With a growing number of Americans living in legal states, there’s more incentive for brands to develop innovative smoking devices. E-cigarettes were developed in the early 2000s and paved the way for other types of vaporizers, vape pens, e-rigs, and dab pens. Vaporizers have changed the way many people consume cannabis and is now one of the most common devices that today’s stoners use to get blazed. Vapes continue to gain popularity for many reasons, including how slim and discreet it is, the lightweight, travel-friendly, and portable design, and the ease of using vape carts. But there’s still a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to vaping vs smoking efficiency, if vape pens are actually a healthier option or not, and if there’s any real difference between a vaporizer high vs smoking high. Much of the issue stems from the fact that there isn’t a ton of research done on marijuana since it is still considered a Schedule I substance and is illegal at the federal level. This makes access and funding for research projects more difficult to come by. In this post, we’re answering all of these burning questions and more with scientific studies specifically done using vaporizers to back up the claims. Let’s get into it!
What are vaporizers and can you vape CBD?
Vaporizers take a solid or liquid substance like dry herb, dabs, or oil and turn it into a vapor that can be inhaled. Unlike glass bongs, dab rigs, or pipes, vaporizers are electronic devices that have a built-in heating system and battery. No lighter, dab torch, or open flame is needed. All vaporizers can be classified either as disposable or rechargeable. Rechargeable vaporizers fall into two categories, cordless or those that need to be plugged into a wall outlet for power. The latter are more powerful and produce larger vapor clouds. Today, there are vaporizers that are compatible with nicotine e-juice, flavored 0% nicotine e-juice, dry herb, CBD or THC oil, and cannabis concentrates (wax, shatter, hash, budder, crumble, etc.). In order to turn these materials into smokable vapor, either a conductive or a convective heating mechanism is used. Conductive heating is very straightforward. The dry herb or other smoking material comes in contact with a heated surface and turns to vapor without burning it or turning it to char. Convective heating doesn’t actually heat up the smoking material directly. Instead, extremely hot air is produced and pushed through the dry herb or other material, which then vaporizes.
Is vaping weed healthier than smoking?
Many 420 enthusiasts switch from joints, blunts, and bongs, to vaping because they believe it’s healthier. In 2018, 1,033 Americans were asked what they thought was more harmful: cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars, pipe, vaporizer, or marijuana. The poll found that most people rated smoking marijuana and vaping as just “somewhat harmful or not too harmful” to users with cigarette smoking and chewing tobacco as the unhealthiest of the options. Let’s take a look at what the research says.
There are several studies that have compared vaping vs smoking and it was found that overall, using a vaporizer is healthier than taking bong rips or puffing on a joint since there is no combustion (burning). Whenever something is burned, it releases byproducts that are known to be harmful to the pulmonary system. A study published in the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics in 2008 took a look at the contents of the vapor from the Storz n Bickel Volcano vape and found that it predominantly consisted of cannabinoids from the dry herb and contained just three pyrolytic compounds. The Storz n Bickel Volcano vape is unique since the device fills up a balloon with vapor and the user then inhales from the balloon. The smoke from a lit joint was also tested for comparison and 111 compounds including five known carcinogens were found in the smoke.
Another study was completed using the Volcano, which told healthy cannabis smokers to either use a joint or the Volcano vape for the next six days. Researchers found that “vaporization of cannabis is a safe and effective mode of delivery of THC” since those who used the Volcano had lower carbon monoxide levels. This is backed up by a 2010 study of 20 cannabis smokers that had existing respiratory symptoms. The participants were required to only use a vape pen when smoking for one full month. When tested after the month was over, 12 of the participants had significant improvement in their existing respiratory symptoms. Yet another study from 2007 concluded that “regular users of joints, blunts, pipes, and water pipes might decrease respiratory symptoms by switching to a vaporizer.” The data from this study suggested that using a vaporizer to consume cannabis increases the safety of cannabis use.
