The Ultimate Guide to Vaping vs Smoking Weed
Today you’ll learn the pros and cons of vaping your weed vs. smoking it.
You’ll also learn whether vaping marijuana is safe and how you can vape in the safest possible manner.
Of course, it all starts with getting a safe vaporizer.
Let’s begin. First up…
The Adverse Effects of Smoking Weed
Smoking, whether its marijuana, tobacco, or any other plant material:
- Inflames, and;
- Potentially causes irreversible damage to our delicate respiratory system.
Burning plants like marijuana causes the release of toxins, irritants, tar, and various carcinogens.
When you smoke, you ingest all these harmful compounds into your body. Decades-long research has proven that compounds found in marijuana smoke are extremely harmful to human health.
- Tar is scientifically proven to damage lungs, airways, and mouth through the numerous toxic elements in it. Plus it covers the cilia in the lungs causing them to stop working and potentially die;
- Marijuana smoke contains at least 50 known cancer-causing substances. The most well researched and documented is benzyprene, which alters gene P53, a tumor suppressor gene.
Cannabis smoke contains many of the same carcinogens as tobacco smoke. And although no clear links have yet been found between smoking cannabis and cancer, smoking cannabis could increase your risk of lung cancer, exactly because it contains many of the same carcinogens as tobacco smoke.
While some studies emphasize this last point that cannabis smoke could increase cancer risk, other studies conclude that there are no links between smoking marijuana and lung cancer.
The bottom line is that the effects of marijuana smoke on cancer risk are far from conclusive at this point in time.
But what we do know with certainty is that smoking cannabis has been shown to increase respiratory symptoms like:
- the smoker’s cough;
- sputum production;
- general airway inflammation;
- trouble exhaling.
So even though it remains unclear whether smoking cannabis increases your risk of lung cancer, it’s a fact that smoking cannabis will damage your respiratory system in other ways.
And don’t think these are only ‘light’ or relatively harmless conditions.
There have, in fact, been several studies that found cases of heavy cannabis smokers having cases of severe bullous lung disease and pneumothorax (both of which are conditions that can cause irreversible lung damage):
- Beshay, M., Kaiser, H., Niedhart, D., Reymond, M. A., & Schmid, R. A. (2007). Emphysema and secondary pneumothorax in young adults smoking cannabis. European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, 32(6), 834–838. https://doi.org/10.1016/j. ejcts.2007.07.039
- Lee, M. H., & Hancox, R. J. (2011). Effects of smoking cannabis on lung function. Expert Review of Respiratory Medicine, 5(4), 537–547. https://doi.org/10.1586/ers. 11.40
- Goodyear, K., Laws, D., & Turner, J. (2004). Bilateral spontaneous pneumothorax in a cannabis smoker. JRSM, 97(9), 435–436. https://doi.org/10.1258/jrsm. 97.9.435
- Fiorelli, A., Accardo, M., Vicidomini, G., Messina, G., Laperuta, P., & Santini, M. (2013). Does cannabis smoking predispose to lung bulla formation? Asian Cardiovascular and Thoracic Annals, 22(1), 65–71. https://doi.org/10.1177/ 0218492313478954
The Alternative: Vaping Weed with Dry Herb Vaporizers
Vaping weed can be done in different ways. Some of the earliest adopters vaped weed with a light bulb, which is something I don’t recommend doing because it comes with its own set of health risks.
The most straightforward way to vape weed is with a dry herb vaporizer that’s specifically designed to vape weed.
A dry herb vaporizer works through the following 3-step process:
- It heats your marijuana to a temperature that’s below its combustion point;
- It converts the active ingredients in your marijuana (cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids) into smokeless & inhalable vapor;
- It delivers this vapor directly to your mouth, so you can inhale it.
The 5 Biggest Benefits of Vaping Weed vs Smoking It
There’s no doubt:
The biggest benefit of vaping your weed, instead of smoking it, is related to health.
1. Vaping Weed instead of Smoking It Reduces Your Exposure to Harmful Compounds
Studies have shown that marijuana vapor contains significantly less tar, carcinogens, and other toxic by-products than marijuana smoke.
Burning plant material creates a multitude of compounds that are harmful to human health. By vaping you reduce your exposure to these compounds significantly.
But this doesn’t mean that vaping marijuana is 100% safe. Vaping doesn’t reduce your exposure to harmful compounds completely. By vaping your marijuana you’ll still get exposed to a small fraction of the toxic by-products that you would’ve gotten exposed to if you smoked.
How much vaping exactly reduces your exposure to harmful compounds remains unclear, but research of Public Health England, an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care in the United Kingdom, estimates that e-cigarettes can be up to 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco. While they didn’t specifically study marijuana vapor vs marijuana smoke, one study found that marijuana smoke contains over 111 toxic byproducts that were present in the vapor.
