From edibles to topical creams to elaborate pipes, there are all types of ways to consume cannabis today. But with every new innovation, one thing remains constant — inhalation is the fastest, most popular method for consuming marijuana. And one of the most popular ways — vaping — isn’t technically smoking at all. And like all other methods, it definitely has its pros and cons.
- It only takes a small amount of cannabis
- Easier on the lungs and throat
- Very discreet, no harsh odor
- Can be tricky to get the hang of it
- Purchasing a vaporizer can be expensive
- Requires cleaning, making sure battery charged
Vaping is a great way to smoke cannabis — without technically smoking cannabis. Vaporizers heat up marijuana, releasing cannabinoids and producing a vapor you then inhale. And since the marijuana isn’t burned, you don’t have to inhale smoke. This means you avoid the harshness of marijuana smoke, as well as the tar and ash produced by burning marijuana.
The lack of smoke also makes vaping a discreet way of consuming marijuana that leaves far less odor. It can be your best option if you need to consume your medicine but you’re out in public, or you’re at home and have houseguests over, or nosy neighbors who are a little too close to your porch.
What you need to vaporize cannabis flower
- A vaporizer (Here are some of our favorites)
- Cannabis (flower or concentrate)
- A grinder (you can also use your fingers or scissors)
- A charger and outlet (if the vaporizer is out of battery)
How to vape cannabis flower
1. Grind up a small amount of marijuana, about the size of a jellybean.
2. Place in the receptacle of the vape and close it.
3. Turn on the vape and set it to the desired temperature. You may want to start at around 320°F (160°C) and then increase it as you go up to about 400°F (205°C), although the plant matter can start to combust toward the upper range so be careful.
4. When it reaches the temperature you want, put your lips on the mouthpiece and inhale, slowly and steadily for a solid 5-10 seconds and then exhale slowly.
5. If you don’t receive enough vapor with the first inhalation, try increasing the heat.
6. When finished, empty the vaped flower into a container for future use.
Vaporizers can either be a table top machine or small, portable vaporizers, such as the thin, “vape pens” you may have seen. Vaporizers for smoking cannabis flower are usually marketed as “dry herb vapes.” “Wet vapes” can be used for vaping concentrates, or as vapes that can do both.
For most dry flower vaporizers, all you need to do is grind up a small amount of flower, put it in the receptacle of the vape, and then turn it on and wait for it to get to the desired temperature. Then, pull in slowly and steadily and exhale. You might not see much vapor come out, but start slowly and wait for the effects to kick in. You’ll probably find that it takes very little to have an effect, and it requires less cannabis than you would use to load a bong.
If you’re vaping concentrates, there are two main avenues: refillable vaporizers and pre-filled cartridges (sometimes called “carts”). If you’re using a refillable vaporizer, make sure it has a “pad” for the concentrate you’re vaping. This is often a small steer mesh or wire addition that you put in the vape receptacle and then top with the concentrate you’re smoking. It may take a couple sessions to get a strong hit, but by the time the pad builds up enough resin inside of it, you’ll notice more powerful pulls from the vape.
How to use a vape pen
If you are buying pre-filled cartridges that have an attached mouthpiece, which are some of the most popular products in many markets, you will need a battery to attach it to. (They screw right on.) Then, all that’s left to do is put your lips on the mouthpiece, press the button if there is one, gently inhale, and enjoy. Just make sure not to inhale too much on your first hit, as it doesn’t feel the same as smoking and can take getting used to.
Whatever you’re vaping, you may want to start out at about 320°F (160°C) and then move up to around 390-400°F (200-205°C) if that doesn’t produce enough vapor for you.
A bonus with vapes is that you can save the vaped cannabis flower to make edibles or other ingestible forms of cannabis.
Two things to keep in mind with flower vapes is that they can be expensive — running from usually around $100 to well over $250. Also, some people find it a little tricky at first to master using a flower vaporizer, but a little practice usually takes care of this.
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