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Vaping Marijuana vs. Smoking: Which Way Is the Winner?

Dave Kriegel
July 7, 2023

Vaping weed is the modern alternative to smoking it. Vaporization is the process of heating weed or hemp flower to specific temperatures below the point of combustion in a vaporizer. It produces a stream of vapor that is inhaled through a mouthpiece or bag.

Is vaping weed better than smoking it? “Better” is subjective. They are very different, so it depends on what you want from the experience—but they will both get you ripped! Though, what’s particularly interesting is that the effects are not the same.

In this guide, you’ll learn the differences between vaping vs. smoking weed and which high is right for you, including the pros and cons of each method.

Is vaping weed healthier than smoking?

Smoking weed, or smoking anything for that matter, produces tar and other harmful by-products. Whether it’s through a bubbler, joint, pipe, or ten-foot bong, it still relies on combustion—though, you can vape with bongs and the like.

While there haven’t been a lot of studies conducted on the effects of vaporizing cannabis specifically, vaping nicotine is generally recognized to be at least 95% safer than smoking cigarettes by top UK scientists. It’s not a huge leap to make this assumption with pot. That’s why vaporization is the most recommended way of administering medicinal cannabis.

There are still some legitimate concerns about various devices on the market. Namely the very cheap ones made in China. We strongly urge you to only stick with trusted devices from reputable brands, no matter the country they were manufactured in.

The better vaporizers are designed so the vapor only passes through materials like ceramic, stainless steel, and quartz—no plastics, rubber, glue, or soldering near the heating elements.

Vaping pros

The most obvious reason to consider vaping over smoking is for your health, but there are other additional benefits. Vaping marijuana allows you to taste more distinction between strains, gives you control over temperature, and is generally more convenient and discreet.

  • More pronounced flavor: Vaping typically produces more pronounced flavor than smoking. You taste the individual terpenes and cannabinoid profiles of each strain more distinctly, whereas smoking obliterates the taste and subtle nuances between strains. But, keep in mind that the flavor will significantly diminish towards the end of the sessions.
  • Control over temperature: Most weed vaporizers have adjustable heat settings that give you control over the temperature throughout your session. It takes a bit of trial and error to find the best temperature for vaping weed, but it can produce a range of effects, from mellow and uplifting to a more intense euphoric experience.
  • Efficiency: Vaporizing weed allows you to extract the cannabinoids from your dry herb slowly and effectively. You can often get multiple sessions from a single pack. Already vaped bud, or AVB, can also be used to create edibles and tea, or even as an emergency smoke or vape. On the other hand, when you combust weed, it turns to ash and is no longer valuable.
  • It’s safer than smoking: Vaping is better for your health, according to current research, and doesn’t require an open flame. If you are health-conscious and love dry herb, making the switch to vaping is a no-brainer.
  • No lighter/matches required: Vaporizers don’t require an external heat source, so you’ll never have an incident where you’re stranded with weed and no lighter.
  • Discreet: One of the most appealing aspects of vaping marijuana is that it doesn’t produce as much of an odor, especially at lower temps. In addition, vaping smells a lot less than smoke, so it’s a smart option if you’re trying to fly high under the radar.

Vaping cons

One of the drawbacks of vaping marijuana is that you need to learn how to use your device, keep it clean, and make sure it is always charged (or plugged in with desktop units.) Another con of vaping bud is that it requires an initial investment in a vaporizer (and grinder). Lastly, the effects of vaporizing cannabis can are somewhat different than what you’re used to with smoking.

  • Typically requires a grinder: Most vaporizers don’t function properly without a medium to fine grind. This calls for a good grinder, especially if you’re using a portable vape that runs on conduction heating (which the vast majority do). Grinding increases surface area and allows all of the cannabinoids and terpenes to be extracted from the plant more efficiently.
  • Must be charged or plugged in: You won’t need a lighter, but if your device isn’t charged or near a wall socket, then you’re out of luck. The good news is that when it is fully charged, most portable vapes can provide several sessions before needing a recharge.
  • The learning curve: Unlike smoking, there is a significant learning curve with vaping cannabis. It takes experience to learn how to vape weed properly, getting the right grind and pack, learning to adjust the settings, and how to inhale from your device.
  • Requires general maintenance: Vaping marijuana requires a bit of maintenance versus smoking it. Keeping your vaporizer clean and in top shape is essential to its performance. After every few sessions, it is imperative that you clean your vape — but this is similar to having glassware.
  • The effects are somewhat different: Often called a “cleaner” high, vaping can still get you faded — like, seriously faded! — but it’s not as heavy as when smoking gram for gram.
  • Not cheap: A solid device for vaporizing cannabis isn’t cheap. There are a few decent inexpensive vapes out there, but they typically run upwards of $100. Luckily, they save you money in the long since vaporization is a more efficient method.

Smoking pros

The major advantage of smoking over vaping is that it typically produces more intense overall effects. Smoking also doesn’t require as much of an investment. Also, the whole smoking ritual can be addictive—rolling up a joint or packing your favorite glass piece, yet another reason why some people still do it the old-school way. Lastly, smoking is relatively low maintenance; it’s easy to roll up a joint, put it in your pocket, and go about your business.

More intense effects: Smoking dry herb can more quickly create intense and euphoric effects. The extreme temperatures of fire immediately release all of the cannabinoids responsible for this more sedative effect.

No investment required: Smoking doesn’t require as much of an investment upfront unless you are buying a big fancy glass piece. It’s so much cheaper to just buy some rolling papers, which prevents a lot of smokers from delving into vaping.

