Let’s Vaporize Marijuana

A Cannabis Smoker’s Guide to Saving Your Lungs

People have smoked cannabis for centuries to enjoy its health benefits like reducing stress and stimulating appetite. But smoking releases harsh toxins that damage your lungs and can cause cancer. Plus it’s messy. And stinky.

Vaporizers heat cannabis to temperatures below burning point (451°F) which releases potent vapor with the same physical and mental benefits as smoking marijuana, but without the harsh smoke toxins1. And the herb odor is much less.

Table of Contents

What is Vaporizing?

Find the Right Vape

Cannabis 101

All About Grinders

Cleaning Your Vape

ideal vaporization temperature is between 356-392°F

What is Vaporizing?

Heating cannabis without burning it releases THC and other active ingredients into the air. This vapor gets you just as medicated as smoking a joint, but instead it virtually eliminates all the harmful smoke toxins found using joints, pipes or bongs. Warming marijuana just before it burns turns out to be a great way to enjoy this wonderful plant.

How is a Vaporizer Healthier than Smoking?

Vaporizers heat cannabis to temperatures below the point of burning. Instead of releasing toxic smoke, vaporizers deliver pure, clean THC vapor that’s just as potent.

Is Weed Bad for You?

Cannabis itself isn’t harmful; it’s the smoke that gets you. Burning marijuana releases over 111 known air-born toxins and compounds. Studies have found that pot smokers face higher risk of bronchitis and respiratory infections, but this risk comes from smoke byproducts and not cannabinoids themselves.

Willie Nelson talks about switching from smoking to vaporizing

Willie Nelson Vapes

“I’ve changed my habits a little bit. I’ve smoked so much and I got congestion from it, wheezing in the night and coughing. So I switched over to a vaporizer. You don’t get any smoke, and you don’t get any heat. And for a singer, or someone’s lungs, it’s much, much healthier. There’s pot in the vaporizer, but when you puff it in, you’re getting vapors, but not heat and not smoke. I think it’s even stronger, too.”

Step-by-Step How Vaporizing Works

Da Buddha is a good starter vaporizer to show the basic vaporization process with medical cannabis:

  1. step 1: warm-up your vape

    Turn your vaporizer on to warm-up the heating element. Patience is a virtue, so wait until it’s hot and ready.

  2. step 2: grind your herb

    Grind the herb to a fine-ish consistency. Most vapes work better with fine grinds, so take a few extra seconds to find a nice consistency.

  3. step 3: load your vape

    Load vaporizer with herb; here we’re using Da Buddha vaporizer and using the wand to inhale or "suck up" the ground weed.

  4. step 4: inhale the vapors slowly

    Inhale slowly using steady breaths to draw the warm vapor into your mouth and lungs. Don’t be distracted, find focus and be attentive.

Vaped Herb: Before and After

Research Data on Vaporizing Cannabis

Vaporizing marijuana avoids the smoke and harsh heat of pipes, joints and bongs, while delivering the same amount of THC and other active cannabinoids. Here’s some proof:

Studies report that marijuana vapor contains as much THC as joint smoke, but without 100 or so harsh toxins. Between 2001 and 2004 California NORML and MAPS did three studies:

Vapor analysis found 36–61% THC, an efficiency that compares to marijuana cigarettes. Vapor consisted overwhelmingly of cannabinoids, with trace amounts of three other compounds. Combusted smoke contained 111 other compounds. Results indicate that vaporization can deliver therapeutic doses of cannabinoids with a drastic reduction in smoke compounds.

Link: Cannabis Vaporizer Combines Efficient Delivery of THC with Effective Suppression of Pyrolytic Compounds

Four Benefits of Vaporizing

  1. It's healthier — vapor contains virtually no harsh toxins found in smoke
  2. Works fast and is easy to control dose, unlike edible pot brownies or bread
  3. Efficient; generally you use 10–30% less herb than smoking pipes, joints or bongs
  4. Hardly any smell, only a faint herb odor that allows you to be more discreet
silhouettes of different portable vaporizers

Finding the Right Type of Vaporizer

Choosing between the different types of marijuana vaporizers involves trade-offs in size, price, design and ease of use. The main things to consider when comparing vaporizers are:

Let me help guide you to the right choice for you with my detailed and well-researched marijuana vaporizer reviews.

