How to Vape
The popularity of vaping rose dramatically in recent years. Vaping refers to the process of inhaling vapors generated from either heating e-liquids, dry herbs/flowers, or waxes/concentrates contained in a vaping device. The device is equipped with a battery-operated heating element that vaporizes the materials and a mouthpiece that delivers the vapors. Vaping is often thought of as a safer way to deliver medicinal hits since it doesn’t irritate the throat or lungs as traditional methods like using a glass pipe. Vaping can also enhance the natural flavors of dry herb/flower since it allows you to better control the burn product and won’t over char it. Whether you are a new to vaping or you are looking to enhance your vaping experience, it helps to be aware of some guidelines and precautions.
What is Vaping?
Vaping is the act of taking a material (dry herbs/flowers, concentrates, waxes, e-liquids, etc), placing it inside devices chamber, and heating the materials to a temperature cooler than the level of regular combustion - turning the product into vapor. This means the user inhales vapor instead of smoke that you commonly get from traditional smoking methods.
Vaping is often touted as a safer alternative to smoking as smoking can be harsh and irritate the lungs and throat. The basic vaping device consists of a tank/chamber/cartridge (for materials), an atomizer that includes the heating element, and a power source with a rechargeable battery that connects to a USB port. Heating elements in the atomizer are often referred to as coils, which is surrounded with an insulator. However, keep in mind that there may be various configurations to vape pen components. Some devices have a combination cartridge and atomizer, which is called a cartomizer. A clearomizer is a combination tank storage and atomizer usually made of clear glass. In essence, not all vape pens are always created equally.
Step 1: Do Background Research
It may seem like vaping is very similar to pipes but there are enough differences in the two that some background research is necessary before opting to try vaping. Vaping requires investing in the right device along with the accessories and materials. Research will help you understand how vaping devices work, including proper usage and maintenance. Review some instructional videos about methods and tips to find the best vapes for your purpose, and learn to use it properly. Consider also that vaping devices are not created equal; some vape pens are made only for dry/herb flower, while others burn only waxes/concentrates, oils/e-liquids, etc. Due to this differentiation, it may take some experimentation to find the particular device suitable for your needs.
Some vaporizers are discreet in smell and have a compact appearance. By no means does discreetness reduce the taste or effect, it just means you can vape comfortably without alerting everyone around you what you are up to.
Step 2: Choose A Material - Flowers, Concentrates, Oils, or E-Juice
If you plan to stick with dry herb/flowers, and already have a fair amount of glass ware or smoking accessories like rolling papers, you might want to consider sticking with what you know. However, if you are planning on ditching smoking for vaporizing, and want something that can deliver more medicine while consuming less, it is probably safe to say that you might want to consider concentrates.
We highly recommend you read our guide to dabbing to learn about the pros and cons of concentrates. Concentrates/waxes are more dense than flower since they are pure “concentrates”. You can read more about dabbing here:
Oils are a liquid version of concentrates. E-juice or e-liquid is almost exclusively used to refer to nicotine for e-cigarettes. E-liquids come in a variety of flavors whereas concentrated oils do not.
Step 3: Choose A Vaping Device
Pen Devices: The most popular style of vaporizers, pen-like devices are slightly larger than cig-a-likes but offer a larger battery for longer life and usually come with a clearomizer style tank. While they do have a longer battery life and the tank helps to eliminate refilling as quickly. Portable and extremely easy to use, some pen style devices allow the user to adjust the voltage.
Portable Vaporizers: Small but powerful, portable vaporizers range from sleek and compact to devices that are slightly larger than the pen styles. Portable vapes aren’t as technologically advanced/powered as the non portable desktop vaporizers but they can still capture some of the nuances of each unique strain. They can be equipped with temp control and release filtered hits. These portable devices again can support different types of material.
Desktop/Tabletop Vaporizers: Desktop vaporizers are some of the most expensive types of vaporizers. They can run the gamut from budget type to very high end. The reason for such a price difference is the type of delivery systems, enhanced temperature regulation, and an assisted-fan hit. These setups usually offer some of the most advanced technology among vaporizers.
There is another style of desktop vaporizers that are extremely popular - called volcano style. This style is, by no means, portable as it’s a vaping behemoth meant for home.
Basic Components A Vaporizer
- Battery (The modified type device will require a tube and a battery)
- Battery charger
- Atomizer or cartomizer
- Product of choice (i.e. dry herb/flower, waxes/concentrates, e-liquids)
Step 4: Prepare the Vaping Device
For those who are new to vaping, it may be helpful to start with a starter kit that contains the devices and supplies needed to vape. The starter kit will include the battery, battery charger, the vaping device. Depending on what type of vaping device you use, it may or may not come with a cartridge. Cartridges are mainly for e-liquids and those that use dry herbs/flowers will find themselves not having to use just items.
