The Best Vaporizer Guide 2018

Background

Our guide is designed to give you the information you need to make the right choice when deciding on your first, or next, marijuana vaporizer. First, we’ll do a breakdown of precisely what a vaporizer is and how they work. Next, we’ll discuss different types of vaporizers and what the ideal temperatures are. We’ll even talk about the differences between smoking and vaping weed, such as the smell and potency. To round out our general vaporizer discussion, we’ll answer some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the health risks of vaping.

From there we’ll go into an in-depth analysis of portable and then desktop vaporizers. Covering what they are, how they work, what materials they commonly work with, as well as their pros and cons. We hope that this guide will answer any questions you may have, and get you on track to a better future with vaping.

General Vaporizer Info

What is a vaporizer?

A vaporizer is an electronic device that heats up material into a vapor.

In this case, we’re talking about weed vaporizers, which use marijuana, either in dry herb or concentrate form. This process allows for ingestion of the active ingredient in weed, THC, without the conventional combustion required with smoking. These devices have become popular due to their reported cleaner and more extended highs.

What is a weed vaporizer?

Most marijuana vaporizers use either conduction or convection heat. The difference being is that convection places the material on an intermediary that is then heated, whereas conduction places the material directly onto the heating element. Most older models used convection exclusively, as back in the day it was a common problem for the material to become accidentally combusted with conduction. While convection is still in use, conduction has become the primary choice for manufacturers, since the improved technology allows for much more precise temperature control over convection.

People often ask if weed vaporizers are legal. The truth is that the devices themselves are perfectly legal in the United States, but marijuana has a much more complicated legal status. If you’re in one of the growing number of states where they recognize weed as a medical or recreational drug, then you’re mostly in the clear. If you’re unclear, you should refer to online resources to make sure of its legal status where you live.

Optimal Vaping Temperature

Temperature is one of the most significant factors in the quality of your vaping experience.

Optimal Vaping Temperature

The higher end of this range provides more vapor, as well as being more potent, while the lower end fosters flavor better, as well as being less harsh when inhaling.

If you go too far beyond this range in either direction, you risk mostly wasting your material. Extremely high temperatures lead to a very harsh vapor, and extremely low temperatures produce a minimal effect. However, another big part of this puzzle is how you pack the bowl. If you’re using dry herbs, it’s best to keep things somewhat loose. Otherwise, you won’t get a consistent vaporizing experience. Concentrates are a bit more forgiving, but you’ll want to avoid overpacking, as you may end up losing some in the cleanup.

The range discussed above can change slightly depending on how much you’re trying to vaporize. If you fill to the brim, you can try a higher temperature, and if you’re conserving but still looking for a superior flavor, it may be a good idea to lower the temperature.

Too much or too little heat both lead to poor performance. That means a proper understanding of the optimal ranges is key to producing a consistently good vapor. Generally speaking, between 370 and 410 degrees Fahrenheit is best for any material you vape.

Types of Vaporizers

Vape pens are designed to be extremely compact and somewhat resemble pens (hence the name).

There are countless different types of vaporizers, but a significant portion can fit into one of three categories, vape pens, portable vaporizers, and desktop vaporizers.

These types are usually focused on weed vaporizing, whereas cig-a-likes and box mods are for e-liquid vapers by design. Vape pens quickly become a trendy choice over the last five years among both e-liquid and weed vapers.

Types of Vaporizers

We’ve already made our 2018 guide of the best vape pens on the market, so check that out if you think they’re right for you. Portable vaporizers and desktop vaporizers, on the other hand, are both higher quality devices that tend to be focus solely on weed vaping.

Portable vaporizers, like vape pens, are made to be taken out into the world with you. The difference being their size and functionality. Pens are usually very slim devices, where portable vaporizers can often resemble box mods. This added size allows for more quality features, with most portable vaporizers on our list able to outmatch anything widely considered a vape pen.

Desktop vaporizers, on the other hand, are much larger and meant for home use only. Again, their added size allows desktop vaporizers to have a much wider range of features than portable counterparts. But the added features and quality come at a cost, with this category of models the most expensive of all. We have a section dedicated to further breaking down portable and desktop vaporizers below. If you’re interested in a vape pen, check out our 2019 guide to the best vape pens.

Is there a smell when using a Vaporizer?

Like everything else, it depends.

