Vaporization is the process in which cannabis buds or concentrates are heated to a temperature that releases phytocannabinoids and terpenes to create an inhalable vapor, but does not induce combustion or burning. As it only combusts the fatty resins on cannabis and not the actual plant material, the vapor inhaled is purely resin steam.Vaporizing has been proven for years to be a much healthier alternative to smoking, and often produces near instantaneous effects.
Combusting, or burning cannabis creates many toxins and carcinogens that disturb the respiratory system. Vaporization, on the other hand, is a smokeless method that heats cannabis a much lower temperature, releasing phytocannabinoids and terpenes into a vapor without the harmful by-products. Vaporizers can work with dried bud, concentrated THC or CBD, or both.
Vaporization also preserves many of the unique flavors and nuanced effects in cannabis flowers and concentrates. Combustion tends to burn off many of the naturally occurring components that govern variation in cannabis aromas, flavors and psychotropic effects, whereas vaporization can preserve these effects.
Different parts of the cannabis plant vaporize at different temperatures. Certain phytocannabinoids begin to vaporize at around 140°C (284°F), while combustion usually doesn’t begin until around 230°C (446°F). Vaporizers provide heat between these two temperatures, either through conduction or convection heating methods. Conduction heating involves placing bud or concentrate directly onto an electronically heated surface, most often a solid metal or a screen. The “hot plate” is heated to an ideal vaporization temperature, and soon after the phytocannabinoids and terpenes find themselves in a healthy vapor, ready for inhalation. Convection heating works a bit differently, by heating a small chamber of air to the desired temperature, and then moved either by fan or inhalation to the component containing the cannabis bud or concentrate. These vaporizers are usually made from ceramic, though some use stainless steel.
Lower vaporization temperatures, such as those in the 143 – 166°C (290 – 330°F) range, offer mild euphoria, focus, productivity and subtle relaxation as a general rule of thumb. Despite high levels of THC in some strains of bud or concentrates, vaporizing at these temperatures usually doesn’t result in strong highs, giving a wide arrange of effects with little of them being psychoactive. This range of temperatures seems to be the perfect fit for those wishing to benefit from the effects of cannabis, but still remaining productive and functional.
Moderate vaporization temperatures, such as those in the 166 – 187°C (330 – 370°F) range, generally make highs more apparent and more intense. They provide enhanced sensory awareness, mood elevation and functional relaxation. Users also generally report stimulated giggles and a kick-started appetite. For many, 185°C (365°F) is the sweet spot within this range. Users report a combination of a tamed euphoria, subtle relaxation and focus.
High vaporization temperatures, such as those in the 188 – 229°C (370 – 445°F) range, generally induce intense euphoria, sleepiness, heavy relaxation and meditation. At these high temperatures, terpenes such as linalool can induce calming and anxiety-relieving behavior, and phytocannabinoids such as THCV can provide energizing and appetite-suppressing effects in stronger, more readily apparent doses. However, the buds are bordering on combustion territory, so general flavors and aromas are less likely to be apparent.