What is a vaporizer?
A vaporizer is a device which heats up dried herbs to a temperature at which they release their (medically) active components into an aromatic vapor. This vapor doesn’t contain any of the toxic elements found in smoke. To read more about this, read What is a vaporizer?
In a bong the herb (usually cannabis) is burnt, which then gives off smoke. The smoke is then filtered somewhat by passing through water before it is inhaled. But even after passing through the water, it’s still smoke, filled with tars and toxic gasses. A vaporizer doesn’t really need a water filter, as it doesn’t produce smoke in the first place. Filtering either smoke or vapor with cold water may not be such a good idea anyway, for as the MAPS/NORML study showed, the water will also filter out the active components of the herb (like THC), requiring one to smoke or vaporize more.
Yes, there is no doubt about that. We believe that with the advent of the vaporizer, smoking will soon be a thing of the past. See our science page for the reasons why.
Compared to smoking, there is hardly any noticeable smell when vaporising. There can be a slight scent, especially when the vaporizer is used at a temperature that is too high, when combustion takes place. Most vaporizers are safe to use without having to worry about the smell.
Some heating elements might be safer or more stable than others. To learn more about the different heating elements, read our page Types of vaporizers.
Conduction refers to heating herbs by direct contact, whereas convection refers to heating them with a flow of hot air. You can read more about these principles on our page Types of vaporizers.
When medicinal plants are vaporized and inhaled, this process is generally referred to as phyto-inhalation rather than aromatherapy. An extensive list of herbs that can be vaporized can be found in our vaporizing temperatures table.
A vaporizer might be expensive because of the materials used (borosilicate glass, metal, heat resistant plastic etc.), the technique employed (type of heating element, analogue or digital temperature control etc.) or both. A good vaporizer doesn’t have to be expensive, and an expensive vaporizer isn’t necessarily better. But if you’re looking for a device that lasts long and can be used comfortably, buying one of the cheapest vaporizers will likely be disappointing.
If you already have a (small) glass bong or an iron pipe, you can easily transform it into a vaporizer with the Vaporstar or the Vapo-bowl respectively. It’s also possible to make a very simple vaporizer from a whip convection vaporizer, although especially the latter may not be that safe. We do not recommend building your own vaporizer with a heat gun (like a hot air paint stripper), because such heat sources were made for industrial purposes, not for inhalation.
Generally not, but this depends on the type of vaporizer. For some models emptying and refilling the herb chamber or cleaning the vaporizer might be a bit bothersome. One must always be careful, as the heating element and the filling chamber can get very (very!) hot.
It is likely that you’re vaporizing at a temperature too high. Though it can be nice to inhale very concentrated white vapor (because of the strong effect), it is difficult to keep this in the lungs. Lower the temperature and the coughing will likely cease.
In the United States of America Drug Paraphernalia are illegal: “Under the Federal Drug Paraphernalia Statute, which is part of the Controlled Substances Act, it is illegal to possess, sell, transport, import, or export drug paraphernalia as defined. The law gives specific guidance on determining what constitutes drug paraphernalia.”
Though vaporizers are marketed for the use of tobacco and legal herbs, local police officers might still seize your vaporizer if they suspect it’s being used for illegal substances like (medical) marijuana.
Yes, absolutely. However, this does not go for every vaporizer. For hash, the temperature for vaporization starts off slightly higher. Therefore, a vaporizer where the temperature can be controlled works better. Because hash tends to melt when heated, this can be a problem with vaporizers that use a screen in the herb chamber/bowl. The melted hash can become a hazard when it runs down to the heating element or electrical parts. Some vaporizers, like the Volcano come with a special screen for liquids and concentrates.
Though we have not tried all models currently on the market, we do have experience with at least fifteen models, made by different manufacturers using various heating elements etc. When it comes to having a comfortable and effortless experience (refilling, cleaning and inhaling), there hasn’t been any vaporizer that comes close to the Volcano. However, we have not found significant differences between the vapor produced by the various vaporizers.
Vaporizers can be bought in local head shops or smart shops, or online. See our buy vaporizers page for reliable vendors in Europe and the United States.