How to Use a Dry Herb Vaporizer

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Vaporizer Selection

So, you’ve heard about dry herb vaping, and with marijuana laws and restrictions across the country becoming looser, you’ve decided to give it a shot. But where do you even start? If that’s something that you’ve been wondering about, then you’re in the right place. This is where you’ll learn everything there is to know about how to vape dry herb.

From preparing the vape to preparing your herb, this page will give you all the knowledge you need to get started. By the time you’re done, you’ll go from a vaping newbie to a vaping expert. At least where knowledge is concerned, you still have to learn the practical aspects yourself, but at least you’ll be ready. So, enough of the intro, it’s time to get started.

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Step 1: Consult The Instruction Manual

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While there are some commonalities amongst dry herb vaporizers, many of them are unique, so you need to check the instruction manual before you do anything else. You need to get acquainted with the following procedures first: 

  • Charging
  • Loading
  • Turning on the vaporizer
  • Temperature selection
  • Inhaling
  • Cleaning

These are all important when it comes to the use and maintenance of your vaporizer. So if you’re a new user, read the manual first no matter how simple or intuitive you think using a vaporizer may be. Some vaporizers may have a smartphone app that provides additional functionality, others have special heating modes or profiles, and some, like the DaVinci IQ, have both. You need to familiarize yourself with the full range of your vape’s abilities before getting started.

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Step 2: Charge Up Your Vaporizer

Dr Dabber Switch Battery

Most vapes will come with a USB cable, so if you want to charge your vape as quickly as possible, attach the USB cable to a wall adapter and plug it in instead of connecting it to your computer’s USB port, or any other device with an open USB port. A power outlet puts out more amps than a USB port so your vape will charge a lot faster. Some vapes only use a wall adapter, but they are typically stay at home vapes as opposed to portables.

Some vaporizers use a removable battery or batteries, and if that is the case, then there might be different charging methods used. As always, consult the manual first, but in many cases the battery can be charged separately in a charger, or while it is still inside of the vaporizer. Usually a charger is faster, so you might think about investing in one if you have a removable battery. You might also consider investing in extra batteries as well, since that means you will always have a fresh battery ready when one runs out.

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Step 3: The Burn Off Session

This next step might not be in the instruction manual, but it’s an important one all the same. During the manufacturing process, or while the vaporizer was in storage, bits of residue may have fallen into the oven and built up over time. That could cause the flavor from your first few sessions to taste strange and have an odd plasticky aftertaste. Even worse, inhaling any of that residue could be bad for your health.

It goes without saying that you want to avoid all of that, and you do so by performing a burn off right after charging up your vaporizer. Here is how you do it:

  1. Make sure that the oven of your vaporizer is empty.
  2. Turn on your vaporizer.
  3. Set it to the highest temperature.
  4. Let it continue heating for five to ten minutes.

Of course, you should not be inhaling from the vaporizer while this process is going on. Also, most vapes have an auto-shutoff feature where they cut the power after a few minutes. So you will need to turn the device back on when that happens and continue doing so for a few minutes. 

After five minutes, open up the vaporizer so that the oven is exposed and give it a sniff, if you still detect even a faint hint of plastic, then continue the burn off the process for another five minutes. If you don’t smell anything, then you’re good to go and can use your vape with weed for the first time.

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Step 4: Preparing Your Herb

Once you’ve made sure that your vaporizer is ready to go, it’s time to check in on the other half of the vaping equation.

Grind Your Herb

The next, and arguably, the most important step is to grind your herb. Vaporizers don’t work well with big chunks of weed in their chambers, they need to have finely ground herb in order to perform at their peak. The reason is that finely ground herb has a larger surface area, which allows it to be heated more evenly. That way you will get all of the flavor, terpenes, and all the other good stuff from your weed in the vapor.

A grinder is what you need to get the herb to the perfect vaporizer-friendly consistency. They are available in manual and electric options, each of which has its pros and cons. The SLX Grinder (review | buy) is one of the best manual grinders available, and is highly recommended for first time vapers.

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Step 5: Place Your Herb in The Oven

firefly 2+ herb chamber

Once your herb is nice and fluffy, it is time to put it in the herb chamber. You should follow the packing instructions from your vaporizer’s manual when loading up the chamber. However, regardless of what type of vaporizer you are using, you don’t want to overpack the chamber. That is because doing so could cause problems that affect the vaping experience. 

