When researchers asked 364 adults how they prefer to consume their medical cannabis, 53% reported that a vaporizer is their mode of choice. Among them, 80% believed vaping was a healthier alternative to other methods like a pipe or a bowl, and 34.4% felt vaporizers provided the best symptom relief.
The use of vaporizers for cannabis is on the rise, especially among youth. Still, concerns remain about whether or not these products are safe. In 2019, the CDC and the FDA explicitly warned against the use of e-cigarette or vaporizer products that contain THC, citing evidence that these products could contain harmful ingredients and increase your chances of lung damage.
Given the sheer volume of cannabis products available, selecting the right one for you can be overwhelming. Before you choose a vaporizer, make sure you weigh the pros and cons.
How to Vape Cannabis
Unlike traditional cigarettes that burn leaves to make smoke, vaporizers use batteries and small metal coils to heat a substance until it evaporates and is then inhaled. For this reason, they're often referred to as vapes, vape pens, and vaporizers. But not all devices vaporize the same way. There are three formats of cannabis that you will most likely encounter when looking at vaporizers: herb, oil, and wax.
These vaporizers have a chamber where dried cannabis flower is added. As the device is heated, the active therapeutic compounds in the cannabis are delivered in a concentrated vapor.
The cannabis is heated to just the right temperature so that it does not burn, which minimizes any tar or carcinogens that you may inhale when using a pipe or other combusted form. Many herb vaporizers also have temperature settings that you can change to control the amount of flavor and vapor you are inhaling.
Instead of adding dry herb to the vaporizer, an oil concentrate that is extracted from the cannabis plant is added to the oil pen. During the oil extraction process, the cannabis oil is often cut with other carrier oils, such as hemp oil. As a result, vaporized oil is typically less potent than wax but more potent than vaporized herb.
Oil pens are a popular choice among first-time users, as they are clean and easy to use. You can either choose a single-use oil pen that is disposed of once the oil runs out, or you can purchase a reusable vaporizer with oil cartridge attachments that come in a variety of different flavors and cannabis strains. A single oil cartridge can last several weeks.
Wax is a semi-solid substance extracted from the cannabis plant that has high concentrations of active compounds. Because it is not cut with other carrier oils, it tends to be much more potent than herb or oil. Wax vaporizers have three main components: the mouthpiece, the battery, and the atomizer.
The wax itself is purchased separately and added to the atomizer, where it is heated with a coil and vaporized. Wax can be somewhat more expensive and must be reloaded into the atomizer often, but due to its potency, some people find that vaporizing wax is the most efficient way to achieve the desired therapeutic effects.