Vaping offers a world of products to explore. Luckily, picking up the basics of vaping isn't difficult. This guide is designed to get you started, with a definition of vaping, the products available to you, and some key tips to keep in mind.
What is vaping?
Vaping is the act of vaporizing dry herbs or concentrate cannabis for the purpose of inhalation. Vaping has been with us in one form or another for thousands of years. In fact, the first ever recorded account of vaporizing dry herbs comes to us from the Greek historian Herodotus in 5th century B.C., who wrote about Egyptians who heated herbs and oils on hot stones to create a vapor that would fill a confined space.
Today, vaping is primarily conducted with electronic devices that heat your chosen material prior to consumption. Vape devices come in many shapes and sizes, from small, round vape pens to large, conical desktop units. The first step you take into the world of vaping will be with one of these devices, so let's examine what's available on the market today.
Types of vapes available today
Even within the same category, two vapes can be quite different. Your selection is a personal choice that should reflect the type of experience you want.
To get started, it's useful to break down vaporizers into three broad categories:
- Vape pens: Vape pens are portable devices that employ pre-filled oil cartridges/pods that connect to a battery. These are often among the simplest vapes out there and can be quite inexpensive. Vape pens come in reusable and all-in-one varieties.
- Portable vaporizers: Portable vaporizers are compact and discreet like vape pens, but tend to have the functionality of larger desktop vaporizers. They tend to have larger, more powerful batteries and ovens that work with dry herb, concentrates, and more.
- Desktop vaporizers: Desktop vaporizers, as the name suggests, are designed for stationary use. They often require an external power source, and leverage that to produce higher levels of vapor. Desktop vaporizers work with dry herb, concentrates, and more.
Once you've identified which type of vaporizer makes the most sense, you can drill down into the specific models available. That means understanding not only the anatomy of a vaporizer, but the different features that are available to you.
Vaping devices for beginners
Most vaporizers have several components in common which work together to heat your material and deliver the vapor to you. These components can be arranged in different ways, but they essentially serve the same purpose. The most common components that can be found in virtually every vape include:
- Power source: Every electronic vaporizer requires a power source. For vape pens and portable vaporizer, that power source is a battery. Typically, a battery makes up the bulk of the device. For desktop vaporizers, the power source is typically a wall outlet.
- Heating element: Vaporizers rely on a heating element to warm material for vaporization. The type can vary from device to device. Vape pens, for example, include a heating element in each individual cartridge. Larger vaporizers will conduction heating, which heats material by surrounding it, or convection heating, which uses the flow of hot air to do so.
- Chamber or cartridge: Every vape needs a place for the material you'll be vaporizing. In vape pens that's the cartridge or pod that is pre-filled with cannabis oil and connected into the battery. In larger vaporizers cannabis material is loaded into the "chamber" or "oven" prior to being vaporized.
- Mouthpiece: The mouthpiece allows you to inhale the vapor produced by your device. In vape pens that's connected to the cartridge/pod. In larger vaporizer model it's located at the top of the device or at the end of a stem or tube coming off the device.
What to look for in a vape
Understanding device features can help you differentiate between models and determine which vape is right for you. The most common are:
- Battery life: The battery impacts the time it takes to fully charge your device, how long it lasts, as well as the overall design.
- Temperature settings: Some vapes only offer a single or a handful of temperature settings, while others can be fine-tuned to the degree.
- Heating time: Vape pens typically heat up instantly or in a couple of seconds, whereas larger vaporizers can take up to a minute or more.
- Vapor production: A combination of battery type, temperature settings, and design will determine the size of the vapor clouds produced.
- Accessories: Many vaporizer are compatible with accessories, including maintenance, spare parts, prep tools, and stash containers.
Understanding these features and prioritizing based on your desired experience is a critical part of the purchase journey. As you become more experienced, you'll begin to understand what makes for your optimal session./p>
Common vaping mistakes to avoid
Buying the wrong vaporizer
Many beginners are so overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choice that they'll pick a vape at random. This could result in selecting a device that doesn't suit your needs or expectations. Take the time to research devices to be sure that their functionality lines up with your intended use.
Forgetting to charge your battery
Vaporizers rely on their batteries for power, so a dying battery inevitably results in a poor experience. Before using your vaporizer, be sure you've allowed the battery to charge fully. This will deliver the required power to the device throughout your whole session, ensuring vapor production is consistent and adequate.
Using your vape improperly
No matter which device you choose, you should thoroughly the associated manual or guide. Understanding what your vape is designed to do – and what it’s not - is an important part of ownership. Always use your device as designed, and if that doesn't work, then it is time for something new.
Failing to clean and maintain your vape
Failure to clean and maintain your vaporizer regularly could result in decreased function and, over time, device failure. Be sure to frequently clean the chamber or oven, ensure that connections between components are clear, and clean out the vapor path and mouthpiece in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
Feel comfortable using your vape
If you still feel overwhelmed by the choices, don't be. You can always start small and simple and work your way up. Continue researching, be patient, and soon enough you'll find the experience that’s right for you. With the bevy of vapes available, you're bound to find the right experience.