The cannabis industry’s evolution (i.e. monetization) has led to technological innovations easily imagined as props in a sci-fi B movie. Picture two 1960s loners supine in the bed of an El Camino sharing a joint under the stars; they’re pipe-dreaming a future where one could legally vaporize cannabis using a device easily mistaken for a ballpoint office pen. (“It’s like you’d be smoking, but you wouldn’t really be smoking, man.”) Far out, indeed.
Now, through the advent of compact, battery-operated heating coils and the progressing science of THC extraction, cannabis consumption has become increasingly approachable and discreet. Vaping extracts facilitate a smokeless, mostly odorless and controllable high that you can take on the go.
If you’re just dipping your toes into the shiny arena of cannabis vaporization,there are several styles of vapes that can cause some confusion. With predominant verticals comprising flower, wax and CO2 cartridges, the first two options require a bit more expertise.
This type of vaporizer is typically more expensive and requires actual buds to use. You’ll want to finely grind your flower before loading it into the oven, a compartment that heats the bud to the point it releases THC vapor. You’ll not only be able to discern the flavor nuances of each strain you vaporize, but you’ll also end up ingesting fewer toxins than you would with smoking. As far as flower vapes go, we recommend going with a PAX-brand model, the weed industry’s closest equivalent to an Apple product in design and function.
These vaporizers are basically dabs without the blowtorch. Just buy some concentrates by the gram and use a small tool (paper clips work great!) to load the vape oven. Pushing a button heats the element and vaporizes the concentrate, sparking a skyward lift. Several trusted brands make these varieties, most notably PAX, GPen and Dr. Dabber. There’s also Ooze, a Michigan-based company known for a quality wax vape carried by many local shops.
Bursting onto the market a couple years back, cartridges provide the easiest, most discreet vaping experience. These pre-filled pods contain a concentrate extracted using CO2, a substance that ends up looking more like honey than wax, crumble or shatter. Available at most dispensaries, cartridges typically run $35-$60. And there are two types: one using a wick to draw the concentrate into the pen’s oven; the other, a wickless cartridge option, features a metal pole running through the tank to dispense the heated concentrate vapor. Though most cannasseurs are partial to the metal cartridges, both design varieties twist onto the $10-$20 rechargeable battery on a 510 thread. Some have a power button while others will kick on with just a puff on the pen.
With this solid primer for selecting the vape that’ll work best for you, impress your local budtender as you confidently discuss the merits of each option. If you’re still unsure, err on the safe side and try them all.