Keep in mind that most of these studies used the Storz n Bickel Volcano vape specifically and that the healthiest way to consume cannabis is not smoking at all and instead switching to edibles, capsules, tinctures, topicals, or patches that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
What to look for when choosing a quality vape and cartridges
One of the most important things to research when purchasing any smoking device is the quality of the materials used, particularly those within the airpath or heating elements. All of these materials should be durable, heat-safe, and non-toxic. Food-grade and medical-grade materials are used by most of the top vape and e-nail manufacturers. In addition to the device itself, the vape cartridge should also be made of the highest quality materials, purchased from a reputable brand that tests them with a third party lab, and only filled with 100% cannabis oil with no additives or preservatives. In 2020, 60 people died from EVALI, a lung injury caused by vaping bootleg, knock-off carts that never underwent the proper testing. These vape carts contained vitamin E acetate, a condensing agent, which was linked to these deaths. This is why ensuring your vape carts are 100% authentic and unaltered (never try a DIY you see online) is just as important as the quality of the vape pen itself.
Vaping vs smoking efficiency
Vaporizers have been found to be a much more efficient way to consume THC and CBD vs smoking via a joint, bong, or pipe. This all comes down to how the material is heated, combustion vs vaporization. With vaping, it’s possible to smoke at much lower temperatures, which won’t burn off as many cannabinoids and terpenes. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that are naturally produced by cannabis plants and include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), among others. Terpenes are found in all plants and are responsible for the aromas and flavors, which make different marijuana strains so unique and enjoyable. Vaporizers only need to heat to roughly 284°F for the plant material to vaporize, better preserving both of these natural compounds. Combustion smoking methods need to reach 446°F to be inhaled as smoke. The study mentioned earlier that looked at the vapor content produced by the Storz n Bickel Volcano vape and compared it to smoke from a joint showed this difference. The Volcano vape had a much higher ratio of cannabinoids to the volume of the vapor in comparison to the joint smoke. This means that much more cannabinoids in the marijuana were preserved during vaporization and a lot was lost during combustion. For this reason, vaping is much more efficient than smoking as the user will be able to get the most out of the smoking material. When also taking into account the quick heat up time, portable design, and few tools needed, vaporizers are the obvious choice.
What gets you higher, vaping or smoking?
If you’re just trying to get as high as humanly possible on a Friday night, the question of “what gets you higher, vaping or smoking?” may have crossed your mind. As mentioned before, vaporizers have more efficient THC (or CBD) delivery than joints, bongs, and pipes. A small study was completed in 2018 to determine if vaping or smoking gets people higher. Nine men and eight women that never used cannabis products within the last 30 days were either given a pre-loaded pipe or a vaporizer containing 0 mg, 10 mg, or 25 mg of THC once a week for six weeks. After smoking the highest dose, those who used the vaporizer reported getting significantly higher (77.5 vs 66.4) than those who smoked the same dose with a pipe. Blood tests taken immediately after consumption corroborated these findings. Those that vaped the 10 mg dose had 7.5 nanograms per milliliter of THC in their blood, compared with just 3.8 nanograms per milliliter in those that smoked. Getting more high also correlated with more negative side effects. Participants who got higher using the vape also had more short-term anxiety, paranoia, dry mouth, memory loss, and distraction than those that smoked from the pipe. Researchers concluded that “there’s a definite difference in the amount of drug making it into the blood when using a vaporizer versus smoking the drug...”
Vaporizer high vs smoking high
If you’re used to smoking joints, you immediately know that there’s a difference between the smoke and vapor. But what about a vaporizer high vs smoking high? If the same dry herb is smoked in a bong vs in a dry herb vaporizer, will the high be the same? According to cannabis connoisseurs, there’s a big difference between the two types of highs. The most obvious is that a vape pen high comes on quicker, but lasts a lot shorter. To remain high over longer periods of time, smokers will need to take hits every few hours. To get the slow, creeping onset and long-lasting high most stoners love, you’ll need to reach for a bong or joint. There doesn’t seem to be any research done into why this is, so it could be anyone’s guess. Also, the high from a vaporizer is said to feel “cleaner” than the usual high with smokers feeling less drowsy and lazy. Some chalk this up to fewer byproducts and contaminants in the vapor, but this correlation is unproven and unclear. Finally, as vaping delivers more cannabinoids and terpenes without burning them off, in addition to getting more blazed, vapers find the high to be different than when smoking the same bud. More terpenes left intact means more flavor and aroma of the vapor.
