Dry Herb Vaporizers – The Ultimate Buyer's Guide

Cut down on carcinogens with these non-smoke alternatives
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Cut down on carcinogens with these non-smoke alternatives
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Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the world today, and it’s estimated that nearly 20% of the population, or roughly 1 billion people partake. It’s a hard-to-kick habit and many people who do smoke will most likely tell you that they don’t truly enjoy it; they just can’t get rid of it! They might have more success if they gave vaporizing (or vaping, as it’s more popularly called) a try.

Advantages of Vaporizing

Traditional smoking requires combustion, a process of burning herbs so they release their taste, scent, and flavor. Unfortunately, the same process also releases numerous other compounds – more than 6,000 to be exact, most of which are toxic.

Vaporizing doesn’t burn the herbs. Instead, they are heated up to the temperature at which they release their essential oils and flavor. Since there is no combustion involved, the herb is left intact and you don’t inhale toxic compounds that are produced by burning.

Vaporizing is superior to traditional smoking in several ways:

  • Less respiratory problems
  • Allows for superior extraction
  • Improves taste and smell
  • It costs less in the long run
  • Generally cleaner feeling

Types of Vaporizers

Vaporizing devices come in various shapes and sizes that generally fall into two categories: desktop or portable. There are upsides to both types, and the choice you make is going to depend on your personal preferences and vaporizing style.

Generally speaking, the biggest difference between the two is the size. All vaporizing devices operate on the same basic principle, and all of them will have at least the following parts:

  • Mouthpiece
  • Heating chamber
  • Spring and connector
  • Battery

The heating chamber holds the herb and is attached to the battery through the connector. The mouthpiece is used for vapor inhalation. It might look complicated at first, but if I was able to figure it out in less than 10 minutes then everyone can do it, trust me.

Portable Vaporizers

A portable vaporizer is perfect to carry around with you. They are ergonomically designed, small in size, and will fit in your pocket without a hitch. However, their small size also limits their usability – portable vaporizers are made for individual use.

  • Battery-operated
  • Pocket size
  • Easier to conceal
  • Easy to use
  • Small heating chamber
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Desktop Vaporizers

The second type of vaporizers, the desktop variety, is designed for home use. They are perfect for more intense vaporizing sessions and sessions involving more people. Because they are larger they tend to have bigger heating chambers that can fit a lot more vaping material. They are also more robust and slightly impractical to lug around with you.

Desktop vaporizers are more complex to handle. Different brands have different vapor delivery methods. Some come with balloons that are attached to the unit. The balloon is then filled with vapor that is inhaled. The other delivery method that is also gaining popularity is a so-called ‘whip’ delivery method. A small hose is attached to the unit and vapor is inhaled as it’s produced by the vaporizer.

  • Can be cordless or corded
  • Bigger with larger heating chambers
  • More advanced
  • Perfect for home use
  • Various vapor delivery methods

Vaporizer Manufacture Materials

As I already mentioned, a vaporizer is built from numerous parts, each one critical for the smooth functioning of the unit. Experienced vapers know that the overall experience is heavily influenced by the materials used to manufacture a vaporizer.

Glass

Thanks to its high melting point glass is a popular material that is used primarily in the manufacture of high-end vaporizers. Glass vaporizers are both aesthetically pleasing and easy to maintain and give a rich, more flavorful taste and vapor. The only real downside to glass vaporizers is the fact that they can break at a glance. Considering that they are also quite pricey (more so than vaporizers made from other materials) they are a not a good investment for clumsy people.

  • Easy to maintain and clean
  • Rich and tasty flavor
  • Better vapor production
  • Looks great on your table
  • Breaks extremely easily
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PVC/Silicone

PVC and silicone are becoming a popular manufacturer choice when it comes to making tubing and mouthpieces. Both materials are very durable and won’t break easily. On the other hand, you will be compromising on vapor quality and taste with these, especially at the beginning. New PCV or silicone whips tend to give off a slight odor, coloring the taste. The odor will start to lessen over time but by then you will probably have to replace the tubing/mouthpiece. This is because silicone/PVC is very difficult to clean thoroughly.

  • Nearly impossible to clean due to the nature of the material
  • Extremely durable and flexible
  • Very affordable
  • Gives off odor that tampers with the taste
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Metal

If you want to make sure your vaporizer is in it for the long haul, make sure it’s made from metal. Stainless steel is commonly used as it has a very high melting point. Vaporizer parts made from metal are highly durable and don’t tamper with the taste of the vapor. It’s a good idea to look for vaporizer units that have metal heating chambers because they tend to produce high-quality vapor. Be careful when you clean these parts – I ruined a heating chamber by applying a cleaning solution to it. Abrasives can damage the finish during cleaning, rendering the parts unsafe to use.

