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January 29, 2024
10 min to read

How Do Dry Herb Vaporizers Work: Beginner’s Guide

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Hayley Heidelbaugh

Weed vapers don’t have to miss out on the benefits and clean flavor of dry herb. Much like you can vape oil or waxy concentrates, ground marijuana or hemp bud can also be vaporized. This is a simple way to enjoy the effects of THC, CBD, and terpenes without smoking.

You can’t vape weed with just any device. Dry herb vaporizers are manufactured specifically for this purpose. With a portable weed vaporizer, it’s even possible to partake in dry herb on the go.

What is a dry herb vaporizer?

A dry herb vaporizer applies heat to ground cannabis flower, producing delicious vapor packed with cannabinoids and terpenes.  By heating the weed—but not burning it—users unlock all the delicate, flavorful compounds without experiencing the harsh taste of combustion. Both hemp and marijuana bud can be consumed using a vaporizer.

Weed vaporizers give users control of temperature. A solid starting place for vaping dry herb sits around 350 degrees Fahrenheit, though this can be increased to approximately 400 ° F , based on the vaper’s preference.

Adjusting these settings leads to changes in flavor and vapor density. Lower temperatures mean heartier flavor and sparser vapor, while higher temperatures result in less-tasty vapor and fuller clouds.

No matter the form it takes or the mechanics behind it, a dry herb vaporizer working properly doesn’t cause combustion. The herb is heated either by air or a hot surface. This creates vapor rather than smoke.

Both portable and desktop weed vaporizers are available, including discreet dry herb pens.

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How well do dry herb vaporizers work?

Exactly how well a dry herb vaporizer works is largely dependent on its quality. Good products perform the function they’re designed for, which is to vaporize cannabis, sans smoke.

Compared to smoking, dry herb vaporizers have more than a few benefits. When you smoke a pipe or a blunt, combustion takes place, and this process releases the bud’s active ingredients—alongside carcinogens and hazardous chemicals. This can cause serious lung damage over time.

Be wary of black-market vaporizers, as poor construction or faulty electronics could lead to unintended combustion. Sometimes a deal isn’t really a deal.

Types of dry herb vaporizers

Dry herb vaporizers use either conduction or convection to create vapor, and sometimes combine the two heating methods. Whether your device is considered a convection or conduction vaporizer is based on the more dominant process.

Conduction vaporizers

A conduction vaporizer has a lot in common with a frying pan on a stovetop. A frying pan made from a solid material, such as stainless steel or ceramic, contains the food to be cooked, and a heating element is applied to the other side of the pan. The heat is transferred from the stove to the pan, heating the food inside. In a vaporizer, our ingredient is marijuana or hemp bud.

Overall, conduction is a more direct and aggressive method of heating. If you’re seeking a powerful hit that leads to a quick high, this is desirable. But there are some drawbacks to conduction vaporizers that need to be considered.

Conduction disperses heat less evenly, and this inconsistency can be troublesome for some users. It can be more difficult to predict the intensity or flavor of each hit. Stopping to stir the herb every now and again can help mitigate this issue. Another issue is that the weed tends to continue to heat after you want it to stop. That’s not a problem when the plan is to use all of the bud in the vaporizer in one sitting, but it’s not ideal if you want to take one hit and then set it aside for later.

On a more positive note, conduction vaporizers are generally straightforward and easy to use. They also have a longer battery life and can produce more flavor.

Convection vaporizers

Convection vaporizers are simpler to regulate. This device introduces a steady flow of heated air to the herb, compared to the less consistent heat supplied by conduction vaporizers.

If conduction vaporizers are similar to frying pans, convection vaporizers are more like ovens or hand dryers. Instead of direct contact with the heating element, hot air is pushed into the chamber where the bud is packed.

Some convection vaporizers have an internal fan, while others utilize the airflow created when you take a draw. In either case, the weed stops heating when the airflow stops, which makes them the superior choice for users who want to vape a little now and more later.

Due to the separation of its heating element and chamber, convection vaporizers tend to be larger than conduction models.

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Using a dry herb vaporizer: step-by-step guide

As a whole, dry herb vaporizers are pretty easy-to-use devices that don’t take long to get the hang of. Here are the key steps applicable to most devices.

Step one: review the vaporizer’s manual

This is true for any vaping device, but always take a look at the manual and any information provided by the manufacturer. Check to see if your device has specific charging, packing, grinding, use, or care directions.

Step two: charge or plug in the vaporizer

Portable vaporizers are usually charged via USB, so remember to plug in the device and give it time before use. Some larger portable vaporizers use proprietary chargers.

Other devices, such as desktop vaporizers, may need to be plugged into an outlet.

A few portable weed vaporizers have interchangeable batteries. If your vaporizer has a removable battery, you can refer to the manual for detailed charging instructions.

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Step three: grind your herb of choice

From THC-dominant marijuana to high CBD hemp, you can cook your herb of choice in a vaporizer. It just needs to be ground to a medium-fine consistency. You may have to experiment to find the perfect grind for your device.

Step four: pack the herb in the vaporizer’s chamber

Again, before filling your vaporizer’s chamber, take another look at the manufacturer’s recommendations. Don’t pack it too tightly or overfill the chamber with herb. An overfilled chamber will yield uneven heat and inconsistent hits.

Step five: adjust the vaporizer’s temperature

At this stage, you’re ready to turn on the vaporizer and set your desired temperature. Certain devices allow users to set precise temperatures, though often you’ll need to choose from several presets.

