Vaporizing is all the hype these days. Not only is this a healthier alternative for smoking rapidly gaining popularity, the number of vaporizers available is also growing fast. But how does a vaporizer work? And which vaporizer to choose? The latter is a difficult question to answer, but in the following article we’ll try to steer aspiring vaporists in the right direction.
What exactly is a vaporizer?
Technically, a vaporizer is a device that heats up plant material (which can be any type of herb such as tobacco, damiana or valerian, although most users prefer to load theirs with good ol’ Mary Jane) to a temperature where it doesn’t burn (combust), but reaches a temperature high enough to release the active ingredients in with the damp. Since there is no smoke, there are also no carcinogenic fumes present in the vapour that is inhaled.
What’s more, the taste of vapour is often described as more flavoursome and pure, as the lack of tobacco – and smoke – makes it easier to identify all the different aromas.
Most vaporizers will pass a flow of hot air through the compartment that holds the herbs (which is most commonly referred to as bowl or herb chamber), preventing direct contact with the heating element. This principle is called ‘convection’ heating. When the herb or tobacco touches the heating element or coil, it is called ‘conduction’. As convection offers a safer way of heating with less chance of combustion, most modern vaporizers now apply this type of heating.
What is the best vaporizer?
To start off with a rather bold statement: At Azarius we believe there is no ‘best vaporizer’. As each vaporizer has its own unique features, it’s all about personal preference. It is therefore important to find the vaporizer that best suits your needs. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Where will I use the vaporizer? Is it home-use only? Or both at home and on the road?
- How often will I use it? Every day? All day? Or once a week?
- What is my budget? How much are you willing to pay for a vaporizer? Vaporizers may seem expensive, but bear in mind that it can save you money in the long run as you’ll require less herb compared to smoking.
Vaporizer features and characteristics
In the following bit we’ll go through the characteristics that mark the main differences between various vaporizers.
On our website, you’ll find several categories under ‘Vaporizers’, divided into
Portables and Non-portable (electric) vaporizers. Portables are small, light, fit easily into a pocket and do not need to be plugged in to use. Most modern portable vaporizers use an internal battery as power source. Battery lives can vary, so this is also something to keep into account. Some use an USB-port to charge, others can be charged via a terminal.
Non-portable vaporizers need to be plugged in and are often a bit bulkier. Examples are the V-tower, Extreme-Q, De Verdamper and Volcano vaporizers. Non-portables usually offer a broader range of features and can include a glass bowl or larger tubes (for cooling down the vapour).
Ease of use
The number of hands (as well as time/effort) required to prepare and use your vaporizer can be an important consideration. Some vaporizers require both hands to function correctly, and some take a bit of fiddling to fill the bowl or access the herb chamber. Videos of how vaporizers are used can be found on YouTube and can be a good help in finding the right vaporizer for you.
Because vaping in public is often frowned upon, some users may prefer to keep their vaporizing from unwanted eyes. Small devices that fit in the palm of your hand or disguised as an inhaler (PUFFiT) will do just this. Vapour itself carries a slight smell, but doesn’t linger around like smoke. It can sometimes be visible, but this depends on the type of vaporizer and the temperature used. Just be careful when filling your vaporizer with freshly grinded Super Skunk, as it may spread aromas that can get you busted.
Vapour can be delivered directly through a whip (tubing), a tube or stem, or by drawing right from the device itself. Indirect delivery involves filling a bag or balloon using a fan or a pump, and is sometimes referred to as assisted delivery. The Volcano is currently the most popular balloon-type vaporizer. Balloons can be filled and taken around the house, offering more freedom than whip-based vaporizers.
Materials and vapor path
Materials are extremely important when it comes to vaporizers. The combination of heat and inhalation can be a tricky one, as unsafe materials may give off fumes that can be bad for your health. After all, we’re trying to prevent smoke and its toxic by-products, so we don’t need any of this! For this very reason, Azarius does not carry any ultra-inexpensive China-made vaporizers that can be found in many stores. Not only do these sometimes give off a plastic taste and smell, often they’re also very inaccurate when it comes to maintaining the right temperature, occasionally even causing combustion.
If you’re of the impatient type, this is something you’ll want to pay extra attention to. Most portables take anywhere between 30 seconds and 5 minutes to heat up, but non-portables generally require a bit longer to reach their optimum vaporization temperature.
Did you know that temperature plays an important role in both the effect and taste of the vapour? Higher temperatures also give thicker vapour, but you’ll be able to obtain fewer hits from a single bowl. Most vaporizers now offer various (preset) temperature settings, allowing the user to experiment and determine their favourite temperature.
Some vaporizers are considered more efficient than others; this is typically achieved by keeping the vaporization temperature low and the load small. It improves taste and yields smoother vapour, but might not release the components that you need. Vaporizing is more efficient than smoking, but keep in mind that this efficiency can be offset by an increase in consumption.
This information should help you to further refine your search. Moreover, it is always a good idea to browse the web (and our website) for user reviews.