You’ve bought a vaporizer, you’ve been through the initial trials and tribulations of learning to use it, and now you consider your vaping abilities pretty darn impressive. For the most part, vaporizing is pretty intuitive. If you have a well-designed unit you should just be able to load your herbs and go with very few problems. However, there are a few things that can affect the performance of your vaporizer. If you have a fully-functioning unit and you’ve been getting less than satisfactory performance, then it’s possible that a few simple adjustments in your technique could make all the difference. If you’ve been making one of these 5 common vaporizing mistakes, don’t fret. Common mistakes are called common for a reason – everybody makes them!
The 5 Most Common Vaporizing Mistakes:
1. Packing Herbs too Tightly
People who are used to combustion methods will instinctively want to pack their herb chamber as full and as tightly as possible. It may seem like more herbs in the chamber would equal more and thicker vapour, but this is not always the case. When it comes to vaporizing, the opposite is often true. Packing your chamber too full and too tight can actually result in less vapour being extracted from your herbs and can even lead to them browning too quickly and cutting your session short.
Packing the herb chamber loosely will provide more surface area for air to move around and through your herbs, resulting in more even heating and more clouds of tasty vapour. More importantly, even heating leads to more efficient vapour extraction, and therefore better results from a smaller amount of herb. Efficiency is key when it comes to vaporizing! By the way - this is the golden rule for both portable vapes and desktop vaporizers.
A loosely packed chamber doesn’t mean a half full chamber. Most devices work best when the chamber is full, just not so full that you have to pack the herbs down tightly to fit more in. There’s a difference. The best way to ensure that you’re packing your herbs loose enough into the chamber is to simply add small pinches until it’s full, rather than taking a bigger amount and cramming it in. Depending on how your specific unit operates, regular stirring between draws can also ensure more evenly browned herb. Stirring is a must for whip-style vaporizers like the SSV and the Da Buddha (even if you have a hands free wand) as the particles closest to the heating element will always brown faster than the rest.
2. Proper Inhalation
Some vaporizers are virtually foolproof, while others require a degree of user skill to get the best draw and optimal effects.
The speed and strength of your draw can play an integral part in the quality of the vapour that you inhale. Whip style vaporizers and many portables (like the Magic Flight Launch Box) rely on the user’s draw to pull air over the herbs and deliver vapour through the mouthpiece. Learning the correct draw method for your vaporizer can make considerable improvements to the taste and density of your vapour. When using a whip or direct-draw vaporizer, a long and steady draw is recommended to keep air passing over your herbs and prevent combustion, while keeping the vapour supply consistent.
Basically, drawing fast = thin and airy vapour. Drawing slow = thicker, hot and harsh vapour. The secret lies in perfecting a draw technique that’s somewhere in between.
Your tastebuds will be a good indicator for telling the quality of your draw. If you’re running at a good temperature and your vapour tastes nice but is too airy or you can’t feel any effects, then try slowing down your draw speed. Likewise, if you notice that vapour tastes harsh or is too hot, speeding up the draw should make it cooler and more flavourful.
For the most part, draw technique is like a fingerprint; everyone’s is different. Just like finding the right vaporizer for you, perfecting your ideal draw technique can take a bit of time and patience. If you’re having issues with vapour consistency or temperature, don’t chalk it immediately up to the unit. You may be surprised at how much a different draw can alter your experience!
3. Grind and Consistency
When combusting your herbs, you can get away with a coarse grind. When it comes to vaporizing, many don’t realise that the consistency, moisture content and grind of the herb is absolutely crucial to getting the best vapour production. Therefore a good grinder is an absolut ESSENTIAL.
For best results, your herbs should be as dry as possible and ground fine. The finer the grind, the better the vapour, as smaller particles will vaporise quicker and release more active ingredients before they’re finished.
Think of your vaporizer as a sort of mini oven, roasting your herbs to a nice golden brown as opposed to completely engulfing them in flames. The heat will penetrate smaller particles easier and with more efficiency, extracting active ingredients from every small botanical granule and releasing them as vapour before your herbs are spent. Similarly, heat will better extract active ingredients from drier material, as there won’t be any moisture to evaporate first.
Higher temperature does not always equal better vapour. If you vape your herbs too high, you may see big clouds but you’ll ultimately exhaust your herbs quickly and end up wasting much of their active ingredients. The taste of your vapour can also be compromised; it’s nowhere near as fragrant and tasty on higher temperatures as it is on a cooler setting. The taste is half the fun (and point) of vaping!
When many people first use a vaporizer, they can often feel cheated by vapour’s thin and airy nature. The reality is that vaporising will never feel the same as combustion, and just because you can’t always see vapour, it doesn’t mean it’s not there or isn’t working. You’ve got to have a little faith!
To get the most out of your herbs during a session, you can actually vaporise your herbs in stages to extract as much of their desired by-products as possible in each temperature range. This technique is called stepping or “tasting” your herbs. You can do this by pre-heating your vaporizer and then taking the temperature down to the lower side of the optimum temperature spectrum (around 180°C) and then bumping the temperature up a few times until you reach the 220-235°C mark.
If that seems like too much hassle, keeping your vaporizer running at a med-high temperature between 180-200°C will still produce milky smooth vapour but won’t exhaust your herbs too fast, so you’ll be able to reap as much benefit as possible before they’re spent.
The beauty of this method is that it really allows you to taste your herbs and really adds to the experience of using a vaporizer. Vaping in stages gives you the best of both worlds – the taste and aroma of some truly great herbs in the lower stages, and thicker billowy plumes of vapour towards the end of your session.
5. Quality of Vaporizer
If you wouldn’t expect a cheap TV from China to work flawlessly, why would you expect the same from a vaporizer?
When it comes down to it, some units are simply better than others in terms of quality. Sometimes you can do everything right and still not be able to get good performance from a unit. Many people get excited to try vaporizing, but don’t want to spend a lot of money on their first unit in case they decide they don’t like the experience of vaporizing.
The problem is that if you buy a cheap knock-off vape, it’s likely that you won’t have a good experience. Too many people fall into this trap and then turn away from vaporizers altogether, believing that it’s simply vaporizing that they don’t like, and not the quality of the unit they chose.
Vaporization can be life-changing if you learn how to do it properly. Make sure that you invest in a good quality machine and employ all of these tips and tricks to get the best possible experience from your unit. You’ll be a connoisseur in no time.