Visual Guide: How to Use a Dry Herb Vape Pen
If joint smoke is irritating to your lungs, you may benefit from using a dry herb vaporizer. A vaporizer is a device used to heat cannabis products, in this case flowers, to the point at which cannabinoids and terpenes begin to turn into a gas (vapor) without actually combusting (burning) any plant material. In this article, I am going to show you step-by-step how to load your favorite dry herb vaporizer. For a full breakdown of smoking vs. vaporizing, check out this article. If you’re looking to vaporize cannabis concentrates (also known as dabs), use this guide instead.
What is a dry herb vaporizer?
A dry herb vaporizer is a type of vaping device that heats cannabis buds to a specific (lower) temperature than burning a joint or a bowl. The result is very clean, smooth, medicinal vapor – it also happens to be quite flavorful! Dry herb vaporizers are available in both desktop and portable forms. Recently, portable vaporizers have become more popular as technology has advanced their capabilities to a point that allows them to compete with larger desktop units.
How to Use a Dry Herb Vape Pen
Identify Your Vape Style (How does it work?)
Before I get into the specifics of how to pack your vaporizer, it’s important to understand which one you have. In this case, the major distinction isn’t necessarily the make and model, but rather whether it uses conduction or convention to heat the cannabis flowers. Not sure which heating method your vaporizer uses? A quick Google search will usually give you the answer in seconds! In reality, most vaporizer inherently use both methods to some degree – the important part is to understand the primary method of action of your vaporizer so you can pack it effectively. Here’s a quick breakdown of how each works:
Conduction units heat the material via contact with direct heat, i.e. the flowers are touching a hot surface. As you might imagine, this can result incidental overheated of those sections of the chamber that come in direct contact with the heat plate. Common conduction vaporizers include: Pax 2 & 3, Vapium Summit,
Convection units heat the material by passing hot air through the chamber. The result is a much more even temperature range through the chamber and overall better flavor. Common convection vaporizers include: Firefly 2, Grasshopper, Atmos Jump
Get the Important Vape Accessories
In order to get the perfect hit from your vaporizer pen, you MUST use a grinder to break down the cannabis buds. A fine grind is not just for joints, it is better for all vaporizers! That’s why I always have a Grinder Card stocked in my vape travel kit. The Grinder Card produces the perfect consistency for loading your pen – a fine, even grind.
You can even grind directly into your vape pen chamber or into a Pebble (if you want to save some for your next session). I also recommend having a poker style tool on hand for clearing your chamber of sticky Already-Been-Vaped (ABV) flowers. It just so happens that all of these items fit perfectly in the Safety Case with extra room for your vaporizer pen.
Select the Right Strain
While I'm on the subject of preparing your cannabis, don’t forget to select the correct starting material! The type of cannabis you use (i.e. indica or sativa) will directly impact how you feel after you vape. If you need help choosing, use our strain selection guide. As always, quality matters!
Pro Tip: It may be counterintuitive, but herb vaporizers perform better when the cannabis is fully dry! Residual moisture in your buds results in unnecessary throat irritation and produces a less thick vapor.
Load the Chamber
First, remove the cap/cover to the chamber. Then, use your fingers to gently load the finely ground cannabis into the chamber. It’s important not to overfill the chamber or pack it too tight – remember, air still has to pass through there! A medium pack is usually best, but this is where the conduction vs. convection heating method matters. Conduction vaporizers like the Pax 2 and 3 can handle (and actually benefit from) a tighter pack, while convection vaporizers like the Grasshopper benefit from a looser pack. You can experiment with different density packs to see which perform best with your pen. You can use your fingers or damper style tool to pack down the ground cannabis. Once packed, replace the lid/cover and close the chamber.
Heat Up the Pen
Herb vaporizers can take anywhere from <10 seconds to over a minute to heat up. It’s imperative to let the pen heat up fully prior to taking a hit. Many vaporizer units actually have adjustable temperature settings – lower temperatures produce more flavorful hits with less throat irritation, while higher temperature settings will provide more powerful hits with thick vapor.
Take a Hit!
Once the pen reaches the desired temperature, you can inhale from the mouthpiece and enjoy the perfect hit! Also, be sure your batter is fully charged for consistent performance from your vaporizer. Many people store an extra battery or charger in their vape pen case to ensure they never run low.
Store in a Smell Proof Vaporizer Case
You likely paid a pretty penny for your vaporizer and consider it an investment – treat it like one! Just because it’s portable, doesn’t mean it’s unbreakable – I highly recommend using a smell proof vape case to keep your pen protected and discreet. The Safety Case has the ability to carry all the other vaporizing essential needed to pack your vaporizer on the go!
Bonus: Clearing the Chamber
Clearing your chamber after each use is just as important as packing it! Because the leftover loose-leaf material is often sticky from heat exposure, I suggest using a Tool to clear it out fully – it’s especially helpful for those stubborn bits. If you fail to clear your chamber adequately, you will restrict airflow and impair the performance of your vaporizer over time.
Which Vaporizer is Best?
The answer to this question will depend on several factors; size, price point, heat up time, intended use, charge time, temperature control, chamber size, warranty, etc. The important thing is to purchase based on the factors that are most important to you – after all you’ll be the one using it! Keep in mind that desktop vaporizers are considered to be in a different class than portable vaporizers – comparing between these two classes is apple and oranges. There are also lots of reviews and comparisons online if you can’t decide between 2 or 3 models.