Plug-in or Portable?

Da Buddha and Hot Box are good starter vaporizers.

Standard Plug-in vaporizers are electric units that typically sit at home on a table or desk. They use whip tubes to deliver vapor from a heat source to your mouth. Because the heat source is so powerful they are capable of delivering very strong and consistent hits of vapor. Most plug-in units are warmed-up and ready to use in 3+ minutes.

My favorite forced-air vapes are Herbalizer and Volcano Classic.

Forced-air vaporizers are also plug-in electric, but use bags to hold vapor and fans to inflate the bag. Bags allow the vapor time to cool, so these units are best for people with lung and breathing problems. Bags are also very good for sharing with friends.

comparing plug-in vaporizers in size and shape

Plug-in vaporizers compared.

My favorite portables are the Pax, Magic Flight Launch Box, iolite, and Arizer Solo.

Portable vaporizers can be carried in your pocket for discreet, any-time medication. Most portables run on rechargeable batteries, but a few use refillable butane gas. Most portables are warmed-up and ready to use after 1–2 minutes, but a few have super fast warm-up times under 10 seconds.

comparing portable vaporizers in size and shape

Portable vaporizers compared.

Detailed Vaporizer Reviews

Whip Tubes or Bags?

vaporizer whip tube

Whip tubes are made of glass or food-grade plastic (so they’re safe to put in your mouth). With a tube, you’re drawing hot air into your mouth like using a straw.

Take slow and steady hits and you’ll avoid any harsh heat and just feel warm vapor. Be careful not to breathe out through the wand or you might blow herb into the heating element which may burn and cause smoke.

vaporizer bag

Bags are made of plastic and collect vapor. Typically a fan inside the vaporizer pushes air through the herb chamber/screen compartment, filling the bag with cool vapor.

Bags allow the vapor to cool, making them perfect for people with throat and breathing problems like acid reflux, asthma or bronchitis. Bags are also great for sharing in groups because you can pass it around and take huge hits from it like a bong.

Convection vs Conduction

Convection vaporizers use hot air, herb never directly touches the heat source as hot air passes over the herb to release active ingredients. As you inhale, you can regulate the temperature and strength of the vape hits by controlling how hard and fast you inhale (pull) air.

Vaporizers include: Volcano, Da Buddha, Magic Flight Launch Box, Arizer Extreme Q4, and Hot Box.

Conduction vaporizers use a hot surface, herb is heated by direct contact with a hot metal plate (or oven). As the plate gets hot it releases THC cannabinoids from the herb inside but only for the parts actually touching or very near the heat source. Frequent stirring or shaking these types of vapes helps evenly distribute the heat across your herb load. Typically easy to clean and affordable, conduction vaporizers have fewer parts and complexity.

Vaporizers include: Pax, ioLite, Wispr, and VaporGenie.

Analogue Knobs vs Digital LCDs and Buttons?

detail of knob on the Volcano vaporizer close-up of Da Buddha vaporizer knob Herbal Aire2.0 temperature knob

Knobs are easy to use, intuitive, and have fewer parts to break over time. A knob always remembers its place, so you can set it and forget it for a certain strain and consistency of pot.

buttons and LCD on Volcano digit buttons and screen on Airzer Extreme close-up of buttons on Vapir NO2

Digital screens and buttons have their use for dialing in an exact and precise temperature and keeping it there. Often vaporizers with digital LCDs have other compelling technology inside that combined with the buttons make for a consistent and reliable experience.