  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Full flavor and a lot of vapor production
  • Requires careful cleaning and maintenance
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Plastic

PPS, PA6, and PEEK are acronyms of extremely complicated chemical compounds we won’t go into here. Suffice it to say they all stand for some type of heat resistant plastics. Their melting point is well above 230 Celsius, making them safe for use since no vaporizer can maintain that temperature for the amount of time needed for plastic to start melting. Plastic has a very low impact on flavor, unlike silicone or PVC, and it doesn’t break as easily as glass.

  • Flavorful and unaltered vapor
  • Affordable
  • Durable and flexible
  • Requires careful cleaning and maintenance

Vaporizer Features

With brands competing to up each other constantly, the market is flooded with different kinds of vaporizers. While this is generally a good thing as it gives users more choice, it can also be very confusing, especially if you’re new at the game. There are 3 key features you need to pay attention to when choosing a vaporizer are the heating method, temp control, and ease of use.

Heating Method

You can choose between 2 different heating methods in your vaporizers:

  1. Conduction
  2. Convection
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Conduction describes a process in which a herb is in direct contact with the source of heat. It’s similar to cooking – the heating chamber is heated up and the herb starts cooking and releasing flavor and vapor. It’s still the most used heating method, despite numerous downsides:

  • Loss of flavor the longer the session lasts
  • Can lead to burnt taste because of hot spots that develop in the heating chamber
  • Starts burning the herbs at high temperatures

Convection is slowly becoming the go-to heating method for dry herb vaping. The herb is heated up by the air that is either pushed up by an internal fan or created by your inhale. The herb doesn’t touch the heating chamber at all – instead, it rests in a special container and is slowly cooked as if in an oven.

  • Herbs cook evenly and produce a harsh flavor at higher temperatures
  • Flavor quality is constantly maintained
  • More expensive method of vaporizing

A good example of a convection vaporizer is the Utillian 720 which produces extremely flavorful and evenly cooked vapor.

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Temperature Control

For the most part, using a vaporizer without temperature control is like driving a car that is stuck in one gear – although probably much safer. The problem with vaporizers that don’t allow for temperature control is that they are only suited for one type of herb. For maximum convenience and usability you want a device that is versatile and adjustable.

There are three different types of vaporizers on the market if we consider the temperature setting criteria:

  • Single pre-set temperature – you simply turn on the device. It will operate on one pre-set temperature setting and that is it. There is no way to adjust it.
  • Multiple pre-set temperatures – the device usually has a knob on that can be used to choose between several factory temperature pre-sets.
  • Temperature control – temperature adjustment is left to the user. These units have an LCD display that can be used to set the preferred temperature down to a degree. This feature is usually found in high-end vaporizers and it’s considered to be the best for optimal vapor taste quality.

Depending on what type of a set up you use, I would recommend vaping your herbs at temperatures of 180 to 215 degrees. Going any higher might cause the herbs to give off a very unpleasant flavor and aroma. Also, type of materials your vaporizer uses will play a crucial role here – don’t vape PVC/silicone at higher temperatures for longer periods of time!

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Ease of Use

Some vaporizers are just too complicated for their own good! If you’re just starting out you want to make sure you get a device that is easy to use and easy to clean. Sometimes those added bells and whistles simply confuse the heck out of you – not to mention that the more parts there are it’s more likely that something is going to give somewhere down the line.

When you finally decide to spend your hard-earned money on a vaporizer, make sure it’s:

  • Simple to use
  • Easy to maintain
  • Easy to clean

Vaporizer Accessories

Vaping is slowly becoming a very mainstream industry so it’s not surprising to see that a lot of companies are manufacturing various accessories that come handy to those who own a vaporizing device.

In my opinion, there are several different things that you would be smart to pick up.

  • Grinders – before you fill your vaporizer you first have to grind the herb. You want the grind to be even and small so picking it apart with your fingers will be difficult.
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  • Herb boxes – there are several different types of herb boxes on the market. Pick up the one that offers more than simply a storage space for your herb – some of them extract moisture so that your filling is primed and ready for vaping whenever you want.
  • Vape cooler – some companies went beyond the call of duty and offer cooling systems that can be attached to vaporizers. They cool the vapor and make it more pleasant on the throat and the lungs.
  • Cleaning kit – although you can simply use 90% Isopropyl alcohol to clean your vaporizer I suggest investing a bit of money and buying a top-grade cleaning kit – especially if you want to make sure that your vaporizer lasts for a good, long time.


There you have it – now you know pretty much everything there is to know about dry herb vaporizers and with any new gadget it is important to do your research by reading reviews when deciding what vaporizer is best for you! I hope it assists you in making a right purchasing decision for yourself. If you have any questions (and I mean, ANY!), drop down by the comments section and give me a shout!