Herb Vaporizers Vs. Concentrate Vaporizers | How to Choose
Vaping is seen as one of the healthiest and easiest ways for those looking to consume their CBD or Cannabis and its popularity is only rising with an ever growing amount of brands that offer an assortment of models to vaporize herbs or concentrates – each providing their own unique experiences. After buying a quality vape you might just be ready to put your smoking days behind you. Converting to vaping can save you money, optimize the effects, and even benefit your health.
Ready to try vaping but not sure whether to pick a dry herb or concentrate vape? Here’s a rundown of some pros and cons of each and differences between herb vapes and concentrate vapes to help you get hooked up with your first electronic rig, on demand convection herb vaporizer or stationary desktop vaporizer.
Dry Herb Vaporizers
Dry herb vapes consist of a few main parts. The chamber (where the herb is placed), the heating element (what heats the herb) the vapor path (where the vapor travels through to the mouthpiece) and the mouthpiece (where the herb is inhaled). Of course with so many designs and models there are many different design outlays as to how this is accomplished. For example the iconic desktop Volcano Vaporizer blows hot air from the heating element at the bottom of the unit through the herb in the chamber atop the unit where it is captured into a bag (or whip with the Hybrid Volcano) and then inhaled.
When you use an herb vape, you pack the herb chamber with dried flowers or herbs, vaping the plant in its purest form. They’re great for people who love to combust the actual cannabis plant but want to refine their process, generally for health reasons. In fact a large amount of our customers come via a recommendation from their doctors and herbal vaporizers are what the doctor ordered.
Herb vapes will heat via conduction or convection. In a conduction dry herb vaporizer the chamber is the heating element and the herb vaporizes via direct contact with the plant. Convection heating on the other hand is when hot air passes through the herb in order to vaporize. Many dry herb vaporizers like the Mighty+ are a combination of the two heating properties with dual heating elements.
To use a dry herb vape, you start by grinding your flower to the consistency of what you would use to roll a joint. Place it in the vaporizer’s chamber and turn the device on. Select your desired temperature. It might take some experimenting to find what works best for you. Don’t go lower than 325°F, as cannabis’s boiling point is 315°F, and you want to make sure you get the full effect of your herb. However, don’t go over 430°F either, or you might combust your weed.
You’ll get the best taste when your vape is cooler, but you’ll feel stronger effects when the temperature is higher. Most people start at a lower temperature and work their way up. You might want to turn up the temperature throughout your session. Playing around with the vaporizer is the best way to dial it in and find out what works best for you. There are no set rules and it is all about how you enjoy your vaporizer.
The herb vape will then heat the cannabis and vaporize for you to inhale and enjoy the effects. One very common misconception with herb vaporizers is that they are instant. Most take 30 seconds to a minute to heat up and then you still have some ramp up time as heat is transferred into the plant. For this reason on demand herb vaporizers like the Firefly 2+ do not exactly work as streamlined as advertised.
Herbal Vaporizers also give a mistier less visible vapor production than concentrate vaporizers or e-cigarettes. This common misconception they are all the same often leads customers to believe their herb vaporizer is defective in some way since it is not pumping out huge clouds.
As you vape, your herb will get used up, or cashed. You’ll know it’s time to dump it out and start again when it starts to taste like burnt popcorn and becomes more harsh when you inhale. You can also tell by checking the oven; the cashed herb will be crunchy and brown and will bake down in volume compared to what you initially input into the herb chamber.
Most people dispose of the dry herb once it is vaped but there are options to save it for infusing oils for edibles and balms with devices like the Ardent FX. The less spent the more fruitful it will be in a second life.
Conceptually, concentrate vaporizers work much the same way as their dry herb counterparts. Your wax, rosin, shatter, oil, etc. goes into a chamber and is heated then inhaled from a mouthpiece through the vapor path. Concentrate vaporizers on the other hand run the gambit from prefilled 510 cart vape pens (which can just be attached to basic $10 batteries) to high end electronic rigs like the $399 Puffco Peak Pro.
The cheapest and most common type of concentrate vape is a vape pen. You can either buy cartridges filled with cannabis oil or fill a compartment with your own extracts that heats with a coil or ceramic heating element.
Some vape pens have a button to tap to activate them, and some heat up with inhale activation. The most advanced vape pens such as the PAX Era use the latter.
To use a wax pen or E-rig place your dab onto the heating element , activate the device and inhale when the device reaches temperature. With E-Rigs you can also do what is referred to as hot loading; place your dab into the heating element after the vaporizer has reached temperature for a quicker and more pronounced hit.
