Vaping Weed for Beginners: The Complete Handbook
In the last fifteen years, vaping has gone from a new smoking alternative to being the preferred method of consuming cannabis flowers.
I remember the early days of vaping, when you had to buy a new vape pen every few weeks because they kept breaking.
You couldn’t splurge on an expensive, reliable vape pen back then.
The earliest versions of vape pens were about ten to twenty dollars, so we had our fun with them at a low cost.
I remember putting some hash in a vape pen for the first time, only to find out it melted all over the coil in less than a minute.
The good old days.
Vaporizers have become a huge part of the cannabis industry, and vaping weed has become the “new smoking” all across North America and Europe.
The undisputed rise of vapes as one of the “healthiest” alternatives to smoking can be overshadowed only by the growth of the weed industry itself.
This guide is intended to introduce you to the world of vaping, help you choose your first vaporizer, and aid you in exploring the health effects of vaping cannabis.
What is vaping?
Vaping is a method of consuming cannabis flower or cannabis extracts by using an electronic tool called a vaporizer.
Vaping has been proven to be a lot less harmful to health than smoking, which is why Health Canada approved Volcano vaporizer as a recommended method of cannabis consumption..
Vaping started some ten to fifteen years ago when a Chinese inventor named Hon Lik, created the e-cigarette as a method for quitting the nasty habit of smoking cigarettes.
The first version of the e-cigarette worked by heating up the nicotine-infused liquid. The technology doesn’t use combustion but works on the principles of heat convection and conduction.
Since all around the world there are people like me who like to experiment with their new toys, there were also newfound ways of abusing electronic cigarettes.
Through that, the idea to use e-cigarettes for vaporizing weed was born.
And one of the first consumption techniques that came this wave of experimentation is vape dripping.
Vaping weed went mainstream in the early 2010’s
Several years after the first type of vape pens started becoming popular in the United States, it was clear that vaping was here to stay.
Once it became obvious that vaping was the way to go for many users, companies kicked production into higher gear and the age of branded vaporizers started.
In 2010, PAX Labs came out with their first product which became an absolute hit among cannabis users. The very first PAX vaporizer was actually marketed as Pax by Ploom, but the company changed name to PAX Labs later when it introduced PAX 2, and subsequently PAX 3.
The same company also started making JUUL—electronic cigarettes which utilize nicotine liquids.
Slowly but surely, PAX Labs became the biggest producer of vape pens in the world.
The early 2010’s brought further changes as more and more states in the US opted to legalize medical marijuana.
Seeing how vape pens were slowly but surely becoming the preferred method of consuming cannabis oils without having to use a huge dabbing rig and a Bunsen burner, the early 2010’s saw big increases in the marketing of branded vaporizers.
The biggest success of vaporizers was yet to come however, as in 2013 Snoop Dogg became the face of G-Pen, another vape pen manufacturer that was making a name for themselves.
Snoop was one of the first celebrities with his line of vaporizers, which he soon complimented with cannabis flower from his very own brand—Leafs by Snoop.
At one point, the world of vaping split in two again, not between cigarette smokers and weed enthusiasts, but between the different types of cannabis vaping.
As technology advanced, vape pen producers kept up with the pace and made a clear distinction in their products.
One side of the industry was now producing vaporizers for consuming cannabis flower, and the other vape pens that required special cartridges filled with cannabis extracts.
When the vape pen industry started, vapor tanks and concentrates accounted for 5% sales across all dispensaries.
Seven years later and now they account for more than 50 percent in some places.
Vaping vs smoking: Which is better?
There is a reason why Health Canada recommends vaporizers and edibles as two “safer” delivery methods for cannabis.
Ever since tobacco became very popular and available to the masses (around the end of the 19th century) it had many different uses, and at one point it was even considered a cure for pulmonary diseases.
Now, after about 100 years of smoking tobacco we know for sure that the nicotine sticks are a mass-killer that cost millions of people their lives.
With the introduction of vape pens, many thought that the tobacco industry will slowly but surely come to an end, especially with increasing anti-smoking policies that governments around the world have been introducing over the course of the last 3 decades.
When comparing the health effects of vaping and smoking, the scientific community agrees that smoking is far more detrimental to your health.
However, it is important to note that smoking has been around for much longer, and that there is a lot more research on its effects.
Vaping hasn’t been around that long, and we can’t really say what the lasting effects of this habit will be, as those types of studies take several decades to complete.
It has been confirmed several times over that the combustion of marijuana also produces a small number of known carcinogens and tar, which can irritate the lungs and lead the user to chronic bronchitis, so tobacco is not alone in causing harm.
Truth be told, there aren’t many differences between smoking cannabis and smoking tobacco as both are very bad for you.
Often times cannabis users smoke both, and they do so at the same time—especially when smoking spliffs.
In my opinion, the best thing you can do is avoid smoking completely.
