Heating Methods Of Dry Herb Vaporizers
In brief, convection and conduction are the main heating methods used in dry herb vaporizers. There is a third, relatively rare method called induction, but that is mainly used in extract vaping. Here is a more detailed look at each heating method.
This method passes heated air over the ground up dry herb. This means that the heating element never comes into contact with the dry herb, so there is no risk that the herb might get burned. Convection heats the herb evenly so all the terpenes and cannabinoids get released from the plant, which is why experienced vapers tend to favor this method when it comes to flavor. Vaporizers that use convection heating include the Arizer line of vapes, which includes the Solo 2, the Air 2, and the ArGo.
Convection Heating Pros
- There is no risk of accidental combustion since the herb never comes into contact with the heat source
- All the herb gets heated evenly, which means that it gets vaporized more efficiently
- The flavor tends to be purer and more flavorful because the heating is more efficient
- Heat-up times are generally faster compared to other heating methods because hot air is passed over the herb instead of the herb being heated directly
Convection Heating Cons
- Vapor production is less dense during the first few inhales than it is with other heating methods
- Convection vaporizers tend to be more expensive than ones that use other heating methods
With conduction heating, the heating surface comes into direct contact with the dry herb. That surface is usually made from stainless steel, aluminum, ceramic, or quartz. A heating element beneath the heating surface provides the heat, which means that heat times for conduction vapes tend to be faster than heat times for convection vaporizers. Despite the direct contact, there is little risk that the herb will combust since the temperature never gets high enough for that to happen. Also, vapes tend to have an auto-shutoff feature that reduces the chance of combustion.
Conduction vaporizers need to have good heat distribution in their ovens so that the herb gets heated evenly. If it doesn’t, then some of the herb might get burnt and some of it might not get fully vaped, which has an adverse effect on flavor. These days, the heat distribution in conduction vaporizers is good enough that the flavor quality can match—or sometimes exceed—that of convection vaporizers. Conduction vapes like the DaVinci IQ or KandyPens K-Vape Pro produce high quality vapor.
Conduction Heating Pros
- Conduction vaporizers are easier to manufacture and are therefore usually cheaper
- Direct heating also helps to create denser clouds
Conduction Heating Cons
- There is a possibility that some of the herb could get burnt, creating smoke in addition to vapor
- Heating can be uneven if herb is not ground finely enough, which can result in subpar flavor
Session vs On Demand Vaporizers
Session vaporizers are the most common kind of vaporizers and the reason they are called that is because, once you turn them on, they continuously heat your herb until the session is over. That means you have to vape all of the herb in the oven during each session. All conduction vaporizers are session vaporizers, but not all session vaporizers are conduction vaporizers, since some of them are convection vaporizers.
Some vaporizers give you the option of customizing how long you want your session to last, which is typically in the five to ten minute range. Since they are by far the most common type of vaporizer, there are a whole lot of session vaporizers to choose from, but some of the best are the Pax 3, Crafty/Mighty, and Linx Gaia.
On Demand Vaporizers
These vapes heat up and cool down extremely quickly, which means that the herb does not continue heating all the time, only when you want it to. That means you can vape as much, or as little, of the herb that’s in the oven whenever you want. So instead of having to vape an entire oven in one session, you can vape it over multiple smaller sessions. That means on demand vaporizers are great for microdosing since users aren’t forced to use the whole oven all at once.
On demand vaporizers typically have smaller ovens than session vaporizers because they are extremely efficient at vaping dry herb, so a little goes a long way. On demand vaporizers use convection heating because with that method, the heat is generated away from the oven and is only pulled into the oven to vaporize the herb when the user inhales. Since conduction vaporizers heat the herb directly, they wouldn’t work as on demand vapes because the surface of the oven will still retain heat even after the vaporizer has been turned off.
On demand vaporizers are pretty rare and are more expensive than most session vapes because of the high level of technology needed to quickly heat up and cool down the oven. Currently, the top two on demand vaporizers available are the Ghost MV1 and the Firefly 2+.
Analog vs Digital Vaporizers
And now a brief word on analog vaporizers. They are, of course, vaporizers that do not use electricity, instead they use a flame to heat up and vaporize the marijuana. That is compared to digital vapes which use electricity to generate heat. Analog vaporizers can be made of metal, glass, or wood and are typically shaped like cigarettes. They are also used similarly to cigarettes, but with the herb placed in one end of the vape instead of tobacco.
Instead of lighting the herb on fire, a butane lighter heats up the surface of the analog vape which vaporizes the herb so that the user can inhale its vapor. Analog vaporizers work similarly to conduction vaporizers in that regard, but they are more suited for users who want to retain the feeling of smoking a joint, but in a healthier fashion. Analog vapes, like the DynaVap M are a very niche category of vaping but they have their fans.