Although prevention is key in health-related matters, if you already have respiratory issues caused by smoking marijuana, getting a quality vaporizer could be the solution, and here is why:
Research suggests switching to a vaporizer can reverse respiratory symptoms caused by smoking cannabis.
It’s important to note that when you vape at a temperature above 392°F(200°C) you risk inhaling benzene and other toxic by-products. Less than with smoking, but still more than you would, staying below 392°F(200°C).
It’s also important to note that if you get a vaporizer from an unregulated market or unauthorized dealer, you risk getting clones or vaporizers with very low-quality and sometimes even dangerous materials, like lead solderings near the heating element. Inhaling lead is extremely toxic. When buying a vaporizer always make sure that you get it from an authorized dealer!
Also, read up on vaporizer safety before buying a vaporizer.
2. Vaping Weed is Cheaper than Smoking It
This might sound strange, but getting an ‘expensive’ vaporizer will actually save you large amounts of money in the long run. This holds especially true if you’re a heavy user.
The two biggest factors that make vaping weed cheaper than smoking it, are:
- In cannabis vapor there’s up to an 80% more dense concentration of cannabinoids than in cannabis smoke (study);
- By using a vaporizer, the vapor goes directly from the herb chamber into your mouth without having any chance to dissipate into the air. If you light up a joint, you will waste cannabinoids because of the smoke that simply dissipates into the air (and can never be retrieved) from the tip of the joint.
With a vaporizer, you will use less herb to get the same level of medication.
Over a period of a few years, this can add up to thousands of dollars (depending on how heavy of a user you are). Generally, it’s safe to say that you will use at least twice as little cannabis to achieve the same effects as smoking it
What’s more, vaporizing marijuana with the right temperature, leads to an even higher concentration of cannabinoids as found in this study.
A higher concentration of cannabinoids not only increases the protective qualities of your vapor but also gives you more value for your money.
3. Get a Cleaner Taste
Although smoking pure marijuana tastes well, with a vaporizer it’s much easier to taste all the subtle differences in flavor between different strains.
Because there are almost no toxic by-products, the taste is purer and cleaner.
Plus, you can really control your flavor with the temperature settings of your vaporizer, really fine-tuning your vaping experience.
Terpenes are the compounds that give different cannabis strains their unique taste and smell. Most terpenes have a low boiling point. If you keep the temperature setting of your vaporizer between 320°F(160°C) – 356°F(180°C), you will get a much stronger and cleaner flavor than smoking can ever possibly give you.
4. Your Clothes and Room Won’t be Stinking of Smoke
One thing that I absolutely hate about smoking is the smell it leaves you with.
Especially in a confined space like a living room, over a longer period of time, smoke can ruin furniture.
One benefit of vapor is that it dissipates 10 times faster into the air than smoke.
Smoke keeps lingering around for days in your clothes and furniture. Tar, which is a by-product of burnt plant material, sticks on surfaces and fabrics, and if not removed can stay there for years.
5. Stop Producing Second-Hand Smoke
Don’t you hate it when someone is puffing his cigarettes right next to your face?
Besides the fact that it’s annoying as hell, it’s extremely unhealthy as well.
As it turns out:
If you vape your weed, you won’t be poisoning anyone with second-hand smoke.
This is especially important if you smoke at home.
Because in a confined space like a house room, the effects of second-hand smoke are even more disastrous for your health, but more importantly the health of your loved ones.
The Downsides of Vaping vs. Smoking Marijuana
Vaping Gives You a Different high
It’s true that vaping doesn’t give you the exact same high as a joint or big hit from a bong.
Smoking has a stronger (not necessarily better though!) effect on the body and the mind, giving you the typical sludgy lethargic feeling.
It’s that well-known feeling of tiredness, that in some cases keeps you locked to the couch.
One possible explanation for this is that with smoking you absorb a lot of toxins that have a negative effect on your body and mental state but give you a ‘buzz’ that you might mistake for the ‘high’.
According to most users vaping weed gives you a much cleaner high, a high in which you are not numbed and glued to your couch.
Instead, you will experience a high where you feel more energetic, clean, and stimulated.
What’s more, when you choose the right vaporizer, the potency and density of your vapor will be so strong that you will get very strong effects, except in a much cleaner and clear-headed way.
Vaping Gives You a Different Taste
It’s also true that low-quality vaporizers, or more generally, vaporizers making use of low-quality materials suboptimal for vaporizing, alter the taste of your weed in a negative way.
High-quality vaporizers on the other side will give your marijuana a much cleaner and flavorful taste than smoking.
High-quality vaporizers only use materials that are optimal for preserving the taste of your herb, or their materials are of such high quality that it won’t negatively affect the taste of your herb in a way that’s noticeable.