Vaporizer Odor

Your material and settings will have the most significant impact on the scent. For instance, if you’re vaping dry herbs at an extremely high temperature, then people directly near you will probably smell something. Alternatively, if you’re vaping concentrates at lower temperatures, the smell is indiscernible. In fact, the aroma, even when particularly noticeable, is different than weed smoke.

Most importantly, no matter how you vape weed, it’ll smell a whole lot less than smoking it. Smoke, in general, has a much more lingering and overpowering scent than vaping. Even at its most noticeable, the smell of weed vapor will dissipate much faster than smoking. The bottom line is that vaping weed is the hands down choice if you’re hoping to get high stealthily.

Probably our most frequently asked question is whether or not vaping weed smells.

Are there Health or Side Effect Concerns?

The answer is that, like almost anything, you should carefully consider anything you put into your body.

Another regularly asked question is if the risk of vaping is similar to that of smoking?

Health and Side Effects

With that, a growing number of peer-reviewed articles have found that nicotine vaping is at least 95% safer than cigarette smoke. But when it comes to weed smoke, very little has been tested. Weed isn’t anything new, but vaporizing weed is. Vaping is such a new technology that long-term studies haven’t been able to confirm one way or the other if vaping is safe.

Naturally, this also means that no evidence is indicating that vaping weed has any adverse health effects. Until scientists complete more long-term research proving otherwise, it’s safe to assume that vaping marijuana is much less dangerous than smoking weed. Much in the same way that we don’t know for sure if nicotine vaping is harmless, scientifically it’s becoming agreed upon that it dramatically reduces the harm. Additionally, there are no known extra side effects of vaping weed compared with smoking it. The only difference widely noted by users is the cleaner and more potent high produced through vaping.

Determining what type of vaporizer to go with

One of the most critical questions in deciding which kind of vaporizer is right for you is where and when you’re going to use it most.

If you’re more of a homebody or only like to get high at the end of the day, a desktop vaporizer is probably the best option. As you don’t need them to be portable, their combination of size and power make them the best choice for a super high-quality experience. Alternatively, if you are always out and about on adventures, or you just like to share with friends throughout the day, a portable vaporizer is your best bet. They lack some of the power of desktop models but are made to be easily transported and used on the go.

Now, let’s take a close look at the specifics of portable and desktop vaporizers.

Portable Vaporizers

What is a portable vaporizer?

The name portable vaporizer technically refers to any vaporizer that can be taken on the go easily. We’ve gone over different types of these vaporizers at length in our other guides, but this time we’re referring to portable devices that are a bit larger, and tend to be optimized for use with weed. They come in all different shapes and sizes, from small pen like tubes, to more extensive boxes that resemble a traditional box mod.

Batteries power most of these devices, but some also use butane. In fact, butane powered vapes have become a more and more popular choice with the rise of concentrates. What all of these devices have in common is that they can transport easily, either in a pocket or an included carrying case. That makes them the perfect choice for anyone who plans on vaping on the go often.

the difference

Types of mediums used

Portable vaporizers are generally for use with weed.

Weed Mediums

That can mean that they work with either dry herbs or concentrates. But many companies have decided that multi-purpose vaporizers are the way of the future. Because of this, many new vaporizers have support for both dry herbs and concentrates. That is accomplished either by offering a specialized cartridge or in some cases including concentrate pads which allow consumers to use concentrates in devices usually optimized for dry herbs.

The most versatile of these portable vaporizers even have support for e-liquids as well. Those devices will offer an e-liquid chamber that is almost always a tank. This wide variety of options can make it a bit more challenging to decide which one is best for you. So it’s always a good idea to know beforehand which type of material you’ll be using most often. Don’t worry if you’re not sure because plenty of vaporizers support both dry herbs and concentrates right out of the box.

Portability vs. Functionality

The most significant tradeoff that you make when choosing between portable vaporizers and desktop vaporizers is between power and portability.

Generally speaking, a compact vaporizer is always easy to transport, but it may lack the power of a more extensive desktop model. Similarly, portable vaporizers are smaller, but they sometimes lack the same level of functionality you’ll find in desktop models. That is important to keep in mind when you’re making your choice. If you’re more concerned with having a consistently top-level experience, it’s probably best to opt for the desktop vaporizers that have more features. If you want a solid mix of portability and power, the portable vaporizers on our list all make for great choices.

Power Sources

As mentioned previously, there are two main ways they can be powered, with both batteries and butane.

Vaporizer Power Sources

Battery powered devices are like most vaporizers that simply use electricity to activate an atomizer which vaporizes the material. These types of devices should be familiar to anyone who has spent any time vaping. The other kind of power source is butane, and these devices are a bit different than your average vaporizer.

