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Choosing the Right Cannabis Consumption Method for You
We have all evolved beyond the bong. As more cannabusinesses have been approved to operate in different states around the country, the country has seen a drastic increase in the types of cannabis products available. While smoking may be the most popular, there are a variety of alternative ways to use cannabis both medically and recreationally. The effect, duration, and onset time vary slightly with each consumption method. Many can be combined for synergistic, sustained relief. The correct consumption method for you will be a matter of desired effect, intensity, duration, and personal preference. Once you’re ready to begin, we recommend that you purchase the necessary items you’ll need from a reputable online store.
The easiest and most common way consume cannabis requires little more than a vessel and a lighter. You can pack the cannabis into a pipe, roll it into a joint, or load it into a bong. Smoking cannabis involves inhaling the smoke released by the heated flowers or concentrate.
Smoking is popular because its easy and requires little more than a vessel and a lighter.
When smoking cannabis, the effects can be felt almost instantly and last from 90 minutes to 3+ hours depending on the individual, cannabinoid content, and potency of the strain. Because of the minimal onset time associated with smoking cannabis, dosage control is easy relative to other consumption methods. The downside is the potential for minor irritation of the respiratory system.
A vaporizer is a device that heats cannabis buds and/or concentrates to 315-440°F (157-227°C), which causes the cannabinoids stored in the plant’s trichomes to evaporate into a gas without combusting any plant material. For reference, the boiling point of THC is generally accepted to be between 315°F (157°C) and 392°F (200°C). All other major non-psychoactive cannabinoids evaporate between 320°F (160°C) and 428°F (220°C).
Vaping provides immediate, controllable, and concentrated relief without the combustion of plant material.
The effects of vaporizing cannabis are felt almost instantly which makes dosage control easy. The cannabinoid-rich (up to 95%) vapor is free of tar and carcinogens, which is beneficial for those looking to avoid potential lung and respiratory irritation. As a bonus, many users prefer taste of vaporized cannabis to that of the combusted flower.
Some vaporizers are intended for home use and feature digital temperature settings, while small, hand-held vaporizers allow you to enjoy cannabis concentrates on the move.
Edibles and Ingestible Oils
As the availability of medical and recreational cannabis has increased, so has the popularity of edibles (cannabis infused food and drink). The selection of cannabis infused food and drink is constantly expanding with dispensaries selling everything from medicated sodas to savory snacks. For those living in less tolerant states, you can make your own at home with surprising ease. Essentially any recipe that calls for oil or butter can be infused with cannabis. In the edible preparation process, the cannabinoids are combined with lipids (fats) and decarboxylated (heated) converting them from their acid forms into their activated states. The activated oil can also be ingested in pill form.
Edibles are ideal for those seeking sustained, strong relief throughout the day and don’t mind a delayed onset.
The effects associated with ingested cannabis last much longer than the other consumption methods (anywhere from 4 to 8+ hours) and can be significantly more intense. This is because THC, the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, is converted to the more psychoactive 11-hydroxy-THC by the liver. This compound is approximately 5 to 10 times stronger than the original THC. Smoked/vaporized cannabis does not have the same effect as it does not pass through the liver. For those looking to avoid the ‘high’ associated with THC-infused edibles, we recommend high CBD edibles or juicing raw cannabis.
The downside to edibles is the delayed onset time, which can take anywhere from 20 to 90+ minutes. Onset time is directly related to digestive process – eating them on an empty stomach results in a faster processing and vice versa. The combination of delayed onset and variable potency make dosage control more challenging. For more on recommended edible dosages, click here.
A tincture is a liquid cannabis concentrate derived through alcohol extraction. Tinctures were once the most common form of medicinal cannabis in the United States, prior to their prohibition in 1937. Tinctures are typically administered sublingually – a few drops of the cannabinoid-rich liquid under the tongue is often a sufficient starting dose. Tinctures are available in a variety of potencies, cannabinoid profiles, and flavors.
Tinctures provide a rapid delivery without utilizing the lungs and allow for consistent dosing.
One major benefit to tinctures is the rapid onset relative to orally ingested edibles. The solution is absorbed by the arterial blood supply under the tongue within seconds. The mucosa lining inside the entire mouth and the tongue itself also play a role in the absorption process. The effects will be felt within roughly 15 minutes, allowing for easier dose control (relative to edibles). That said, try to leave the tincture under your tongue for as long as possible before swallowing – maximizing quick absorption to the bloodstream as opposed to processing through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. However, for those desiring the edible-effect, tinctures can be added to your favorite drink.
