Vaporizer Buyers Guide
By now, you’ve more than likely heard about the wonderful world of vaporization, or at the very least, you’re curious as to what they are. In this handy vape buying guide, we will answer the questions you have, and maybe even some you didn’t even realize you had while giving you all the information you’ll need to know before you buy a vaporizer.
What Is a Vaporizer?
If you’ve arrived here from Googling the phrase what is a vaporizer, we would like to welcome you to Tools420! We are glad you are with us, and that you decided to check out our vape buying guide. Vaporizers have become popular because it’s a way to deliver the same essential ingredients without the harmful side effects that come along with combustion and smoking.
Vaporizers come in several different types – oil vaporizers, wax pens, and dry herb vaporizers. Oil vaporizers are also referred to as e-Cigs and can be used to vaporize both cannabis oil and e-Juice with nicotine as an alternative to tobacco smoking. Vaporizers appear to be a healthier alternative to tobacco smoking, and they have helped many people proudly be able to say they are now former smokers.
Vaporizers deliver the nicotine without all of the added chemicals and burning paper. Wax vaporizers or wax pens are used for more concentrated cannabis oils like rosin, hash, shatter, and other high viscosity oils. Units that are used to vaporize herbs work much in the same way. We will be focusing mainly on dry herb devices in this guide.
What is Vaporizing?
Understanding the answer to the question ‘what is vaporizing’ is fairly simple. Because vaporizing is much more easily controlled than smoking, it is more efficient. The reason for this is because you are heating your herbs through the vaporization process without combusting, therefore releasing all of the active ingredients without the need for burning them.
More important to most vape enthusiasts is that it is healthier than smoking. The traditional method of ingesting dry herb cannabis has been smoking a joint, which can potentially be risky for your lungs and the rest of your respiratory system due to the fact that you are inhaling the paper along with the joint. Blunts can be even worse for your health in this regard because blunt wraps are essentially tobacco leaves. With vaporization, you eliminate harmful carcinogens and only inhale the active ingredients in your dry herbs.
When you make an informed decision to switch from smoking to vaporizing, there are several noticeable benefits in doing so.
Benefits of Vaporizing
- Healthier Alternative
- Feel Effects Easier
- Less Odor, More Discreet
- Better Flavor
- Less Harshness on Throat
- More Affordable
- More Convenient than Rolling Joints
Clearly, the benefits of vaporizing are vast, and you can probably see why people are making the switch! Next, we need to discuss the two different types of vaporizers – desktop and portable. The two different types have their advantages and disadvantages.
Portable Vaporizers are:
- Easy to Use
- Battery Operated
- More Discreet and Portable
- Compact, Fit in Your Pocket
- Smaller Chamber Sizes Means Shorter Sessions
Most users who are new to the world of vapes tend to opt for portable vaporizers. They are easier to use than desktop devices, are more discreet and can be used on the go, and they are usually more affordable. Because portable vaporizers aren’t as large as desktop devices, they are usually best suited for personal sessions. Check out all of the awesome portable vaporizers that we carry here at Tools420.
Desktop Vaporizers are:
- Larger than Portable Vaporizers
- Bigger Chamber Sizes
- More Options for Inhalation
- Not Very Discreet or Portable
- More Complicated to Use
- Typically Must Plug-In
- Should be Used at Home
- More Expensive
As the name implies, desktop vaporizers are larger and should be used by putting them on a desktop at home. Desktop vaporizers are also often referred to as stationary vaporizers and aren’t portable or discreet. Desktop vaporizers tend to need to be plugged into a wall outlet to operate, and most are considerably more expensive than portable vaporizers. Storz and Bickel are widely considered the manufacturers to release the first-ever desktop vaporizer for medicinal cannabis. The Volcano vaporizer was released almost 20 years go, and it’s amazing how far the industry has evolved since then.
Due to the fact that most desktop vaporizers have larger chamber sizes, they are better for having longer sessions alone, or with your friends, or for using at a party. Check out all of the great dry herb desktop vaporizers that we carry here at Tools420.
Inhalation Methods for Desktop Vaporizers
With desktop vaporizers, there are two main ways to inhale your vapor, and they are a whip or a hose, and a balloon or a bag. The whip is a tube that connects directly to the vaporizer for inhalation. A balloon is filled with vapor, then removed from the device and inhaled that way. A relatively affordable yet popular desktop vaporizer is the Arizer Extreme Q.