The overwhelming majority of concentrate vaporizers heat using conduction heating. As discussed above that is the extracts coming in direct contact with the heating element and producing vapor. In vape pens this is done via a wick which fires upon activation and in E-rigs generally an atomizer which functions like a banger on a traditional rig when you drop your dabs into the heating element.
Concentrate vaporizers can also heat via induction, two electric rigs which use this method are the Dr. Dabber Switch and Ispire Daab. Here conductive buckets filled with your extracts are dropped into the heating element where the electromagnetic properties heat only your bucket. This gives a more even heating to your material and makes the device easier to keep clean.
Where herb vaporizers very rarely have heat settings north of 450 °F , concentrate vaporizers can reach temperatures up to 880°F.
Herb Vapes Vs. Dab Vapes
The main difference between herb vaporizers and concentrate vaporizers is that concentrate vaporizers are designed to vaporize and/or combust your extracts depending on what temperature you the user chooses. While the exact temperature will vary with the viscosity of your materials you can vape rosin or oil up to around 400°F . After 400°F you are combusting (smoking) your dabs the exact same way you would with a standard rig and torch, just without the hassle. This makes calling them vaporizers somewhat confusing and many in the industry have dropped the “Vape” word and begun using phrases like Wax Pen or Electronic Rig. On the other hand when you try and use your herb vaporizer as an electric bong it is just gross. Whereas most concentrate vaporizers are designed for higher temperature (combustion dabs)
Which Vaporizer Packs More of a Punch ?
Seasoned stoners are probably wondering: which type of vape will get me more baked ? Concentrates are easily going to be the winner between the two.
If you’re simply looking for the effects of THC, dabs will be stronger. Concentrates are put through a refinement process, which makes them more potent. When you vape flower, you’ll inhale about 10-25% THC. The concentration in THC oil (dabs) is much higher, ranging from 50-80%.
However, that’s not the full picture. When you use a dry herb vaporizer, you get to enjoy all of the terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids from your chosen strain of cannabis. These compounds are what gives each strain their different properties, so you might miss out on the nuances of the marijuana. For this reason many growers prefer dry herb vaporizers so they can sample their harvested product like a fine wine.
When getting high is your top priority, concentrate vaporizers are the way to go. However, if you already know which strains are your favorites and use them each for different purposes, you might want to choose an herb vape. Herb Vaporizers are also a bit easier to chill on throughout the day if you are not someone who can session and conduct work simultaneously. And while many of our readers will want to get the most elevated feeling they can possible get, you also must consider the health ramifications between the two.
Is a Concentrate Vaporizer or a Dry Herb Vaporizer Healthier?
Most experts agree that vaping cannabis is safer than smoking it. This is because a vaporizer does not burn the weed, but instead creates an aerosol that doesn’t have health impacts like smoking.
When you smoke cannabis using a joint, piece, or bong, you’re inhaling by-products from the herb, including tar, toluene, benzene, and even carcinogens. Plus, you’re exposing yourself to second-hand smoke, and the hot debris can enter your lungs and irritate them.
When you use a dry herb vape, you know exactly what you’re inhaling: pure cannabis flower. If your plants are from a good source you will not need to worry about any harsh pesticides or additives and you’re much safer than you would be smoking the plant.
With concentrate vaporizers there are two issues which have been raised by the medical community. The concern about the chemicals added to produce the concentrates and the heavy metals, carcinogenic compounds, and ultrafine particles which have been found in black market and yes even some regulated dispensary vaporizer cartridges.
PAX Labs (one of the biggest and most recognized cannabis companies in the space) recently released a fresh pressed Rosin pod to address these health concerns surrounding vape pens and prefilled pods. Even this however was critiqued by leading vaporizer medical researcher Dr. Jordan Tishler, a Cannabinoid Specialist at Harvard Medical School, who continues to raise issues with prefilled pods and states the overall healthiest method is a high end herbal vaporizer at low temperatures.
Keep in mind that the majority of extracts made by reputable companies are very safe, they are just not as healthy as vaping herb. To protect your health, only use cartridges and oils from suppliers that you trust. Never use back alley products when it comes to vapes. But overall if your health is 100% in mind, there is a reason medical professionals recommend tinctures, balms and herb vapes over everything else.
Other Factors to Consider when Choosing a Dry Herb Vaporizer or a Concentrate Vaporizer
Session Time & Set Up
Nothing is more of a pain than wanting to session but picking up your favorite vaporizer to find a dead battery. There are some amazing herbal desktop vaporizers out there, but the set up alone is like setting up a lab project. These hassles seem to befall herbal vaporizers more than concentrate vapes.