The transdermal patch works just like a nicotine patch, delivering cannabinoids straight to the bloodstream over time. After applying the patch to a venous part of the body, one can expect sustained relief that lasts from 6 to 8+ hours. Because delivery to the bloodstream is very efficient, transdermal patches require much smaller dosages relative to edibles.
Patches deliver consistent, fast-acting, and long-lasting relief with less frequent medication.
The patches are available in a variety of potencies and cannabinoid profiles, both psychoactive and non-psychoactive. The onset associated with transdermal patches is typically quicker (15-60 minutes) than can be expected with oral ingestion.
Topicals are cannabinoid infused lotions, salves, balms, sprays, oils, and creams. Topicals are applied directly to the skin for localized relief of pain and inflammation, making them perfect for treating muscle, joint, and surface-oriented pain.
Recommended for treatment of localized muscle, joint, and surface-oriented pain and inflammation.
One other benefit of topicals is that they are completely non-psychoactive. Topicals have been especially helpful in treating those with arthritis, eczema, and psoriasis.
Dabbing refers to the process of dropping a dose of cannabis concentrate onto a heated water pipe attachment (known as a nail) and inhaling. Most commonly the nails are made from titanium, quartz, or ceramic materials. Dabbing differs from vaporization in that the cannabis concentrate is heated to a much higher temperature (anywhere from 500-900+°F). Thus, depending on the temperature of the nail, the heated concentrated can teeter the line between vaporization and combustion (the debate continues on this) – we like to think of dabbing as a form of flash vaporization. Did you know you can safely make your own dabs at home?
Dabbing provides nearly instant relief with intensely powerful effects.
The intense effects associated with dabbing concentrates can be felt almost instantly. Dabbing at lower temperatures produces more of a vapor than a smoke. Additionally, dabbing properly refined concentrates is a clean, flavorful experience free of plant material. Because dabbing utilizes highly concentrated cannabis extracts, it is not suggested for the novice consumer. Need to know how much you should dab? We can help!
Another popular technique making the rounds on Instagram is called twaxing, and involves combining cannabis concentrates with your rolled joints or blunts. By adding BHO or similar concentrates, you can dramatically increase the potency of a small joint, making it more suitable for sharing in a larger group. As you may imagine, this technique is also not for the novice consumer.
Managing Your Cannabis
Many people combine consumption methods for synergistic relief. For example: you might smoke a joint for immediate anxiety relief and eat an edible for sustained sedative benefits before a long flight. Of course, this just means more stuff, and we understand that you may not always be able to medicate within the comfort of your own home. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean that transporting your stash has to be a pain. Learn how to organize all the moving parts and condense them into a compact, smell-proof travel case that’s ready for all of life’s adventures.
- There is a general trade off between onset time and relief period
- It is always easier to supplement with a rapid onset consumption method
- Many consumption methods are complimentary, working together for sustained relief
How to Use Already Vaped Bud (AVB) to Make Edibles
There has always been a little secret at the intersection of vaporizing cannabis and edibles. One of the main benefits to vaporizing your cannabis is the ability to use your flower once for vaporizing and then using it again to make edibles. This is not something many people are aware of, but it’s a great way to get more from your herb!
Smoking weed turns your herbs into ash and even chars it—leaving no THC after the flower is combusted. Vaping, however, helps you efficiently ingest the THC and gives you the opportunity to re-use your flower a second time. Both vaporizer pens and desktop units will work for producing AVB.
What is Already Vaped Bud?
Already Vaped Bud, otherwise known as AVB, is the term used to refer to weed that has already been thoroughly vaped with the use of a vaporizer. Exhibiting an extremely dry and almost crisp texture, AVB is usually darker in color compared to fresh cannabis flower. It also gives off a slight yet distinct smell very much different from the rich aroma of fresh buds.
A common mistake many people make is throwing away their AVB, thinking it doesn’t have any use. After all, all the psychoactive ingredients have already been used, right? Little do they know, AVB can still be quite potent when used effectively. This is especially true when you use it to make edibles.
