Vaporizers have surged in popularity amongst the cannabis community due to its discreet, portable size and extreme convenience. When mentioning vaporizers, most smokers immediately think of vape cartridges, e-juice, and cannabis oil, but there are many different types of vapes including various kinds of dry herb vaporizers. This type of weed vaporizer is specifically designed to be compatible with cannabis flower. This is a game changer since the average 420 enthusiast will most definitely have some herb on them, but probably won’t have an unopened vape cart in their pocket that’s compatible with the exact model of vape pen. Smokers who use an herb vaporizer aren’t limited by the cannabis strains used for pods and vape carts produced by manufacturers and can use any legal dry herb or homegrown stash that’s available. Easily switch between your morning sativa and afternoon hybrid, plus the small size of flower vapes makes them great for taking on the go.

How does a dry herb vaporizer work?

The dry herb pen will produce flavorful and potent vapor that’s much smoother and more comfortable on the throat than smoking a joint, glass pipe, or bong. This is because there’s no combustion, meaning the flower isn’t actually burned or set on fire like it is when lighting a bowl or a joint. Instead, dry herb vaporizers have an oven chamber that’s packed like a bowl before heating up. Most devices typically use conduction or a mix of conduction and other technologies to vaporize the active ingredients without burning the plant material itself. Heat from the oven is either directly heating up the material through contact or more commonly by circulating very hot air throughout the oven chamber. This is why it’s crucial to use a consistent grind and properly pack the oven. When lighting a joint, a lot of the potency and flavor (cannabinoids and terpenes) is lost, plus there’s butane and rolling paper to get in the way of the herb’s true flavor. A weed vaporizer uses much lower temperatures to keep the potency and flavor intact throughout the entire process. Once the flower is vaporized, it moves through the air path, past the mouthpiece, and inhaled by the smoker.

Desktop vs portable dry herb vaporizers

Dry herb vapes fall into two main categories, desktop vaporizers (also called tabletop vaporizers) and portable dry herb vapes (vape pens). Both styles are made for consuming cannabis flower, but there are several significant differences between them. They each have their benefits and disadvantages, but the best way to choose between a desktop vs portable dry herb vaporizer is to think about your smoking style. A few questions to ask yourself include:

Do you typically smoke at home or while out and about?

If you often partake in your living room, you may want to choose a tabletop dry herb vaporizer. They’re larger and more powerful, making them the best choice for stoners who smoke at home. A dry herb pen is the appropriate choice for convenience when traveling or on the go. The smaller design is discrete and easy to carry in a purse, backpack, or back pocket. If you smoke anywhere and everywhere, maybe you just need to get them both!

Are you more of a solo smoker or do you like to have large smoke sessions and share pipes, joints, bongs, vapes, etc. with friends?

Desktop vaporizers and portable varieties are both sharable, but a dry herb pen is built with this in mind. Some luxury tabletop vapes need to be plugged into a wall outlet, making it a bit more difficult to pass to a friend and easy to trip over or break at larger parties. The last thing you want is for your cable to get yanked out of the wall and your pricey desktop vaporizer to hit the floor. Portable flower vapes are lightweight and simple to hit and pass from one person to the next. When you’re finished, just slip it into your pocket so it’s out of the way.

Do you want a very powerful weed vaporizer that produces dense, large plumes of vapor or are you fine with average clouds similar to vape pens that use cartridges?

Tabletop vaporizers are much more powerful than a dry herb pen since they typically have larger batteries and sometimes even a power cord so it never runs out of juice. Desktop vapes are known for their massive, dense, vapor clouds that stoners love. A portable herb vaporizer sacrifices size for a less powerful battery, which in turn means smaller plumes of vapor. If you’re all about giant high quality hits, a tabletop dry herb vaporizer is the way to go.

Advantages and disadvantages of desktop vs portable dry herb vaporizers

If you’ve been following along and answered the questions above, you should probably have a pretty good idea about which type of herb vaporizer is best for your lifestyle and smoking habits. To make the decision even easier, take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of both styles:

Tabletop dry herb vaporizer

  • Very powerful and long lasting battery.
  • Best quality and quantity of vapor (large, flavorful plumes).
  • Often has more options and customization available.
  • Best used on a flat surface like a coffee table.
  • Typically pricier than a dry herb pen.
  • Not very portable and travel friendly.
  • Not discreet or easy to store.