With a high-quality vaporizer, you will taste all the delicate and subtle differences in flavor between strains, and you will be able to pick the strain which tastes the best.
Using/Cleaning Vaporizers Takes Time
How long it takes to use your vaporizer is highly dependent on the vaporizer you have.
Preparation time with any on-demand vaporizer is usually just 10-20 seconds. Session-vaporizers need a little bit longer, usually around 1 to 3 minutes.
Cleaning really depends on the brand and type of your vaporizer, with some vaporizers needing virtually no cleaning, and other vaporizers needing more extensive cleaning (glass parts, whip, bowl, screens, etc.).
But generally cleaning your dry herb vaporizer, won’t take longer than 10 minutes a week.
If after reading this post, you want to try vaping marijuana instead of smoking it, I suggest you read our dry herb vaporizer buyer’s guide:
Because vaporizers truly can be a technical jungle for any cannaseur new to vaping (in my opinion you can’t be a real cannaseur if you’re not vaping…but that’s a discussion for another time).
This guide is your machete, with which you’ll clear up the technical jungle and only the bare essentials will be left…so no vaporizer will have any secrets left for you.
If you want to keep smoking (which I don’t recommend), then at least get a bong to significantly filter toxins with water. For a list of the ones we currently recommend read the following article:
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From health to financial benefits, after reading these benefits you will have no doubt in your mind left as to why you should vape your marijuana.
Vaping vs. Smoking: Understanding the Pros and Cons
Essentially, when it comes to inhaling marijuana, there are two basic ways to do it; smoking and vaping. Both of these approaches have sparked a lot of debate in the industry lately, with each side proclaiming that their preferred choice is healthier, more beneficial, and overall, a better option.
Vaping marijuana is the modern alternative to smoking it and has gained a lot of popularity over the last few years. Vaporization is the process of heating the dry herb to specific temperatures that are below the point of combustion in a device called a vaporizer. A stream of vapor is produced that is then inhaled through a mouthpiece or bag.
So which method is right? Which of these is best for your health? While for the majority of experienced cannabis smokers, the obviously superior choice appears to be vaping at first glance. In reality, the answer is a lot more complex than that. ‘Is vaping weed better than smoking it’ is a subjective question. They are very different, so ultimately, it depends on what you want from the experience. In this article, we will cover the difference between vaping and smoking, as well as their various pros and cons.
Is Vaping Weed Healthier Than Smoking?
Smoking weed, or anything for that matter, produces tar, along with other harmful by-products. Whether it’s via a joint, pipe, bubbler, or huge bong, it still relies on combustion. Although not many studies have been done on the effects of vaporizing marijuana specifically, vaping nicotine is generally considered to be at least 95% safer than smoking cigarettes. Therefore, it’s not a huge leap to make the same assumption when it comes to pot. This is why vaping is the most-recommended method for administering medicinal marijuana.
However, there are some legitimate concerns about various vaping devices on the market. For instance, very cheap ones that are usually made in China. Many of these devices are made in locations where health issues aren’t a priority but rather, profit. There have been some complaints even claiming that certain devices contain heavy metals and/or potentially harmful glues, which at high temperatures could end up being inhaled by the user.
So again, the question pertaining to which is the healthier option is subjective.
Essentially, vaping is the heating of weed without burning. The heat releases active ingredients into vapor, which is released into the air in a clear mist that is created by a vaping device. Since combustion doesn’t occur, no smoke is created.
There are many debates when it comes to vaping vs smoking. While the most obvious reason to choose vaping over smoking is for your health, there are various other benefits. For starters, vape pens allows you to taste more of a distinction between strains, and it allows for control over temperature. It’s generally a more convenient and discreet option.
- More pronounced flavor: Because the vaping process doesn’t induce combustion, it allows for a cleaner, softer, and more delicate flavor. It’s nearly 100% free of any “woodiness” and the intensity that smoking delivers. With vaping, you can taste the cannabinoid profiles and individual terpenes of each strain more distinctly.
- Temperature regulation: You can’t set the temperature of a joint, so you just have to accept whatever temperature your weed burns at. But just about every vaporizer has some sort of temperature regulation, meaning that you can determine how intense you want the vapor to be. Lower temperatures allow for smoother and more flavorful vapor. Higher temperatures produce larger clouds and harsher smoking vapor.
- Discreet and convenient: Smoking a joint attracts a lot of unwanted attention. Vape smoke, on the other hand, doesn’t produce as much of an odor and smells a lot less than smoke. Also, vaporizers come in all shapes and sizes, many of which are small enough to comfortably fit in the palm of your hand – so people won’t even notice that you’re using it.
- You can recycle vaped herb: When a joint is done, it’s done. But, once you’re done vaping, you can still use the vaped herbs in various other ways. For instance, you can use it in all sort of edibles by following weed-infused recipes.