A very important detail about AVB is that it will only work if your vaporizer maintains consistent heat in the 315-440°F (157-227°C) range—preferably with the use of a convection style heating system. Beyond 451°F (233°C), combustion begins to occur.
Inadvertent combustion is the easiest way to burn your dry herbs and turn them into an ash-like substance. To make sure you end up with usable AVB, you want to ensure your flower vaporizer device maintains temperatures between 315-440°F (157-227°C).
How Does AVB Work?
The reason cannabis needs to be smoked, vaporized or included as a part of an edibles recipe lies in a process called decarboxylation, or decarbing for short. Decarbing cannabis activates its different cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, making them available for absorption by the body. This is why juicing or eating fresh and raw cannabis will have no psychoactive effect at all.
In order to decarboxylate cannabis, it needs to be exposed to heat, hence why we traditionally smoke or vape the plant material. Because AVB has already been vaped and exposed to heat, it has already been fully decarboxylated and the bud can be ingested as-is, inducing its full effects.
There is a very good reason not to ingest AVB straight though: it tastes bad. Really bad. Even mixing AVB into your food, while helping to mask the awful taste, can still make an entire dish unpalatable. Since most people like to enjoy their meal rather than taint it with the ghastly flavor of AVB, the preferred way to enjoy AVB is to properly incorporate it into an oil or butter.
How to Make Edibles with AVB
Making Canna-Butter or Canna-Oil
The process of making cannabis infused oil or butter with AVB is quite similar to that of working with fresh non-vaporized bud. Remember, the primary difference is the AVB has already been decarboxylated, so you can skip that step. Simply place your AVB in a pot or slow cooker with butter/oil for a few hours over low heat.
Make sure you’re occasionally stirring every now and then to avoid burning any of the plant material (using a crock-pot really helps maintain consistent low temperature to avoid burning). Let the mixture cool for a bit before straining. We’ve written another article with full step-by-step instructions and photos on how to make edibles from scratch.
Store the cannabutter or oil in a cool, dark place and incorporate it in any of your favorite recipes that call for oil or butter. It can be as simple as spreading the infused oil on toast, using it in a brownie recipe, or as a garnish for your favorite savory dishes. The possibilities are endless when working with cannabutter.
Converting AVB into cannabis oil or butter is a very popular and effective method that can be enjoyed with a wide variety of meals. Infusing AVB into butter might not be as quick as sprinkling AVB directly onto your food, but the flavor difference is worth the extra effort. It also takes a lot less time to accomplish compared to the water curing method, which we’ll address next.
The main benefit to water curing your AVB is that it eliminates the nasty, musty odor and flavor that most people find off-putting. While water curing AVB takes more time to make compared to cannabutter, it’s a relatively simple process. All you need is a cheesecloth to wrap around your AVB.
While this method works with any amount, it’s recommended to save up at least an ounce of AVB to make the entire process worthwhile. After you’ve made what is essentially a giant teabag out of your cheesecloth and AVB, soak the whole thing into a bowl of water. Make sure the entire satchel of AVB is fully immersed.
Once the AVB is soaked, check back at least every few hours or so for signs of the water turning murky. Toss out the discolored water and replace with fresh water as needed. After the AVB has been soaking for at least 4-7 days (we don’t recommend any longer than this, as this might lead to the formation of mold), drain all the water from the bowl.
Open up the cheesecloth and evenly spread the soaked AVB on a baking pan or tray and place it in an oven set to 200ºF degrees. Give the tray a good mix or toss every 30 minutes to ensure everything is drying out evenly. After around the 2-hour mark, your ounce of water cured AVB should now be completely dry and ready for consumption, sans the awful taste.
If you don’t have an oven, a dehydrator is a good option as well, although the drying process will definitely take a lot longer than 2 hours. Expect at least 12 hours to pass for a dehydrator to fully dry out your soaked AVB.
From here, the water cured AVB can be sprinkled on food directly, or infused into oil/butter—with far less noticeable bitter herb taste than its non-water cured counterparts.
How Else Can I Use Already Vaped Bud?
AVB isn’t that much different from fresh cannabis or organic raw hemp flower in the sense that they share the same versatility in which they can be consumed. The main difference is that AVB is less potent, as many of the cannabinoids were boiled off during the vaporization process.
This same process also resulted in the AVB being decarboxylated. With that in mind, there’s no need to go through the traditionally time-consuming decarbing process used to make edibles from fresh bud if you’re using ABV.
