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A Basic Guide To Portable Cannabis Vaporizers

May 13, 2021 in General Education

The Anatomy of a Portable Vaporizers

Portable cannabis vaporizers, which heat loose leaf material and concentrates, continue to rise in popularity among cannabis consumers. As the technology advances, so does their versatility. Consumers choose them because they are cleaner, easier to use and dose, portable and discreet. It is important for consumers to understand how a vaporizer functions in order to help them choose the best device for their needs. In this article I will list the different components of a vaporizer, explain how it works, discuss how different temperatures impact the effects and give tips on vaporizer maintenance.

Vaporizer Parts and Components

Mouthpiece

The vaporized plant material is inhaled through the mouthpiece, also known as a drip tip. In some models, it can also be used to activate the atomizer instead of a power button. The mouthpiece can be attached to the unit or detachable which allows for easy cleaning. They also come in different sizes, shapes and materials; silicone, glass, ceramic, plastic and even wood.

Tank or Cartridge

The tank or cartridge, also referred to as an oven or chamber, is the unit which holds the cannabis material. Some types of vaporizers hold only flower, some hold only concentrates and some have interchangeable tanks which hold both flower and concentrates. While the two terms are used interchangeably, there is a distinction. A cartridge is generally pre-filled with cannabis oil. A tank is generally refillable and requires the user to purchase the cannabis oil separately. FYI, there is a fill line on the tank. Don’t overfill it!

Atomizer

The atomizer is the component located inside the cartridge or tank. It is the source of heat and it pulls power from the battery at the rate that the sensor allows to vaporize the cannabis material. It consists of a heating element stored in a steel or ceramic housing unit. The three most common types of atomizers are made from ceramic, quartz and cotton wick.

Ceramic
Wire-wrapped ceramic atomizers have good heat retention but they use higher voltages.

Quartz
Quartz atomizers heat up rapidly but don’t retain heat as well as the ceramic type.

Cotton Wick
Cotton wick atomizers are wrapped in a metal coil. The cannabis oil is absorbed by the cotton and heated by the coil. They are typically cheaper but more prone to burning which can damage the coil and affects the taste of the vapor.

There are vaporizers which use conductive heat; the cannabis material is heated through direct contact. Other vaporizers use convective heat; the cannabis material is heated indirectly by warming the air that passes through the tank.

Sensor and Power Button

The main function of the sensor is to communicate with the atomizer. While different types vary in the software that they use, all portable vaporizers contain some sort of sensor. The more sophisticated models contain a sensor capable of complex functions such as Bluetooth compatible or temperature variations. Some vape pens are draw-activated which switch on with inhalation. Others have a power button which typically requires 5 clicks to turn it on and off. This is designed to prevent accidental activation of the atomizer which wastes product and may be harmful to your device.

Battery

The vast majority of portable vaporizers use a lithium ion battery power source since it is both rechargeable and powerful enough to reach vaporization temperatures. The temperature range starts at the low 200s°F and goes to just over 400°F which is just beyond the combustion temperature of cannabis material. Vape pens generally utilize the universal 510 thread battery. USB chargers with plug-in capability accompany the batteries for easy recharging.

The Importance of Temperature on Vaping

Some portable vaporizers have one temperature setting while other vaporizers allow you to customize your cannabis experience with temperature control features. Different temperatures will yield very different results.

350°F produces the best overall cannabis flavor, allowing the user to take a big hit without coughing

356°F produces vapors full of CBD that will counteract the heaviness or paranoia of too much THC. It provides an energetic high that is great for daytime use.

360°F delivers maximum THC delivery, preserves as much limonene and myrcene as possible and may help avoid couch lock

365° and lower produces anxiety relief and outstanding flavor

392°F preserves much of the THC and leaves you intoxicated but mellow

430°F to 451°F produces the ultimate CBD consumption and accesses linalool and humulene

How To Choose A Vaporizer

In order to determine which vaporizer to choose, decide on the following:

Types of cannabis products you will use

Where you will be using a vaporizer

Low maintenance, single use option or a reusable product that requires regular cleaning and maintenance

Portable Vaporizer Maintenance

Disposable Vape Pens
They are designed for single use. They should be stored upright in a case in a cool, dry place. Exposure to heat and moisture can easily damage the battery which will affect its ability to hold a charge.

Reusable Vaporizers
Store it in a cool, dry place where it is safe from being knocked over and broken. You will need to clean it on a regular basis. Disassemble all the parts. Soak the main, non-electric components in isopropyl alcohol once a week to reduce the buildup of resin. This keeps the vapor tasting fresh and clean.

The first step, when you get a new vape pen, is to charge the battery. Most pens have a green light to indicate when it is fully charged and a red light for low battery. Be careful to avoid completely draining or overcharging your battery. This can reduce its life expectancy.

If no vapor comes out of your pen after charging it, either the coil is damaged or the connection to the coil is dirty and needs to be cleaned. You can use a cotton swab with isopropyl alcohol to clean the coil. If that doesn’t rectify the situation, replace the coil or buy a completely new battery. Recycle your pen rather than throw it in the garbage.

Sources:

leafly.com, How Portable Vaporizers Work, Dec. 15, 2016

happyvalley.org, How Does A Cannabis Vaporizer Work?

zamnesia.com, A Complete Guide To Cannabis Vape Pens
nlcannabis.com, The Importance of Vaping Temperature Explained
allgreensaz.com, The Anatomy of A Vape pen

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