Vaping cannabis oil is rapidly increasing in popularity, but dry herb vaping is nothing new; people have vaped cannabis flower for thousands of years. Indeed, the first modern dry herb vaporizers appeared in the early 1990s, and the Volcano, possibly the most well known dry herb vape in the world, has been around for nearly 20 years.
Despite this established history, most cannabis enthusiasts still stick to pre-rolls, joints and bowls – aka, methods that require combustion (i.e., flame from a lighter) to “activate” cannabinoids and terpenes. If you’re not familiar with dry herb vaping and its benefits, we’ve created this quick, simple guide to vaping marijuana.
What is dry herb vaping?
Dry herb vaping is the process of heating up cannabis flower to vaporize its trichromes, rather than igniting them via flame (combustion). By vaping weed instead of burning it, you get more of the good stuff (THC, CBD, terpenes) and less of the bad stuff (benzene, carbon monoxide).
To be clear, you’re still inhaling stuff into your lungs, but it’s a cleaner vapor with fewer contaminants than smoke from a bowl or joint. You’ll absolutely be able to taste and smell a difference between smoked and vaped marijuana, and the smoke from combustion tends to be harsher.
Why should you vape cannabis?
Vaping cannabis flower has several advantages over traditional combustion methods, like smoking joints, bowls or bongs.
- Taste: Dry herb vaping allows you to taste more terpenes than you would with regular smoking. Puffing a joint is like using a sledgehammer for sculpting, while vaping is like using a chisel. Both will get the job done, but the latter allows you to have fine-tuned control over your experience.
- Discretion: Dry herb vaporizers come in all shapes, sizes, skill levels and price ranges, but most portable vapes are small enough to easily fit in your pocket or purse. Vaping also leaves less of a cloud than combustion. Many vapes are “on demand,” meaning you can take draws when you want instead of a huge smoke session.
- A gift that keeps on giving: Vaping cannabis is so nice, you can use the bud twice! Already vaped bud (AVB, also known as duff or ABV, for Already Been Vaped) can be vaped again and/or used for cooking – using AVB in your cannabutter recipe instead of “fresh” flower allows you to skip the decarb step. Don’t smoke AVB though; trust us, you’ll regret it.
Dry herb vaping is also more environmentally friendly than vaping cannabis oil via disposable cartridges. When you vape flower, there’s pretty much nothing to throw away when you’re done.
How does dry herb vaping work?
In the simplest terms, cannabinoids and terpenes vaporize at specific temperatures. Dry herb vaporizers let you heat the plant material – many models come with temperature controls – to those specific temperatures. Once heated, the terpenes and cannabinoids in the trichromes become an inhalable vapor.
The effects and type of vapor you get depend on how hot and how long you heat your cannabis. Lower temperatures vaporize terpenes first and generally lead to tasty but mellower hits. Hotter temps vaporize THC and CBD and lead to bigger, more potent draws of vapor. However, that vapor is also hotter and may be somewhat tougher on your throat or lungs.
What you’ll need for vaping cannabis flower
The specific instructions for loading, using and cleaning your vaporizer will vary depending on the model you choose. For the best vaping experience, you’ll need the following items:
- Your dry herb vape of choice (see below for a few recommendations)
- Your favorite strain(s) of cannabis (the terpy the better)
- A grinder
- A funnel or other loading tool, like a grinder pick or Lego shovel
- An airtight glass jar to store your AVB
- Isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs for cleaning your vaporizer
Tips for getting better draws from your dry herb vape
- Go for a fine grind: You should already be grinding your bud before you smoke – ground bud burns more evenly – but it’s particularly important with weed you plan to vape with. Ground weed has more surface area for the vape’s heating elements to do their work.
- Don’t pack the vape too tight: Generally, less is more here. Packing your bud tightly in your vape limits the surface area exposed to the heating elements. That makes it harder for the hot air to reach those precious trichromes.
- Stir the bud after a few draws: Give your weed a stir about halfway through your session to ensure all of the weed is exposed to heat and being vaped.
- Test out a few different temperatures: If you have a vape with controllable temperature levels, try different temps to see what you like. Higher temps = bigger hits, and lower temps = tastier hits. Everyone has their own preference; check the chart below for some ideal vape temperatures for terpenes, CBD and THC.
