Cloud Production And Cannabis
3 min

Why Doesn’t A Dry Herb Vaporizer Produce Big Clouds Of Vapor?

3 min

Some people might think they are doing something wrong because they can’t produce huge clouds when vaping cannabis. In fact, no clouds is good—let Zamnesia explain why.


We have all seen them on the interwebs: those artists exhaling huge clouds from a vaporizer and turning them into temporary sculptures in the air. This kind of talent can leave you scratching your head in awe.

You might be thinking, “How do they inhale soooooo much sticky icky vapor without coughing their lungs out and getting too ripped to do anything at all? And, why doesn’t my vaporizer let me do the same?”

Those are indeed reasonable and good questions! It’s all cool—and there is no need to fret about faulty equipment or your inability as a vape cloud powerhouse.

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Quite simply, it is two similar yet distinctly different creatures we’re talking about here. Big clouds are produced from e-cig-type rigs that do not utilise cannabis or its wonderful resins, but a variety of other liquid substances with an infinite range of flavours, forms, and performances. Usually, they contain nicotine as an aid to giving up cigarettes. Whereas a cannabis vaporizer has a chamber full of weed that is heated, these rigs have wicks soaked in fluid that are directly heated by an element. This is a form of conduction heating.

Keen clouders use rigs endowed with high-powered batteries charging high-resistance coils to high temperatures. Combined with a high airflow being drawn over the coil, the e-cig fluid evaporates from the internal wick, is atomised, then quickly cooled by the incoming air. It then condenses just like the mechanism that makes real clouds in the sky—and massive, fluffy clouds of vapor can be inhaled and exhaled as a result. Higher temps mean more fluid is vaporized, needing more air to cool it, making bigger clouds. So if you want big clouds out of e-cigs, suck like mad.

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Vaping enthusiasts even customise their e-cigs for maximum cloud performance. The fluid that is heated may contain nicotine and any number of essential oils and flavours in it, and is largely a combination of propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerine. The balance of PG To VG largely determines the cloud factor. More PG gives a stronger throat hit (to imitate cigarettes), while more VG creates more vapor. A 50/50 balance tends to work best as too much VG starts to become very thick and problems can occur in performance.



Vaporizers for weed work on similar principles. However, they do not have a wick that is soaked in fluid and heated to high temps by a conducting coil. Instead, a battery heats a convection coil, which in turn heats a chamber full of weed. This then vaporizes the THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids and terpenes for personal joy. This is convection heating in a nutshell. Moreover, high temperatures and lots of air can be detrimental to the active compounds in cannabis, diminishing the effectiveness of cannabinoids and terpenes in kind. As such, cannabis and its extracts need much lower temperatures if they are going to be fully appreciated.

Vaporizers for cannabis don’t have the “cloud factor” for a very good reason. Dry herb isn't capable of producing much visible vapor, and even liquid cannabis extracts keep clouds to a minimum. In fact, if your weed or extract pen is smoking that much, it is probably faulty, and something might actually be burning. Vaping could be considered an electronically heated, smokeless bong. Temperatures are set to the minimum it takes for cannabinoids and terpenes to evaporate optimally. This ensures these essential volatile compounds—which are why we use cannabis in the first place—are in the most potent condition for maximum effects.

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It could be said that the ideal temperature for vaping cannabis is 175°C. At this temperature, cannabis will give up all its goodness (THC and CBD) without producing much noticeable vapor at all. In fact, if you hold your draw in for a small while, hardly any vapor will be seen on the exhale. This is a good thing! It means the plant material isn’t burning, your vaporizer is working properly, and you are getting the maximum benefit.



Why do joints and bongs produce lots of the fluffy white stuff? That’s actual smoke, the byproduct of burning plant matter. All the goodness for which we smoke cannabis isn’t contained “in” the smoke itself; it is the resinous vapor created further down the spliff or behind the cherry that is responsible. The smoke and the delicious evaporated volatiles all get mixed together on the inhale and make their way to mind, body, and soul. With lungs of steel, it is possible to do massive bong hits, even ripping huge dab rig meltdowns, then exhale the smoke in an impressive head-rushing cumulonimbus. But it sure ain’t easy.

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This can get pretty unhealthy over time, and is the main reason that vape devices were created. A number of harmful and toxic compounds are produced when plant matter is burnt at high temperatures. A joint or bong ignites at around 600–700°C, and is why burning creates that hot orange glow. Bongs are filtered through water to help cool the smoke—some people even use ice—and to help remove some of the nasty solids like ash and tar. Surprisingly, a well-filtered joint removes even more of these unwanted nasties, only the smoke is less cool.


So in the end, if you aren’t producing huge clouds of smoke from your herb or extract vaping device, well done! You have things all dialled in for proper cannabis enjoyment. If, on the other hand, you want to be a cloud artist and make whopping, roiling vortices of twirling smoke, get yourself an e-cig and fluid designed for the job. Until then, get high and be secure in the fact you are doing things just right.

Adam Parsons
Adam Parsons
Professional cannabis journalist, copywriter, and author Adam Parsons is a long-time staff member of Zamnesia. Tasked with covering a wide range of topics from CBD to psychedelics and everything in between, Adam creates blog posts, guides, and explores an ever-growing range of products.
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