Concentrates, the extracts of cannabis plants, are increasingly popular wherever the plant is legal for medical or adult use. Vaporizing concentrates has taken off as a preferred way to enjoy cannabis extracts. These concentrates only require a small amount to have a powerful effect.
Whether you're vaping oil or wax, a high-quality concentrate vaporizer is a must for an optimal vape experience. What separates these vaporizers from their dry herb counterparts, how do they work, and what should you look for when trying to decide which one is right for you? This guide to concentrate vaporizers will help acquaint you with the devices that can work with cannabis concentrate.
What are concentrate vaporizers?
Cannabis concentrates are materials extracted from the cannabis plant that tends to be more concentrated, hence the name. Some of the most common concentrates on the market today include extracts like oil or wax. A concentrate vaporizer, as the name suggests, is a device used to vaporize these concentrates.
Some vapes are only designed to work with dry herb material. Forcing concentrates into a vaporizer that isn't designed to handle them is a sure way to damage your device. Consuming concentrates requires the use of a particular device or accessories designed to handle them. Let's take a look at how some of the most common concentrate vaporizers work, as well as the advantages and disadvantages they provide.
How do concentrate vaporizers work?
Concentrate vaporizers are similar to other portable vaporizers in their functionality. While every portable vaporizer differs a bit, most use a similar set of components and processes. Each consists of a battery, which supplies power to a heating element. The heating element warms to a selected temperature, bringing your chosen material to its boiling point and vaporizing it. Many portable vaporizers have a chamber or oven, into which you load your material. Some concentrate vaporizers allow you to load your material directly, while others require the use of a concentrate pad or insert. Others still employ screw-in cartridges or click-in pods that are pre-filled with oil.
Vaporizers typically rely on one of two heating methods. Conduction heating occurs when the material is heated directly by physical contact with the heating element. In some cases, the entire chamber heats up, while in others the material rests on a heated surface. Once the heating element warms to the material's boiling point, it vaporizes and can be inhaled through the mouthpiece.
The other heating method vaporizers commonly employ is known as convection heating. Convection heating occurs whenever material is indirectly vaporized by the passage of hot air. In a convection vaporizer, the heating element warms the air around it. Then, either when the consumer draws on the mouthpiece or with the help of a built-in fan, the hot air is forced through the chamber and over the material, vaporizing it as it goes.
What are the different devices out there?
Concentrate vaporizers come in many different shapes and sizes. There are feature-rich and diverse portable vaporizers, which allow for advanced customization and unparalleled portability. Then there are cartridge and pod vapes, which utilize pre-filled containers of concentrate to make the process quick, easy, and clean. Finally, there are powerful but stationary desktop vaporizers, which offer a wide range of features and temperature settings at the sacrifice of mobility. Which style of vape is right for you depends mostly on the type of session you would like to experience.
- Portable vapes: Portable vaporizers, like the PAX 3, are good because they provide flexibility when vaporizing dry herb, concentrates, or both, without sacrificing features and settings. In the case of the PAX 3, concentrate inserts support the use of oils and waxes, but the device can also be used with dry herb material.
- Cartridge vapes: Cartridge vapes employ screw-in cartridges, which are typically universally compatible with batteries made with a standard 510 thread. Cartridges are quick and easy to swap out and are available in many varieties.
- Pod vapes: Pod vapes are similar to cartridge vapes, but instead of using a screw-in cartridge they rely on pods that click in and out of the device. Some pod vapes, like the PAX Era, are simplistic in design but still offer the advanced features common to portable vaporizers.
- Desktop vapes: Finally, desktop vapes are large and powerful stationary units that are designed to stay at home. Desktop vapes come in many shapes, sizes and capabilities: some are conical in appearance and fill a bag with vapor prior to consumption, while others have a mouthpiece attached and can be drawn on directly.
If you're looking for a mobile, discreet experience, portable vaporizers or pod vapes are likely the choice for you. But once you know which type of vaporizer you want to go with, you still have to choose a brand and a model.
What you should consider when buying a portable vaporizer
When buying a vaporizer of any kind, it's important to keep in mind the type of session you want to have. Vaping is often about personal preference, so you should ask yourself questions like:
- Do I want to use this for long sessions? If you prefer longer sessions, a vape with a hefty battery life and sizable oven capacity are likely going to serve you well.
- Do I want to be discreet? If discretion is your priority, you will want to select a vape with a compact design that is easily stored. You should also consider a device that allows you to vape on low temperature settings or with low vapor production.
- Which cannabis materials do I want to use? Does your vape of choice support all types of concentrates or just one? Could it be used with dry herb material as well as concentrates? Knowing which materials you intend to vaporize and the capabilities of a device can help you narrow down the field.
In addition to these questions about session type, you should also consider:
- Aesthetic: Vapes vary widely in appearance, so be sure you actually like the way your vape looks. This is a simple, subjective consideration, but one you will want to consider before making your decision.
- Settings: Some vaporizers have innumerable temperature settings and include advanced features, like session monitoring or remote device lock, for example. Other vapes are simpler, with a more straightforward design and limited functionality.
- Mobile application: Some vapes connect to a smartphone application via Bluetooth® connectivity, unlocking additional functionality and granting unprecedented insights into your sessions. Mobile applications can greatly enhance the quality of your sessions and the control you have over tailoring your vape experience.
- Maintenance and warranty: Finally, give some thought to how frequently you will have to clean your device, and how difficult it will be to clean properly. Most vaporizers also come with a limited warranty, so you should compare the terms and warranty length before making a final decision.
The PAX difference
When it comes to concentrate vaporizers, the PAX family of brands stands out as a top-tier choice. With unique features like Session Control and Dynamic Modes, vapes like the PAX 3 grant superior influence over the precise nature of your sessions.
Session Control for PAX Era, available with the use of the PAX Mobile application on iOS and Android smartphones, allows you to tailor your vape experience based on the amount of vapor you prefer to intake. Want to keep an eye on how much you vape per session? The built-in usage monitoring feature can track the amount of "puffs" you take, measured as a 1-to-2 second draw on the mouthpiece.
PAX also offers five presets called Dynamic Modes, which tweak your sessions to accommodate for enhanced flavor, increased vapor production, material preservation, or a more discreet session. Whether you are looking for low-profile consumption or powerful vapor production, your PAX device can support it.
Take your time, do your research, and soon enough you will end up with a concentrate vaporizer that suits your preferences. The popularity of concentrates keeps rising and new concentrate products are available every year. If you like to vaporize concentrates, choosing the right companion device is key.