Vaporisers work by heating the dry herb to temperatures just shy of the combustion point. This gives a much cleaner and healthier experience by negating the chemicals given off by combustion.
How vaporising works
Vaporising dry herbs is a simple process. Most vaporisers will have a temperature control setting, By either a screen or a combination of lights showing you what temperature your vaporiser will heat up to.
As we said before, vaporising is heating up to a temperature that is below the combustion point (around 200°C) with many people suggesting that the sweet spot is around 170°C to get the most flavour and potency from your herb.
There are two main types of vaporisers on the market that heat in different ways. They both have their own pros and cons depending on what type of vaper you are and what style of vaping you prefer.
Conduction heating is where the herb comes directly into contact with a heating surface, normally a metal plate.
When the surface hits the desired temperature the herb will begin to vaporise.
As the vaporisation occurs the terpenes and cannabinoids convert into vapour and are inhaled via the mouthpiece.
Conduction vapes heat very rapidly meaning they are ready quickly after starting the device.
The downfalls of conduction vaping are not to be ignored. Combustion can occur very easily since the herb is direct contact with the heat source, meaning you have to keep on top of stirring the bowl to move the herb around.
In summary, conduction vaping is a good way to dip a toe into vaporisation; in part due to the cheaper nature of these devices.
But if budget is something that can be stretched we would always recommend having a look into convection vaping as an easier, cleaner alternative.
Convection vaping uses heated air passing over your herb rather than coming into direct contact with it.
Some great examples of convection vaporisers are the Crater 420 and its smaller brother the Crater Mini
When the air hits the correct temperature most devices will have an indicator letting you know that the device is ready to use. You can then take a hit via. the mouthpiece, hot air will flow through the chamber releasing the cannabinoids and terpenes into a vapour.
The main pros of this type of device are that the risk of combustion is significantly reduced. Other pros are that they are a lot more user-friendly for new vapers and have more accurate temperature control settings, letting you dial in the flavour and vapour production better to suit the user.
Convection vapers are only held back by the price; The more complicated the design of the device the more expensive it is.
Chemicals in smoking vs vaporising
Smoking dry herb will always have associated risks close to that of smoking cigarettes and will contain many of the chemicals found in cigarettes also. Studies have shown that switching to vaporising over combustion can greatly reduce if not completely eliminate the carcinogenic compounds given off by smoke from the dry herb. Source
Vaporising has its main benefits seen through irritation. Smoking causes irritation of the mouth, throat and lungs whereas vaporising causes a lot less damage since combustion is not present.
Flavour is one of the largest reason for people to make the switch to vaporising over smoking or combustion methods.
Terpenes are the source of flavour for cannabis. vaporising gives users the ability to adapt the temperature to change the flavour of the herb they are vaping. Each different strain has terpenes that have different boiling/vaporisation points, depending on what temperature you are vaping at you can release some terpenes and not others thus altering the flavour.
For example, linalool that has a lavender aroma will only release its full flavour profile at a higher heat(198°C) whereas other terpenes such as Myrcene(Lemon) will vaporise at a lower temperature (166°C).
Using this knowledge combined with certain flavour profiles of your dry herb you can completely customise your experience depending on temperature