Butane powered vaporizers use convection heat almost exclusively. That is because a butane torch is typically used to heat up a glass nozzle which the leads to the chamber holding the dry herbs or concentrates. These type of vaporizers have proven to be especially popular among the concentrate crowds, as they provide a very clean hit without needing to worry about keeping batteries charged. No matter what choice you make, you can be sure that all the vaporizers on our list are hand-picked for being the best options out there.

Desktop Vaporizers

What is a Desktop Vaporizer?

Desktop vaporizers have continued to be the go-to option for the very serious weed vapers. Most models are designed to plug into the wall, but some of the newer models also have car charging adapters. This unifying characteristic aside, these devices come in more shapes and sizes than any other type of vaporizer.

As you can imagine by their corded nature, they’re called desktop vaporizers because most are meant to be on a tabletop during use. The explosion of portable vaping over the last ten years has overshadowed their growth, but there has still been a dramatic increase in the efficiency of desktop models over the years. The manufacturers have expanded and modified these models as much as any vaporizer type.

the difference

What is the best application for desktop vaporizers?

By in large, desktop vaporizers are the best option for vapers who are looking for the most high-quality experience possible.

While box mods, and even pens, have come a long way from their earlier incarnations, nothing is quite as potent or flavorful as vapor taken from one of the best vaporizers money can buy. As you may assume, this much higher quality comes at a higher price, with the most expensive models coming in around $700. But for the average vaper who is dissatisfied with their current setup, a desktop vaporizer may be just what the doctor ordered. No matter what type you end up going for, they are all likely to have the more advanced technology and a more extensive range of function than a comparably priced portable vaporizer.

How do Desktop Vaporizers Work?

The next thing that you should understand about desktop vaporizers is how they work

Like all vaporizers, they either use convection or conduction heating to vaporize the material.

Vaporizer Heating Methods

Most older models of desktop vaporizers used convection, which requires the material be touching the heating element. That includes the classic whip style of desktop vape. More advanced models have tended to use conduction heating, in which heated air passes over the material instead of directly contacting the heating element itself. Both are still very viable, but each has their pros and cons.

Convection was the main way vaporizing was done in the early days of the technology. In these early days, it wasn’t uncommon for herbs to end up combusted or at the very least, unevenly vaporized. That’s no longer much of a concern with modern models. These days it’s not uncommon for vapers to feel that convection produces a much cleaner taste than conduction.

Conduction is much more common in modern vaporizers than convection. The reason for this comes down to one simple thing, temperature control. It’s entirely possible to control the temp of a convection vaporizer, but it will always be more natural and efficient in a conduction setup. It’s also true that conduction presents a lower risk of accidental combustion, but with modern, high-quality vaporizers of all types, this problem has been mostly phased out.

Types of Vaporizers

01.
Vaporizer Whip

Whips

As mentioned above, desktop vaporizers usually come in two distinct styles, whip, and forced-air. Both types come in countless different shapes and sizes, each with their pros and cons, but in general, this is the most basic distinctions between different desktop devices.

Whip style vaporizers were one of the first kinds to become commercially available, over 15 years ago. Primarily consisting of a boxed heating element, glass wand, surgical grade tubing, and mouthpiece, these simple devices have come a long way from their modest starts. While they should still be considered the more simple type of desktop vaporizer, they now boast many of the same functions that advanced devices have, such as temperature control.

Most devices of this type still work using convection instead of conduction. Generally speaking, the herbs load into the wand, which attaches to the heating device through the use of ground glass. The added friction not only allows the glass wand to stay connected, but it also improves the quality of the air-tight seal. The design of these devices have remained similar throughout the years, but more and more manufacturers are starting to take advantage of their larger size and created new and exciting designs. But regardless of the updates, whip style vaporizers remain the ideal choice for vapers interested in a high-quality vape, without a complicated system.

02.
Forced Air

Forced-Air

Forced-Air vaporizers are the top dog in regards to high-quality vaping. The name forced-air refers to internal fans that force hot air over the material in a consistent and precisely controlled stream. This type of vaporizer is usually fed into a plastic bag, giving them the nickname of balloon bag devices. The advanced fan systems in these devices can produce vapor on their own, so in both whip, or balloon setups it puts almost no strain on your lungs at all.