Vaporizer Heating Systems Explained
Just like there are two main kinds of vapes, there are two main kinds of heating systems on most vaporizers for sale right now. The first kind is one that you’ll find on a lot of budget devices, and that is conduction heating. Conduction heating is kind of like cooking your food on a stovetop, as the heat comes in direct contact with the material you are vaping. With conduction vaporizers, your dry herbs must be pressed up against the hot surface of the heating chamber, and so it is recommended that you pack your conduction vaporizer full, but not too full that air can’t flow through it.
With the oven being the heating element on conduction vaporizers, herbs tend to get heated unevenly, with the herb on the outside cooking faster than what’s in the center. For this reason, you will want to give your packed bowl a good stir halfway through your session or so. Devices like the Zeus ARC GT, the Vapium Lite, and other conduction vapes come with built-in stirring tools that help you get the most out of your dry herb sessions.
- Tends to produce decent vapor quality and smoothness at the beginning of a session, but will decline when you get towards the end.
- Usually produces more vapor than convection.
- Conduction Vaporizers tend to be more portable and sleek looking than their convection counterparts.
- Air doesn’t usually flow as smoothly as it does convection vapes.
- Some conduction devices will heat up your materials unevenly.
- Vapor can get harsh on the throat if you use a device at a high temperature.
The second main kind of heating system for vaporizers is knowns as convection. Convection is kind of like cooking in an oven, as it vapes your herbs with hot air that is produced by the heating element either when you draw in or with an internal fan. The air flows through a heating element, heats up, then travels through the chamber to vaporize your dry herbs.
- Tends to produce better flavor quality and smoothness during a whole vape session.
- Usually has better airflow and draw than conduction.
- No need for a stir tool.
- Heats materials more evenly than conduction devices.
- Vapor is usually smoother at high temperatures than what conduction vapes produce.
- Usually will be found in more premium units.
- Tend to be bigger and bulkier than conduction units.
The third type of heating system for vaporizers is hybrid heating. As we have evolved within the vaporizer industry, there are several devices that now use a hybrid heating system, combining both conduction and convection to give you the possibility for the best of both vape heating worlds. Depending on the device, a hybrid heating system comes in various forms. For instance, some manufacturers like Storz and Bickel use a conduction heating system around the chamber to control and maintain the exact temperature on the vape. The reason for this is because it can be difficult to do so when with a pure convection vaporizer because the hot air fluctuates depending on how fast and frequently you inhale.
Additionally, the dry herb does not come in direct contact with hybrid heating systems, because units like those from the Arizer brand use a glass stem that gets filled with dry herb and inserted into inside the heating chamber. Some vaporizers are more convection than conduction, and vice versa – it all depends on the device and what the manufacturer was going for in designing it.
Important Vaporizer Features to Consider
Now we get to the fun part! When buying a vaporizer, there are many important things to consider when deciding what kind of device is right for you – about a dozen of them, to be more specific. Below, we break down each feature to give you the best chance of making an informed decision when you decide to buy a vaporizer.
The way you control the temperature of your vaporizer is very important, especially if you are looking for a device that has some flexibility. Different kinds of materials heat up differently, for instance, herbs will vaporize faster than concentrates. There are three main temperature options for vaporizers:
- One Temperature – devices with only one temperature that you cannot change. You will usually find this single temperature setting on starter or budget vapes.
- Pre-Set – vaporizers with preset temperatures will be determined by the manufacturer. Preset temperatures can be anywhere from three to five temps, sometimes up to seven or eight.
- Precision – these are devices with precision temperature controls, and you can choose your temperature down to the exact degree. This is best for vape users who are looking to release the different terpene profiles of their cannabis.
What is the Best Temperature to Vaporize Weed?
Now that you have a better understanding of how temperatures work, you might be wondering what the best temperature to vaporize weed is. For most users, we recommend that you vaporize somewhere between 175 – 220 degrees Celsius when vaporizing herbs. On the low end of the temperature spectrum, you get smaller vape clouds that are tastier, and the higher temperatures will produce thick clouds but the vapor will be harsher on your throat and lungs. We hope this information shines a light on the proper dry herb vaporizer temperatures.
The amount of battery life your vape has is also a very important thing to consider before buying one. Most vaporizer batteries are measured in milliamp Hour (mAh), which is a unit of measurement that designates the amount of electric power over a period of time. mAh can be anywhere from 600 all the way up to 5000. Smaller batteries obviously don’t last as long, but there are vapes out there that can last up to 3 or 4 hours of continuous usage. For more information about which vaporizers with the longest battery life, check out our dedicated blog post.