Smoking is a ritual: The entire process of rolling, packing, and smoking can become almost ritualistic at times. It can be difficult for some to break this routine.

No learning curve: Smoking is simple and doesn’t require a lot of practice. Anyone can light up a joint or bowl, and it’s easy to know when your session is over. Vaping pot is more complex and requires a bit of experience and knowledge.

Low maintenance: There is some general maintenance involved with pipes or bowls, but they typically don’t require as much effort as cleaning a vaporizer. Joints, on the other hand, are relatively low maintenance, aside from having to roll them.

Smoking cons

The main disadvantage of smoking vs. vaping is the health risks. It isn’t tobacco, but it’s still smoking. You also get less control over the effects, it leaves a much stronger smell and isn’t as efficient as vaping bud. The final downside to smoking is that you don’t notice the subtle nuances between strains as much as you would if you were vaping them.

  • Risks associated with combustion: The reality is, although weed smoke is said to be less harmful than tobacco smoke, it’s still smoke! There is a common misconception that although smoking tobacco is bad for you, smoking marijuana isn’t. When any plant matter is combusted it produces tar, carcinogens, and other by-products like toluene, naphthalene, and benzene. This is an unavoidable consequence of smoking, not to mention the hazards of second-hand smoke and using an open flame.
  • Less control: There isn’t much you can do to control the effects of smoking. You can find a strain with less THC, take smaller puffs, or roll your joint a little tighter, but that’s about it. Vaping gives you a lot more control over the overall experience.
  • Stronger odor: Smoke can be detected from much further away and it lingers for longer than vapor. It’s not even close! When you vape weed, it has an aroma, but it doesn’t have the same burnt smell and it dissipates quicker, especially after airing out the room.
  • Not as efficient: Smokers tend to burn through their stash quicker than people who vape it. Once you smoke a joint or a bowl, it’s gone. When you vape it, the herb is cooked much slower, giving you more opportunity to extract every last drop of THC.
  • Less nuanced flavor: When you smoke cannabis, it is a lot harder to discern the differences between strains. If you’re very experienced, it is still possible, but vaping gives you a much more distinct flavor profile for each one. Most of the terpenes responsible for giving weed its unique smell are depleted at these higher temps.

Is vaping weed better than smoking?

“Better” is highly subjective, but vaping might suit you. For example, if you’re looking for a safer, more discreet way to toke, or are a medicinal cannabis patient, then it probably is for you.

But if you are only trying to get completely blazed, smoking is the cheapest way to make that happen; just keep in mind the cons that come along with it.

The choice is yours, but every smoker should at least try vaping weed to see if they enjoy it. The differences between vaping marijuana vs. smoking can be night and day.

The taste is much clearer from a good vaporizer, with more flavor distinction between different strains. Flavor chasers who start vaping will find it hard to return to burning their precious buds and terpenes.

But what about you? Are you going to stick to smoking or embrace the technology? Let us know in the comments section.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Dave has always had a passion for helping people quit smoking. As a former smoker himself, he knew how hard it could be. As soon as he learned about vaping, he instantly became obsessed with it and helped many people stop smoking. Vaping360 has given Dave a platform to do this on a much larger scale, by educating the public about the wonders of vaping. When Dave is not writing he is either listening to music, performing it, or cruising around on his Penny board.
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4 years ago

This was a very well written article. Very informative without the bias. Thank you!

11 months ago
Reply to  Chris

I agree that the bias is not there which makes it great because it gives the good and bad of each in a fair manner.

Mathew Davis Pullokkaran
Mathew Davis Pullokkaran
4 years ago
Reply to  Chris

I agree. No bias. Fair writing. Be a journalist!!

15 days ago

No bias, other than claiming smoking weed is dangerous to your health.

Jim McDonald
Jim McDonald
14 days ago
Reply to  Dave

Inhaling any kind of smoke is bad for you. The harms caused by breathing combustion products aren’t unique to tobacco. Wood fires, cooking oil, and engine exhaust are other sources of smoke that pose risks to the lungs.

1 year ago

A few things. While I appreciate the authors sincere attempt at impartiality, he has leaned heavily towards smoking. I’d even go so far as to say he seems a bit dishonest. I own a vape that cost me 60 dollars and it requires cleaning no more than once a month AND it’s powered by butane, so no batteries. It’s the MOST commonly available vape. Also, cleaning it involves harvesting the condensed oils within which can be used to make a pretty strong cannabis infusion. His pros vs cons list is greatly padded in favour of combustion. Ritual is a pro… Read more »

2 years ago

I’ve recently bought a vape for weed and one for nicotine, because when I was vaping weed I felt I missed the nicotine I used to get from a traditional joint, the combinate use of the two is great for me. Apart from the benefits to my health that are felt immediately after quitting smoking, I consume less of my stash and I get the most out of it in terms of aroma, which makes all the difference. Vaping hits not as high as smoking at first, but at the end of the day I’m stoned as I was before… Read more »

4 years ago

Helpful and informative. Regular smoking is too hard to regulate to find the right dosage for my medical needs. Will look more into vaping.

1 year ago

I switched to vaping in the last couple of months; I’d wanted to quit smoking for quite a long time, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. The ritual is, indeed, addictive. But after making some better habits (I’ve changed my mindset — ‘dropping bad habits’ immediately starts you off with a negative frame of reference. incremental change, and think of it as simply making better choices rather than bad habits). It took a while, but I set myself the goal of at least no longer smoking inside, which is pretty much all you’re able to do in Australia. Most… Read more »

11 months ago
Reply to  Jason

I did the same thing as you. I switched to vaping for convenience more than anything. I can smoke in the house with no smell of weed itself which my wife approves of.