Dry Herb Vaping: How does a dry herb vaporizer work?

How Does a Dry Herb Vaporizer Work?

Arizer Go ArGo vs Mighty, Crafty, Davinci IQ & Pax 3
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This page is part of our educational series on Dry Herb Vaping. Love this post? Check out How to Use a Dry Herb Vaporizer or the benefits of Vaping vs. Smoking.

Whether you’re using cannabis for medical reasons, for recreational use, or a bit of both, there are many options available when it comes to what form of weed you have and how you consume it. Today we’re giving you all the details about dry herb vaporizers, their components and how they work.

First, let’s talk about the good stuff – your green! One of the most traditional and popular preparations of cannabis is called dry herb, which refers to the marijuana buds that have been dried and eventually will be prepared using a dry herb grinder for consumption.

This preparation of the plant is often called dry herb, green, flower, grass, bud or, simply, weed. Dry herb is one of the most simple and natural ways to enjoy your cannabis and depending on where you live you might have access to many locally grown strains and even organic options.

When stored correctly, dry herb can last from a few weeks up to a couple months while keeping it’s wonderful effects and delicious flavor. Many cannabis consumers prefer dry herb because:

  • Dry herb can be as potent than cannabis concentrates depending on the strain you choose
  • You can choose a high CBD strain for more medicinal marijuana effects
  • Some cannabis consumers like the tradition and ritual around prepping their herb to smoke

But, preparing a joint, blunt, or bong every time you want to consume your cannabis can be difficult and time-consuming, not to mention messy. That’s where dry herb vapes come to the rescue.

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History of Dry Herb Vaping

Boundless Tera VS Ghost MV1 comparison
Modern technology has taken dry herb vaping to the next level in terms of power and portability. Boundless Tera (L) and Ghost MV1 (R) are two popular options today.

Dry herb vaping first came onto the scene in the 1990s as technology finally caught up with cannabis culture. In the early days of cannabis technology, dry herb vaping involved hefty volcano vapes and other big units that had to be plugged into the wall to use.

Today, however, there are great portable dry herb vape options and vaporizer pens that are sleek, modern and convenient for consuming on the go. There is also quite a dry herb vaping culture that’s developed recently.

If you’re curious about dry herb vapes and how they work, let’s dive right into it.

What is a Dry Herb Vaporizer?

A dry herb vaporizer is a relatively new but extremely popular piece of cannabis consumption technology that takes almost all of the hassle and mess out of smoking weed. In fact, when you use a dry herb vaporizer, you’re actually not inhaling cannabis smoke, but rather cannabis vapor. Vapor is created without combustion, which has a ton of health benefits including being much easier on your lungs if you’re a regular or occasional smoker.

Desktop or Table Top Vapes

There are many types of dry herb vaporizers on the market for nearly any situation where you’d want to vape your cannabis. A table top or desktop vaporizer is going to be your more stationary, at home option. These are great for:

  • Vaping large quantities of cannabis
  • Sharing the vaping experience among friends at a big party
  • Using special features like LED displays, remotes, attachments for group smoking, and the ability to vape your dry herb without even grinding it first.
  • Any situation where you have access to a wall plug or outlet to charge

Portable Vape or Vape Pen

If you prefer to vape your dry herb on the go, or want to be able to vape smaller, personal quantities of herb, a portable vape or vaporizer pen might be what you’re looking for. These vapes can range from budget friendly to top-of-the-line like the Pax 3 portable vape. Portable vapes and vape pens are by far the most popular and best options for today’s modern dry herb vape users. The benefits of portable vapes or vape pens include:

  • Battery powered technology
  • Small, handheld size for discreet consuming on the go
  • Easily fits in your purse or pocket
  • Some vapes feature the ability to use dry herb or concentrate out of the same unit
  • Dry herb vape pens are great for dry flower vaping beginners

Dry Herb Vaporizer Components

Each dry herb vape model on the market will have a range of various features, but there are some standard components that you can expect to find on any vape. Whether it’s a desktop vape or portable vaporizer, here’s what to expect when you’re shopping for your first or next dry herb vaporizer.

Energy Source

Heat is what turns on the magic powers of your cannabis, so the energy source is easily the most important part of your dry herb vaporizer unit. While the herb chamber where you put your ground material to smoke will essentially be the same on all dry herb vape models, your choice of energy source is the first place to start to pick what kind of vape is right for you.

Arizer Air 2 battery Review
The removable battery on the Arizer Air 2 vape is a convenient feature that allows you to quickly replace it with a new one when necessary.

Herb Chamber

When it comes to dry herb vaporizers, the herb chamber is like the heart of your vape. This is where you’ll load in your ground cannabis, and where the heat will interact with your weed and create your delicious vapor.

