Dry herb vaporizers are a more efficient and flavorful way to enjoy cannabis, and they're also easier on your lungs than combustion methods like smoking a joint. But if you're new to vaping, the huge range of vaporizers on the market can be overwhelming. To figure out which dry herb vape is best for you, you'll want to explore your options, compare features, and make an informed decision.
One of the differences in design between models of vapes is which heating method it uses: convection heating or conduction heating. There's also some vaporizers that use a hybrid of the two. There are pros and cons to convection and conduction vapes. In this article we'll be focusing on convection vaporizers, but we'll touch on conduction vapes too.
How convection heating works
Convection-style vapes all work along the same general method. You put your ground-up herb into the vaporizer's bowl or heating chamber, set the temperature controls, and wait for it to heat up.
In convection, the element won't make direct contact with the chamber. The device will have a stainless steel or ceramic element that heats the air as you take hits. The herbs will be heated to a high enough temperature that it releases cannabinoids like THC and CBD into vapor. Then you breathe in and enjoy the herbal compounds.
Because you can control temperatures, vaporizing herbs doesn't mean burning, combustion, and smoke. Meaning you're able to avoid many of the harmful toxins that present a risk when you smoke marijuana. When you take a hit, you'll be able to taste the pure flavor of your herbs better when vaping.
But convection vaporizers don't heat the heating chamber directly. Instead, the heat source heats air, and then the hot air flows over the dry herbs, warming them to the right temperature. When you inhale through the mouthpiece, you'll cause the air to flow over the heating element and then heat the dry herbs.
Some convection vapes have an internal fan that blows the hot air for you, and fills a bag or balloon with vapor. With these devices, all you need to do is take a draw from the bags. These units are considered desktop vaporizers, and need to be powered by a wall plug. In fact, most convection vapes are not portable vapes. And some are downright massive.
How To Use a Dry Herb Convection Vape
To use a convection vaporizer, first you'll want to grind up your herb. Convection vaporizers work best with a slightly looser grind, so you don't want to grind too finely. Then pack the ground weed into the chamber. You want to fill the chamber with material, but not too dense or tight. Every convection vape has a different sweet spot, and over time you'll figure out which density works best to produce high quality vapor.
Now, turn on the vape and adjust the temperature settings. A quality dry herb vaporizer will have precise temperature control, letting you get consistent effects and heating the material evenly so that there's no risk of waste in a session.
If you're using a standard direct draw convection vape or a desktop vaporizer with a whip (a long tube), pull slowly and steadily to make sure the herb has time to get heated. With more powerful units, you might be able to get away with stronger, faster draws. And with forced air balloon-style desktop vaporizers, you don't have to do any work - just wait for the bag to fill and then enjoy the vapor.
Taking a hit from a convection vaporizer
There's no need to hold in the vapor after inhaling: the THC and CBD will be absorbed into your system almost immediately. As you vaporize the herb, the terpenes that give the herb its flavor will gradually be used up. Once you stop tasting the flavor of the dry herbs, the bowl is probably almost done.
Wait for the chamber to cool to a safe level, then empty out the vaped material. For extra efficiency, it's worth saving already vaped bud (also called AVB or ABV), because vaporized weed can still be used to make oils, capsules, or edibles. AVB is just one more benefit of vaping you don't get with combustion methods like smoking. Finally, be sure to regularly clean your vaporizer to ensure a smooth vapor path. If airflow starts getting blocked, your hits will deliver less potent and flavorful vapor.
The Best Convection Vaporizers
The Volcano Classic by Storz & Bickel has been around for over two decades. A tabletop vaporizer originally released in 2000, it's still popular and considered one of the best vaporizers out there. There's also an updated model, the Volcano Hybrid, as well as a gold-plated version if you're feeling fancy.
The Arizer Extreme Q is a cheaper vaporizer compared with a Volcano vaporizer, but the vapor quality it produces is definitely not at the same level. Still, the Arizer is a solid choice in a different price range.
Best convection vaporizer: device and price
Most portable convection vapes are actually hybrids of convection and conduction. Storz & Bickel's Mighty and Crafty portable vaporizers consistently get top reviews. The Firefly 2 and Boundless Tera and Boundless CFV have their enthusiasts too. The G Pen Elite is a vape pen that's a portable convection vape, but as with most pens, it doesn't have the power of the larger vapes.
There are a number of low-end devices on the market claiming to be convection vaporizers, but be cautious before you purchase. If a vaporizer has a really low price, it probably doesn't really use convection.
Convection Vaporizers vs. Conduction Vaporizers
Convection vaporizers definitely deliver top-notch performance and superior vapor production. Well, they will if they're one of the best convection vaporizers on the market. But many users are shopping for something less expensive that works with their budget, and offers better value for the price.
After weighing the pros and cons, most new users decide to go with a portable vape that's a conduction vaporizer. Convection vaporizers are less popular because of the big difference in price, and the lack of a battery in the device means it's not very convenient. Also, they're tougher to store, bulkier and made of heavier materials.
If you're looking for a home unit or a large bowl size to share sessions with groups. But since they don't have batteries, you can't carry them around in your pocket. If convection and portability are both must-have options, consider looking at a hybrid unit like the Mighty or Crafty.
Convection vaporizers need to be larger in order to have enough room for convection airflow. Conduction vaporizers use conduction heating, in which the oven containing the herb has direct contact with the heating element. This makes it more compact, and gives it a faster heat up time. Also, their battery life tends to be longer since they don't use as much energy to heat up.
Advanced features: swappable oven technology
If portability is a priority for you, you'll want to consider the benefits of a swappable-oven vaporizer like the Furna. One of the inconvenient things about a portable vaporizer is that they aren't always easy to reload while you're mobile. It's better to have the option to load multiple ovens before you leave the house. Then when one oven is done, you can instantly swap it for a fresh one with no fuss. It's a highly efficient vaporizer with precise temperature control and best-in-class battery life.
Furna also has concentrate ovens with ceramic heating elements, letting you even vaporize cannabis concentrates. Some other dry herb vaporizers claim to be able to vape concentrates, but they require inserts which can be awkward and hot to handle. If maximum portability and versatility sounds like your idea of the best vaporizer, you'll want to have a look at Furna.