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!