A vaporizer is a mechanism, either stationary or handheld, used to extract and inhale vapor from a liquid or solid substance. The process of using a vaporizer is known as vaping, which was first popularized as an alternative to smoking tobacco, and has more recently become a prevalent medium for consuming other legalized dry leaf or extract products.
In this blog, our very first of many Pulitzer-worthy entries to come, we’ll describe what a vaporizer is, and how vaporizers work. We’ll also examine why people are increasingly choosing vaping as their preferred way to consume dry leaf or extract.
A vaporizer heats your chosen substance to a temperature at which vapor is produced, not unlike a pot of water placed atop a stove set to low-medium heat. When vaping dry leaf, this vapor contains coveted components of the flower, including its terpenes and other compounds.
Using a vaporizer is aesthetically similar to smoking, but the process is actually quite different. The main difference is that vaporizers do not cause combustion, and therefore produce no smoke. By producing vapor instead of smoke, vaporizers extract only the elements of the flower you want to consume.
In a conductive system, dried material is placed into a chamber, which is usually made of metal or ceramic. The chamber is then heated by a battery, rather than a flame. The contents are heated through contact with the interior surface of the chamber, reaching the temperature at which vapor is produced. The vapor can then be inhaled by the user through a mouthpiece. This is the sort of vaporization methods that Vapium products use.
Instead of using a heated surface to extract vapor from a substance, convective vaporizers heat the air within a chamber, then use a fan or inhalation device to move that air into the part of the apparatus containing the dry leaf or extract. The heated air draws vapor from the flower or extract and is then inhaled by the user through a mouthpiece.
There are two main categories of dry herb vaporizers: portable and desktop. Both work in essentially the same way, so breathe easy, everything you just read above is universally applicable. The difference between the two is in the way people use them.
Portable vaporizers are handheld. Most are of a size that easily allow you to fit them into bags, purses and pockets. Larger ones will weigh in the neighborhood of half a pound, while the smallest ones, known as vape pens, weigh as little as two ounces.
Some vaporizers will come with other parts, like a case, concentrate pads, cleaning tools, etc. The list above details the essentials. You can see an example of a portable vaporizer by taking a look at the Vapium Lite.
If portable vaporizers are like smartphones, then desktop vaporizers are like, well...desktop computers. They are larger, heavier and require a surface to use.
But while desktop vaporizers can’t do everything their portable counterparts can, they can handle more flower at any one time, and have stronger batteries or plug directly into a power source. This makes them ideal for longer sessions, and sessions that include several users.
Generally speaking, though they look different, desktop vaporizers feature many of the same parts as a portable vaporizer - e.g. heating chamber, charger, etc. The sizes and positions of these components is what makes users interact with them differently.
For example, rather than relying on a mouthpiece that’s attached to the vaporizer itself, desktop versions usually require an attachment, like a whip (a tube with a mouthpiece on the end), a wand (a glass pipe) or a balloon (which captures the vapor, and is then opened and inhaled).
Many vaporizers accommodate different types of attachments, though not all vaporizers will accommodate every kind of attachment.
Vaporizers are becoming more and more popular among enthusiasts. We’ll delve into the reasons in an upcoming posts (Spoiler!), but it’s not hard to guess at the basics.
Vaporizers are easy to carry around; you don’t have to roll anything; you don’t have to worry about paper ripping when it is in your pocket or bag. Vaporizers also give you more control, by allowing you to choose the exact temperature you heat the flower or extract to, as opposed to say, just setting your flower on fire. Vaping also allows for a purer form of consumption than smoking, and is generally accepted to be healthier.
Of course, these examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Vaping appeals to different people for different reasons. The more you learn about vaporizers and vaping, the more likely the concept will appeal to you.
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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.