One of the most frustrating aspects of shopping for your first vaporizer (or even just your first expensive vaporizer) is the truly baffling number of devices available on the market. Understanding what type of portable vaporizer to purchase can only get you so far, as well, considering there are often several models that occupy the same price point and general level of quality. A great deal of research typically goes into the most informed vaporizer purchases. Luckily for you, however, you can use this article as a resource when you finally go out into the world and purchase your dream portable vaporizer.
You see, the primary issue is that the vaporizer industry is so new and prone to rapid changes. In just the time we have been writing about vaporizers, wax pens and box mods have begun to slowly take more and more of a market share. Meaning, even if you were able to get a good bead on every vaporizer out there, the hierarchy would likely change by the time that information helped you in any practical way. That’s why this guide focuses more on the important qualities that you can use to compare any vaporizer with any another. If you understand what to look for, you won’t have to worry about staying up-to-date with every new trend—you can simply use your own expertise. Once you are done reading, you should be able to understand the key differences between vaporizers and be able to select the right device for you without any hassle.
Dry Herb, Wax, Oils & E Liquid Types:
Let’s start with the basics, every vaporizer is designed to vaporize something, right? The material that a particular vape can be used with can tell you quite a bit about what you can expect from it. For example: a vaporizer that can handle all different types of material that is likely to need a large temperature range and will typically be more expensive to boot. Single-material vaporizers are often less complicated and stick with the temperatures that work best for its material range. Here are the types of materials that can be vaporized and more on what to expect from the devices that use them:
- Dry Herb: This is where it all began, the traditional form of cannabis. Typically ground very fine with a grinder, dry herb is still probably the most common material being loaded into vaporizers around the world. Not surprisingly, there is a very specific temperature range that is necessary to keep your material from combusting. Setting dry herbs on fire is much easier than any other type of material and it is likely less potent than your concentrates. However, it is usually the easiest to procure and definitely the easiest to store and use. For that reason, alone, dry herb is likely here to stay.
- Wax: There are multiple kinds of concentrate, but wax is probably the most popular one. Known by many names, such as shatter for its similarity to broken brown glass, wax is becoming more potent and popular with every passing day. Vaporizers that use wax will either need a specific insert or wax will be the only material the device can vape. This is because wax is incredibly viscous and gets everywhere, the chamber it is used in is typically a mess afterwards. Also, concentrates require higher temperatures to reach vaporization and it can be dangerous to have that as a possibility when other materials like dry herb are in use. Vapes that use concentrates and dry herb are expensive but versatile to a truly impressive degree.
- Oils and E-liquids: Although people are just now catching on to the use of oils and e-liquids, there is great potential for growth here and it’s likely you will see more and more of these as the days go by. One of the biggest reasons for this is that you can use cannabis oil (also known as CBD) with the same box mod you use to vape e-liquid. That means a person can vape nicotine and cannabis out of the same device. With practically no odor and an easy alibi, these are becoming the go-to option for people who like to have fun on the go.
There are two different ways a vaporizer can handle changing temperature and each vaporizer will go about their method a different way. Temperature control can be one of the biggest differences between a good unit and a bad one—though, with that being said, a unit that preselects its temperature range can still be excellent as long as the range is well-researched. The first method you will come across is a traditional Fahrenheit or Celsius temperature range that is capable of being manipulated with your device. The method you manipulate the temperature with is the biggest difference between vapes, usually. Some vaporizers allow you to select individual temperatures using + and – buttons located on the device. Others will let you pick through preselected options. Having a nice, wide temperature range is a good idea for any device as it will give the user more control over their experience.
The other method for temperature control is the voltage control method. You will typically only find these on devices that use CBD or in compact portable dab pens. It’s the simplest way to control your heat, you are simply adjusting the amount of power that comes out of the battery at any given time. This can be effective and is micro-adjustable to an almost unnecessary degree. However, the downside is that voltage and temperature are different things and changing one to affect the other can be a confusing and imprecise process. It’s often better to just have more control over your temperature settings. But, if you would like to vaporize with a box mod, you better get used to it. Almost all box mods use voltage controls instead of temperature.
Battery Size & Type:
Unfortunately for many vapers out there, it’s possible to purchase a very nice vaporizer only to have it fall flat due to one very important—yet underrated—quality: battery size and quality. Batteries are the engine that power most every vaporizer out there and ignoring them will only be to your detriment. A good vaporizer battery is going to average out around 2000 mAh (the criteria used to judge battery capacity) but that depends heavily on your device. If you are using a smaller device that only vaporizes dry herb at lower temperatures, a high-quality 1400 mAh battery can do the trick. Wax vapes, for instance, are usually so small and compact that 1000 mAh is plenty and, quite frankly, a larger battery probably wouldn’t fit in most. This is also because the actual heat up time is so much smaller compared to a dry herb vaporizer.
Box mods can have massive batteries are might be massive, themselves, to house them. Box mods need to have long battery lives to be an everyday device and, for the most part, the larger the battery the longer the device lasts. Be sure to pay close attention to charging, as well. You will want to develop a charging routine that works best for the battery in your device.
Portability & Design:
The trend, these days, is definitely towards portability, and that means battery-powered devices that can fit in your front pocket. However, there are many good tabletop and home vaporization options available if that’s something you might like. Either way, the design of vaporizers follows a familiar pathway: a chamber, typically made from ceramic, titanium, or other conductive materials is heated by a battery. Only box mods truly differ from this strategy, as they require atomizers to be connected to their batteries and those operate slightly differently.
Vape Part Threading:
This is becoming less and less of an issue, but if you are using a box mod or certain vape pens that use atomizers or pre-filled CBD cartridges, you will need to know the type of threading your box mod or battery uses. These days, that means 510 threading. There are a few different kinds still floating around, but 510 dominates the market and is probably all you should worry about.
It all comes down to this: what kind of vapor can you get? That depends, usually. A higher temperature is almost always going to produce more vapor. More vapor means better and more potent hits. But, don’t go setting your vape for the highest temperature just yet, there are some downsides. For one, flavor decreases with temperature. The higher you go, the more the vapor will taste like smoke or burnt popcorn instead of your material. Not to mention, battery life decreases exponentially with temperature, so lower temps are recommended for marathon usage.
Vape Replacement Parts:
After you’ve made your selection, you might wonder what comes next. That answer is, thankfully, not much. Vaporizers are typically easier to take care of than a glass pipe or something similar. For portable dry herb vaporizers, you might need to replace a steel screen every now and then—but that’s about it. Only wax vaporizers, or anything that uses coils and atomizers, will need replacement parts regularly. Coils, specifically, can be a pain to keep track off but are vital to the performance of the device.