New to Dry-Herb Vapes?

Let’s talk about dry-herb vapes! What are they? Why do you want one? Are they that much better than your usual methods of combustion? Put simply, dry-herb vaporizers heat up your material in order to vaporize the good bits such as cannabinoids and terpenes for inhalation. This is a much cleaner way of consuming your product as it’s smokeless. You won’t be breathing in any burnt material which can be carcinogenic as well as eliminating the potential tar build-up in your lungs. It’s also very discreet as it produces very little smell. Awesome right?


Time to get a little more into how these devices function. Dry-herb vaporizers have something called a bowl which is where you’ll place your ground up flower. They then heat this bowl through one of a few methods:


  • Conduction: Devices that use conductive heating will directly heat the bowl. Air from your draw is then pulled through the bowl and out the mouthpiece for inhalation.

  • Convection: Devices that use convective heating will pre-heat incoming air from your draw which is then pulled in through the material in the bowl then out the mouthpiece for inhalation.

  • Hybrid: Devices which combine both of the above methods.

While all of these heating methods are very effective for vaporization, each one has it’s own quirks which you’ll need to get used to.

Devices which use conduction can be quicker to heat up but can scorch your flower quickly. This is due to the direct contact being made between the heated bowl and your flower which causes uneven heating. A soon as the device starts heating, the material is being heated.  With conduction, we recommend stirring your bowl during a session to prevent any scorching as it will help to move your material around and vaporize everything a little more effectively.

Devices which employ convection heating vary in the time to heat up for a session but do a much better job of evenly heating your material for the most effective vaporization possible. When the device is turned on, the air from your draw is heated and pulled through your material.  Stirring can still be useful with convection devices as it helps to expose more surface area on your ground material but ultimately, it’s not necessary.  Pure convection devices are thought to produce the least smell and work great for micro-dosing as the material doesn’t cook in between hits.

Hybrid devices which use both convection and conduction are quick to heat up as well as being less prone to scorching your material when compared to pure conduction devices. This does mean they’re a great all-round option but do consider that hybrids are a jack of all trades device, meaning that depending on the application, pure conduction or convection may be a better way for you to go potentially.


The Basics

Dry-herb vapes are a very easy thing to wrap your head around. This guide refers primarily to portable battery powered devices but can be applied to desktop devices too. They generally consist of only 2 or 3 buttons and their functions are simple. You turn it on, pack in your material, set your temperature and then fire it up.  However, there are a couple of tips and tricks which will get you the most out of your new device:

  • Preparation
    Make sure the material you’re working with is very dry. Any moisture in your flower may cause inconsistencies with the vaporization of cannabinoids and terpenes as well as amplifying the throat hit which can lead to coughing. We also recommend a course grind of your material. Something similar to the consistency of rock salt is the ideal size for your dry-herb vape.

  • Packing the bowl
    For almost all devices, you’ll want to fill to just beneath the rim of your bowl. However, packing methods will vary slightly depending on the type of heating your device employs.

    For conduction devices, you’ll want to slightly compact your material as it removes air gaps and helps the heat transfer through for a more even heat.

    For convection and hybrid devices, a looser pack is best as it allows the heated air to move through the material for more efficient vaporization.

Temperature Control

A vital feature you’ll find on almost all dry-herb vaporizers. It allows you to set a temperature for the device to reach for each session. Generally, devices will use either Fahrenheit or Celsius (or both) as a unit for heat measurement and there’s a lot to be said about the effects which you can experience at varying temperatures. There’s a myriad of cannabinoids and terpenes in flower which all have different boiling points so varying your temperature can alter your experience dramatically but let’s keep it simple for now:

  • 160°C (320°F) – 180°C (356°F)
    Operation in this range will produce mild psychoactive effects while retaining excellent flavour. Throat hit in this range is quite smooth and shouldn’t cause any coughing.

  • 180°C (356°F) – 205°C (401°F)
    Operation in this range will produce moderate psychoactive effects while retaining good flavour. Throat hit begins to become more prominent in this range and may cause you to cough.

  • 205°C (401°F) – 220°C (428°F)
    Operation in this range will produce maximum psychoactive effects with a notable reduction in flavour. Throat hit in this range is noticeable and may cause you to cough.

This simple heat guide is certainly a great place to start for beginners but if you’re looking for a more targeted approach, information can be found online regarding the boiling points for individual cannabinoids and terpenes.  Some devices can be set to specific temperatures in one-degree increments while others have settings for temperature ranges.  It is common to start the first hits lower, say 170°C and finish the bowl at a higher temperature.  This gives more flavour nuance in the initial hits while allowing the higher temperatures to do a more thorough extraction in the later hits.  


Usage

Most portable devices will take roughly 30-60 seconds to heat to their set temperature. They will then hold that temperature for a set period of time (this is where you begin taking tokes) and will automatically cut-off once finished. We recommend a slow inhale, taking in as much vapor as possible. You’ll then hold it in your lungs for between 10 to 20 seconds (or however long is comfortable for you) and exhale.  You may or may not see much vapor on the exhale.  Some try to minimise exhaled vapor and time the length of draw and retention to maximise absorption. Once the device has finished it’s heat, it will cool down and remain in an idle state or turn off.


Cleaning

Cleaning is a fundamental part of maintaining your dry-herb vaporizer. Ideally, you should clean it after every use.. I know, it sounds like a lot and truthfully it is. You can get away with a weekly cleaning but if you clean after every use, it will ensure your device remains in tip-top condition with airflow channels remaining clean and clear with very little odour coming from the device.

Isopropyl alcohol is an excellent choice to use for cleaning as it’s great at removing any resin build-up and evaporates very quickly. Resin build-up will occur in your bowl as well as the vapour chamber (which is what the bowl is connected to) and the mouthpiece.


Batteries

Battery safety is very important.  Understanding the best practices for charging, storing, and using batteries is a key area worth spending time on and asking questions about.  A lot of dry-herb vapes have batteries built into them. It’s considered a little more convenient as it keeps things simple. However, some devices employ external batteries. Sometimes they’re purpose-built batteries which will only fit into your device but sometimes, they use a generic external battery such as lithium-ion batteries.

Batteries can be dangerous if not looked after correctly. Things like dents in the battery terminals, torn wrappings and improper storage can pave the way for short-circuits to occur. If your device uses any kind of external battery whether it is purpose built or a generic one, you should routinely inspect it to make sure it’s in good condition. As previously mentioned, any dents, damage or torn wrappings can make a short-circuit far more likely and any battery in poor shape should be replaced immediately. It’s not worth the risk.

It's also worth noting that dry-herb vaporizers require the use of a high ampere battery. We recommend a battery of 25amp or more as this ensures more than enough power delivery for the heavy needs of most dry-herb vapes. This does mean that day-to-day battery life is impacted as these high ampere batteries will often have a reduced capacity but happy batteries live a much longer life overall so we do think the compromise is a worthwhile one.