Portable dry herb pen

  • Travel friendly and easy to smoke on the go.
  • Small, discreet size that’s easy to carry and store.
  • Very easy to use and convenient.
  • Perfect for sharing and passing amongst friends.
  • Often less expensive than a tabletop dry herb vaporizer.
  • Average vapor quantity and quality (smaller, less flavorful plumes).
  • Smaller, less powerful battery, often with a shorter battery life.
  • Need to worry about charging and carrying a charging cable.

How to use a dry herb vaporizer?

Like other types of vaporizers, dry herb vapes are super simple to use and often have just one or two buttons to power the device on and off and cycle through the preset temperature settings. To use a dry herb vaporizer, grind up your nugs like normal with an even and consistent grind before loading it into the oven and giving it a little tamp, following the same process as packing a bong bowl. The size and consistency of the grind and how tightly the bowl is packed makes the biggest difference in vapor quality. It can take some trial and error to figure out how to pack the perfect bowl and get the best tasting vapor. Once the oven is filled, close it up and select the proper heat setting. Most dry herb vaporizers have at least three or four options, but as a rule of thumb, always choose the lowest temperature possible to avoid burning off potent cannabinoids and flavorful terpenes. The oven will then heat up to the selected temperature and signal either by vibration or a light when it’s ready to take a hit.

Why are dry herb vaporizers good?

Lots of cannabis enthusiasts prefer dry herb vaporizers for a number of reasons. The main one is convenience and the quality of the vapor itself. Vaporizers produce silky smooth clouds of smoke that are free from hot ash and other large contaminants since there’s no combustion happening. The potent vapor is easy to inhale and comfortable on the throat, leading to less coughing fits and the ability to take much larger hits than normal. Dry herb vaporizers can be used with any type of cannabis flower you have on hand and isn’t limited by a specific brand of vape pod. Most importantly, smokers know exactly what they’re smoking, pure dry herb without added flavorings or terpenes to alter the taste. A dry herb pen is just as portable and easy to use as those that use vape carts, but without the need to purchase and properly dispose of pricey pods.

What to look for in a dry herb vaporizer?

There are many different brands of dry herb vaporizers and the sheer number of options out there can be overwhelming for those just discovering their love for flower vapes. Just like when selecting a bong or rolling papers, there are a few things to keep an eye out for when choosing a dry herb vaporizer. Before taking aesthetic and your personal smoking style into account, the most important thing to research is the quality of the materials used, particularly for the heating chamber and airpath so there’s no chance of any unintentional harmful byproducts. It’s safest to smoke from medical grade or food grade materials, plus you know the parts will last a very long time and be able to take a beating. These are a few other aspects you should keep in mind when selecting the right herb vaporizer that fits your personality and lifestyle:

  • Is the dry herb vaporizer a tabletop vape or portable vape pen? This helps to fit with your smoking habits such as if you want to take it with you on the go or smoke discreetly.
  • How large is the battery? The capacity of rechargeable batteries is shown in mAh and should be at least 300 mAh to produce decent vapor. Typically the larger the capacity, the longer the battery life, though this isn’t always the case.
  • How much flower does the heating chamber hold and what material is it made of? Knowing the capacity of the oven is important. If you often smoke solo, a smaller chamber will do just fine, though you’ll be constantly repacking the oven if you decide to share. Many heating chambers are made from quick heating ceramic, but metal is also used.
  • Are replacement parts available? This often overlooked aspect comes in handy down the line when you can simply purchase a replacement part instead of having to dish out cash for a brand new vape.

How to clean a dry herb vaporizer?

Ask anyone who owns an herb vaporizer, cleaning it is the worst part. This is because unlike disposable vape pens that are simply tossed or oil vape pens that just need to be recharged and loaded with a new vape cart, flower vapes need to be cleaned regularly in order to continue to produce great tasting vapor. Extra long pipe cleaners will become your best friend. Soak one in isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and pass it back and forth in the airpath to clean the buildup from inside the airway. You’ll also need to clean the mouthpiece with a cotton ball and the inside of the heating chamber with an alcohol soaked cotton swab. Some dry herb vaporizers have a cleaning function that burns off the alcohol and any other residue that’s left over after it's cleaned to ensure a pure burn. Flower vapes should be cleaned after every session to keep the vape working at its best and at the very least when you notice a difference in the vapor production or see gunk anywhere. Cleaning is often a bit of a nuisance, but will result in much better tasting vapor and you’ll get more out of your flower.