The two types of heating elements that you’ll see are battery powered, and flame powered.

Battery

Arizer ArGo 18650 battery

Hands down, the most popular dry herb vapes on the market right now are battery powered. Battery power means your vape will preheat quickly, stay heated for long periods of time for longer sessions, and that when you inhale you’re truly getting clean cannabis vapor.

  • Battery charged dry herb vaporizers are typically rechargeable or have interchangeable batteries that allow you to keep backups on hand
  • There are some battery powered vapes out there that do not allow you to recharge or interchange the batteries, which means that once they run out of juice the unit isn’t functional anymore
  • Non-rechargeable battery vapes are fading fast in terms of popularity and are not common on the market today, but do some research on the advanced or beginner vape models you’re looking at to double check.

Flame

Dynavap M with lighter

Flame powered dry herb vapes, also called analog vapes, are popular with cannabis consumers that don’t want to charge or interchange their vape batteries, but don’t mind keeping track of butane levels for their energy source.

  • Flame powered vapes might have the butane lighter built in, or you may need to supply your own lighter to heat the unit
  • The downside of flame-powered vapes is that the fire is likely to create a combustion effect with your cannabis, meaning that you’ll get a pull that’s more smoke and less like vapor
  • For consumers that are choosing to vape instead of smoke for health reasons, you’ll want to steer clear of flame-powered vapes.
Ghost MV1 vs Firefly 2 herb chambers
The Ghost MV1 (L) and the Firefly 2 (R) each hold a small amount of herb but they both vape it very efficiently. A little goes a long way.

Preparing Your Dry Herb

  • First, take your bud and pick out the seeds and stems. This is important because you’ll just want the pure herb in your vape so the vapor you get is of good quality. (You can save your stems for making delicious edibles, but when it comes to your vape you’ll want to load the herb chamber with just the good stuff.)
  • Next, take your dry herb and use the best dry herb grinder you have to grind it up to a fine, even consistency. This is important because it will help your herb vape across an even surface area, and ensure you’re not wasting any green in the process.
  • Load your herb chamber with your ground up green, and you’re good to go!

Pro-tip: When it comes to preparing your dry herb for your vape is imperative to make sure that it’s not too dry. Fresher is better when it comes to choosing the right herbs to vape, because having natural moisture in your weed allows for optimal vapor production.

To test if your dry herb is right for vaping, take a small bit from your bud and run it between your fingers. If it crumbles into a dust or fine powder between your fingers, it’s too dry to vape. Don’t throw it away, though, because low moisture herb is still fine for smoking in a bong, joint or blunt. Or, you can use your extra dry bud for cooking or baking.

Heating Methods

Depending on the type of heat source in your dry herb vape, you’ll have one of three types of interactions happening in the herb chamber.

The first is Conduction, and the second is Convection. We’ll break down the pro’s and cons of those below. The third and newest type is induction heating. Read more about induction heating in our separate post.

Conduction

The first is conduction, which means your dry herb is in direct contact with a heat source within the herb chamber.

  • Conduction is popular because these types of vapes tend to be less expensive than their counterparts
  • But, it’s not the ideal method because your dry herb actually burns, so you can end up inhaling harsher smoke instead of smooth vapor.
  • Also, uneven heating can cause your herb to burn in patches and pockets, which can end up wasting weed — and no one wants that.

Convection

The second and most popular type of interaction within the herb chamber is called convection. This is when the herb chamber heats to a high temperature and the heated air around your dry herb creates vapor. You might have heard of this type of heating with the high tech convection ovens that bake food quickly and evenly.

  • Convection is the best, most high-quality type of heating method
  • The herb chamber in convection vapes is usually a high-quality ceramic which is long lasting & easy to clean
  • The flow of heated air around the chamber means your herb is vaped evenly every time

Mouthpiece

The mouthpiece on your vape is another important element and is where you will actually inhale your vapor after your dry herb has been heated and vaporized.

zeus smite mouthpieces
A glass mouthpiece (left) cools down the vapor better than the plastic mouthpiece (right).

Direct Draw

The most popular type of mouthpiece that you’ll see is on portable vaporizers or vape pens and is called a direct draw. Depending on the type of dry herb vape you have, your direct draw mouthpiece might be removable or permanently attached. Your mouthpiece will allow the vapor to flow directly from the heating chamber to your mouth for easy cannabis consumption.

When it comes to direct draw mouthpieces, they may even be built right into your portable vape unit or vape pen. If they are detachable, you will be able to swap different mouthpieces out based on your needs or preference. There are three main materials that most mouthpieces are made from, which are plastic, metal and glass. Each has their positives and negatives, but what’s most important to consider is choosing a mouthpiece with good quality and design.

