Smoking vs. Vaporizing: Why Medical Marijuana Patients are Turning To Dry Herb Vaporizers

When consuming medical marijuana, most people think it is best to smoke it, but with new research advancements, we are learning that this does not seem to be the case. It is no argument anymore: health-conscious marijuana users expose themselves to fewer carcinogens and get more of the cannabinoids from vaping than smoking.

If you have tried vaporizing marijuana flower before, you know that hitting a bong and using a vaporizer will produce different types of psychoactive effects – otherwise known as being “high”. Many people are hesitant to use this technique because it does not have as much smoke as combustion, making consumers think you are not getting as big of an inhale.

What is Combustion?
Combustion is defined as the process of burning something, like marijuana flower. When you burn dried plant material, it will produce thousands of chemical substances in the smoke. This is true for both marijuana, tobacco, and other herbs consumed by inhalation.

Burning marijuana breaks down the chemical bonds between carbon atoms in the large, organic molecules present in the herbs, creating free radicals. Free radicals can combine or with other molecules to produce a fantastic variety of products.

Many of these products are highly toxic and are known to cause cancer. Significant concentrations of these toxins are present in the brown tar stains observed on cigarette filters and the dark resin found in devices used to smoke marijuana.

A few researchers believe cannabis smoke is less toxic than tobacco smoke because nicotine is present in tobacco smoke but not in cannabis smoke– increases toxicity. A review published by the Annals of the American Thoracic Society in 2013 determined that “regular smoking of marijuana [causes] visible and microscopic injury to the [respiratory system] …  and is associated with an increased likelihood of chronic bronchitis.”

Other studies have shown the cannabinoids present in cannabis smoke, but not in tobacco smoke, can help protect normal lung tissue cells from the effects of these carcinogens. But, regular use of combusted marijuana can cause airway injury, which potentially leads to chronic bronchitis.

Despite the number of carcinogenic components in marijuana smoke, a limited number of appropriately performed studies have not demonstrated an increased risk for either lung or upper airway cancer in association with marijuana smoking.

Overall, the risks of lung complications of regular use of marijuana appear to be relatively small compared to those of tobacco smoking. However, such potential pulmonary risks need to be considered against the possible benefits regarding the regular use of medical marijuana.

What is Vaporization?

On the other hand, vaporization is a more complicated process that includes transitioning from being in a liquid state to a vapor state.

Vaporizers use a flow of heated air to activate and vaporize the ingredients in marijuana without combustion. Simply put. vapes convert the cannabinoids to a clean vapor that can be inhaled similarly to smoke. This was demonstrated in a study conducted by California NORML and Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) that vaporizes cannabis drastically reduces the formation of carcinogenic compounds relative to smoking cannabis.

An additional advantage of vaporization is that marijuana smoke has many other components that can cause lung and respiratory irritation. Vaping eliminates many of these by avoiding combustion. This study, published in the Harm Reduction Journal in 2007, inspected self-reported symptoms in participants who used cigarettes and marijuana. The results suggested that using a vaporizer could increase the amount of cannabis consumed and decrease the respiratory symptoms in regular cannabis users who smoke.

Vaping Marijuana Produces Stronger Effects
Combustion of cannabis also destroys some of the active cannabinoids resulting in a  significant decrease in the desired effects of cannabis. Vaporization, on the other hand, does not break down cannabinoids. So, whenever marijuana is vaporized, tests show it delivers a larger quantity of cannabinoids to the user than the same cannabis quantity when it is smoked.

When you consider the differences between combustion and vaporization, the most critical factor to consider is the temperature used for each method. Most vape devices will heat the cannabis between 180 to 190 degrees Celsius (356 to 374 degrees Fahrenheit), which is just below the combustion point. In comparison, a lighter produces an open flame that reaches temperatures over 315 degrees Celsius, or 600 degrees Fahrenheit.

This high temperature will boil away many cannabinoids and terpenes before the cannabis is even consumed.  Vaping marijuana increases the number of cannabinoids that are activated, potentially enhancing medical marijuana patients’ health benefits.

Temperature also impacts the flavor and smell of cannabis. Different terpenes have certain boiling points, so the lower the temperature, the better the flavor and smell will be. One advantage of vaping is that many devices give users the ability to fine-tune the temperature to optimize the consumption experience.

3 More Reasons Why Vaping is Better Than Smoking

1. Vaping is discreet
Dry herb vaporizers reduce the smell produced by the product during consumption. This makes vapes much more discreet than traditional joints or bowls. The scent from dry herb vaporizers is still present, but it’s muted and does not linger as smoked marijuana does.

2. Vaping is less wasteful
Smoking marijuana actually burns off some of the desired cannabinoids. It has been estimated that only around ten percent of the cannabinoids are left when a joint is smoked
In other words, smoking is an inherently inefficient way to consume cannabis. Vaping, on the other hand, has shown to preserve up to ninety-five percent of cannabinoids and terpenes. Over the long-term, this can result in fewer products used, and more money saved.

Another great benefit of vaporizing dry herb is having the ability to recycle the used flower for other purposes. Since vaping only heats the cannabis to the ideal temperature to activate and vaporize the cannabinoids, you are able to re-use the vaped herb similar to decarbed flower that was made in your oven. People who enjoy making their own edibles, topicals, and other infused products can save money by washing the already vaped bud and using it for extractions!

3. Vaping protects your skin
Regardless of if a high-quality filter is used, combusting your weed produces a sticky tar that harms the body’s respiratory system. Exposure to these same by-products can also damage skin cells and speed up the aging process.

Tar from combustion is saturated with free radicals, which negatively affect the skin and increases the number of wrinkles, marks, and other visible lines. Since vaping does not produce smoke, your skin is exposed to fewer damaging effects.

Do Your Body a Favor and Get a Dry Herb Vape
A growing amount of research will show the actual benefits and disadvantages of the different consumption methods. As this develops, there will be a better understanding of the differences between combustion and vaporization.

However, what we know is that vaping marijuana produces a more effective form of relief. It also is proving to be a healthier alternative to smoking..