As far as short term health concerns go, vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking.
The long-term effects of vaping haven’t yet been determined with accuracy, so we can’t speak on that.
Vaping vs dabbing
Dabbing is another cannabis consumption technique that has been fairly popular over the last few years, but it is controversial due to the fact that dabbing at high temperatures has been confirmed to release dangerous carcinogenic particles such as benzene and methacrolein.
Dabbing is done with a special bong-like rig which is designed to be heated to extreme temperatures to melt the extracts while you are getting ready to take a hit.
Vaping and dabbing are both techniques for administering cannabis, however dabbing is primarily designed for people who want to make the most of their cannabis extracts.
Vaping is not the same as dabbing, as vapor is released at much lower temperatures and without the combustion.
Dabbing usually happens at much higher temperatures than vaping, part of the process includes heating up the rig with a blowtorch in order to reach the desired temperature, while vaporizers use technology to increase temperature levels.
There are special e-nails that can help users control the temperature when dabbing, however these are fairly expensive and not really worth the investment.
Buying a vaporizer that can handle both cannabis flower and extracts is a much better investment, as it is less harmful, and you can also carry it around as much as you want.
There isn’t much to be said about dabbing, except that when done at high temperatures it is extremely bad for your health.
Luckily for us, the temperatures needed to produce carcinogens with dabbing are not often easily achieved.
Is vaping bad for you?
Let me put it this way:
Vaping is not as good as not vaping at all, and not as bad as smoking.
There is no question about whether vaping is bad for you, as it most definitely is.
Inhaling any type of fumes and aerosols is generally unhealthy, and doing it on a regular basis may cause long term health effects.
According to the “Online Survey Characterizing Vaporizer Use among Cannabis Users” people who vape tend to perceive it as safer and less harmful to their health than smoking.
Even though there is a serious lack of knowledge on the long-term health effects of vaping cannabis, several studies have shown that vaping does produce fewer carcinogenic compounds than smoking cannabis due to the difference in the temperature.
Tech companies such as PAX and Grenco have been working tirelessly for years to find the solution for the many health concerns surrounding cannabis consumption.
The mission of these companies is to create a vaporizer that will isolate and terminate the remaining hazardous particles created in the vaping process and, in that, we support them fully.
What to look for in a vape pen?
Several years ago, you could have bought just about any vape pen and it would serve you decent for a while, since at that time they were still very prone to breaking.
You would often find yourself in a situation in which you buy a vape pen, only to go and buy a new one a few days later because you misused it.
I broke many pens in my first year of trying to vape, just because I tried using them for weed and concentrates when they were obviously suited for e-liquids only. I’ll blame that on poor labeling.
Once the technology advanced enough and it became worthwhile to invest more than $20 in a vaporizer, I made sure to take a good look at what the market had to offer.
But, before you can do that you should know what constitutes a good vaporizer, what you want, and what you want to avoid at any cost.
So, let’s get into the specifics of what to look for when shopping for a new vaporizer.
First, you need to decide what type of vaporizer you will need, a desktop (best for home use only) or a portable one?
I would strongly suggest you buy a portable vape, as once you get a feel for it, you will always want to carry it around with yourself.
The three things that I most appreciate in a good vaporizer are, in order:
- High-end vapor quality;
- Good design, sturdiness in particular;
- Temperature range and battery life.
Let me explain:
High-end vapor quality is something you should always strive for, as you can get low-end vapor with just about any vaporizer. Good vapor will give you a unique experience unlike anything else, and it will make you want more.
Good design and sturdiness is a must-have when shopping for a vaporizer. The last thing you want is for your vaporizer to shatter after dropping it once or twice.
Personal note: I bought a G-Pen Elite several months ago, dropped it at least a dozen times and it still works like a charm. What a beast!
Lastly, you want to have temperature range control, as well as a more than decent battery life.
These two combine for a long and pleasant experience that allows you to manipulate how long and pleasurable your vaping will be.
It’s also desirable that the vape pen of your choosing happens to support both cannabis flowers and extracts.
This way, you won’t have to think too much about what you’re putting in your vaporizer.
How does a vaporizer work?
So far, we’ve talked about just about everything except for the mechanics of vaporizing. What is it that’s getting you so high?
Most vape pens are made of a:
- Battery, located in the bottom part of the device;
- Button, which activates the atomizer and heats up the pen;
- Chamber, which you load with cannabis flower or cartridges.
Once you press the button, the electric current flows through the coils which are hidden within the atomizer. As the electric current flows through the copper coil, it heats up – you can often feel this in your hand.
The atomizer (a little device that produces vapor from a substance, either e-juice, herb or oil) then heats up the flower or extract in your vaporizer to a certain (usually pre-selected) temperature, and the heat causes cannabinoids to be released in the air, along with water vapor.
Once you inhale this mix of vapor and oil, you get high.