These devices tend to use conduction heating, as it allows for much more precise temperature control. The steps vary based on precisely the device build, but that being said they all follow the same system. You fill a cartridge with dry herbs or concentrates and then load it into the desktop vaporizer itself. In addition to the cartridge, you attach a plastic bag to the top of the vaporizer, which catches all of the vapor produced. After selecting your specific settings, such as temperature and fan speed, the device begins to heat the material and force it into the bag rapidly. When the cycle is complete, you can remove the bag, attach a mouthpiece and you’re ready to roll.

03.
Multi-Functional

It’s not uncommon these days for vaporizers to be hybrids of whip and balloon style. These combination vaporizers are known as multi-functional devices. As you could imagine, they’re the most versatile of desktop models, although they almost exclusively come in conduction style. It’s also true that most multi-functional devices are technically forced-air devices, though they can efficiently use a whip.

The difference is that with most whip-only vaporizers, the user has to manually draw from the whip to produce any vapor, where multi-functional devices can provide a consistent stream of vapor to either a bag or through a traditional whip. It’s not uncommon for these devices to give the user an option between forced-air or traditional draw when using the whip attachment.

Controlling The Temperature

The other overarching difference between the major types of desktop vaporizers is the temperature control method.

The two major types are digital and analog. More advanced vaporizers tend to have digital controls, while simpler models usually use analog.

Vaporizer Temperature

Regardless of which type you opt for, appropriately controlling the temperature of your device is key to having the best experience. Using too much power can lead to it burning material, and therefore creating harmful smoke. While it’s less common with devices made these days, it’s still something to always keep in mind. Not only that, but testing around and finding the correct setting for you is key to consistently having an excellent experience.

Digital units typically have plus and minus buttons that correspond to the display on the device. Depending on the specific model, the temperature can be adjusted down to a single degree. Because of this, they are more accurate than analog devices, even often showing the target temperature next to the current temperature. As you might expect, digitally controlled vaporizers tend to be more expensive than their analog counterparts. But there is a reason why they are also the much popular choice in spite of the higher cost. The ability to precisely control temperature has a significant impact on the quality and consistency of your vaping experience.

Final Points Summary

As you have seen, there is a whole lot to consider when choosing the best weed vaporizer for your needs.

Vaporizers Choices

Desktop Vaporizers are the highest grade of vaporizer available on the market. The prices are often much higher, but so is the quality of vapor. Portable vaporizers are slightly less powerful and versatile, but when it comes to mobile vaporizers, nothing compares with these devices. Whether you’re a serious marijuana vaper or just someone who is always striving for the best possible experience, there’s no better option than a high-quality desktop or portable weed vaporizer. Their unique combination of power, style, and range of functionality is better than any other category of vaporizer.

We gave you our picks for the Best Desktop Vaporizer: the Volcano, Best Portable Vaporizer: Prohibited in the 5th Degree, and Best Value Vaporizer: the V2 Pro Series 3X. These three choices should give you a reliable barometer to use when comparing other models. In addition to our top picks, we also included eight different desktop vaporizer choices, and nine portable ones that our expert panel agrees are well worthwhile. Each one has been personally tested and rated by at least one member, but often it was a team effort.

We did our best to cover everything you may want or need to know about portable and desktop vaporizers in our comprehensive guide. If you find yourself with a question or two, feel free to send it our way via Facebook or Twitter. We’ve always got people ready to help answer any final issues. Leaving a comment below will also enable us to give you the best possible information directly.

There are tons of options out there, and that number is only increasing every month.

That can make it especially tough to find the right model. Whether you’ve decided that a desktop vaporizer, with all of its power and features, or a portable vaporizer, designed to be sleek yet robust, is right for you, we hope we’ve given you a solid start. Our expert panel curated this list and guide to hopefully make a potentially frustrating task, one that you’ll enjoy. It’s important to keep in mind that no particular device is going to be perfect for everyone, so it’s ultimately up to you to decide what is right.

Bonus Beginners Guide

Getting The Most Out Of Your New Dry Herb Vaporizer

Vaping with dry herbs can prove a bit challenging for newcomers, so we made this guide to give you the proper foundation.

Vaping continues to grow as a new industry, with more and more businesses popping up every day. So it’s no wonder why it can be so hard to get a straight picture of what the latest technology is and how it works. Luckily, this also means that no matter what you’re into, there’s a device that’s specifically designed to give you that experience. But for weed vapers it can extra challenging to get the hands-on knowledge nicotine vapers find in vape shops. So we created this guide to help you get the most out of your brand new dry herb vaporizer.

what to know?