Sprinkle on Food
If you’re looking for a super quick and easy way to consume AVB without having to make infused butter or oil, simply sprinkle it on top of your food and mix it in. Peanut butter with honey or Nutella sandwiches are the preferred food for this, as the intense flavors and sweetness help mask the bitterness of uncured AVB.
Not only are these small sandwiches fast and easy to make, they do a great job of disguising the flavor of the uncured AVB. It can also help to mix the AVB with fatty foods like coconut oil before spreading it on the sandwich to further aid absorption.
Cannabis tends to work better with foods high in fat, since it is fat soluble. This means when you are making your butter or oil, you want to mix it with oil or butters that are high in fat—we prefer coconut oil, but olive oil, butter, or ghee will also work just fine.
This is more of a workaround to directly ingesting AVB, but it’s an option nonetheless. Simply fill empty capsules with your AVB and take like any other pill or supplement.
Capsules are an effective way to enjoy AVB without having to experience its awful flavor or texture. However, it can take a bit longer to feel the effects of using this method since the capsules take extra time to dissolve. Capsules are a great way to discreetly take your AVB with you on the go while maintaining discretion.
While this definitely defeats the purpose of vaping your weed in the first place, AVB can, in fact, be smoked. This is the least recommended method, as the taste is terrible and the potency won’t rival fresh cannabis flowers — not to mention the flavor will be very harsh and may irritate the lungs. Smoking AVB is certainly possible, but we wouldn’t recommend it.
Bonus: Hemp Flower AVB
Just like cannabis flower, AVB hemp flower can also be used to make therapeutic edibles without the intoxicating effects of THC. We like the organic hemp flower from Canna Comforts, which is sustainably grown, batch-tested, and vapes beautifully.
Making edibles from AVB is a great way to get every ounce of benefit from your cannabis or organic raw hemp flower.
Visual Guide: How to Use a Dry Herb Vape Pen
If joint smoke is irritating to your lungs, you may benefit from using a dry herb vape pen for your flower instead. A vape (short for vaporizer) is a device used to heat cannabis products — in this case, flower — to the point at which the cannabinoids and terpenes within the plant begin to turn into a gas (vapor) without actually combusting (burning) any plant material.
In this article, we will show you how to load your favorite dry herb vaporizer step by step. For a full breakdown of smoking vs. vaporizing, check out this article. If you’re looking to vaporize cannabis concentrates (also known as dabs), use this guide instead.
What is a dry herb vaporizer?
A dry herb vaporizer is a type of vaping device that heats cannabis buds to a specific temperature lower than burning a joint or a bowl. The result is very clean, smooth, medicinal vapor instead of smoke, which also happens to be quite flavorful!
Recently, portable vaporizers have become more popular as technology has advanced their capabilities to a point that allows them to compete with larger desktop units.
How to Use a Dry Herb Vape Pen
Identify Your Vape Style (How does it work?)
Before we get into the specifics of how to pack your vaporizer, it’s important to understand which one you have. In this case, the major distinction isn’t necessarily the make and model, but rather whether it uses conduction or convection to heat the cannabis flowers.
Not sure which heating method your vaporizer uses? A quick Google search will usually give you the answer in seconds! In reality, most vaporizers inherently use both methods to some degree, as each method also begets a bit of the other. The important thing is to understand the primary method of action of your vaporizer so you can pack it effectively. Here’s a quick breakdown of how each type works:
Conduction units heat the material via direct contact with a heat source (meaning the flowers are touching a hot surface). As you might imagine, this can result in incidental overheating of some parts of the chamber, which can cause accidental combustion and a harsher flavor. Common conduction vaporizers include: Pax 2 & 3, Vapium Summit
Convection units heat the material by passing heated air through the chamber. The result is a much more even temperature range throughout the chamber and overall better flavor due to less risk of inadvertent combustion. Common convection vaporizers include: Firefly 2, Grasshopper, Atmos Jump
Get the Important Vape Accessories
In order to get the perfect hit from your vaporizer pen, you MUST use a grinder to break down the cannabis (or organic hemp flower) buds. A fine grind is not just for joints, it is better for all inhaled forms of cannabis, including vapes!
That’s why we always have a grinder card stocked in our vape travel kit. The grinder card produces the perfect consistency for loading your pen – a fine, even grind and stores conveniently in a stash bag or wallet.
