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Methods of Medicating: Vaping

Vaping Medical Marijuana

Most people associate using cannabis with smoking a joint, taking a hit from a bong or maybe ingesting cannabis in a cookie. But a recent method of marijuana use has become extremely popular. It’s known as vaporizing, or “vaping,” weed. Vaping isn’t just a convenient way to obtain the benefits of cannabis without having to inhale smoke — it also offers several other benefits.

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How Vaping Marijuana Works

One of the most common ways to vape weed is using cannabidiol (CBD) oil, but you can put dried cannabis in a vaporizer as well. Vaporizers, many experts believe, is healthier than smoking because it doesn’t release toxins into the respiratory system. There are three main methods of vaping: conductive heating, convective heating and radiant, or infrared, heating. Here’s some brief information on each:

  • Conductive Heating — This involves placing CBD oil or dried cannabis onto a surface that is heated through electricity. This surface, known as a “hot plate,” is usually either a screen or a piece of solid metal. It’s heated to a certain temperature, and then heat is distributed through the chamber of the device. The heat converts the dried flower or CBD oil into vapor.
  • Convective Heating — This method vaporizes weed without it having to touch any sort of heating element. Air, once it is heated to a certain temperature, moves through the device (through either inhalation or an internal fan) to a compartment that holds the extract or dried cannabis. The air turns the extract/cannabis into vapor.
  • Radiant Heating — Radiant vaporizers provide heat through either a light source or electricity. This energy goes into the dried cannabis or extract, gradually increasing the temperature until the contents turn into vapor. Some models use a combination of radiant and conductive heating, as well as a battery that transfers heat.

Tips on Using a Vaporizer Correctly

The way you use your vaporizer will depend on the type of material you’re vaporizing. For example, if you are using dried cannabis, use an herb grinder to break the weed down so that it covers the heating surface or fills the convective heating compartment. This will help ensure that you get the most benefit from the cannabis you’re vaping. If you’re using a concentrate such as CBD oil or a wax, remember that you only need to use a small amount in order to obtain the effect you’re looking for.

The optimum temperature to vaporize weed is thought to be 338 degrees Fahrenheit

The optimum temperature to vaporize weed is thought to be 338° F, while concentrates will typically vaporize at about 285° F. This is compared to smoking a joint, which can burn at temperatures as high as 2,000° F or even higher. Vaporizers will typically have a digital temperature control that allows users to set their own temperature.

The Benefits of Vaping

One of the advantages of using a vaporizer is that you won’t have to experience any of the drawbacks of inhaling smoke. There are no documented cases of marijuana smoke causing lung cancer — or even lung damage — but smoke can result in symptoms that are indicative of respiratory issues. The effects are the same, providing the therapeutic benefits without any of the potential problems.

Types of Vaporizers

While all vaporizers are similar in that they have some sort of delivery and heating system, there are many different types of devices. These are some of the more popular ones:

  • Balloon Vaporizers — This type of vaporizer uses a bag that can be attached and removed from the main unit, and helps reduce the amount of vapor that is lost. When the bag containing the vapor is detached, the user inserts the mouthpiece to inhale the vapor. The bag can be passed among multiple users, much like a bong or a joint. Be careful when using this type, however, because sharing medical marijuana — and, in some instances, recreational cannabis — is against the law in many states.
  • Direct Draw Vaporizers — Direct draw models have a mouthpiece attached to the heating unit that allows vapor to flow directly to users. Some have a permanently attached mouthpiece while others have a glass stem that can be removed.
  • Pen Vaporizers — A pen vaporizer, as the name implies, is made in the shape of a pen or, in some instances, is similar in shape to an electronic cigarette (or e-cig). It’s not only extremely easy to use and less expensive than other types of vaporizers, but it’s also very discrete. They typically use conduction heating, however, so you need to make sure you completely understand how to use it. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of burning your weed or extract and wasting it.
  • Portable Vaporizers — This is a good model for someone who travels a lot and wants to vape in multiple locations — as long as doing so is legal in your state, of course. A portable vaporizer is a little bit larger than a pen vaporizer and is usually rechargeable. There are several models that also provide the option of using either a flame or butane.
  • Stationary Vaporizers — A stationary (also known as a desktop) vaporizer has to be plugged in to work, but they offer more features than pen or portable models and typically provide a higher-quality vaping experience. They also have larger compartments to put your dried cannabis or extract in so you can enjoy a fuller therapeutic experience.
  • Tubing Vaporizers — Also known as “whip” vaporizers, these use a range of delivery systems that involve pumps or fans. They’re usually about three feet long and made of silicone. There’s a mouthpiece on one end connected to a glass tube that holds the marijuana.

Vaporizing cannabis and/or cannabis extracts has become the method of choice for many medical marijuana patients — especially those who live in states where smoking cannabis is illegal, such as New York and Minnesota. Many users say vaping is not only convenient, but that it also delivers therapeutic benefits just as efficiently as smoking — and it’s far more discreet.

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If you’re interested in vaping but you’re not sure which type of device is right for you, someone at your local dispensary should be able to help.

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