It’s more confusing and overwhelming than ever before to decide on which cannabis vape to get, so here’s a dank vaporizer guide to help choose the best vaporizer for a happier, healthier and higher you.
Just a few years ago it was super easy to make a choice on what vape to get, because there was only a handful of products to choose from. This may have made things a lot simpler, but it also meant that there were pretty much only super expensive reliable desktop options and a couple of portable ones that weren’t very discreet. Things have changed a lot since then. With hundreds of vapes now conveniently and affordably available it has become quite a chore to figure out what the best solution is for your particular vaping needs.
Why get a vaporizer?
After years of clearing fat bongs you may feel like you need to give your lungs a break or may be looking for a healthy cannabis consumption alternative that better fits in with your lifestyle. Perhaps medical motives require that you need fast acting relief, but are dissuaded by smoking your meds. Whatever the reason, vaporizers offer loads of discretion and convenience for everyone from beginners to cannasseurs.
What is vaporizing and how does it work?
Cannabis is traditionally burned in order to be inhaled with bongs, joints and pipes being the preferred means of doing this. Smoking allows users to easily regulate how much they use due to the fast acting effects and full flavour of the herb when ignited. While this is a very effective method it is not very efficient as it technically wastes loads of herb and forces you to inhale all the smoke when it is only really about 5 to 20% that has all of the oomph in it.
Rather than combust the herb, vaporizers heat it to a point where the little sugar like trichomes (the bit that makes you feel good) turn them from a solid into a low odour steam like vapour. This takes place at temepartures between 150 and 240c. The vapour is then inhaled and delivers much the same kick as smoking a joint or pipe, but the key differences being that vaping is much healthier and efficient due to not actually breathing in smoke and your herb lasting up to twice as long.
Vape users often report a clearer or longer lasting effect, although some do miss the fuller flavour that smoking offers.
Desktop vs Portable Vaporizers
Vaporizers fall into basically 2 categories, Desktop and Portable.
Desktop: Larger units that are meant for home use only as they need to be plugged in. Key features typically include functions such as full temperature control and the ability to to vaporize both herb or concentrates. Some models will also have the option to fill balloon like bags full of vape, a remote control and a even timer. The big advantage of these is that they are reliably able to work for hours on end. Expect to spend R2000 ($150) to R7000 ($550) for a good model. Popular products include Volcano, ExtremeQ and Silver Surfer.
Portable: Everything from tiny pen styles that use E-cigarette type batteries to behemoths that will barely fit into your pocket, this is by far where the largest selection is available with new versions coming out nearly every month. What was originally a market of shitty, poor performing and unreliable products just a few years ago has exploded into a frenzy of now great gear. The big advantage of these is that they are mostly small and super discreet, with some beginning to rival the performance of desktop vaporizers. Key features typically include functions of almost instant vape and some higher end models even being able sync with your phone for full digital customization. Expect to spend R1500 ($120) to R6000 ($500) for a good model. Popular products include Magic Flight, Dr Dabber, Mighty, PAX and Grenco.
Which vaporizer for Herb or Concentrates?
This should be one of the key considerations to be made when buying a vaporizer. Vaping concentrates (Oil, BHO, RSO or Rosin) is very different to vaping herbs and you need to be sure about which will be your preferred choice. Desktops vaporizers that claim to do both herb and concentrates are usually very good at doing both.
Portable vaporizers that claim to do both are however usually caught in an awkward compromise between the two. Only the top dollar options deliver good performance for herb and concentrates, although I still personally prefer to have separate dedicated pen style vaporizer for use with concentrates as it can become a mission juggling and cleaning all the extra little bits that the dual vaporizers often need. Pen style vaporizers offer great performance with concentrates and have become quite affordable.
Read our Cannabis Oil and Concentrates guide here.
Can I put herb or concentrates in my e-cigarette?
Definitely not! E-cigarettes use a similar battery and look much the same as many pen styled cannabis vaporizers, but the atomizers (the tank that screws onto the battery) are very different. You can however easily purchase e-cig compatible herb and concentrate atomizers online. My experience is though is that that most pen style vaporizers and atomizers that claim to vape herb do so poorly and often burn it, then burnout.
Beware of knock-offs!
The market for counterfeits is so strong that you can buy clones of just about any vaporizer out there. Even I’ve been fooled by ones that I could not tell apart from an original, at least not until the dude was long gone with my money and left me with a bunch of vapes that barely lasted a week before all failing one after another in short succession.
Top tips for happy vaping
- Keep it clean. A good service once in while should keep performance like new.
- The atomizers on pen vaporizers don’t last forever, so try to keep a spare one.
- Herb vaporizers perform best when the herb is finely ground. Invest in a good grinder, it will make a huge difference.
- If you’re spending top dollar, make sure that the vaporizer has a good warranty.
- Only get a vaporizer that has spares and accessories readily available.
So there you have it. In the end it boils down to whether you want a desktop or portable vaporizer and whether you want to vaporize herbs, concentrates or both. And if you are till not sure which to get, just leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help point you in the right direction.