Plastic Mouthpieces

Usually made from polycarbonate or another softer plastic called Delrin, plastic mouthpieces are a common choice that are easily replaceable.

Plastic Mouthpiece Pros:
  • Very budget friendly
  • Durable
  • Come in many shapes and sizes

Plastic Mouthpiece Cons:
  • May compromise vapor taste
  • May contain toxins like BPA
  • Tough to clean

Metal Mouthpieces

Some cannabis consumers that choose to vape their dry herb will opt for a vaporizer with a metal mouthpiece. Here’s what to consider.

Metal Mouthpiece Pros:
  • Usually budget friendly
  • Very popular so many types available
  • Come standard on many vape pens

Metal Mouthpiece Cons:
  • Can clog easily
  • Some consumers may have metal allergies or sensitivities
  • Least variety in shape and size

Glass Mouthpieces

The final type of mouthpiece available are made of glass, which are most often the highest quality mouthpieces available on the market. The pros and cons of glass mouthpieces are:

Metal Mouthpiece Pros:
  • Pure, clean tasting vapor
  • Adds extra filtration
  • Easy to clean
  • Some variety in shape and size

Metal Mouthpiece Cons:
  • Most fragile
  • Can be expensive

At the end of the day, when you’re shopping for special attachments for your vape’s mouthpiece or choosing between a plastic, metal or glass attachment that’s included, go for the best quality you can find. We recommend glass mouthpieces because they deliver the absolute best flavor and quality of vapor. You’ve already invested in a great vape, so don’t cut corners when it comes to your mouthpiece.

Whip Tubing

Beyond your basic portable vape and vape pen mouthpieces which are the most popular on the market, you might be looking for a specialty mouthpiece. These are most common attachments for desktop vapes, and while we recommend portable vapes or vape pens for most users, these are also interesting to consider

For desktop vapes, one option is whip tubing, which consists of a wand, silicone piping and mouthpiece. Hookah smokers might recognize this type of mouthpiece, which is good for parties to vape and pass among a group.

Bag or Balloon

The second type of mouthpiece that you might see on a desktop vaporizer is a bag or balloon. Ballon style vapes capture a large amount of vapor in a food quality plastic bag with a valve that attaches to the dry herb vaporizer unit so that no vapor is lost as the herb is being vaporized or detached. Then, a small mouthpiece is attached to the bag to smoke and pass.

Temperature Range for Dry Herb Vaping

Utillian Dry Herb Vaporizer
The Utillian 420's user-friendly interface makes it simple to set the ideal temperature, and produces great tasting vapor.

Depending on the type of dry herb vape you have, you might have total control on the temperature range of the unit, or just have an on and off function. There isn’t a universally “ideal” temperature setting for a vape, because makes and models of dry herb vape units vary so widely. But, scientifically we can say that between 350 degrees fahrenheit and 450 is the sweet spot where cannabis is vaporized and their cannabinoids can be comfortably inhaled as vapor instead of smoke.

Each vape has its own intricacies and nuances, so it might take a little time to find it’s sweet spot to get the amount of vapor you desire at the right strength. Read through your vape’s user manual for pro-tips, ask friends that have the same unit, or just start at around the 350℉ mark and work up or down from there.

If you’re looking for more taste and aromatics rather than potency, it’s recommended to start at low temperatures and work your way up to stronger levels of heat which will produce stronger vapor.

 

So, How Does a Dry Herb Vaporizer Work?

Now that you understand all the components of your vape, it’ll now be super easy for you to get how your dry herb vape works.

Once you learn the ins and outs of the basic dry herb vape components, you’ll be armed with the knowledge you need to pick the perfect vape for you.
  1. Charge up your vape – Your vape’s power comes from its energy source, which could be battery-powered or flame powered. Make sure your dry herb vaporizer is fully charged up, or filled with butane to power it up.
  2. Load up your herb chamber – Next, locate your herb chamber, and load it up with your desired amount of dry herb that you’ve ground up using your dry herb grinder to a nice, even consistency. Vaping is great because you can usually load in as much or as little dry herb as you’d like for your personal use or for a sesh with friends.
  3. Turn on the unit – When you’re ready to vape, you’ll activate your dry herb vape’s energy source, which will heat up the herb chamber and turn your green into tasty, smooth vapor.
  4.  Inhale – You’ll then inhale the vapor through your vape’s mouthpiece, which could be it’s whip tubing, balloon, or direct draw.

 

Dry Herb Vapes – Final Thought

There you have it! If you love consuming cannabis in its most natural dry herb form but want to take advantage of the latest tech that makes it easier and less messy, dry herb vaping is the way to go. Armed with this knowledge about your dry herb vape’s components, ideal temperature settings and how it all comes together to produce smooth vapor, you’re ready to start shopping and find the perfect vape for you.

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