Smoking vs. Vaporizing: Which is Better?
Smoking and vaporizing are two popular methods for consuming cannabis flowers and concentrates. The primary difference is temperature. When you smoke a joint, you set it on fire and inhale everything that's burning inside the rolling paper, including the paper itself. Think of vaporization as an instant extraction and consumption alternative. By heating the cannabis to a specific (lower) temperature range, you can consume the beneficial cannabis compounds stored in the plant, without consuming the actual plant on which they are produced.
There is a temperature range where the cannabinoids found in the trichome heads begin to boil off into a gas without combusting any plant material. Most cannabinoids and terpenes, the therapeutic compounds found in cannabis, boil in the range of 315-440°F (157-227°C). Beyond 451°F (233°C), combustion begins to occur. For reference, the lowest possible temperature of the butane flame in your Bic lighter is 761°F (405°C). Which is better? The answer, like so many other questions in the cannabis world, is preference based. Below are some of the main questions to consider when choosing between smoking and vaporizing.
How is cannabis smoke different from cannabis vapor?
By definition, combustion is the process of burning something. Because vaporization does not ignite the plant matter, the vapor produced is comprised of mostly cannabinoids (up to 95% carcinogen free). In contrast, the smoke created from the combustion process is diluted by up to 90% with non-cannabinoids, which contains carcinogens and can cause respiratory irritation. The thicker smoke produced by the combustion of cannabis comes from the plant buds and leaves, which are non-essential relative to the trichomes they harbor. If you are one of the many Americans around the country that still needs to consume undetected, vaporization offers a discreet solution with minimal smell.
Which gets me higher?
The effects of both smoking and vaporizing can be felt almost immediately and typically result in the elevated sensation most people associate with the THC in cannabis. The instant effects of vaporizing and smoking cannabis making controlling dosage relatively easy; simply inhale more as necessary. Many people find smoking cannabis results in a stronger, hazier high relative to vaporizing, which is considered to be more mild, clean, and therapeutic.
Which is more flavorful?
The terpene and cannabinoid-rich vapor produced by vaporization is typically more flavorful and smooth than the smoke produced from combustion. Many describe the vaporization experience as inhaling the ‘essence of the plant’. When smoking cannabis buds, the flavor (produced by terpenes) is less apparent because the smoke can be diluted with plant matter by up to 90%.
Which has a more effective dosage?
This is a difficult question as many cannabis users prefer smoking, while others prefer vaporization. It goes without saying that vapor produced by vaporizing is significantly more concentrated with cannabinoids than the smoke produced by combustion. However, many users find that no matter how many inhalations they take from a vaporizer, they never achieve a high consistent with smoking. The same can be said for many vaporizer users who claim that smoking cannabis is less effective and results in respiratory irritation. In my experience, vaporization provides a more forgiving, manageable, and mild medication option for newer cannabis users.
Some people enjoy packing a one hitter pipe because of the limited amount of smoke required to pack a considerable punch.
Which is easier on the go?
With the right tools, both smoking and vaporizing on the go can be a quick and easy process. I recommend one of the various smell proof Safety Case kits that include everything you need to load a vaporizer or protect your prefill cartridge and battery. If you prefer to smoke flower, a small one hitter pipe is especially helpful for conserving cannabis. If you like to carry a mix of flower and concentrates, stock the Pebbles with various strains for specific times of the day.
Do you inhale and exhale the same way?
Regardless of your preferred consumption method, I want to clear up a common misconception: holding in the smoke or vapor does not get you higher! Studies have shown that approximately 95% of the cannabinoids present in smoke or vapor are absorbed within the first few seconds of inhaling. Steady in and steady out! Ready to try smoking, dabbing, or vaporizing? Reference my dosage guide here.
How do dabs fit into the equation?
Dabbing is the process of dropping a dose of cannabis concentrate onto a heated water pipe attachment (known as a nail) and inhaling. Dabbing teeters the line between combustion and vaporization as the cannabis concentrate is heated to temperatures ranging from 500-900+°F. However, because clean cannabis concentrates are typically free of plant matter, there is less risk of inhaling potentially harmful carcinogens, even at higher temperatures consistent with combustion. Dabbing involves highly concentrated cannabis extracts and is not recommended for novice consumers.
- Those seeking a discreet, manageable, and healthy way to medicate should try vaporizing
- Those looking for the traditional, hazy, powerful high should stick to smoking
- Regardless of how you consume, no need to hold in the smoke! Steady in, steady out