If you're new to the world of dry herb vaporizers, it can sometimes seem like there's a lot of new jargon to understand. For example, you may have heard that some vapes are conduction vaporizers. But what does that mean? What is a conduction vape?
Conduction is a method of heating, and conduction vaporizers use conduction heating. The main alternative is convection. Both convection and conduction vapes work on the same general principle: they heat dry herbs like cannabis to a high temperature so that THC, CBD, and terpenes are released into vapor.
They produce vapor in slightly different ways, and there are pros and cons to each style. But both types will give you the many benefits of vaping dry herb.
How Conduction Vaporizers Work
With conduction heating, the chamber where you put the herb sits right beside the heat source, making direct contact with the element or coil. So the transfer of heat happens directly.
This heating method means parts can be packed closer together, meaning that heating times are faster, and less battery life is required with these vaporizers.
Conduction vs convection, location of heating element
With a convection vaporizer, we're no longer talking about direct contact with a heating element or coil. Instead, when you take a draw, convection vaporizers heat up air as it flows over the element, and then the hot air heats the herbs in the chamber.
Compared with conduction, convection requires a bit more space and power. So usually, a convection vape will be a desktop unit, and can't be used outside the house.
Using a conduction vape: heat evenly for efficient vaping
Because conduction uses direct heat, there's a chance it heats the herbs closest to the element to a hotter temperature. Uneven heating can mean a risk of combustion - that is, pockets of your herb can burn. Most people who are vaping are looking to avoid smoke and smoking, so any material burning is not cool. Luckily there are steps you can take to minimize this risk.
Before you load marijuana into the oven, make sure it's finely ground. This will help the material heat faster and more evenly, and make sure your vape works efficiently instead of wasting valuable botanicals. You can also give your bowl a stir halfway through a session, to expose different parts of the herb so it can be heated.
Also, clean your vape regularly to maintain smooth airflow and even heating. Your device will have a guide to follow, but it usually involves just taking a bit of isopropyl alcohol and wiping down some parts. However, how easy it is depends on the model: the PAX 3 is a conduction vaporizer that regularly gets complaints about ease of maintenance in its reviews.
Are Convection Vaporizers Better?
If you look long enough, you can definitely find some hardcore convection purists insisting that convection units are the only way to go. If your budget is unlimited and you're not planning to vape outside of your house, then you're probably better off with a convection vaporizer. For many medical users, they can be an ideal fit.
But convection vapes can be the most expensive on the market. In a sense, you do get what you pay for. A popular model like Storz & Bickel's Volcano (often considered the best convection vape) is a powerful device that delivers excellent quality vapor. But for folks looking for less expensive and more portable options, a conduction vaporizer is almost always the way to go.
Convection vs conduction: advantages and disadvantages
There are excellent devices in each style, both conduction and convection vaporizers are capable of precise temperature control, efficient vaporization, and potent effects.
The biggest difference between the two types of models is portability and cost. Because the price is cheaper, and because they want a compact, portable unit, most people new to vaporizing choose to go with a portable vaporizer.
Convection-style vaporizers operate a little bit slower too. Because you're heating the herb using hot air, it takes a lot longer to heat a chamber when you use convection. Conduction happens quickly because the chamber with the herbs is heated through direct contact with heat.
If you're interested in a deeper comparison, have a look at our article comparing conduction and convection vaporizers.
How to Choose a Conduction Dry Herb Vaporizer
Now you know the difference between conduction and convection methods! But it can still be a process figuring out the best vaporizer for you when there are so many models on the market.
Buying a vaporizer is an investment for the long term, and you want a high quality vaping experience that delivers on the potential of the technology.
The pros and cons of a dry herb vape
If you're still on the fence about getting a vaporizer, consider the differences with combustion methods like smoke from a joint or pipe.
Because vapes only heat herbs to a specific temperature and not above, you're not burning any of the active ingredients away before you get the chance to inhale them. You extract more of the cannabinoids from your bud when you control the heat and vaporize it. Because there's no burning, the taste will be less colored by smoke and the flavor will be superior.
It's also a healthier way to consume cannabis, in terms of the impact on your lungs. Even though weed smoke is less harmful than cigarettes, it still contains carcinogens. Vaping doesn't burn your botanicals, you're just getting vapor. At the highest temperature settings, you'll start to get some toxins and carcinogens, but nowhere near the levels of smoking.
The best portable conduction vapes
The best and most well-reviewed portable conduction vaporizers out there include the PAX 3, the Furna, and the DaVinci IQ2. The Furna has an added advantage of being able to vaporize cannabis concentrates with the use of a specialized ceramic chamber. Most dry herb vapes require annoying inserts to make use of concentrate, and things can get messy fast.
If portability and convenience are priorities for you, Furna's oven-swapping system might be of interest to you. When you're on the move, it can be tough to clean out and reload your vape, and sometimes it's hard to be discreet. With Furna you can load up multiple ovens in advance, and swapping ovens can be done in an instant.
Highly efficient vapor production also means a best-in-class battery life. If you're interested in what the next generation of portable vaporizers can offer, definitely look into Furna.