For millennia mankind has cultivated cannabis for its healing properties, industrial applications and psychoactive effects. And for millennia, mankind has been lighting up and getting stoned.
According to Oxford archaeologist Andrew Sherrat, the oldest evidence of humans burning cannabis for the purpose of ingestion dates back nearly 5,000 years. Vaporizing is relatively new to the world of cannabis. About 1,500 years ago in present day Afghanistan, the fist hookah was invented by Irfan Shiekh. Both methods of cannabis consumption work, delivering much need medicinal relief. But is vaporizing cannabis better than smoking it?
In this article we dive into the negative and positive aspects of smoking and vaporizing cannabis. We will discuss temperature, toxic bi-products, taste, smell and cost effectiveness. This information will allow you to make an informed decision on which consumption method is best for you.
When consuming cannabis, whether it be by smoking or vaporizing, temperature plays a huge role.
Smoking cannabis in the traditional sense (blunts, joints, pipes and bongs), involves putting a flame to your cannabis. This flame reaches temperatures of 2,012° F and incinerates every part of your cannabis, plant matter and all. When inhaling cannabis smoke, the hit is generally on the harsh side with little of the terpene flavor coming through.
Vaporizing cannabis either through vape pens, herbal vaporizers, or desk top vaporizers produces lower heat, temperatures generally ranging between 250-392°F. Beyond 392°F the cannabis will begin to combust. These lower temperatures provide great flavor and mild hits without combusting plant matter.
Smoking Cannabis incinerates all parts of your marijuana at high temperatures. This may not seem too concerning to some but when you realize what’s actually being inhaled, you may change your mind. When you ignite your cannabis you are also igniting Non-Canabonoids, and plant matter. In fact, 88% of combusted cannabis is comprised of non-canabonoid chemicals. There are 483 different chemicals in cannabis. Of those 483 chemicals, just 66 are canabonoids. The other 417 chemicals, including 34 hydrocarbons, are also inhaled and can have potential long term effects.
“With regard to the carcinogenic potential of marijuana, it is noteworthy that the tar phase of marijuana smoke contains many of the same carcinogenic compounds contained in tobacco smoke, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, such as benz[a]pyrene, which was recently identified as a key factor promoting human lung cancer…”(Donald P. Tashkin, MD).
“Secondhand marijuana smoke contains many of the same toxins and carcinogens found in directly inhaled marijuana smoke, in similar amounts if not more” (American Lung Association).
Vaporizing cannabis keeps temperatures between 250-392°F. This temperature range produces a vapor that is free of combusted plant material and produces no toxic bi-products. This vapor contains 95% Cannabinoids and 5% fragrant oils and offers a flavorful, much less intense hit.
Taste is another major facet of the cannabis experience. With the creation of new cannabis strains like Pineapple Thai and Girls Scout Cookies along with an increased focus on cannabis terpenes, taste is truly the hottest trend in cannabis.
This taste experience can differ wildly depending on the ingestion method. Smoking cannabis leaves you with a harsh, woody taste dotted with slight hints of terpene. The incinerated plant matter covers much of the terpene flavor, leaving the charred remains of the once mighty bud. Vaporizing on the other hand allows the terpenes to release gradually, offering a powerfully sweet delight for the senses. The key is not to burn the plant matter, but to slowly cook the terpenes, allowing them to gas off rather than ignite. This makes a world of difference for the taste. Cannabis Connoisseurship is on the rise and terpene appreciation is the driving force behind it.
That unmistakable musky, woody, burnt smell of cannabis comes hand in hand with smoking it. Smoking cannabis can leave a lasting odor on furniture, clothing and just about anything else it touches. There is virtually zero discretion when consuming cannabis through combustion. Vaporizing cannabis is far more discreet. When vaporizing flower, the cannabis smell is faint but present. The surrounding area may smell of cannabis but with in minutes this scent dissipates. Vaporizing concentrates is one of the most discreet methods to consuming cannabis. The cannabis smell is faint if at all present and dissipates seconds later. To some, a strong marijuana smell is not a big issue, for everyone else, vaporizing cannabis may be the right choice.
The last component you should consider is cost effectiveness. Is vaporizing weed more cost effective over smoking it? This point may be controversial but the short answer is yes. When you smoke cannabis, a good amount of the Cannabinoids are burned away. On the other hand when you vaporize cannabis, 95% of the Cannabinoids are converted into vapor and inhaled, thus requiring less cannabis to achieve the same medicinal relief. This is where the controversy comes in. Some feel that the high is better when smoking cannabis as opposed to vaporizing it. Vaporizing cannabis lends more to a head high where as smoking it gives you an all around body high (I tend to disagree with this thought but to each his own). The other point I will make is that the cost of the vaporizer itself must be taken into account. Some vaporizers vary wildly in price. Make sure to do plenty of research and watch as many YouTube reviews as you can before picking a vaporizer. I suggest checking out Positive Smash 420, her channel is full of great content and vaporizer reviews.
So…is vaporizing cannabis better for you than smoking it? In my opinion, vaporizing is undoubtedly 100% better than smoking it. The temperatures are lower, there are no toxic bi-products, the taste is phenomenal, the smell is discreet and the price is right.
Written by Edward Ridgill
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