An overpacked chamber could prevent all of the herb from getting vaped evenly, resulting in inconsistent flavor. If the oven is located beneath the mouthpiece, then overpacking it could restrict the airflow and make inhaling the vapor more difficult.

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Step 6: Power Up and Preheat

You will be familiar with how to turn on the vape after performing the initial burn off, so do so again. This time you aren’t going to crank the temperature to the max, instead you are going to perform the preheat procedure. Nearly every dry herb vaporizer has one because it speeds up the heating process. 

The preheat temp is usually lower than the lowest temperature setting, so there is no worry that your herb will get vaporized before you are ready to start vaping. The preheat is just to give the vaporizer a running start.

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Step 7: Set Your Vaping Temperature

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After turning on your vaporizer, you need to set your vaping temperature. Some vapes (such as the KandyPens K-Vape) have a set of preset temperatures, while others (such as the Mighty) have precise temperature control, which allows you to set any temperature along the vaporizer’s temperature range. You will eventually find the temperature that suits you best but it is advised that you start on a low temperature and then work your way up as you get more comfortable with using the vape. 

A low temperature in dry herb vaping is somewhere between 350°F and 370°F. At lower temperatures, you tend to get more flavor and less dense vapor. Higher temperatures provide the opposite, with thicker vapor and less flavor. Slowly ramp up the temperature at each new session until you find the setting or range that gives you the best flavor. 

Some vapes have special modes that slowly increase the heat as you vape, so you can play around with those modes when you are more comfortable with the vaping process.

My favorite temp is between 380°F and 390°F. It seems like that is the sweet spot between flavor and vapor production, at least in my opinion.

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Step 8: Inhale

Once the vaporizer has finished heating up, it is time to start vaping, so you want to take it easy the first time you inhale. Don’t go for a long, deep drag, this isn’t a cigarette or a joint. Take short draws instead, no more than three seconds at a time. You will get all the flavor and aroma from your weed and you will avoid the problems associated with longer draws, such as accidentally sucking up some of the herb through the mouthpiece. 

The bigger issue is that longer draws cause cold air to enter the oven. This prevents the air from heating up to the selected temperature, meaning that the vaporizer has to work harder and that heating might be uneven. The end result is that the battery doesn’t last as long and the vapor doesn’t taste as good.

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Step 9: Plan Your Sessions

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Most vaporizers are designed to be used in a single session, which means that you need to vape all the herb in the oven. These are called session vaporizers and when using them, you should not vape a little of the herb, put it down, and then come back to it later. The reason is that session vapes take a while to cool down, so even if you turn them off, their chambers will continue heating, which could end up burning the herb inside of them. 

So, if you come back later, you might end up with charred herbs that produce ashy, unpleasant vapor. If you want to microdose, i.e. use a small amount of herb at a time, then you have a few options. Some vaporizers, like the Pax 3, feature special oven lids that reduce the size of the oven so that you can use less herb but still get an optimum vaping experience. If your vape doesn’t have such a feature then you can use some sort of heat-resistant, non-toxic material to pack the chamber and make it smaller.

If you want to microdose and you want to vape any time you want, then you might consider investing in an on demand vaporizer like the Firefly 2+ or Ghost MV1. These kinds of vaporizers heat up and cool down quickly so they don’t continue to heat the herb after they have been turned off. Keep in mind that on demand vaporizers are among the most expensive types of vaporizers. You can learn more about the differences between session vaporizers and on demand vaporizers here.

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Step 10: Keep It Clean

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Both the oven and the mouthpiece of your vaporizer should be cleaned on a regular basis. Ideally, the oven should be cleaned after every session when the herb is cashed but only while the oven is warm, not while it is still hot. It is easier to clean the oven while it is still warm because any leftover gunk has not yet hardened and is easier to clean.

When cleaning the oven, you should use the cleaning brush included in the kit because it has been designed specifically for that oven. If your kit does not include a cleaning brush, then you should get one that is soft yet firm. It has to be firm enough to remove any residue but soft so that it does not scratch or damage the surface of the oven.

The mouthpiece needs to be cleaned as well, otherwise it might get clogged and make inhaling more difficult. You just need to use a q-tip that has been dipped in rubbing alcohol to clean the inside of the mouthpiece after every five to ten uses, or when the vapor quality deteriorates, whichever comes first.

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Tips For New Users

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You’re almost ready, but before you get started, it’s time to learn all the tips and tricks all—or at least, most—vaping experts know. So, if you really want to know how to vape dry herb, check out these tips.

