Whether you are new to vaporizing or looking for an upgrade it can be quite a daunting task to choose the right vaporizer for you. This guide will highlight certain key features and specs to look for when choosing a vape that will fit your needs.
Traditional methods of smoking involve combusting (burning) your herbs to release the chemical components. Combustion is not the safest way to consume because of the risk of inhaling toxins or carcinogens.
However, vaporization is the act of heating material to a fixed temperature to release the chemical components. But because you are using a controlled temperature below the combustion level, the plant material simply cooks but never burns. This releases only the active components in your herbs you want, without inhaling other dangerous toxins or carcinogens.
Vaporizing is also more effective than smoking as you are more efficiently extracting the essential oils. Ensuring you get the most out of your plant during a session. This ultimately means you are able to use less herb then you would with smoking to achieve the same results.
Some benefits to switching to vaporizers are:
- Improved Lung well-being
- Less lung and throat irritation
- More clear feeling after vaping
- Discreet sessions ( low odour )
- Better flavour
- Better extraction
- Cost effective
Portable vs. Stationary
The first decision you need to make when choosing a vaporizer for your individual needs is whether you want a stationary vape or a portable vape. Both choices have their pros and cons.
- Designed for on the go
- Smaller size
- Smaller chambers
- Rechargeable batteries
- Generally easier to use
- More discreet
Portable vapes are more geared towards those who are looking to vape on the go. They are smaller, most of which are pocket sized, and they tend to run on a rechargeable battery, kind of like a cell phone. The chambers on most portable vapes are tailored for single users.
- Designed for use at home
- Larger units
- Larger chambers
- Unlimited power
- More functionality
- Less discrete
Stationary units are larger and geared towards those who are strictly vaping at home. Stationary units have much larger chambers than the portable units and therefore have the option hold/vape more herbs.
Most stationaries come with what is called a “whip”, which is basically the tubing that attaches to the unit and delivers the vapor to you through direct inhalation, kind of like a hookah. However, some units come with a balloon option, which allows you to fill a balloon with vapor to inhale from.
Many of you may have heard of the famous Volcano vaporizer, which is a prime example of a balloon style vaporizer and they have even released a portable convection vaporizer that is pretty awesome.
Now that you have made the choice of whether you want a stationary or a portable vaporizer you can now start to look at certain specifications and how they influence each unit.
The most important specs to look for with each unit are:
- Vapor Quality
- Manufacturing Quality
- Temperature Flexibility
- Convenience / Ease of Use
This is one of the most important factors when choosing your vaporizer. Vapor Quality refers to the overall flavour and consistency of vapor produced from the unit.
Two major factors that influence a vaporizer’s Vapor Quality are
- Temperature control
- Heating Method
Units that offer the ability to adjust the temperature that the unit vapes at provides a big advantage when it comes to flavour and consistency and achieving the type of vapor session you want to have. The general rule of thumb is that the lower the temperature the thinner and more flavourful the vapor. If you are switching from smoking however, you may enjoy vaping at a higher temperature, for thicker vapor that is more ‘smoke-like’ in consistency.
Right now there are 2 different heating methods that all vapes use regardless of if they are portable or stationary: conduction and convection.
Conduction vaporizing is when your herbs come in direct contact with the heat source. This is most common in portables which have smaller heating chamber.
- Most common heating method
- Good initial flavour, but flavour diminishes during session
- Hot spots, uneven cooking of herbs
- Harsher vapor at higher temperatures
Convection vaporizing is when the hot air from the heat source is pulled over and through your herbs either with manual inhalation or by an internal fan in your vaporizer.
- Good flavour throughout entire session
- More even cook
- Smoother vapor even at higher temperatures
- Found mainly in higher end units
For more detail, check this educational video.
You can even find vaporizing accessories that will help you cool the vapor with Iceborn Vapor Cooling Accessory and increase the vapor quality.
Manufacturing Quality refers to the overall build of the device. It is how well the device is put together and how well it functions. A large proportion of vaporizers on the market may look great on the outside, but when it comes to vaporizers, it’s really what’s on the inside that counts to make sure you have a long-lasting vaporizer that consistently performs.
Factors for Manufacturing Quality
- Quality of components used to make the unit
- Overall feel of the unit
- Accurate temperatures
- Defect rate and warranty
The Zeus Smite Plus is a perfect example of a vaporizer that has very little features and options, but as a result is known to have a very low defect rate.
This refers to a vaporizers ability to offer different vaporizing temperatures. Some manufacturers opt to have pre-set temperature levels while others give their users precise temperature control through an LCD screen.
Pre-Set Temperature Control
- Temperatures set by manufacturer
- Cannot be modified
- Usually has different levels (Ex. 190 C, 200 C , 210 C)
- Usually no LCD display on unit
- Less control over session and vapor quality
The Arizer Air is a great example of a unit with pre-set temperature control. The unit has 5 heat settings, allowing users to choose the right vapor level for them, without having infinite options to choose from. It’s a very popular portable vaporizer and you can check out the review from Vapesterdam to find out more.
Precise Temperature Control
- User sets unit’s temperature manually
- Set temperature to the individual degree desired
- LCD display
- More control over session and vapor quality
The Zeus Smite Plus is an example of a unit that uses precise temperature control. It has an LCD screen that displays the set and current temperature. You can adjust your temperature by using the up and down arrows on the unit to change the temperature down to the degree.
Convenience / Ease of Use
Convenience means how easy the unit is to use and maintain. Some units, especially stationaries have multiple parts and adapters that need to be assembled before vaping and may detract those who want something easy to use. While other units, especially portables, offer a user friendly session, usually with only a few buttons and bells and whistles.
Factors to consider for convenience
- Ease of Use
Maintenance is also a large factor in convenience as these machines do need to be cleaned to be kept in tip top shape. Units with removable parts are easier to clean than units that have the chambers built inside. As well, glass is usually the easiest material to clean so it is good to keep in mind when choosing a vaporizer, if ease of maintenance is important to you.
The Arizer Solo is a very convenient unit. It only has 2 buttons and is very easy to use right out of the box. Because you pack your herbs into the glass tube, you only ever need to clean the glass tube to maintain the unit.
The vaporizer culture has changed a lot since its incarnation and due to the popularity of vaporizers, companies now have begun to create accessories to compliment people’s vape sessions. So, after you have chosen the right vape for you, you should certainly consider grabbing some extras to go with it.
Zeus Arsenal was one of the first companies to start creating vapor-centric accessories and now bolsters a full line of accessories that will help improve the quality of your session.
If you are thinking about jumping on top of the vaporizing craze and taking advantage of the benefits of vaporizing, check out Vaporizera (if you are in the USA) or TorontoVaporizer (for Canadians). You can pick a free premium grinder and check out the ratings of each vaporizer so you can compare them better before you choose your next gadget.