It’s best to start low and work your way up. If you’re new to dry herb vaporizers, begin at 350 °F or lower and adjust until you reach the desired flavor, intensity, and vapor level. Many people set the temp low to maximize the delicious terpene flavors for a couple hits, then turn it up higher for more effect.

Step six: take your first draw of vapor

Finally, you’re ready to take the first inhale of vapor. Begin by taking slow, steady inhales of a few seconds each, before releasing. Be sure to pace yourself throughout the session, especially if you’ve never used a dry herb vaporizer before. You can inhale as much as is comfortable, but there’s no need to hold your breath—the cannabinoids are absorbed in your lungs almost immediately.
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4.9

PAX Plus

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PAX continues to revolutionize the portable vaporizer, one release at a time. The PAX PLUS is a flexible, dual-use powerhouse built for cannabis vapers new and old. Core features include a long-lasting 3300mAh battery, four experience modes, and hybrid (conduction/convection) heating. Say goodbye to harsh vapor.

What is a portable vaporizer?

For those who prefer to vape on the go, portable dry herb vaporizers are the best option. Portable vaporizers have become increasingly common over the past several years as they’ve gotten smaller and more effective. Dry herb pens are even more compact.

Portable vaporizers vary in size and function, but they have a couple of aspects in common: they don’t need to remain stationary to use, nor do they need to be connected to a power source as you use them. They’re a convenient way to get your THC or CBD wherever you happen to be.

Before deciding on the best portable model for you, there are some features to consider.

Conduction, convection, or hybrid

While full convection portable models are out there, they’re rare compared to portable conduction or hybrid vaporizers.

Convection vaporizers tend to be bulkier than those using primarily conduction. When you’re in the market for a portable device, this is worth taking into account.

Temperature controls

Temperature controls are an essential part of any high-quality vaporizer, including portable models. Without the freedom to adjust temperature, it’s impossible to regulate the flavor and intensity of your hits.

It’s less common to find a portable vaporizer with precision temperature control, but some higher-end products have this feature. Other models will allow you to adjust in increments. Some offer precise controls using an Android or computer-based app, but have more basic functions built into the device.

Battery life

You can’t vape on the go if your device loses battery power halfway through the day. When selecting a portable vaporizer, read reviews and take a close look at its estimated battery life.

Just keep in mind that vaporizers require more power than carts, and as a consequence, don’t always last as long as oil vape batteries. A typical CBD or THC oil vape is preset and allows users to dial in with voltage adjustments, unlike the adjustable temperature of a portable vaporizer. This requires additional battery power.

Again, some portables have replaceable batteries, allowing you to carry an extra battery with you. These tend to be the most expensive models though.

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Portability

Some portable vaporizers are more portable than others. While you can slip certain devices into your pocket and hardly notice they’re there, others have additional heft.

For the most compact models, stick to dry herb pens or mini vaporizers.

Ease of use

Let’s put it this way: If you’re pulling out your vaporizer to take a quick hit, you probably don’t want to spend five minutes fiddling with it. Ease of use is important for portable models.

A portable vaporizer of good quality will feature a user-friendly interface, as well as clear instructions on how to load and use the device. After the first couple of uses, it shouldn’t require you to consult the manual.

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4.8

G Pen Dash+

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G Pen’s Dash+ Vaporizer had big shoes to fill—and still managed to surpass expectations. Like the Dash before, the Dash+ is a compact dry herb vaporizer built to maximize ease and flavor. Features include hybrid heating, a full-color LED display, and precise temp control. Backed by a robust 1800 mAh battery.

Read the full review

What is a desktop vaporizer?

Desktop vaporizers have been on the market for far longer than portable models. In that sense, this is the classic method of vaporizing dry herb. Of course, desktop vaporizers are also less convenient for many vapers, as these devices are large and stationary.

Compared to a standard portable vaporizer, desktop varieties have more power and help users achieve larger hits. They also tend to be more expensive than portable devices, and often by a large margin. Many popular models sit somewhere in the $100 to $800 range.

Hybrid desktop vaporizers fall on the upper end of that price range, as they allow users to vape both herb and concentrate.

When selecting a desktop vaporizer, you have several model types to choose from. Here are three of the most common.

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Forced air vaporizers

These vaporizers use convection heating, which is generated by an internal fan, to apply hot air over the bud. This air is often held in a balloon bag until the user is ready to inhale. (Some forced-air vaporizers also use a whip, as described below.) This kind of design is seen in high-end (and expensive) desktop vaporizers.

Whip-style vaporizers

Whip-style vaporizers are more common than forced-air models and are typically more affordable. A silicone or vinyl tube—the whip—is attached to this device. The user inhales through the whip, pulling hot air over the packed herb.

Dual vaporizers

Lastly, dual vaporizers combine elements of forced-air vaporizers and whip-style vaporizers into one device.

Dry herb vaporizers: a healthier alternative to smoking cannabis

Due to the process of combustion, smoking weed comes with health risks that many cannabis users prefer to avoid. This is entirely possible, thanks to dry herb vaporizers.

Load a portable or desktop vaporizer with your favorite bud, and you’ll be met with remarkable taste, enjoyable effects, and ease of use.

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Hayley Heidelbaugh

Vaping since: 3 years

Favorite products:

Favorite flavors: White Wedding, Northern Lights, Platinum Valley, OG Kush

Expertise in: Oil carts, cannabis concentrates, cannabis flower

Hayley Heidelbaugh

I'm a Pennsylvania-based cannabis enthusiast and writer. As a part of the Vaping360 team, I'm eager to help cannabis consumers explore vaping and get the most out of their experience. You can also find me @faeberrystudios on Instagram.

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