Batteries must be fully charged prior to use as the performance of the vape pen may be affected by the power level. Most vape pens have a charge indicator that will light up and show when your device is adequately charged and ready to use.
Since vaporizers come in an assortment of styles and sizes, it is worth investing in something that not only suits your needs but something that can assure your dry herbs/flowers will retain their quality. Besides the ever popular vape pen, which literally resembles a pen, there are desktop vaporizers, volcano vaporizers, etc. Choose one that will fit your lifestyle accordingly.
Step 5: Filling the Chamber (Installing Cartridges,etc)
When the vaping device is fully charged, disconnect the charger and prepare the chamber or the cartridge (depending on the type of vape you have and what the material is). If you have a pre-filled cartridge, please install that according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For refillable cartridges, insert into the slot provided. Once the materials are in place, you can move on the next steps.
Step 6: Activate the Atomizer
With an atomizer that is equipped with a manual switch, activating the switch will vaporize the e-liquid that is already in the ceramic pot. It is the user’s sucking or inhaling action that draws liquid from the reservoir to the ceramic pot. The heating element is located around the wick, which is in the ceramic pot.
As e-liquid is drawn into the ceramic pot, the heating coil is also activated, heating the liquid and turning it into vapor, which is drawn up through the body of the vape pen and directed out through the mouthpiece.
Step 7: Inhale the Vapors
Using a vape pen requires a slightly different inhalation technique than smoking a traditional cigarette. Luckily, you do not have to inhale hard when you are drawing on a vape pen. Cigarette smoking uses short and pronounced puffs lasting about two seconds each. Vaping usually has draws that last anywhere from four to five seconds each time to produces a favorable results.
Step 8: Practice Proper Inhalation Techniques for Vaping
The vaping technique, in a nutshell, is pretty similar to smoking a cigar. First, fill the mouth with vapor without actually inhaling any of the smoke into the lungs. After you have a sufficient amount of vapor, you then inhale and exhale comfortably and controlled. This technique suppresses the reflex that often leads to coughing when you experience a large inhalation of smoke or vapor. A different technique is when you take a long, controlled hit from a vaping device, and let the smoke drift gently around the mouth to be inhaled through the nose.
At any rate, if you are new to vaping or want to improve your technique, you will want to practice slow, deliberate draws that are closer to normal inhalation or breathing practices. A slower, steady approach will ensure a smoother inhalation and provide a more enjoyable experience. While the mouth hit inhalation technique (the first one described) is the recommended vaping process, many vape pen users are able to tolerate the lung-hit technique, which simply means drawing the vapor directly into the lungs instead of holding it in the mouth first.
Repeat the draw, or the inhale and exhale, process as often as needed. However, pay attention to physical cues or create your own benchmarks that will indicate when you have had enough. This is important because the vape pen will keep providing vapor as long as there is material in the tank and the battery is sufficiently charged. If you are satisfied after one or two hits, turn off the device and store it accordingly.
Step 9: Take Note of What Works for You
Vaping is a personal experience and what works for you may not apply to others people. One of the advantages of vaping is that it can be customized based on personal needs, styles, and preferences. There are various vaporizers to choose from. As previously mentioned, there are different types of vaporizers. Some may find desktop vaporizers more useful to those that find themselves wanting a more at home stationary experience. If you notice that you need a more portable device, you will want to consider a vape pen. Size and shape is definitely something to be considered since you do not want a large bulky pen taking up much space in your bag, purse, or pocket.
Other Facts to Keep in Mind
- E-liquids may contain the following: propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin or a combination of both. These are suspension agents for the flavoring ingredients and nicotine. The FDA has rated PG and VG as GRAS or generally recognized as safe.
- Vaping concentrates may not be for everyone. Make sure you are educated on the type of material you will be using when vaping before you start. Concentrates/waxes deliver a higher amount of herb to you and may not be the experience you are looking for when you start vaping.
- Keep a spare battery fully charged up and available.
- The rubber vape bands that come with some tanks are provided to prevent breakage. Keep them on the glass tanks to minimize the need for frequent replacement.
- Clean out your device frequently to ensure a pleasant experience every time.
- Check the device for wear and tear, and remember to replace the parts as needed.
Conclusion: The Outlook for Vaping
More studies and research is needed to verify claims. Anecdotal evidence and lab-sponsored studies have shown that vaping is a safe alternative to smoking. Some research claims that vaping E-liquids reduces nicotine dependency and eventually leads to quitting all forms of smoking.
With smoking, there is an increased risk of the inhalation of carcinogens. Studies claim that vaping shows a decreased level respiratory symptoms (such as bronchitis and emphysema) compared to those who vape dry herb. The smoke itself is a lot cleaner than using the traditional smoking methods (such as a joint).
Transitioning from traditional smoking devices to vaping may take some practice because the inhalation process is somewhat different and requires longer, gradual draws. As with any lifestyle change, there is a learning curve associated. Make sure you give yourself time to improve your technique and enjoy.