What’s The Difference Between Smoking and Vaping Weed?

Do Your Health a Favor and Try Vaping

Hand holding an oil vaporizer.

Each year new states legalize medical or recreational marijuana, changing the way the world views the once taboo plant. A lot has changed over the years as marijuana consumption has become more mainstream, including preferred methods of consumption. Many frequent smokers are ditching their joints or bongs in favor of vaping, a method of consumption that requires the user to inhale cannabis vapor from a vaporizer. When weighing out vaping vs smoking weed, there are plenty of convenient reasons to switch to a vaporizer, usually for the perceived health benefits and reduced smell.

Over time, vaporizing marijuana has become more high-tech, with a large range of vaporizer models and functions. There’s no doubt that the rise of vaping has allowed the cannabis market to flourish, but many still don’t fully understand what vaping really is. It became popular so fast and has left many in the dark wondering what the benefits or drawbacks are, and how that guy over there can puff such a huge cloud without coughing.

What is Weed Vaping?

weed vape pen

Vaping is a method of consuming marijuana where the user inhales water vapor, sometimes referred to as aerosol, produced by a vaporizer. Many prefer vaping to smoking because vapes don’t combust your weed. Instead, they heat up your flower without burning it and produce a vapor free of the carcinogens produced by burning your weed. This produces no characteristic weed smell and reduces the amount of tar and lung irritation a user might experience.

There are a few different types of vaporizers, but the vape pen is a noticeable trend that has been on the rise. Vape pens are portable devices which resemble fountain pens and allow users to heat up flower or cannabis oil to the right temperature to produce vapor. Many prefer vape pens over other types of vaporizers because of their portability and discretion. If you still want the flavor and entourage effect of flower, then you’ll probably want a dry herb vaporizer. Instead of burning the herb, vaporizers will heat it to the right temperature to produce an inhalable vapor. If you don’t want to worry about packing your bud and bringing it with you then you’ll probably want an oil vape.

The Difference Between Vaping and Smoking

Many people switch from smoking marijuana to vaporizing to cut down on the number of toxins they are consuming. While the verdict is still out on whether smoking cannabis increases risk of lung cancer, like smoking cigarettes does, choosing to vaporize weed still cuts down on the number of carcinogens inhaled. This is because vaporizing does not burn the weed, it just heats it to the correct temperature to produce vapor. There is little definitive research on the benefits of vaping, but it is theorized that vaping reduces the risk of health complications from smoking because it reduces exposure to carcinogens and toxins like tar and carbon monoxide.

Marijuana smoke exposes users to irritants that harm the lungs. According to the American Lung Association, marijuana smoke can cause chronic bronchitis and injures the cell linings of the large airways. This leads to coughing, wheezing and excessive production of phlegm.

Vaping heats the weed to an ideal temperature to activate the cannabinoids and produce a vaport to get you high without inhaling any smoke.

Types of Vaporizers

Vape Pens

Vape pens use oil or distillates as opposed to flower. They are portable and discreet and named for their close resemblance to actual pens you would write with. They have two components, a battery and a cartridge which holds the cannabis oil. Some pens use a button to heat up the heating element, while others will heat up as you inhale without needing to press a button.

Portable Dry Herb Vaporizers

These vaporizers are small and discreet. They come with a battery, heating element, and chamber for holding flower or concentrates. With most portable vaporizers, you just need to press a button to start the heating element, which will then send vapor directly to the mouthpiece. Most do not include a way to adjust the temperature of the heating element. If that’s what you’re looking for, check out Pax or Firefly vapes. 

Tabletop Vaporizers

These vaporizers are larger than the other types and require a power source and a solid surface to sit on. They include a heating element and chamber to hold your concentrates or flower, and a mouthpiece to inhale from. A dial to control the temperature will be on the device, as well as a detachable bag for collecting vapor or a long tube that allows the vapor to travel from the heating chamber directly to the user.

What Consumers Say

Many marijuana users seem to be happy with the benefits vaporizing cannabis provides. In a study of user experience, vaporizing cannabis appeared to taste better, have a reduced smell, and offer a stronger high with the same amount of marijuana. This explains why so many people are choosing to switch their method of cannabis consumption to vaporizing.

People also switch to vaping weed because it is more discreet than smoking. Vaporizing weed almost completely eliminates the smell associated with joint smoking, because nothing gets burned. This makes for easier to conceal habits and less unpleasant second hand experiences for those around. Whether the ease of use is good for productivity in daily life or not, there is no question that vaping is a much easier way to get away with toking up in places you might want to keep it on the down low. 

The concentration of THC is usually higher with vape pens, as most use hash oil as opposed to actual flower. Some hash oils can get up to around 90% THC, which is a huge step up from the typical 20% from recreational flower. It’s important to keep this in mind when vaping for the first time, or considering purchasing one. If you get too excited and keep puffing on your pen all day, you might end up way higher than expected or accidentally increase your tolerance to a level where smoking no longer does the trick.

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