Modern marijuana vaporizers are discreet, portable, highly efficient pen-shaped devices that transform marijuana oil into vapor for a less-harsh hit. By vaporizing marijuana oil though a heating element (called a battery) instead of setting buds on fire, you can avoid the unhealthy contaminants present in weed smoke and take a load off your lungs. Vaporizers are available in:

Pre-Filled Cartridges

Disposable or Refillable

Pods

Specialty Cartridges for STIIIZY Brand Vaporizers

The effects of weed vaping are immediate, much like smoking, and the effects last about the same—one to three hours. And while vaping is a “healthier” option compared to smoking, it’s important to only use quality products from renowned brands to ensure you aren’t inhaling sketchy ingredients.

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Vaporizers 101

Smoking cannabis is nowhere near as unhealthy as smoking tobacco, but let’s face it—inhaling any kind of smoke isn’t the best for your lungs. Fortunately, weed enthusiasts have a less-harsh option for enjoying the effects of cannabis: vaporizing! Instead of consuming through combustion, vaporizing cannabis creates a healthier vapor to inhale that’s free of the tar and carcinogens created when you burn flower. As a bonus, many vaporizer devices are small, discreet, and portable—perfect for toking on the go.

Vaporizers work by heating buds or liquid concentrates to a temperature (around 356-374 degrees Fahrenheit) that transforms the cannabinoids and terpenes into vapor you can inhale. The vapor and resulting exhale cloud don’t smell as skunky either, adding to the discreet benefits of vaporizing.

For medical marijuana patients, the benefits of vaporizing are even more extensive. Vaping activates more cannabis by-products compared to smoking, boosting the health benefits for those who use cannabis to relieve pain, nausea, or other medical conditions. At this point, there are three main ways to vape—vape pens, tabletop vaporizers and portable vaporizers—but with the ever-expanding market for cannabis and related accessories, there could be slick new options available in the near future.

Vape pens

Vape pens get their name from vaguely resembling a writing instrument—they’re small, slim, discreet, and totally portable, consisting of a battery and cartridge filled with liquid cannabis concentrate. Most vape pens are incredibly easy to use (even easier than figuring out a bong for newbies), and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit your personal preference.

There’s also the option of refillable or disposable vape pens, THC vape pens or CBD vape pens, dab pens (in which solid concentrates are placed in the heating chamber rather than being pre-loaded), and an almost endless variety of cartridge strains and brands. However, it’s crucial to only purchase lab-verified vape cartridges from trusted dispensaries to ensure product purity—you don’t want to end up a statistic in the recent scourge of vaping-related incidents.

Tabletop vaporizers

Tabletop vaporizers have actually been around for a while, but until recently they were rather clunky and easy to misuse. Newer tabletop vaporizers are smaller and slimmer, but they still require a flat surface and contain the same basic features:

  • Temperature regulation dial
  • Heating element
  • Heating chamber
  • Mouthpiece attachment

To use a tabletop vaporizer, you plug it in (or turn on the battery), place cannabis flower or concentrate in the heating chamber, crank up the temperature dial to the ideal range, and inhale through either a long tube attached to the chamber or an attached bag that collects the vapor.

Portable vaporizers

Portable vaporizers work the same way as tabletop vaporizers, but as the name implies, they’re easy to transport and use on the go. Instead of being plugged in, portable vaporizers run on batteries, and they don’t necessarily require a flat surface to work. Another distinction among portable vaporizers is the type of cannabis they’re designed to vaporize. Some are designed for flower exclusively, some only work with concentrates (wax, budder, badder, shatter), and others are hybrid contraptions that work with both.

Anatomy of a vape cartridge

Liquid cannabis concentrate cartridges vary in terms of ingredients, and the best way to ensure those ingredients aren’t harmful is to buy only lab-verified products. But in general, all liquid concentrates include distilled cannabinoid oil, and many also contain terpenes, which reintroduce the unique aromas and flavors of cannabis that are stripped from the oil during the distillation process.

Many cannabis cartridges also contain cutting agents to enhance the vape cloud and mouthfeel. Common cutting agents include polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol, and vegetable glycerin, and while the FDA has labeled those ingredients safe for human ingestion, research is ongoing into the effects of inhaling them. One cutting agent you want to stay away from is vitamin E acetate, which is responsible for all those recent lung illnesses in the news, so if you’re unsure about the long-term effects of so-called “safe” cutting agents, you can opt for raw vape cartridges that only contain cannabinoid oils, with no terpenes or cutting agents.

What else to know before you vape

The onset of effects when using cannabis vape pens is roughly the same as smoking cannabis—in approximately 5-15 minutes you’ll know if you need another hit or not. The same goes for vaping flower, although it’s a little trickier to tell when a bud is “done” when you’re not smoking it into ashy oblivion. Once the flower turns from green to brown, you won’t get much more out of it high-wise—if it turns black, that’s a sign you need to turn down that temperature dial pronto. Also, you can technically smoke a vaporized brown bud, but you might not want to, considering the limited effects and off-putting smell and flavor.

Balboa Ave Cooperative has the best brands of lab-verified vape cartridges, including disposable and refillable options and specialty cartridges for STIIIZY brand vaporizers. Check out our full vape menu on Weedmaps!

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