How Do Weed Vaporizers Work?

How Do Weed Vaporizers Work?

Luke Sumpter
Luke Sumpter
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For many, vaporizing has become the ultimate way to get high. It‘s healthier, smoother and saves money. But what‘s actually going on in these little devices? How is the vapour produced?

Over the past decade, vaping has become the choice method of cannabis consumption for millions of stoners around the world. If you're not the type to keep up with new technology, you might be wondering what all the hype is about. After all, what do they get from vaping that you can't get from the old fashioned way? There's more to the answer than you might think.

How Does A Vaporizer Work?


Before we start that discussion, though, we need to go over how they work. Whether they use dry herb or concentrates, vaporizers heat their contents to a specific temperature to create vapor for you to inhale. Rather than the smoke that comes with, well, smoking, this vapor is much kinder on the lungs.

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Besides heating to a lower temperature, vaping carries far fewer unwanted substances to your lungs than smoking a joint. When you smoke, weed heats up to around 538ºC (1000ºF), whereas vaping heats marijuana to a much more reasonable 140–220ºC (285–428ºF) range.

Different Types Of Vaporizers

Conduction Vs Convection

Up to this point, every reputable vape you'll find on the market shares the aforementioned characteristics. The divide forms, however, when we discuss how the weed is heated up. As far as dry-herb vapes go, "conduction" and "convection" are the two terms you'll hear getting thrown around. They accomplish the same goal, but there are some key distinctions between them.

Conduction Heating

Conduction Heating - Storm Vaporizer

In short, conduction heating puts your weed in direct contact with the heating element. If this sounds simple and straightforward, that's because it is.

• Pros

You should be able to hit these vapes pretty much straight out of the box. You also probably paid less for that box to start with, given that these vapes are usually more simple and streamlined.

Because they don’t have a lot of fancy features, they’re usually pretty easy to operate. Moreover, conduction heating usually allows for bigger clouds.

• Cons

Simplicity, as always, comes with drawbacks. For one, when weed is in direct contact with the heating element, you run the risk of combustion. This means a less clean hit, and greater waste. Even when they're working properly, conduction vapes tend to heat weed unevenly, so you have to rearrange your bowl to fully enjoy it.

Moreover, conduction heating tends to be less precise, although this can make things more simple to operate for beginners.

• Examples Arizer Air 2, Storm, Davinci IQ, Pax 3, Boundless CFC 2.0

Convection Heating

Convection Heating - Firefly 2+ Vaporizer

As opposed to their conduction peers, convection vapes heat up herb indirectly by circulating hot air through it. This is accomplished by putting a screen of sorts between the weed and the heat source.

• Pros

This separation offers quite a few benefits, not the least of which is even heat distribution. When you don't have to worry about some of your weed burning while the rest remains untouched, it makes the whole experience much more enjoyable.

Furthermore, convection heating results in cleaner, smoother hits and less waste. Given their sophisticated heating tech, it’s not uncommon for these vapes to be more involved than conduction. Advanced temperature adjustment controls and other stylish enhancements are popular among these vapes.

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• Cons

There aren't many drawbacks with these vapes, but nothing is perfect. Because of the extra step in their design, convection vapes often come at a premium. Along with that, given the herb–heat division, you'll have to wait a bit to take your first hits.

When you do, you may not get as strong of a cloud as you would with conduction. Moreover, the sophisticated nature of these vapes can make them more difficult to operate for beginners.

• Examples Volcano Hybrid and Classic, Boundless CFV, Firefly 2+

Hybrid Heating

Hybrid Heating - MIGHTY Vaporizer

As one could guess from the name, hybrid vapes utilise a mix of both heating methods. Air flows through the material to heat your weed evenly, but a heating element still comes into direct contact with the herb to ensure nice hits.

• Pros

Because of this heating synergy, you end up getting larger clouds, with less risk of combustion than with pure conduction vapes. This combined effort also leads to these vapes being competitively efficient, lasting longer off one charge than many vapes in the other categories.

• Cons

While some prefer to vape at higher temperatures, those with more sensitive lungs might have an issue with these devices. This is simply due to them having two heating mechanisms going at once. They're designed to avoid overheating, but be sure to keep an eye on the temperature.

Beyond that, the only other issue is an escalated price point as a result of complex design.

• Examples MIGHTY

What Are The Components Of A Vaporizer?


No matter what you choose, you'll want to get familiar with the main components of a vape. Regardless of heating method, a dry-herb vape will always have an herb chamber and mouthpiece. They're both self-explanatory; the former is equivalent to a bowl in a pipe, and the mouthpiece is where you inhale. The mouthpiece will also often serve as the cover for the herb chamber.

Of course, the real star of the show is the battery, which can either be fixed or removable depending on your vape. They function similarly, with the main difference being that the latter requires you to remove the battery and charge it separately from the device.


View VaporShop

Apart from that, fixed battery vapes tend to be more convenient and boast more unconventional designs. On the other hand, if you run into any battery issues, you'll have to replace the whole device. Removable battery designs, in contrast, face design limitations while staying functional through most battery issues.

There's no single solution to everyone's vaporizer needs, but one of these types of vaporizers is bound to suit your lifestyle better than the others. Happy vaping!

Luke Sumpter
Luke Sumpter
With a BSc (Hons) degree in Clinical Health Sciences and a passion for growing plants, Luke Sumpter has worked as a professional journalist and writer at the intersection of cannabis and science for the past 7 years.
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