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Oil vs. herb: which is better for cannabis vaping? The practice of cannabis vaping is very popular among cannabis consumers these days. Its popularity only accelerates due to increased legalization of marijuana and the influx of new products relating to its use. Vaporizers of all sizes and designs are now readily available for cannabis enthusiasts looking for a healthier method of consuming the plant.
Some vaporizers are designed to work with flower and others with concentrates, but an increasing number of them designed for both are hitting the market. Vaporizing is a great option, and any blunt, bong, or joint lover who hasn’t tried it owes it to themselves to give vaping a try. They just may find that it becomes their preferred method for enjoying or medicating with cannabis. Is it better than smoking? That depends on your criteria for what makes a rewarding cannabis experience. Let’s consider the pros and cons of vaping versus smoking, and how vaping oil compares to vaping flower.
Oil vs. Herb: Which Is Better For Cannabis Vaping?
Vape Pens: Small-Scale Potency
Of all the vaporizer models available, vape pens may be the most popular. These handy little devices have taken the cannabis world by storm. There are multiple reasons for their popularity. The small size—about as large as an average writing pen—is portable, convenient, and discreet. Vape pens fit easily into any pocket or purse and are ready to use in seconds—with no loading necessary, which immediately makes them more convenient than a small pipe. Since no flame is necessary to use them, vape pen owners can leave their lighters at home. And because no lighting is necessary, vape pens are extremely inconspicuous to use when cupped in the palm of a hand. The vapor that results and is exhaled has less odor than the distinctively strong odor of cannabis smoke, which takes discreet usage one step further.
Vaporizer pens for hash oil are the most popular variety. These types of pens come in two parts: an oil cartridge (popularly known as “pen carts”) and a battery. These batteries are rechargeable, and most are sold with a recharger included. The cartridge screws on, and the pen is ready to use—it’s that simple. The potency of the oil these days is remarkably high, and getting higher and purer all of the time through improved extraction methods like CO2 and distillate extraction (which contains nearly pure cannabinoids). With oil routinely reaching purity levels in the 80- and 90-percent range for THC content, there is power in those little pens. For most consumers, a little is all that’s necessary to attain the desired effect.
Vape pens for flower are increasing in popularity. Although they contain only a small amount, they can work quite well. As expected, flower pens don’t pack the power of oil pens, but they are handy little devices nonetheless.
Also increasing in popularity are disposable vaporizers. These contain a specific amount of oil, just like pen cartridges (usually 250mg or 500mg). Disposable wax cartridges are beginning to hit the market as well. These vape pens are exactly what you’d expect. Use them until they’re empty and throw them away. Disposable pens are especially handy during outdoor activities like hiking or concerts.
These cartridges and disposable pens are usually a one-time use product. As a result, this packaging made of metal and plastic ends up in the trash and landfill. This can contribute to the cannabis industry’s waste disposal problem. A handful of cannabis brands have established vape recycling programs. Some state regulations, however, make it difficult for companies to collect cartridges. In Colorado, for example, licensed premises aren’t allowed to have open and used marijuana products on-site. Essentially, collection points are prohibited. For eco-conscious consumers, this may turn them off of cartridges and disposable pens as their main consumption method.
Some pens have added terpenes, while others retain the natural flavor of the oil. Distillate extraction results in nearly pure cannabinoids, and the terpenes are eliminated during the distillation process, resulting in a nearly pure oil with little flavor. To remedy this, natural cannabis terpenes can be reintroduced or other terpenes and flavors, like various fruit flavors, can be added to the oil. Fruit-flavored oil is a matter of personal preference. Some people love it, and others hate it. Fortunately for the haters, natural terpene options are available. For some, there’s no substitute for the natural cannabis flavor.
While vape pens usually use oil, desktop vaporizers typically use flower to create vapor. Anything but portable, some of these desktop devices can accommodate multiple hoses so more than one person can enjoy the vapor experience at once. The Volcano is a popular desktop model for a group setting. For use with a group, the Volcano has special bags that the users can fill with vapor and pass around, somewhat like how cannabis smokers will pass a joint or blunt.
The best desktop vaporizers produce outstanding vapor and are worth the consideration of any cannabis consumer. More than one avid marijuana smoker has been converted due to a high-quality desktop vaporizer experience.
A handheld vaporizer is another discreet way to enjoy vaping. Like desktop vaporizers, these handheld devices are primarily used to vape ground flower, although an increasing number of brands are also being made for use with concentrates like oil, wax, crumble, or shatter. The Pax is one such device. By simply changing chambers, the Pax goes from a flower vaporizer to one that does a decent job of vaping concentrates, too.
These portable, hand-held vaporizers aren’t as compact and discreet as vaporizer pens, but they come close. Many of them—like the Pax models—fit easily into the palm of a hand and create high-quality vapor for use while on the go. The Pax Era is made specifically for oil consumption and is sleek in design. The only drawback is that it only accommodates special Pax oil attachments sold through specific dispensary dealers, unlike vape pens, which work universally with cartridges from a variety of sources. That difference aside, the Pax Era produces outstanding vapor and delivers it in a compact device that’s great for mobile use.