What are the best dry herb vaporizers brands?

While vape pens with cartridges and pods may still be more popular, there are numerous brands that make dry herb vaporizers. Lucky for you, we only sell the best flower vapes here at the EF420 online smoke shop. Pax Labs is one of the most popular vaporizer brands and makes dry herb vapes as well as oil vape pens. The Pax 3 is a high quality weed vaporizer with all the features Pax is known for such as a quick 15 second heat up time, medical grade materials, and an app for precise control and customization over the device. Storz N Bickel is the mastermind behind the legendary Volcano Vape that you’ve probably tried in college and continues to produce top-of-the-line dry herb vaporizers such as the Plenty Vape. The German vaporizer brand is known for its innovative and safe smoking products made from only the best medical grade materials available. Storz N Bickel specializes in extremely powerful weed vaporizers that spew massive vapor clouds without combustion, using low temperatures. Another popular brand within the cannabis community is Grenco Science. The brand behind the G Pen Pro, G Pen Roam, and G Pen Dash, prides itself on using durable materials and the latest technology. Grenco Science is also one of the best herb vaporizer brands in terms of price and quality, plus they do lots of awesome collaborations with other cannabis companies like Cookies, Dr. Greenthumb, and Lemonnade.

Concentrate vs dry herb vaporizers

The main difference between a concentrate vs dry herb vaporizer is the type of smoking material it’s compatible with. The term “concentrate vaporizer” refers to any type of vape that is compatible with cannabis extracts or concentrates such as the oil and distillate used in vape carts and pods, or shatter, wax, budder, rosin, hash, and more. These devices are also called dab pens or wax pens. Dry herb vapes are designed for smoking cannabis flower only, however there are several 2-in-1 vaporizers that are compatible with both concentrates and flower. These dual use vapes will come with a built in heating chamber for flower and a special insert when the user wants to switch over to extracts. Just like dry herb vaporizers, concentrate vapes come in many different styles and types as well. By far, the most popular type of vaporizer are concentrate vapes that use cartridges due to their convenience, however dab pens are also highly favored by the 710 community. Like flower vapes, dab pens allow the smoker to consume any kind of cannabis concentrate of their choosing and isn’t confined to strains chosen by manufacturers for their cartridges. Here are a few other differences between these two popular types of vaporizers:

Concentrate vs dry herb vaporizers

  • Dry herb vapes are made for consuming flower, while dab pens are designed for concentrates and extracts.
  • One uses an oven for flower, while the other uses pods, cartridges, a coil, or a special concentrate tab for vaporization.
  • Concentrates, whether vaping or dabbing will always be much more potent than smoking dry herb and will get you high a lot quicker.
  • The high potency of concentrates makes it last longer and while more expensive up front, it’s typically cheaper in the long run.
  • Vaporizing concentrates requires higher temperatures and adjustments based on the type of concentrate being used or it can burn off active ingredients. Flower vaporizes fairly easily at low temperatures and doesn’t really need any adjustments.

Top dry herb vaporizers:

  • Best flavor - Arizer Solo II and the Dr. Dabber Switch
  • Longest battery life - Storz N Bickel Mighty Vape
  • Best affordable flower vape - KandyPens K-Vape Pro
  • Best dry herb vaporizer for microdosing - DaVinci is the IQ2
  • Biggest clouds -  XVape Aria Dual Use Vaporizer
  • Best dual use vape for flower and concentrates - Pax 3
  • Best for home use - Storz N Bickel Plenty Vape or the classic Storz N Bickel Volcano Vape

FAQ

What is vaporization?

Vaporization is when a liquid (like e-juice or oil) or a solid (like wax, shatter, or other concentrates) are converted into a gas (vapor). This is contrary to combustion, which in short is simply the act of burning something. Burning is nearly instant and causes heat and light, while vaporization is a more complex phased process, though it can also occur near instantly at extremely high temperatures. Combustion typically occurs at 356 to 374 degrees fahrenheit, while vaporization happens just before this point at slightly lower temperatures. Surprisingly, a typical cigarette lighter can actually reach temperatures of up to 600 degrees fahrenheit. This means that a lot of the active ingredients and potency of the smoking material is instantly burned up before being inhaled by the smoker when using combustion methods to consume cannabis such as hitting a joint, taking a bong rip, or lighting a glass pipe. Vaping activates these desired compounds without heating them to combustion, preserving the flavor and potency stoners know and love. This is why despite having slightly smaller clouds than when using high temperatures, it’s crucial to set any type of vaporizer to the lowest temperature possible in which the smoking material will vaporize.

