It’s simple really, smoke, no matter where it comes from, contains carcinogens (cancer causing agents). So, if you think you are avoiding the harmful effects of smoking by eliminating the tobacco in your joint, think again. Smoke from marijuana is just as toxic as smoke from tobacco. Among the by-products of burning weed are the polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons – the number one suspect in tobacco related cancers. The nicotine in cigarette smoke doesn’t cause any major problems (it does cause some minor ones, but it won’t kill you). Likewise, the THC in weed doesn’t cause any problems either. Combustion is the killer.
So, long story short, cut out the smoke and you cut out any serious health risks.
How Vaporizers Work
All vaporizers, whatever the price, employ a source of heat to bring the marijuana or other herb/plant material to just below combustion point – that is to just before smoke is produced. For cannabis the relevant temperature is 180°C to 200°C – that’s 356° – 392° Fahrenheit.
A variety of heat sources are used, depending upon the price of the vaporizer. However, the heat sources can be largely categorized as:
Remember those high school science lessons? Well, this is where that knowledge becomes useful.
These were earliest vaporizers and they still have a place in the market today. The simplest of the heat sources and, therefore, the cheapest to buy, conduction vaporizers work by putting the herb directly on a metal heating plate.
This is where the more expensive type of vaporizer enters the market; in convection vaporizers, hot air is passed through the marijuana. The effect of this is faster and more efficient release of the volatile compounds (THC, CBD, CBN). At no time does the cannabis come into contact with the heat source.
Remember setting fire to pieces of paper by using the sun and a magnifying glass? That is an example of radiant heat. Heat is directed onto the herb, which releases its vapors as it warms up. The resulting vapors are undiluted and of measurable quality, which means that this type of vaporizer is ideal for medicinal use as doses can be accurately measured.
Over the next few weeks we will be publishing daily reviews of the most popular vaporizers and, as always, we welcome your feedback.