Vaping is an increasingly popular way to consume cannabis nowadays. Its rise to fame is largely due to the higher potency of vaporization, the discretion and convenience of portable vapes, and the healthier aspects of inhaling vapor versus smoke. Due to vaping's popularity, however, a variety of vaping options appeared on the market ahead of the average consumer's understanding of how vaping works and how to do so.
The process of vaping weed involves heating cannabis flower or concentrates to a temperature that converts the desirable cannabinoids and terpenes into a vapor. As vaporization happens at a lower temperature than combustion, the user inhales more cannabinoids and less harmful tar and carcinogens than via smoking.
There are many methods by which people vaporize cannabis. The three main types are tabletop vaporizers (flower or dab rigs), portable vaporizers, and vape pens. Read on to learn how to vape cannabis, no matter your preferred method of consumption.
Vape dry flower
How to use a tabletop vape
Time needed: 10 minutes.
Tabletop vaporizers are stationary temperature control units made to sit on a desktop or other stable surface. Tabletop vaporizers come in many varieties, but all include a heating chamber, heating element, a mouthpiece, and temperature control. Here's how to vape cannabis using a tabletop vape:
- Read the manual
Start by reading the manual. While you may eagerly await your first vape hit, understanding the specific steps to operate your tabletop vape is crucial to enjoying your cannabis and ensuring the longevity of your device.
- Plug in your vape and turn it on
Plug in your vape and turn it on. Allow your device to heat up in preparation for use.
- Grind your cannabis flower and load it
While your vape is heating, grind your cannabis flower thoroughly and load it inside the heating chamber, sometimes called oven. This chamber is where flowers are heated to produce vapor for inhalation. The size, shape, and location of the vape's heating chamber vary based on each unit — most devices fit around a ¼-½ gram of ground cannabis. Make sure you don't overpack your chamber to ensure proper airflow. Seal the oven securely.
- Set your desired temperature
If your device permits, set your desired temperature. Ideal vaping temperatures are between 350-to-400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Inhale from the mouthpiece to take a hit
Inhale from the mouthpiece to take a hit. You'll know it's working when you see and taste the cannabis vapor on each exhale. Long, slow inhales are the way to go.
As you continue to use your vape, the amount of cannabinoids in the cannabis will gradually decrease, turning flowers from green to brown. Tabletop vapes, however, won't combust the flower material the same way smoking does. You'll know it's time to reload the chamber when the vapor thins and loses its flavor.
- Discard the leftover cannabis material
When finished, discard the leftover cannabis material. Make sure to clean your vape regularly, after every 10-to-20 sessions, to keep it in prime working condition. Check your vape manual for cleaning instructions.
- Optional: Perform a burnoff session
Optionally, you can perform a burnoff session after you vape to burn away any leftover cannabis material. Crank the empty vape to its highest temperature and allow it to sit for five-to-ten minutes. This should clear away any residual plant matter.
How to use a portable vape (flower)
Portable vapes are small, discreet vaporizers that operate in a manner similar to tabletop vapes. Typically, portable vapes include a chamber to hold your cannabis, a heating element, and a battery. Most flower vaporizers will include a variable temperature control device, operated by a button or a small dial. Read on to learn how to vaporize flower using a portable vape:
- Read the manual. Again, knowing how to use your device is key to maximizing your enjoyment and its lifespan.
- Make sure your vape is fully charged and turn it on, allowing it to heat up and get and allow it to heat up to get ready for use. Most units will come with a USB cable charger and accept any USB cable, but some use proprietary chargers or removable batteries.
- Grind your cannabis flower and pack it into the heating chamber. Make sure not to overpack and to leave enough room for airflow. Close your vape tightly.
- Set your desired temperature and inhale, making sure you can taste and see the cannabis vapor on each exhale. Long, slow inhales help you maximize your cannabinoid intake and experience.
- As you continue to use your vape, cannabinoids in the cannabis will gradually decrease, turning flowers from green to brown. You'll know it's time to reload when the cannabis vapor loses its flavor and becomes thin.
- Discard the leftover plant matter and make sure to clean your vape to keep it in prime working condition. Check your vape manual for any specific cleaning instructions for your device.
How to use a portable vape (concentrates)
While some portable vapes work only for flower vaping, others allow you to vape concentrates or cannabis oil on the go — and some even offer the best of both worlds! Read on to learn how to enjoy your favorite concentrates with a portable vape.
- Read through the manual to get a solid understanding of how your device works.
- Make sure your vape is charged and turned on. Most portable vapes will come with a USB cable for charging and will accept other USB cables, but some units use proprietary chargers or removable batteries so it's best to check your manual.
- Load up a small amount of your cannabis concentrate of choice into the chamber/oven using a dab tool or dabber. Do not use your hands — it degrades the cannabis.
- If your vape allows, set your desired temperature on your device. Ideal temperatures for vaping concentrates range between 350-to-450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Inhale from the mouthpiece to take a hit. You'll know it's working when you see and taste the cannabis vapor on each exhale. Long, slow draws allow for a steady burn and even vaporization of cannabinoids.
- When finished, turn off your vape. Make sure to keep your device clean to extend its longevity, typically after every ten-to-20 uses. Check out your vaporizer's manual for any cleaning information.
How to use a vape pen
When it comes to vape pens, there are two options available: vape pens with rechargeable batteries that pair with cannabis-oil-filled cartridges and disposable vapes, with an all-in-one battery and vape that you throw away after the oil is depleted. Here's how to vape using a vape pen:
- If using a pen with a separate cartridge, make sure the battery is charged and turned on. Make sure the cartridge is tightly connected to the battery.
- Some rechargeable batteries allow temperature control, so set temperature as desired.
- Press the button and draw, or simply auto-draw if the device has no buttons. Inhale low and slow to pace yourself and maximize cannabinoid intake. This also ensures you don't overheat your cannabis oil and damage the concentrate.
- You'll know your vape pen is running low on oil when the vapor starts to lose its flavor and taste harsher or burnt. Some lower quality batteries can also overheat or “burn” the materials of the heating coil into the oil, causing the cannabis to be used up or degrade faster and restricting cartridge's lifespan.
- When finished with a cannabis oil cartridge or disposable vape, simply discard it. No need to clean!