You can even grind directly into your vape pen chamber or into a pebble (if you want to save some for your next session). We also recommend having a poker style tool on hand for clearing your chamber of sticky Already-Been-Vaped (ABV) flowers. It just so happens that all of these items fit perfectly in the Safety Case, with extra room for your vaporizer pen.
Select the Right Strain
While we’re on the subject of preparing your cannabis, don’t forget to select the correct starting material! The type of cannabis you use (i.e. indica or sativa, or a non-intoxicating hemp flower) will directly impact how you feel after you vape. If you need help choosing, use our strain selection guide. As always, quality matters!
Pro Tip: It may be counterintuitive, but herb vaporizers perform better when the cannabis is fully dry! This is because residual moisture in your buds can result in unnecessary throat irritation and produces a wispy, thin vapor.
Load the Chamber
First, remove the cap/cover to expose the chamber. Then, use your fingers to gently load the finely ground cannabis into the chamber. It’s important not to overfill the chamber or pack it too tight – remember, the air still has to pass through there!
A medium pack is usually best across the board, but this is where the conduction vs. convection heating method comes into play. Conduction vaporizers like the Pax 2 and 3 can handle (and actually benefit from) a tighter pack to bring more herb into contact with the heating element, while convection vaporizers like the Grasshopper benefit from a looser pack for improved airflow.
You can experiment with different density packs to see which perform best with your particular pen. You can use your fingers or damper style tool to pack down the ground cannabis evenly. Once packed, replace the lid/cover and close the chamber.
Heat Up the Pen
Herb vaporizers can take anywhere from <10 seconds to over a minute to heat up. It’s imperative to let the pen heat up fully prior to taking a hit, otherwise, your draw won’t do much for you.
Many vaporizer units actually have adjustable temperature settings – lower temperatures produce smoother, more flavorful hits with less throat irritation, while higher temperature settings will provide more powerful hits with thick, dense vapor.
Take a Hit!
Once the pen reaches the desired temperature, you can inhale from the mouthpiece and enjoy the perfect hit! Also, be sure your battery is fully charged for consistent performance from your vaporizer. Many people store an extra battery or charger in their vape pen case to ensure they never run low.
Store in a Smell Proof Vaporizer Case
You likely paid a pretty penny for your vaporizer and consider it an investment, so treat it like one! Just because it’s portable, doesn’t mean it’s indestructible – we highly recommend using a smell proof vape case to keep your pen protected and discreet. A safety case has the ability to carry all the other vaporizing essential needed to pack your vaporizer on the go!
Bonus: Clearing the Chamber
Clearing your chamber after each use is just as important as packing it! Because the leftover loose-leaf material is often sticky from heat exposure (vaping tends to leave a residue on the herb, making it potentially beneficial for making edibles), we suggest using a tool to clear it out fully – it’s especially helpful for those stubborn bits. If you fail to clear your chamber adequately, you will restrict airflow and impair the performance of your vaporizer over time.
Which Vaporizer is Best?
The answer to this question will depend on several factors: size, price point, heat up time, intended use, charge time, temperature control, chamber size, warranty, etc. Sound complex enough? Don’t sweat it! The important thing is to purchase based on the factors that are most important to you – after all, you’ll be the one using it!
Keep in mind that desktop vaporizers are in a totally different class than portable vaporizers – comparing between these two vape types is like comparing apples to oranges. There are also lots of reviews and comparisons online if you can’t decide between 2 or 3 models. When you’re ready to buy, you’ll find the best selection and customer service over at Billowby.
Vaping Hemp Flower
If you desire symptom relief without the high associated with THC, you might try vaping raw organic hemp flower instead of traditional cannabis buds. Hemp flower can provide a full-spectrum dose of CBD and other beneficial cannabinoids without any intoxicating effects, regardless of the dose. Plus, you can purchase online and have it mailed to you.
We like the organic, non-GMO hemp flower from Canna Comforts, who carefully and sustainably cultivate each strain before batch-testing the buds for quality, purity, and potency. We are especially fond of Canna Comfort’s Lifter strain (shown in image below) and Special Sauce. But each of their diverse array of strains looks, feels, smells, tastes, and vapes just like the top-shelf cannabis strains that inspired them, minus the intoxicating effects of THC – you really can’t go wrong!