- Clean your vape components often: Vaping marijuana leaves less resin than combustion does, but to ensure your vape’s performance and lifespan, clean everything regularly.
Vape points of major cannabinoids and terpenes
Here’s a quick reference chart for the vape temperature, signature effects and taste of common cannabis terpenes and cannabinoids.
|THC||Gettin’ high (psychoactive and euphoric feelings)||N/A||315℉ (168℃)|
|CBD||Pain relief, anxiety relief||N/A||356℉ (158℃)|
|Myrcene||Relaxation, gettin’ higher (enhances THC effects)||Musk, cloves, herbal||334℉ (168℃)|
|Pinene||Focus/concentration, energy/alertness||Pine, citrus, sweet||311℉ (155℃)|
|Limonene||Euphoria, stress relief||Citrus, lemon, orange||349℉ (176℃)|
|Beta-Carophyllene||Anti-inflammatory, anxiety relief||Pepper, cloves, basil||320℉ (160℃)|
|Linalool||Sedation, relaxation||Floral, spice, citrus||388℉ (198℃)|
|Humulene||Anti-inflammatory, appetite suppression||Woody, earthy, hops||388℉ (198℃)|
How do I know if my bud is “done vaping”?
Completely vaped marijuana will be brown, brittle and dry, and smell toasted. You should see little to no green plant material; if you do, stir the chamber and take a few more draws to fully vape the material.
How to Choose the Right Dry Herb Vape
There are dozens of vaporizers on the market, so how do you choose the right vape for you? Finding the best dry herb vape for your liking depends on several factors:
Where you want to vape
Dry herb vapes come in both desktop and portable versions, so begin by determining your “location.” Are you vaping at home? Do you want a portable option for vacation or other travel?
Your price point
Once you know which type of vape you’d like, decide how much you want to spend. For instance, a simple vape from DynaVap starts at $60, while fancier models with digital temperature controls can cost you upwards of $350. A desktop vaporizer like the Volcano Classic will set you back nearly $500.
Your prior experience with vapes and your dexterity
Smaller vapes like those from DynaVap are value-priced options to see if you like vaping; however, they use a torch as a heating element. If you have trouble with your hands, a using butane flame to heat metal is probably not the best option. Higher-priced, battery-powered vaporizers use convection and conduction heating methods, eliminating the risk of burning yourself.
How much you want to vape
Will you be vaping solo, or with others? Are you a daily smoker, or more intermittent? If you plan on having group vape sessions, a vaporizer with a larger capacity (chamber) like the DaVinci IQ would be better suited than something like the DynaVap line.
Your interest in concentrates
Some vapes only work with dry herb; others also have the capability to vaporize cannabis concentrates like shatter and wax. Combo vapes tend to cost a bit more due to their versatility.
Unfortunately, not all vapes are created equal. There are many inferior knockoffs out there, so only purchase a vape from a reputable shop or website. Online re-sellers like Puff It Up and Planet of the Vapes are also safe options, where you’ll get what you pay for.
A warning: Do NOT buy vaporizers from eBay. The auction site is filled with counterfeit vaporizers that could expose you to dangerous chemicals and other contaminants. Stick to reputable, trustworthy sellers.
A few dry herb vapes we like
Don’t feel like thinking? Just want to get to vaping? Here are three great choices for portable vapes at three different price points.
- Budget: DynaVap M: A straightforward, extremely portable pen-style vape that’s great for backpacking, hiking and camping. As mentioned, this vape uses a torch lighter as a heating element, but hey, it’ll also light your campfire.
- Intermediate: Fury 2: This battery-powered, portable vape has a digital temperature control range from 320-430℉, is small enough to fit in your pocket, and is easy to load and empty. The Fury 2 is our favorite “vape for dummies” because of just how easy it is to use.
- High-End: Mighty: Like the name says, this vape is pretty powerful, with a temperature range of 104-410℉, and a pretty large chamber for your herb.
A tip: before you purchase a vape, check for online coupons. Sites like RetailMeNot often have codes to save you a bit of cash on your purchase.
So there you have it: everything you need to know about dry herb vaping. Have more questions? Ask them in the comments or hit us up @cannabisandcaff on Twitter!