- Efficiency: Vaping marijuana means that you can extract the cannabinoids from the dry herbs slowly and effectively. Often, you can get multiple session from a single pack.
- Vaping is cleaner: Let’s be real, smoking weed can get pretty messy. Rolling loose buds and papers can cause a huge mess that you will need to clean up later, which isn’t ideal. From beginning to end, vaping produces a lot less disorder.
Some of the dangers of vaping include; learning how to use your device, making sure it’s always charged, and keeping it clean. Initially, you will also have to invest in a vaping device and grinder. So financially it’s more costly to start off with.
- Typically requires a grinder: Most vaporizers won’t function properly without a medium to fine grind. This means that you will need a good grinder, especially if you use a portable vape pen which runs on conduction heating. Grinding helps to increase the surface area which allows all terpenes and cannabinoids to be extracted from the plant more efficiently.
- Uncertainty when it comes to long-term health effects: Although an increasing number of studies are reporting that vaping doesn’t appear to have any long-term health effects, we can’t be 100% sure. Studies into the issue are still very much limited. Vaping health risks are definitely something to think about.
- Must be charged or plugged in: While you don’t need a lighter, if your device isn’t charged and you’re not near to a wall socket to plug into, you aren’t going to be able to vape. On the plus side, when most devices are fully charged, they can provide several sessions before needing to be recharged.
- Battery safety issues: Vapes do not explode. However, there is one part of every device that could malfunction, and that’s the battery. But, this is true of every battery. Through improper and careless use, the battery could blow up and damage the device, property, or possibly even you. This is why it’s very important to learn about battery safety. Also, you shouldn’t make your own coils if you don’t know what you’re doing.
- Price: A solid vaping device isn’t cheap. While there are a few decent inexpensive vaporizers out there, they typically run upwards of $100. But, in the long run, they should save you money since vaping is a more efficient method.
The main advantage of smoking vs vaping weed is that smoking usually produces more intense overall effects. Also, smoking doesn’t require as much of a financial investment. Smoking is also relatively low maintenance since it’s easy to roll a joint and pop it in your pocket.
- No learning curve: Smoking is a simple process and doesn’t require a lot of practice. Anyone can light up a joint, and it’s easy to tell when the session is over. Vaping weed is a lot more complicated and requires some knowledge and experience.
- More intense effects: Smoking creates intense and euphoric effects more quickly. The extreme temperatures help to immediately release all of the cannabinoids that are responsible for this more sedative effect.
- Low maintenance: While there is some general maintenance involved with bowls and pipes, these typically don’t need as much effort as cleaning a vaporizer. Furthermore, joints are very low maintenance – the only thing you really have to do is roll them.
- No investment required: Generally, smoking doesn’t require a big upfront investment, unless you are purchasing a big, fancy glass piece. It’s much cheaper just to buy some rolling paper, and this is what prevents many smokers from delving into vaping.
Naturally, the main disadvantage associated with smoking when compared to vaping is the health risks. Smoking also leaves a much stronger smell and isn’t thought to be as efficient as vaping.
- Not as efficient: Smokers typically go through their stash a lot quicker than those who vape it. Once you smoke a joint, it’s gone. But when you vape, the herb is cooked a lot slower, and this gives users the opportunity to extract every last drop of THC.
- Health risks: We have already discussed this issue in quite a bit of detail, but ultimately smoking does pose more a health risk than vaping. When any plant is combusted, it produces carcinogens, tar, and other by-products. This is an unavoidable consequence of smoking.
- Less control: You can’t do much to control the effects of smoking. You can take smaller puffs, find a strain with less THC, or roll your joint a little tighter, but that’s about it. And as for temperature, you have absolutely no control. Vaping allows for a lot more control over the whole experience.
- Less nuance flavor: It’s a lot harder to determine the differences between strains when you smoke marijuana. If you are a very experienced smoker, it’s possible, but vaping allows for much more distinct flavor profile. At the higher temperatures of smoking, most of the terpenes that give weed its unique smell are depleted.
- Strong smoke smell: For most people, the smell of smoke is terrible. And smoke leaves everything stinking; from your hair and your clothes to your room or the area that you were smoking in. Especially in confined spaces, like a living ruin, smoke can ruin furniture over a period of time. The benefit of vapor is that it dissipates into the air ten times faster than smoke.
Final Thoughts on Vaping vs. Smoking
Vaping is becoming increasingly popular among marijuana users. A big reason for this has got to do with the health benefits when compared to smoking. But, at the end of the day there are pros and cons for both methods. It’s all up to personal preference. Listen to your body and decide what you are in the mood for. It’s all about understanding what you want from your marijuana experience.
There are many different ways to use cannabis and two of the most popular are vaping & smoking. Here's what you should know about the pros and cons of each