Using Your Vaporizer Effectively – It’s All about the Temperature


Using Your Vaporizer Effectively – It’s All about the Temperature

Smoking is bad for you. Right….? Despite recent tests hinting that smoking marijuana may improve lung capacity, it is still pretty counter-intuitive to imagine that burning a lump of organic plant matter and inhaling the heated smoke emitted can do anything but harm.

Enter the vaporizer. Early vaporizers were often crude, Heath Robinson type affairs with little or no control over temperature. Indeed, most of us probably began vaporizing with a cheap oriental import that pretty much cremated our stash. Well, vaporizers have come on leaps and bounds since those early days and modern vapes are all singing, all dancing, boxes of high tech design that do everything except the washing up. But are they better for us than smoking? Well, a simple answer would be yes, but it is not as straight forward as vaping=good, smoking=bad.

In fact, to work truly effectively vaporizing requires a degree of precision that can only be found in the top of the range vaporizers. Whilst it is true that a lower end vaporizer is probably better for you than a blunt, it is missing out on a whole range of subtlety that could otherwise be available to you.

Let’s start with the basics: Heating THC (and other cannabinoids) and inhaling the fumes gets you high. This is the basic concept behind smoking weed and has been with us for millennia. When you heat weed to the point of combustion however, as with lighting a spliff or a bong, the resulting smoke contains not only THC but a whole range of airborne compounds including soot, tars, particulates and other toxins. Some of these toxins could prove to be carcinogens, especially if you build your spliffs with tobacco, and don’t forget that the heat itself can be injurious to the sensitive lining of your mouth, throat and lungs.


So the concept of a vaporizer is to heat the weed to a temperature that is hot enough to vaporize the cannabinoids and release their heady goodness, but not so hot as to combust the material and release the sooty particulates. And this is where some of the cheaper models fall down. With no temperature control it is difficult to guarantee that your weed won’t combust. You will still get high, but you won’t be able to avoid inhaling those particulates.

It gets more complicated too. There are 483 known compounds in cannabis, around 80 of which are cannabinoids that will have some kind of psychoactive effect. Each of these compounds will have a different and distinct temperature at which it vaporizes. The science is still in its early days and so there is some debate and argument about the absolute optimum temperature for vaporization. Most people reckon it to be around the 300oF to 400oF mark.

Some of the terps actually start to vaporize at around 260oF, but if you vape at this temperature you will get mostly aromatics (yum!) but no cannabinoids.

So let’s look at the big three – everybody’s favorite cannabinoids. These vaporize at around the following temperatures.

  • Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) 301°F
  • Cannabidiol (CBD) 403°F
  • Cannabinol (CBN) 415°F

Without accurate temperature control, as with a flame powered vaporizer for example, you are likely to run through these in order rather than hitting them all at the same time. So, for example, your fist hit might be full of terps and taste very nice, the next hit could be the THC which gets you nicely high, while the final hit could be all CBD and CBN and have you glued to the couch.

So here’s a thing. A vaporizer that offers reliable and accurate temperature control also gives you the ability to be selective in which particular compounds you wish to inhale. Many of our readers are all about the THC. Whilst it is the CBDs and CBNs that give the best pain relief to medical users, it’s the THC that gives the upbeat buzz that many of us recreational users are looking for. By simply setting your vaporizer to around 320oF it is possible to actively target the THC whilst avoiding the CBN and CBD, regardless of the ratio of cannabinoids in the weed.

This might seem a tad wasteful to many of you, but it very much depends on what you’re looking for. The point is that accurate temperature control is crucial to effective vaporizing. It also means that we’ve got a lot to look forward to as this relatively new aspect of consuming cannabis advances at such a pace.

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  • Esurb
    February 24, 2016 at 2:01 am

    THC, CBD and CBN's Vap Temps
    Thank you! After 30 some years of smokin’ I’ve just started to use a vaporizer. This is the third article I’ve read regarding correct temperature for Marijuana but only one regarding correct temperature for the other important compounds besides THC, CBD and CBN’s. So that’s a couple more click on the temp at bedtime!


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