Is vaporizing weed healthier than smoking?

While there are a few studies that have looked into answering this question, more research needs to be done to fully understand the effects of vaping cannabis and how it differs from smoking dry herb. Obviously, inhaling anything into the lungs isn’t a healthy thing to do, but when comparing the two based on available research, vaping is the clear winner. A study from 2003 published in the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics analyzed the makeup of the vapor produced by the Storz N Bickel Volcano Vaporizer and found that it almost entirely consisted of cannabinoids (naturally produced compounds from the cannabis plant). When the same test was run on smoke from a joint, it was found to contain a very low ratio of cannabinoids and over 100 compounds, of which five were carcinogens, associated with an increased risk of cancer. A more recent study from 2010 asked that 20 cannabis users with respiratory issues switch to only using a vape pen for one month. After the month was up, 12 of the 20 participants had a significant improvement in their respiratory issues and it was concluded that “the vaporizer has potential for the administration of medical cannabis and as a harm reduction technique.”

How do vaporizers work with dry herbs?

As noted earlier, dry herb vapes work a little bit differently than the average vape pen or dab pen. Flower vapes have a larger heating chamber called an oven that’s packed like a bong bowl and tamped. Dab pens utilize a small heating element since such a miniscule amount of smoking material is needed, while oil vape pens use disposable or refillable vape carts in conjunction with a heating coil and atomizer to convert the liquid into vapor. Dry herb vaporizers don’t need to be set to super high temperatures for the compounds within the flower to vaporize. While a finished bong bowl will turn to black ash, the flower inside an herb vaporizer doesn’t burn and instead turns brown and looks like it would if it were baked in an oven. The heating chamber will need to be emptied and repacked like you would when using a bong. Cannabis cooks often keep the vaped flower from their dry herb pen since it has already been decarbed and use it to make cannabutter for other edible recipes. This is a genius idea since there’s still some active compounds left in the flower, though it will require much more vaped flower to create the right does than it would with fresh herbs.

Do dry herb vaporizers damage the lungs?

Obviously, it’s best not to inhale any kind of vapor or smoke into the lungs, especially if you have any type of respiratory issue or symptoms such as asthma. If you do suffer from respiratory issues, try switching over to other methods of consuming cannabis that don’t require inhalation. Some of the most popular are sublingual tinctures (placed under the tongue), edibles, patches that absorb active compounds through the skin, or capsules. Always speak with a healthcare provider when starting any new therapeutic treatment or if you think you are experiencing respiratory symptoms. There’s no research done that compares the safety or health of dry herb vaporizers specifically against oil vapes or other concentrate vaporizers. With that in mind, there isn’t much research done at all when it comes to cannabis vapes due to its federally illegal status. Have a look at the medical studies linked above regarding vaping vs smoking and do your own research prior to speaking with a medical professional.

Can dry herb vaporizers trigger smoke alarms?

While it may be tempting to vape in the plane lavatory or at a non-smoking hotel room, be warned, all types of vapes including dry herb vaporizers may trigger smoke alarms. All fire alarms can sense smoke from cigarettes, fires, or your burnt pizza you forgot about, but there are several types of fire alarms that are also able to detect vapor clouds from vape pens. These are ionization alarms, heat alarms, dual sensor alarms, and optical alarms. Ionization alarms, optical alarms, and dual sensor alarms that utilize both are the most sensitive to plumes from dry herb vaporizers. Both of these types of sensors are searching for something amiss in the clean air. Ionization alarms use positively and negatively charged plates to detect any particles in the air, while optical alarms shoot out a beam of infrared light, which is triggered when vapor or smoke particles interfere with the beam. With the rise of vaping, many hotels, Airbnbs, and other places where smoking or vaping isn’t permitted are upgrading to more sensitive smoke alarms to try and deter cannabis users from vaping indoors. Sometimes the fees for getting caught smoking or vaping can be very high, so it’s best to just stick to the rules and use your herb vaporizer outside.