Concentrate vaporizers are quicker and more efficient, A little spec of extracts can be inhaled in a matter of seconds and one to two hits will leave you feeling pretty groovy. If using a 510 pen with a prefilled cartridge you can take 10 hits before a dry herb vaporizer will even hit temperature.
Most Herb vaporizers are session vaporizers, meaning you turn them on with the intention of taking multiple draws over a few minutes. Given the heat up time and then run time to get the optimal draws out of an herb vaporizer you need to have the device on for a few minutes. Taking one hit and putting it back into your pocket is hard for an herb vaporizer to accomplish, even with on demand herb vapes like the Firefly 2+ and Grasshopper.
An easy way to think about it for those who have not tried either is that herb vaporizers are like drinking a wine or enjoying a beer and concentrate vaporizers are like taking a shot.
Vape pens are going to have the best battery life by far but branching out past this comparison, it is all over the place and there is no way to make a blanket statement about herb or concentrate units having better battery life. Then factor in many desktop vaporizers use a wall outlet which rules out a handful of herb vaporizers altogether. One way to alleviate any concern in this department, whether you are buying an herb or concentrate vaporizer, is to get one that has removable batteries so you can always have spares on standby.
Privacy / Discreteness
Dry herb vapes are generally larger in nature than concentrate vapes, but Both can be obnoxiously large or very portable, allowing you to take your vape out on the town. You can also easily use a vape in your no smoking apartment and avoid getting busted. The smell doesn’t linger unless you are doing large dabs at high temperatures with something like an electronic rig.
Consider how discreet you want your vaping experience to be. When you exhale from a dry herb vape, you’ll smell cannabis, to a certain extent. However, it is much weaker than you’d get from smoking, and it dissipates almost right away.
It’s even easier to transport and hide vaping from a concentrate pen. It usually smells like the flavoring of the oil or has a very faint cannabis smell. If you’re looking for the most private way to use in public settings, a concentrate pen is the way to go. You can bring it anywhere and hit in as quickly as you can take it out of your pocket. This is not possible in any regards with a dry herb vape.
Each model vaporizer will need to be cared for in a different way. Make sure you know exactly how to clean and properly fill your new vape before you use it so no damage is done. Browsing the instructions is a great way to get your bases covered.
Vape pens require very little maintenance. Just unscrew the old cartridge, put on the new one, and you’re good! If you choose to pour your own oil, you’ll fill your pen before use. Filling your own coiled wax pen up or using an electronic rig is where the mess from concentrates will manifest. Atomizers especially will need to be wiped clean with a Q Tip after each use to prevent rosin build up from hardening and taxing the heating element.
Dry herb vaporizers need a little more care. You’ll have to clean out the oven regularly and occasionally complete a deep clean on the components of the device. If you do not do this regularly herb particles and resin can build up in the electrical components are render your herb vaporizer useless. It probably won’t be a huge deal, but it can be a little annoying to have to dump the herb out of your vape when you’d rather just go to bed after a late-night vape sesh.
Are There Vaporizers for Both Concentrates and Herb ?
Many vaporizers make this claim that they are dual use and can do both herb and concentrates. While there are some – the Hydrology 9NX comes to mind, they are few and far in between and our expert opinion is the same as the Offspring’s “ You gotta keep em separated”
Doing dabs in an herb vaporizer generally requires a protective liquid pad or aftermarket oil pod and the vapor quality is not as good as using a vaporizer intended for concentrates. Another issue is the gunk and build up concentrates leave behind in an herb vape that require a deeper cleaning than what is customary and the wear & tear they can put on the herb vaporizer.
It is not just herb vapes that make half hearted claims about the vaporizer being a dual use device. Concentrate vaporizers like the Dr. Dabber Switch and Carta 2 have adapters for herb which are more likely to give you a mouthful of combusted smoke than any quality vapor. This taste will linger in the vaporizer and make it so the glass must be cleaned to get rid of the off putting taste.
Herb or Dabs ? Your Personal Preference
If you can afford both and will be indulging in both equally we do recommend getting one of each. then again we are selling them so 😉 If you are going to be using herb 75-90% of the time you would be best served getting a quality herb vape and then a cheap little pen for dabs. If you are going to be using oil or wax most the time, vice versa.
Both dry herb and concentrate vaporizers are a great choice for people who want to enjoy their cannabis discreetly and easily. One way to do this is to try a cheaper model vaporizer first to see if the concept is fitting, while the vapor will be of lesser quality you can decide your next move from there. For those looking to try only the best, To the Cloud Vapor Store does offer a 60 day trial period on all of our higher end vaporizers permitting you to use and return for a fee should it not be your thing.