Most batteries today tend to be lithium-ion, but sometimes you’ll find vapes with different kinds of batteries. Some vapes have internal proprietary batteries, while others have replaceable ones. Vapes with replaceable batteries can come in handy if you are out on the go and can’t get to a charger. Some vaporizers allow you to vape while the unit is charging, which is pass-through charging like Arizer Solo 2 or the Air 2. This is a great feature on some devices. Be sure to check out the specs of your vape before you buy it.
The quality and smoothness of the vapor that the device you buy will produce is something you will definitely want to consider. Vapor quality is a feature that varies widely when it comes to vaporizers. If you have a specific vape in mind and are wondering about its vapor quality, be sure to check out our review on it!
Some vaporizers are specifically for dry herbs, while others are only for wax, like wax pens. There are also vapes that are dually functional that can vape both wax and dry herbs, and there are even some that can do all three – herbs, oils, and waxes. If you are new to vaporizing, we recommend leaning towards a single functionality vaporizer, because with multi-functional vapes you don’t always get the best quality vapor from all materials it can vape. We are mostly focusing on dry herb vaporizers in this guide, so if you’re curious about wax pens, be sure to check out our other guide for more info.
Chamber Types and Sizes
The chambers of portable vaporizers are usually ceramic, stainless steel, or gold. The difference in vapor quality isn’t all that noticeable if you are a newbie to vaping. If you want to microdose you will want to look at vapes with small chamber sizes. The bigger the better if you are looking to vape with long sessions or with friends. If you want to finish the bowl in a later session, you can always turn the vape off and save it for later. However, doing this tends to degrade the flavor quality, so that is something to be aware of.
Build Quality and Parts
Vaporizers come in of a variety of different materials, such as glass, plastic, stainless steel, and silicone. There are pros and cons to each one.
Glass vapes give the best flavor and smoothness and are the easiest to clean. However, glass is fragile and can break easier than the other types. Glass stems are popular in units like ones from the manufacturer Arizer.
Metal vaporizers are some of the most common in the industry today. The most common metal units are usually stainless steel and are more durable than units with glass parts. Stainless steel vapes offer flavor and vapor quality that is pretty solid, but not as good as that of glass. Metal vapes tend to be harder to clean than their glass counterparts. Units like the Pax 3 have a quality build and many options.
Plastic might turn some vape users off by the way it sounds, but many plastic vapes are heat resistant, high quality, and don’t feel cheap. For instance, the Crafty portable vaporizer is highly popular and of top quality. Just like metal vaporizers, plastic units are durable and will give decent vapor quality and flavor, but are more difficult to clean than glass devices.
Silicone is less common in portable vaporizers, but it is a common part when it comes to desktop vaporizers. They are usually found in the whip part of the desktop vaporizer which is an inhalation method. Some portable vaporizers also have silicone mouthpieces like the Pulsar APX V2.
Ease of Use and Convenience
How easy is your vaporizer to use? This is an important question to ask before you buy one. For newbies, it’s best to find a vaporizer that is easy to use, simple to understand, and can be cleaned with minimal effort. Desktop vaporizers tend to have a lot of components and can be on the difficult side to understand and assemble. There are several high-end portable vaporizers that are friendly to new users, such as the DaVinci IQ.
Portability and Discreteness
Each vaporizer will vary when it comes to how portable and discreet it is. The size and ergonomic nature of portable vaporizers play the largest part in this, as well as its vapor production. If you are looking to vape in a discreet nature, you will want to shy away from vaporizers that produce thick vapor clouds and a large amount of odor.
A big factor to consider when buying is whether or not your device is water bong adaptable. This simply means you have the capacity to attach a water pipe adapter and/or a bubbler. These handy accessories allow your vapor to pass through water before entering your lungs ultimately creating a smooth and flavorful experience. Besides the benefits to vapor quality, flavor, and smoothness it definitely provides some needed variety to your vaping journey. To answer the question, “What is a bubbler?” check out our dedicated blog post.
When buying a vaporizer, each one will come with its own unique accessories. USB chargers and owner’s manuals are the most common accessories. You might also find glass stem attachments, extra screens, stirring, and other kinds of tools, grinders, and so much more. Each product description of a device you are considering purchasing will indicate what the unit comes with.
Tip of the Iceberg!
We focused mostly on dry herb devices here in this vape buying guide, but be sure to check out our guides on wax pens and e-Cigs! This is an updated version of our original quick vaporizer buyers guide. If you’d like a shorter version to read, check out our post here.
If you found value in this review, we are always producing content just like this one, so be sure to visit our blog page often. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and sign up for our newsletter for news, updates, and promotions. Until next time, happy vaping!