in. In both cases you can’t go wrong with a power bank, that is always ready to give some extra juice to your device. If your battery is removable, it is a good idea to have some spares around so you can just swap them out whenever you need to.
However dry herb vaping can seem intimidating at first, it is really an easy, user-friendly way of ditching smoking, or using cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Hopefully, with this guide, we could answer your main questions and help you out.
Remember mastering something takes practice. So just jump right in and learn from your own experiences.