  1. Make sure that your weed is nice and dry because sticky weed doesn’t vape as well and it doesn’t produce as much vapor
  2. Keep your vape fully charged. After each session, immediately start recharging your vaporizer, that way it will always be ready when you are.
  3. Get a good grinder. See Step 4 for a reminder
  4. Carefully pack the oven according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This is usually to the point where its full, but not overloaded. An overloaded chamber can obstruct the airpath and make inhaling more difficult.
  5. Start vaping at a low temperature (somewhere below 400°F) and then gradually ramp up until you find your sweet spot.
  6. Clean your vape after each session. Or at the very least, clean it before your next session.
  7. Always keep your vaporizer and its accessories in a safe, secure space.
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Maintaining Your Vaporizer

Linx Eden Design

Once you’ve got your dry herb vaporizer up and running, you’ll want to keep it up and running, and that’s where maintenance comes in. The level of upkeep needed for each vaporizer differs, with the less expensive vapes generally requiring lower maintenance, while the more expensive ones are typically high maintenance. 

There are exceptions to every rule of course, but no matter how much effort is required, you should follow the rules to keep your weed vaporizer in top working condition.

Post-Session Clean-Up

Make sure to empty the oven right after each session, and also that you thoroughly clean it out roughly every ten sessions.

Carefully Store Your Vaporizer and its Accessories

You need to treat your vaporizer the way you would any beloved piece of electronic equipment. That means keeping it in a secure container in a cool, dry place. Also, make sure that they are stored in a place where they are not at risk of falling to the ground. You don’t want to buy a replacement vape too soon, even if you bought a budget model.

Troubleshooting

No matter how well you take care of your dry herb vaporizer, you might end up having problems. Some problems are common enough that they have easy fixes. For example, if you find that your vape isn’t charging or won’t turn on, then it probably has a loose battery connection. You can solve this problem yourself by opening the battery chamber and then carefully using a paperclip or safety pin to tighten up the connection.

If the draw resistance has increased, then it is likely that the mouthpiece needs to be cleaned. Just take a look at Step 10 to see how you should clean your vape’s mouthpiece. For any problems specific to your vape, check the instructions or the manufacturer’s website, they are sure to have a troubleshooting section that can help you out. For really serious problems, you might need to get a replacement, so make sure to check the warranty and return policy of your device when you buy it.

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FAQS

Q. How do I clean my dry herb vaporizer?

A. If the kit of your vaporizer includes a cleaning brush, then use that brush to clean out the oven, preferably after each session, while it is still warm. If the kit does not include a brush, then buy one that is soft, yet firm, and small enough to fit into the oven. Afterwards, wipe down the oven with a cotton swab hat has been dipped in isopropyl alcohol. The mouthpiece should be cleaned using a q-tip soaked in rubbing alcohol.

Q. Do I have to grind the herb?

A. Yes. The herb needs a large surface area in order to be vaped evenly and a grinder is the best way to do that.

Q. I’m not getting a lot of vapor, what am I doing wrong?

A. It could be that your herb isn’t dry enough or that you are vaping at too low a temperature. You can find out more answers in the article about getting more vapor from your weed vape.

Q. What is the best vaping temperature?

A. That depends on what kind of vaping experience you want. If you are more into flavor, then temperatures in the 350°F to 390°F range are usually the best. For larger clouds, temperatures in the range of 400°F to 4200°F produce denser vapor. It is all about the temperature at which you feel most comfortable.

Final Thoughts

Vaping is easily the best way to enjoy marijuana because it’s more convenient, more discreet, and less dangerous to your health than smoking. You might think that it is more expensive than simply rolling a joint but in the long term, the costs—both financially, and to your health—will be worth it. So, there’s no reason to be intimidated by vaporizers and the assorted paraphernalia associated with them, find a vaporizer that suits your budget and your style and prepare to enjoy cannabis in the best possible way.

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HIDDEN

Oron has been vaping for over ten years, and been 100% combustion free since early 2016. He has tried and tested hundreds of vaporizers with every functionality imaginable. Some of Oron's favorite vapes are the Mighty, Solo 2, and Juul. After switching to vaping, Oron experienced first hand the benefits of being smoke-free and decided to help as many people as possible to make the switch. When Oron is not vaping, he is passionate about photography, technology, gadgets, health & nutrition, physical activities.

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