May 08, 2020 4 min read 1 Comment
Vaping began with the introduction of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool in the early 2000s, but many stoners realized the potential of the easy-to-use device very early on. Vaporizers that were compatible with dry herb, cannabis oil, and concentrates were introduced and the vaping craze took off. Vape pens have become extremely popular for their small discreet size, portability, odorless vapor, sleek design, and ease of use, plus they’re said to be healthier than traditional smoking. A 2018 poll of 1,033 American adults found that most people believe smoking marijuana and vaping are just “somewhat harmful or not too harmful” to users. But what does the research say? Let’s take a look at the facts.
Though they may all function more or less the same, not all vapes are created equal. When choosing a vape or e-nail, it’s important to check if there are any materials used in the airway that can create unintentional toxic byproducts. Everything within the path of the airway should also be heat-safe. Read up on how each product is made to make sure there are no wicks, glues, heavy metals, or any materials that can accidentally release harmful microscopic particles. Always choose a brand you trust like the award winning Puffco or the German vape company, Storz n Bickel, which uses medical grade materials such as PEEK, a special type of plastic used for surgical implants (now that’s high quality).
In addition to the quality and construction of the vaporizer itself, it’s just as important to choose dry bud, concentrates, or oils that are fully organic with no additives and that have gone through independent testing. Cannabis purchased from any licensed dispensary in the U.S. is screened for pesticides, yeast, mold, deadly chemicals, heavy metals, mycotoxins, and solvents. When picking out a THC cartridge or cannabis oil, less is better. There should only be one ingredient listed: 100% pure cannabis oil.
The short answer is, yes. The internal heating technology used in vaporizers heats the plant material without using combustion, a method known to cause byproducts that are harmful to the pulmonary system. Some systems such as the iconic Storz n Bickel Volcano vape fill a chamber (the balloon) so the user is never exposed to any heating elements at all. Smoking the normal way ignites the material and draws the smoke along with traces of noxious butane from the lighter and other contaminants into the lungs. An early study using the Volcano analyzed the contents of the vapor and found it to be predominately cannabinoids with just three pyrolytic compounds. Smoke from a joint produced 111 compounds (five of which were known carcinogens) and had a much lower ratio of cannabinoids to volume than the vape.
A 2007 study regarding vaping as a delivery system for cannabis concluded that “regular users of joints, blunts, pipes, and water pipes might decrease respiratory symptoms by switching to a vaporizer.” While yet another study using the Volcano vape found that “vaporization of cannabis is a safe and effective mode of delivery of THC.” In this study, healthy smokers were randomly assigned to smoke weed from either joints or the Volcano and it was found that those who used the vape had lower carbon monoxide levels than the joint smokers, however no adverse effects were recorded for any of the participants. The most surprising study of all was conducted in 2010, when 20 frequent cannabis smokers who had two or more existing respiratory symptoms were asked to only smoke from a vape pen for one month. After the month was over, self-reported data along with the maximum total lung volume and other spirometry measures were collected. The results showed a significant improvement of the respiratory symptoms in 12 of the participants.
Another reason vaping is better than smoking is that you can have precise control over your intake. Unlike with dry herb, you know exactly how much THC and other cannabinoids you’re getting with each hit. This can be particularly useful for those who are microdosing or using cannabis medicinally. Some vapes are made specifically for this reason and have an auto shut off feature that helps to control each dose.
Are you looking to swap your bong, pipe, or rolling papers for a healthier alternative? Visit our online headshop for high-quality vaporizers, dab pens, portable dab rigs, e-nails, accessories, replacement parts, batteries, and more.
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