It’s important first to have a solid understanding of dry herb vaporizers and how they’re constructed. The two main types of heating used in dry herb vaporizers are conduction and convection. Convection places whatever material is being used directly onto the heating element, while conduction keeps them separate and instead uses heated air to facilitate the vaporization. The best way to understand what this means is to think about the difference between an oven and stove top. Convection has become increasingly popular as the temperature control technology advances, but both types have their loyal followers. So no matter what kind of dry herb vaporizer you end up with, here are four tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of it.

01.
Adequate Grinding

The first thing you’ve got to do to ensure a fantastic experience is adequately grinding your herbs. While that means they need to be dry, they also should not be so dry that they crumble into dust between your fingers. Investing in a quality grinder will save you a lot of time and effort, not to mention do a better job than your hands alone. The key to dry herb vaping is having as much surface area as possible. The better the grind, the more efficient the vaporization will be. But be careful as over grinding can cause you to inhale some unwanted pieces. But between over and under grinding, always take over grinding. If you don’t break them down enough, you’ll make it extremely hard for your device to heat the herbs evenly. This leads to potentially burned portions while other parts are left untouched. You must find the proper balance for you and your device, which will take a little trial and error.

02.
Proper Temperature

Almost any type of vaporizer you buy today is going to have some type of temperature control. Lower end devices tend to opt for a set of preselected temperatures that the user can pick from, while increasingly manufacturers are giving users precise control over exactly how much power the vaporizer is getting. These controls have become so widespread because different types of materials require different settings for the ideal experience. When you’re talking about dry herbs, the perfect range is around 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If you go too low, you won’t experience any effect, while going too high can burn the material and deteriorate much of the available THC.

But it’s important to try different things when you’re starting out with a new device. Lower temps are best for getting a more flavorful and smooth vapor, while higher temps increase the potency, but may decrease the flavor quality. Not everyone is going to agree on what is the perfect settings, so you’ll have to test a few different things until you find what’s right for you. Be sure to experiment around and give each setting a shot to compare the produced effect.

03.
Slow Draws

Those who are just making the switch from smoking to vaping tend to take huge, deep hits. But this is not the proper technique for most vaporizers, as pulling too hard can even negatively impact the vapor quality. The temperature may become lower which decreases the potency of the herbs. While some manufacturers have attempted to phase out this problem, most don’t see it as enough of an issue to warrant intervention. You don’t need to pull hard to produce a satisfying cloud, in fact, long and slow draws actually create better results.

The other thing to remember is that vapor isn’t as harsh on your lungs so if you’re used to massive hits of smoke, you may not feel like you’re getting anything while you draw. But rest assured, once you exhale you’ll see just how well your device is working. Long and slow pulls supposedly even increase the flavor profile of your hits. If things just don’t feel right at first, don’t get discouraged. For many vapers, it takes about a week to become fully acclimated to the new process.

04.
Device Maintenance

While tips for proper use are valuable, the most important thing you can do to increase the quality and life of your dry herb vaporizer is adequate maintenance. This is a straightforward process, and it’s well worth it once you see the results. If you don’t, it doesn’t take long for things to start getting messy and clogged up. Over time this can cause severe damage or even destroy your coils, so it’s critical to take care. Most dry herb vaporizers are conduction heat, meaning the actual heating element is separate from the material, but lots of new devices are opting for convection making things harder.

Either way, the best time to clean your chamber is directly after use, as it’ll still be hot enough for much of the material to come right off. If you wait then this can become hard or sticky and make cleaning things up a considerable hassle. Most conduction style vaporizers will come with a brush tool designed to clean out the inside of the chamber. With a convection style device, it’s going to be important to use the included tools and use proper care. Most devices of this type come with a unique set of tools designed specifically for cleaning that device. It will take a little time to do things right, but take your time and be careful. Whatever you do, be sure to do something. Because cleaning can be a bit annoying, but it’s much better than the alternative which is a broken device.

Conclusions

Dry herb vaporizers can often seem like a bigger hassle than other types of vaporizers.

But all it takes to do things right is a little time, knowledge, and effort. Once you find your ideal method, you will truly understand why vaping is the best way to use your dry herbs. Not only is the flavor impeccable, but the potency is also top notch, creating a comfortable high. If you’re having trouble getting the most out of your new dry herb vaporizer, take your time and figure out what’s going wrong. You won’t regret it.

Do you vape your dry herbs? What’s the hardest part of dry herb vaping? Any tips or tricks you think we may have missed? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.