Why Are Many Seasoned Heads Turning Back to Vaporizing Cannabis?
There was a time when vaporizing cannabis always seemed to produce nothing but those nasty Orville Redenbacher popcorn terps no matter what strain of flower you were using or how finely you ground it up.
Whether it was a fancy tabletop herbal vaporizer, or when handheld herbal vape pens first hit the scene, it always felt like a lot of work and long waits for small puffs with questionable results.
In recent years, however, the vape game has certainly changed and now is a better time than ever to consider convection instead of combustion not just for safety, but to maximize the effects of your high potency buds.
Herbal vape pens in particular have made major advancements as far as effectiveness and ease of use, and with a massive rush of new cannabis users flooding legal markets domestically and around the globe, the ultra-discreet nature of vaporizing is sure to continue to be a popular form of consumption.
A common perception is that vaporizing dried herb must be safer than smoking an equivalent amount due to the fact that no organic plant matter like leaves or stems are lit on fire in a vaporizer.
Instead, convection heating is used which basically uses a virtual vortex of heated air to raise the temperature inside the chamber just enough to activate and release the unique cannabinoids and terpene profiles from whatever strain is packed within.
Since there is no combustion during this process, there is no smoke and no ash, just a faint vapor and a chamber full of brownish looking leftover herb that cannot be re-vaped or smoked, but can be useful for edibles.
But does it work?
From 5,000+ years of experience, mankind is certain that smoking cannabis works. But vaporizing is a relatively new tech and early versions fell short of most cannabis connoisseurs’ hopes and expectations.
However, with legalization has come some long overdue research into all aspects of the plant, including delivery methods to determine the optimal way to saturate one’s cannabinoid receptors with desired compounds like THC and CBD.
When voters in Colorado and Washington legalized the adult recreational use of cannabis in 2014 it opened the floodgates for not only legal grow ops and storefront dispensaries, but also for some much needed studies.
Beginning in 2015, we began to see some legit studies released in highly respected peer-reviewed journals investigating the highs and the lows of vaping your buds versus smoking them and the results are pretty conclusive.
While the methodology and the intent behind most of these independent studies varies, they all conclude that vaporizing cannabis is a viable method of ingesting THC and that it is in many cases a more effective way to consume.
In a merging of technology and science, we have determined that of all major desirable compounds in cannabis, THC has the lowest boiling point at 315°F. At that temperature, your finely ground flower will begin to emit a relatively low but noticeable level of THC as well as other flavonoids and terpenes.
Somewhere between 450-550°F, THC will combust, which sort of defeats much of the purpose of vaping.
But as we know, cannabis is about so much more than just THC. The full spectrum of cannabinoid profiles found from plant to plant is what makes each strain so unique.
So when we learn that THCV, the “sports car of cannabinoids”, does not boil until it reaches 428°F and is not fully activated until around 465°F, we can begin to dial in our vaporizer to an ideal temperature for ideal results.
This is just one example of the wide range of cannabinoids aside from CBD and THC that make up the full spectrum of the plant.
A study released just last year concluded that vaping cannabis is not only more powerful than smoking it, but that it may be a health risk for some users due to the increased potency.
Mother Nature has our back, though! That’s the beauty of cannabis – you can find a new strain. If the couch-locking psychoactive effects are too intense from a gassy OG strain, seek out a sativa with African landrace heritage like Durban Poison and see if a more clear-headed high from THCV is more your style.
With the right vaporizer and the right strain, you can decide how high your temperature will be and how high you will be.
FRESH BUD vs. DRY CONCENTRATES
We love them both.
Give us a perfectly flushed and cured bud, clearly grown with care, trichomes shining like diamonds as you turn it over in your hands in admiration… or delicious bubble hash, sift, and kief – high potency byproducts from high quality nugs. You might not be able to dab them, but vaping them can be an incredibly heady experience altogether unique from doing so with flowers.
There is nothing really comparable to loading a vape pen with some top-shelf wax or shatter, but for those who try to steer clear of BHO, vaping traditional dry concentrates like hash and kief can get you pretty darn close.
Those shiny crystals on your buds are trichomes – picture a tiny tree trunk with a bulb on top. Inside that bulb is where the magic happens and where the majority of the cannabinoid profile for the strain is stored.
Kief is most often produced by rubbing or moving whole or ground buds across a fine mesh metal or cloth screen. The holes in the mesh allow the broken off heads of the trichomes to pass through but keep the stripped plant material separated on top. The resulting golden powder beneath the screen is kief – a dry concentrate that typically clocks in around 30-50% THC. You probably have some in your grinder right now!
Another way of splitting those trich heads from the plant is through a different form of mechanical separation – ice water agitation. By using clean water and large amounts of ice, the trichome heads are frozen and broken off intact from the plant. From there they pass through a series of finer and finer mesh screens, producing higher and higher grade hash all the way down.
The resulting collections of ice water hash are then properly dried and can also carry well over 50% THC all without the use of any solvents other than water.
With a higher overall concentrated THC content than the flower it is created from, and with new research telling us that vaping is the most effective way to inhale THC, you can imagine how hard-hitting this experience with dry concentrates can be.
But not all users are looking for that extremely heady effect from such a THC burst.
Anytime you perform an extraction process on the cannabis plant – be it via solvent or mechanical separation – you disrupt the delicate balance that nature has bestowed upon that particular strain of this powerful plant.
Extraction specialists are getting better by the day at mirroring the exact profiles from the plants they start with but there is a reason why, for many people, a perfectly rolled joint is so much more satisfying than a fat dab. We call it the Entourage Effect.
For the same reasons that full spectrum cannabis extracts are the most healing versions of that form of medicine, vaporizing the full spectrum of the specific cannabinoid and terpene profile directly from the flower itself is the most effective way to take it all in the way nature created it.