If you’re looking for a new vaporizer, there are plenty of places to shop and plenty of brands to choose from. As with most consumer products, the selection of vaporizers ranges from excellent, top-quality options, to cheap, shoddy ones.
But what is it exactly that separates those ‘excellent’ vaporizers from the ‘shoddy’ ones? In this post, we examine the defining characteristics of vaporizers and identify the factors that best distinguish the good from the bad.
Before we get to the traits that make a vaporizer good or bad, let’s start with the fundamental question people like to ask when buying almost anything: is it a good deal?
Vaporizers, like most products, are available for a wide variety of prices. We tend to assume that higher prices reflect higher quality - i.e. the more expensive the product, the better the product - but of course, this isn’t always the case. That’s why it’s important to identify the things that do reflect quality.
The following sections of this article do just that. Let’s take a look at the components of a vaporizer that will increase or decrease its quality.
Vaporizers heat up in one of two ways; using conduction or convection. Conduction means the surface encompassing the flower is heated, while convection means the flower is heated by air that’s warmed in another part of the vaporizer.
While a quality product can use either method, what’s important is that the heating chamber performs well. This can be judged by a few different metrics.
Easy-to-clean chambers are nice, not only for convenience, but because they help you avoid getting old material and flavors stuck in your vaporizer. It’s also important that the chamber heats quickly, since this cuts down on the time between firing up the device and being able to use it.
Another important consideration is what material(s) the chamber is made from. High quality ceramics and stainless steel, for example, are better than cheap metals because, over time, the latter can absorb flavors (especially true of oils and concentrates), suffer damage or become warped. Such impairments can affect the performance of the device and ultimately render it useless.
The pathway the vapor takes en route to inhalation is every bit as important as the heating chamber. Why? Because if hot air is passing a pcb or cheap plastic, toxic compounds can seep into the vapor before you inhale it.
Have you ever been told not to reuse a plastic water bottle because the plastic breaks down and ends up in the water you’re drinking? It’s the same story here.
Vaporizers made with medical-grade materials will ensure the vapor you inhale is pure, functioning like a good BPA-free water bottle. This also helps preserve the flavor of the herb by not absorbing the taste of past substances. Cheap, inferior materials will add coating, glue or fibrous compounds to the vapor over time, compromising your health.
It’s also important that the vapor path is broad enough for a substantial amount of vapor to pass through at one time. If the path is too thin, it can limit the amount of vapor you can inhale in one breath.
Finally, it’s useful for the vapor path to have a screen. This prevents the user from eating some unwanted Scooby snacks - i.e. little bits of flower that are sucked in through the heating chamber.
Smoking may be simpler than vaping, but it’s less healthy, and less customizable. For instance, a good vaporizer will have multiple temperature settings because different levels of heat will produce different types of vapor.
Different compounds within a substance are released at different temperatures. Thus, by changing the temperature of your vaporizer, you can potentially extract one compound but not another. For example, terpenes are released at lower temperatures, and as you increase the heat other phyto materials are absorbed into the vape. Thus, temperature will determine the feeling you get as a result of consumption.
Temperature also affects flavor. Typically, lower heat preserves the flavor of the flower better than higher heat. By having different options, you can determine how strongly you taste the substance in the heating chamber.
Well-made vaporizers will give you the option of at least a few different temperatures, so you have control over the taste and effect of the material inside. Cheaper ones simply turn on and provide a one-size-fits-all experience.
When it comes to batteries, long-lasting is good, short-lasting is bad. There’s nothing too unique about the batteries used for vaporizers; if you use a mobile phone, you know how the battery affects convenience.
So how long should a good vaporizer last between charges? If you’re talking portable vaporizers, you’ll want at least 10 sessions before you have to plug it in. To hit this quota you’ll also need a solid wall unit and a good cable; it’s not all on the battery.
It’s also good to have a battery that recharges quickly. It’s irritating to have to wait around for your vaporizer to get a decent amount of juice when you’re eager to head out the door. Once again, please refer to your mobile phone.
A vaporizer should have a gentle learning curve. It shouldn’t have 20 different buttons, 15 of which you almost never intentionally press. Simplicity is key, and simplicity is achieved by creating an intuitive product that even first-timers can quickly figure out.
It starts with the control system; each button should have an obvious purpose and should provide feedback when pushed. For example, the power button should be clearly marked, and should react when pressed - e.g. by lighting up or vibrating - to indicate the device has been activated. When you change the temperature, the effect should be obvious.
Beyond the controls, you should be able to figure out where to put your dried leaf and how to attach accessories. If you can’t figure out how to use a vaporizer within a minute or two, it’s not intuitive. If that’s the case, hopefully your product comes with a manual and good customer service.
Lastly, the vaporizer should come with a manual. Because it never hurts to have clarity for the device’s more advanced functions.
Sure, what’s on the inside matters more, but you also want you vaporizer to look good.
When it comes to style, everyone has an opinion, and there’s no objective way to define ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ We make vaporizers that are small, sleek and discreet, designed for those that want to be able to take their vaporizer nearly anywhere and not have it feel out of place.
Whether that speaks to you, or you’re into something a little more flashy, there’s probably a high-quality option out there that matches your aesthetic preferences.
The lesson here is that quality, in part, depends on what you like, so the style of your vaporizer matters.
Some vaporizers are cased in cheap plastic that might not survive a drop. Others are made from space-grade material that’s rugged and powerful. Obviously, the better vaporizer is made from the latter.
Durability also leads to sustained functionality, not just preservation. Is the product going to malfunction? How long before the battery starts to wear out? The answer to these questions is largely the sum of the sections previously examined by this article: what materials is the vaporizer made from?
A warranty is also useful, and is something most quality vaporizers will come with. Companies that believe in their products will back them with a guarantee, making a warranty both a sign of confidence and a solid backup plan.
When selecting a vaporizer, keep these factors in mind. Because while the visible difference between a good and bad vaporizer may be non-existent, the performance and longevity can be monumental.
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If you’re looking to buy a vaporizer, you’ve got options. You wouldn’t find them in major retail stores (nor will you at the time of writing), but you would find them in speciality shops – most of which featured at least one pot leaf emblazoned on the window – and online.