What smells less: vaping or smoking?
Marijana isn’t called dank for nothing. Dry herb and concentrates have a pungent, strong smell that anyone can pinpoint, especially when indoors. Vaping is known to have significantly less odor than smoking, but it does still produce some scent. The vapor also dissipates a lot quicker than thick smoke clouds. When outdoors, a vapor cloud and its scent will disappear within seconds, leaving nothing behind. Smoke from a lit joint will linger a lot longer. If discretion is important, always turn on a fan and open the windows to ventilate the room when smoking indoors. The best thing to do is invest in a Smoke Buddy personal air filter device. Just take a hit and exhale into the Smoke Buddy filter and fresh, odorless air will escape from the other side.
What is cheaper: vaping or smoking?
This really depends on the device since some people believe that dry herb vaporizers burn off flower a lot quicker than a joint, but overall, vaping is cheaper than smoking. There’s a higher start up cost when first purchasing a vape compared to a pack of rolling papers that’s just a few dollars, however the savings really add up over time. For the highest savings, choose a dab pen or a high quality, rechargeable vaporizer with 510 thread. This means you can use any concentrate or any type of 510 thread vape carts and aren’t limited to specific brands that often price gouge. Pax and Stiiizy for example use their own specific vape carts that only work with their branded vape pens. Since users consume more THC with every vape pen hit, they’re getting more out of their smoking material, which also adds up over the long term.
What has better taste: vaping or smoking?
This really depends on your personal preferences, but many smokers say that vaporizers produce more flavorful plumes than smoking. This really depends on the strain and quality of the vape carts used. For the most flavorful marijuana around, always pay the extra dollars for live resin vape cartridges. Live resin is created by immediately flash freezing cannabis flowers that have just been harvested. This is different from the usual process which involves curing or drying the flower before extraction, which gives the cannabinoids and terpenes time to degrade throughout the process. Live resin is cryogenically frozen and never defrosted during the extraction process, keeping all the yummy chemical compounds intact for full spectrum vaping that tastes amazing.
Conclusion: Vaping vs smoking efficiency
After looking over the research and thoughts of cannabis enthusiasts, vaping is the clear winner. Vaporizers are more efficient at delivering THC than smoking and is clearly preferred by many smokers for its compact size, discreet vapor, ease of use, and portability. Vape pens are also cheaper in the long run compared to other smoking methods. These are the vaping vs smoking benefits and drawbacks based on scientific studies:
- Ability to use lower temperatures that result in a more efficient delivery of cannabinoids and terpenes.
- Healthier than using combustion methods that produce toxic byproducts.
- Found to reverse existing respiratory symptoms in a small research study.
- Slim, lightweight, and discreet design that’s great for smoking on the go.
- Cheaper than smoking in the long run.
- No need for extra tools like a lighter, tip, or rolling papers.
- Clearer high with a quick onset.
- Higher delivery of THC can be overpowering for novice smokers and cause more negative side effects like dry mouth, anxiety, and paranoia.
- Vapes need to be cleaned regularly to continue producing high quality vapor.
- Vaporizers need to be charged, so smoke sessions can get cut short.
- Shorter lasting high.
- No need to rely on battery life. Light up wherever, whenever!
- Longer lasting high.
- Rolling papers and a lighter are cheap and easy to acquire.
- Smoke from burning cannabis contains carcinogens and other toxic byproducts, all due to combustion.
- More cannabinoids and terpenes are lost due to the higher temperatures needed, so it takes more material to reach the same high.
- Upfront costs are low, but vaping is cheaper over the long run.
Now that you know all about vaping vs smoking, are you ready to pick out a vaporizer of your own? Browse the virtual shelves at PPPI for some of the best deals on popular vape brands like KandyPens, Vessel, Pax, Storz n Bickel, Airizer, Kind Pen, Hato, Puffco, Focus V, and more!