Shopping List: Recommended Vaporizers

Cannabis 101

Marijuana comes in two strains, Indica and Sativa:

close-up of indica plant leaves


  • Short, stocky plant.
  • Grows 3–6 feet tall.
  • CBD content is higher; good for pain and inflammation.
  • Relaxing, de-stressing, calming.

close-up of sativa plant leaves


  • Tall, thin plant.
  • Grows 6–25 feet tall.
  • THC content is higher; good for depression and appetite.
  • Stimulating, uplifting, energizing.

Cannabis Cannabinoids

Over 85 active chemical compounds, or cannabinoids, have been found in marijuana. These are the main three typically listed on medical marijuana labels and dispensary menus:

THC Tetrahydrocannabinol

  • Main psychoactive
  • Reduce pain
  • Stimulate appetite
  • Reduce nausea

CBD Cannabidiol

  • Non-psychoactive
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Help anxiety
  • Lessen spasms

CBN Cannabinol

  • THC break-down byproduct
  • Determines age of herb
  • Higher numbers = drier herb

Read more in my guide to cannabis cannabinoids

Should You Eat or Vaporize Marijuana?

Eating marijuana makes it hard to control the dose, eating too much is a very easy mistake! Effects of eating don’t kick in for 45min to an hour after eating pot brownies or such a treat. Even the most popular San Francisco medical marijuana edibles vary in strength and dose size per batch. Its kind of a gamble.

But vaporizing weed makes it easy to control your dose as you feel the effects within seconds. Inhale as much as you want and stop when you’re feeling good.


Get a Great Grind

Grinding your weed exposes more of it to air during vaporization, drawing more active ingredients and conserving your weed at the same time! Here are a few tips for grinding as well as buying a grinder. We loaded three basic marijuana grinders with herb and put them to the test:

three grinders compared; plasic 2-piece, metal 4-piece, and metal 2-piece

  1. cheapie plastic grinder doesn’t do a good job

    A. Cheapie plastic two-piece grinder fails our tests to make a semi-fine mix. This will waste weed in many vaporizers such as the Magic Flight Launch Box.

  2. 4-piece grinder test did OK, but not as good as metal two-piece

    B. Metal four-piece grinder does a better job for a finer consistency, but still misses my mark. The finer the grind the better the vape session.

  3. 2-piece grinder test did just fine, this is a good grind ready for vaporizing

    C. Metal two-piece grinder does a nice job getting to semi-fine because you can over-grind and shake things around to get more of a powerdy consistency.

Also a coffee grinder works very well, but can pulverize herb to dust, which can be too fine for some vapes. Experiment and do tests with your specific strains.

Shopping List: Grinders

Cleaning Your Vaporizer

Below are some tips for maintaining your vaporizer so it stays working smoothly and efficiently.

Use Isopropyl Alcohol to Clean Resin

Isopropyl Alcohol works very well to clean resin. It dissolves ethyl cellulose, many oils, alkaloids, gums and natural resins. Dip pipe cleaners in alcohol, put it on rags and Q-tips and use to clean off resin. Soak glass pieces and they should clean up nicely.

Clean and Change Screens

clogged screen clean screen

This screen was clogged beyond cleaning, so we changed it out with a new screen. Sticky buds will cause more resin build-up and clog screens faster. Cleaning the screen with a small brush after each use helps it last longer.

Change Whip Tubes

dirty whip tube clean whip tube

Clean tubes with alcohol and some big pieces of salt or sand; shake and flush clean. Cut off each end of the tube after a cleaning so the mouth piece and wand fit nice and snug.

Shopping List: Cleaning Supplies

The End

We hope you enjoyed this detailed exploration of vaporization and how it can help improve your health compared to smoking cannabis.


  1. Lab Study Shows Vaporizers Can Drastically Reduce Toxins in Marijuana Smoke
  3. Vaporpedia Wiki
  4. California NORML page on vaporizers
  5. VapeWorld Resources Page
  6. Indica photo on Flickr, Sativa photo on Flickr


1. First Help Your Friends:

2. Then Save Yourself:

Compare Vaporizers to Buy

✓ Highly Recommended

We recommend these for medical marijuana patients looking to stop smoking and switch to a reliable and consistent vaporizer:

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