Vaping 101 — How to Safely Vape Marijuana
If you’re new to medical marijuana (MMJ), chances are you are new to vaping. And as a newbie to MMJ, you may want to get to know vaping. Why? Because cannabis flower has a lot to offer. There are many different strains to try — according to your medical needs and your personal tastes.
And vaping is a comfortable, flavorful, and pleasurable way for patients to inhale cannabis. With a little research about strains, or recommendations from a cannabis doctor, you could be vaping the most beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes for your condition in no time — fresh herb, but with far less odor and no bad aftertaste.
Even if you are considering vaping medical weed, you may have a lot of questions before you take the plunge. Like what exactly is vaping? What are the advantages of vaping? What are vaporizers, how do they work, and are there different kinds of vaporizers? If so, which would be best for me?
In this article, we’re going to answer all those questions and get you acquainted with the world of vaping cannabis.
What Is Vaping?
Vaping is an alternative to smoking. When smoking, you burn (combust) your cannabis herb until it is ash. But with a vaporizer, your weed is heated until the active ingredients (cannabinoids, terpenes, etc.) reach their boiling point, and produce vapor — steam instead of smoke.
You inhale the vapor like you would if you were smoking a joint, but when you’re finished, you won’t have a pile of ash. Instead, you’ll be left with the same material as you started with, just with the active ingredients extracted out.
Advantages of Vaping Cannabis
Marijuana effects from vaping come on immediately. The vapor is inhaled and absorbed into your bloodstream through your lungs, which is much quicker than ingesting cannabis. Vaping has a bioavailability of 30-50% — that’s the amount you absorb — and that’s even slightly better than smoking. The effects of vaping weed last around 45 minutes to an hour.
There are actually several advantages to vaping cannabis.
Vaping dry herb is better for your lungs
Many people who have smoked cannabis for years say that they notice the difference in their breathing and lungs right away. With vaping, you’re not burning your cannabis herb. And if you’re not burning the herb, you’re also not breathing the extra tar and carcinogens that accompany smoke. You won’t get all the coughing that normally comes from smoking marijuana.
Vaping enhances the flavor of marijuana
Vaping is a very clean way to inhale cannabis flower. Many people who switch from smoking weed, say that it’s the biggest perk. When vaping, your cannabis will actually taste more as it smells. Vaping leaves a cleaner aftertaste as well.
Vaping conserves your dry herb
Using the raw cannabis flower itself is a fairly economical way to get your MMJ benefits. Many folks say they consume far less fresh weed vaping than when they smoked. For MMJ patients who are likely paying out of pocket, this seems like it would be a motivating factor.
Also, vaping is an economical way to try different strains, to see if anyone has better effects or is more enjoyable over others.
How Do Vaporizers Work?
When vaping, you’re heating your material instead of burning it, right? This requires a heat source, and vaporizers use a few different kinds of heaters, which are also called “ovens.” Conduction, convection, and hybrid are the three main heater types found in vaporizers. A hybrid, of course, combines the conduction and convection types of heaters in one vape.
A conduction heater heats up the walls of your chamber. This is also known as the bowl or where you put your cannabis herb. The heat transfers to the material inside of the chamber. Because the oven is constantly delivering heat, your herbs will vaporize even if you are taking a draw (inhaling) from the vape.
This form of heating makes vaping not quite as simplistic as conduction, but it has its advantages. The convection oven is generally below the chamber where you put your flower. When you draw on the vape, fresh air is pulled into the vape and over the heater. This heats the air as it goes. As you continue drawing breath, the hot air is pulled over your herbs, and it's this heat that creates the vapor.
Because the act of pulling your breath through the vape creates the vapor, there’s some technique involved. But the advantage of convection heating is that your cannabis herb is only being heated when you draw — no wasting your bud while you wait to take your next hit. It might be worth a little learning curve on how to pull your breath efficiently through the vape.
Hybrid heaters are the best of both worlds, combining both the conduction and convection styles of heating.
Types of Vaporizers
Desktop or stationary vaporizers are less common but have their advantages.
These are sometimes big, require a power outlet, and you may just want to set your up in a designated area and leave it there. Any table or flat surface will do.
Depending on the model, they may have a small hose or a plastic balloon. With the hose, you can inhale the vapor directly from the vaporizer. The balloon, however, gets inflated first, and then you inhale from it.
To vape weed, put your bud into the chamber or wherever the heated surface is. Connect the plastic bag or hose, plug in the vaporizer and turn it on. Select the desired temperature and give it time (a minute or two) before drawing the vapor in.
The big benefit of using a desktop vape is the constant power from the outlet — more power, more efficiency, more satisfaction.
Because they are smaller than most desktop units, and you won’t have a cord, portable vaporizers have their own conveniences. Portable vaporizers are usually powered by either an internal battery or a battery replaceable by the user. Either option is rechargeable, but the user-replaceable batteries give you the option to have extra charged batteries ready to go, so you will never have to wait for your vape to charge before using it again.
Additionally, portable vapes that use a small butane torch lighter as the heat source in place of a mechanical heater are available.
Use Caution When Vaping Oils
In this article, we have concentrated on vaping raw cannabis flower. You can also vape cannabis oil, extracts, and concentrates.
If you’ve heard or read about vaping cannabis or THC being unsafe recently, it is almost always with regard to cannabis oils. That’s because these oils are manufactured and often contain additives that can be toxic.
Some vape products that come with vape pens and e-cigarettes can contain:
● Heavy metals from the coils of some vape pens can get into your vapor. This usually happens over time once the coils start to break down.
● Carcinogenic compounds can be released by the heating of chemicals used to suspend THC or help make the vapor out of these oils.
● Some chemical flavorants have been linked to serious lung issues when inhaled, as was seen in late 2019.
If you want to use a pre-manufactured cannabis vape product, we encourage you to thoroughly research it and know the ingredients it contains and the effects it could have on your health.
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