Vaping extracts is a little bit different as you will need to replace cartridges which are filled with wax or whatever other extract you prefer.
Keep in mind that you might need a different atomizer which is more powerful to vape extracts with a regular vape pen.
Conduction vs convection
Most vaporizers work by utilizing conduction, convection, or a little bit of both at the same time.
Basically, conduction and convection are two different principles in physics that are induced by applying heat.
Conduction happens when the material you are vaping is pressed down onto the heated surface. Due to the heat of the surface, active substances in cannabis are released and by dragging on the mouthpiece you are inhaling them.
Convection happens when the heat is going through the material, meaning that the heat source is somewhat below the material you are trying to vape. Since heat goes up naturally, it flows through the material and extracts cannabinoids and terpenes in the process.
Newer models sometimes utilize both types in order to give you full pleasure while vaping, Mighty Vaporizer one of the vapes that uses both.
Best temperature for vaping weed
The best temperature for vaping weed is between 195°C and 210°C.
Some vaporizers have the option to calibrate the temperature you want to vape, which is a great thing, because you’ll get different results with different temperatures.
As I said, I recently got myself a G-Pen Elite, which has a small LED screen which shows battery life and temperature control.
The maximum temperature on that vaporizer is 220°C, but I like to keep it between 195°C and 210°C because temperatures over that range make my throat sore, and below that you don’t really get the full taste.
After just a couple of drags you will feel the high creeping up, but without any of the side-effects of smoking. Using a vaporizer is extremely easy, and you’ll quickly get the hang of it.
16 things you need to know about vaping
Before deciding to get into vaping cannabis extracts and flowers, here are some things that you should know.
Who invented vaping?
Vaping was invented by a Chinese pharmacist and inventor whose father was a heavy smoker and died of cancer. Hon Lik, the inventor of the first electronic cigarette was nominated as the 2010 Cancer Hero candidate for his invention.
Who makes vaping products?
Vaping products are made by various companies and producers. Vaporizers are mostly manufactured in China, and vaping oils and extracts are usually made by licensed producers in Canada, as well as several cannabis manufacturers in the US.
Who made vaping popular?
Vaping became popular in mid-2000’s as a replacement for cigarettes, but vaping weed became popular after Snoop Dogg endorsed G-Pen and got his own line of vaporizers.
Does vaping cannabis smell?
Even though vaping utilizes a lower temperature than smoking weed, it does still leave a recognizable smell, however not nearly as much as a joint or a blunt.
When vaping, how many puffs do I need?
Take as many hits as you need as you know your tolerance levels best. Beginners shouldn’t take more than 3-5 long puffs.
How do vaping coils work?
Vaping coils are small wired coils inside the vaporizer that heat up when the vaporizer is turned on. This coil then produces heat and the vapor starts appearing once a certain temperature is reached.
When should you change the coil?
You should change your coil once you notice that the vaporizer is starting to take longer to heat up and doesn’t deliver as strong hits as it used to. This heavily depends on the usage frequency.
Are vaping coils universal?
The technology is universal but various manufacturers use different sizes and resistances for the coil, making them non-universal. They can be replaced with some technical know-how but we strongly recommend against doing this on your own.
Can vaping cause cancer?
Some studies claim that vaping may raise the risk of cancer because it leads to DNA damage, even though it contains fewer carcinogens than tobacco smoke. However, this hasn’t been confirmed through randomized trials and the studies in question are pretty small.
Can vaping give you a cough?
Yes. Excessive vaping will give you a cough that will not go away if you continue vaping while suffering from the cough.
Can vaping cause headaches?
Not unless you use the vaporizer excessively. Medical cannabis patients with migraines and headaches are usually recommended to vape cannabis instead of smoking it.
How vaping works?
Vaping works through convection and conduction instead of combustion. In both cases the heat that is created by the vaporizer releases essential oils in the cannabis, which when combined with a certain level of heat creates water vapor that is full of essential oils.
How does vaping affect lungs?
Vaping is generally much better than smoking cannabis as the combustion of particles from smoking can be severely damaging to the lungs over a long period of time, while vaping won’t have nearly as many side effects.
Are vaping mods safe?
Vaping mods are safe if they are bought from the manufacturer, or a registered re-seller. Otherwise, they might pose a threat to your health as the materials may be toxic and unsafe.
Are vaping pens safe?
Vape pens are simply small vaporizers that are intended for users who don’t like being constrained to their desk and bulky home versions of the vaporizer.
What does vaping do to your lungs?
There is a video circling the internet showing how vaping and smoking affect the user’s organs, especially lungs. The video above is a side by side representation of how many harmful elements smoking involves.
Have you found your perfect vape pen?
Now that you know just about everything there is about vaporizers and vaping cannabis, feel free to visit our gear category where we review some of the best vaporizers offered in Canada and the US.