Temperature Control is Critical
No matter what type of vape pen you choose, temperature control is essential to crafting a fine experience. For instance, vaping or dabbing at extremely high temperatures can cause lung irritation and introduce “toxic degradation products” such as methacrolein and benzene into the body. Ideally, you want to choose a vaporizer that allows you to set the temperature down the degree. Low temperatures between 500º and 600º F are preferred to reduce health risk. You also get a better flavor out of your cannabis flower or oil.
Vaping Flower Versus Oil
As far as whether it’s better to vape flower or oil, it simply comes down to personal preference. Certainly, vaping concentrates is a more profound cannabis experience than vaping flower. With the extreme potency of hash oil currently on the market, a dab rig—a great vaping device in its own right—is no longer the sole method of vaping potent concentrates. Although less extreme as a dab rig experience, vaping hash oil through a pen is more than adequate for even the most seasoned concentrate vape enthusiast.
Vaping flower doesn’t have as strong an effect as smoking it. If you want a strong cannabis experience from flower, a good bong is exactly what you need. The water cools and filters the smoke, providing a stronger and healthier option to the hot, harsher smoke from a pipe or joint.
Vaping flower has a different loading process compared to vaping oil cartridges. Dry herb should be ground up and placed in the vape chamber. You’ll know your session is done when your herb emits a toasted smell. If you look inside the chamber, your herb will be brown, dry, and brittle. Vaping oil in a chamber has a similar loading and cleaning process. Vaping oil cartridges, however, has a much simpler loading process. All you need to do is screw the cart onto the vape battery. When you’ve vaped all the oil, you simply replace the cartridge.
When it comes to the terpene experience of vaping flower versus smoking it, vaping wins, hands down. The delicious flower terpenes are much more enjoyable through a vaporizer than a smoking device. The terpene experience from select flower ranks very high in importance with a great number of experienced cannabis connoisseurs, and vaporizers definitely deliver. This is reason alone for many people to appreciate vaping flower so much. With a vaporizer, there’s no reason to corner the bowl like so many people do when smoking from a pipe. With a vaporizer, every person in the cannabis session gets a great terpene blast, not just the first and second person. Not only do the terpene flavors last much longer, but they’re superior to the terpene flavors from smoking. Once you’ve used a vaporizer for flower for an extending period of time, hitting a pipe pales in comparison.
Health Effects of Vaping Oil vs. Herb
For health-conscious vapers, there are many factors to consider when it comes to the relative safety of your consumption methods. For instance, both dry herb and cannabis oil from the black market can contain an unhealthy level of pesticides, heavy metals, and residual solvents. Black market cannabis products are not regulated by the state, so they are not required to perform chemical analysis for purity. Vape cartridges and extracts from these places can also contain chemicals, additives, and other cutting agents that cut down on costs for the supplier. Unfortunately, these untested additives can worsen respiratory conditions and introduce carcinogens into the body.
Recently, the cannabis industry experienced a major health crisis caused by black market vape cartridges. A rise in vaping-associated lung injury (VALI) was reported in nearly every state and resulted in fatalities. While the cause of the illness remains unclear, healthcare professionals believe the cause of the injuries is due to Vitamin E acetate. Since cannabis crude oil is too thick for cartridge use, manufacturers add thinners to make it easier to heat and inhale. As customers grew wise to runnier oil being weaker, some illicit brands added Vitamin E acetate to make the cartridge appear thicker and more legitimate.
Dry Herb and Oil Vaporizer Tips
For vaping flower buds, use a grinder to create more effective heating materials. If your herb is not broken down into smaller pieces, your dry herb won’t heat up as evenly. Also, don’t overpack your chamber. A tightly packed vape chamber can restrict airflow and make it difficult to get a decent draw. Also, make sure to regularly clean your chamber and filter to avoid buildup.
When buying oil vape pens, ensure your vape pen always remains upright. If your pen is upside down, the oil can risk leaking out of the mouthpiece. Some pens can get clogged if they’re not heated properly. Cooler temperatures can make the oil harder to heat up. If this happens, allow the pen to heat for a second before inhaling. Oil vs. Herb: Which Is Better For Cannabis Vaping?
The Best of Both Worlds
As you can see, there’s no clear winner between vaping dry herb and oil. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages. For some, vaping oil can be a discreet and portable option if they’re on-the-go. Vaping flower can seem like a healthier choice for those concerned about e-cigarette-related vaping illnesses. In today’s cannabis market, there are vaping choices for everyone. You don’t have to choose just one. Having both a dry herb and oil vaporizer (or a hybrid one) can be the best option. Having both types of vaporizers gives you the ability to pick the best option for your situation.
When vaping cannabis flower or hash oil, both have definite appeal, but for different reasons. One is not superior to the other. Personal preference is really what matters the most. Both flower and oil deserve a place among a selection of prime vaporizer products.
Oil vs. Herb: Which Is Better For Cannabis Vaping? We will let you decide.
Fred Hernandez is a highly accomplished and versatile writer, boasting an extensive background in the cannabis industry. With an in-depth understanding of various sectors including cultivators, processors, retailers, and brands, Fred's expertise spans across the entire cannabis landscape. As a prominent contributor to CTU, he consistently delivers insightful articles exploring the latest developments, news, and regulations shaping the cannabis industry. Whether it's delving into the intricacies of cannabis products, cannabis strain reviews, or providing comprehensive analyses of cannabis laws, or sharing expert insights on cannabis cultivation techniques, Fred's wealth of knowledge positions him as an invaluable writer and educator for all cannabis-related subjects.