In simple terms it's the process of gently heating herbs with hot air to release active ingredients, which are boiled off and inhaled in the form of vapour.
Most vaporizers these days use convection to heat the herb, which is downstream in the vapour path, and separate from the heater. This method heats much more evenly and effectively than the conduction type.
The heated air is either drawn through the herb (manual whip) or forced through with a fan. The temperature can be varied precisely with analogue or digital controllers, or by the draw speed and strength in the manual mode. It's all in the personal preference of the user. Some people prefer to select their temperature to control which active ingredients are released, and some prefer a single temperature and vary their draws. Different temperatures release different proportions of active ingredients in the herb. This affects the tastes and the experience in general.
How is it different?
Vaporizers and aroma diffusers are currently regarded as one of the more healthy options to unlock and absorb active ingredients and aroma from herbs. Many experts and medical practitioners, particularly in the US, are recommending the use of these devices, instead of burning herbs or blends the traditional way.
Numerous overseas studies have already proven the effectiveness of vaporizers in considerably reducing risks associated with combustion. Vaporizers release ingredients within herbs or blends, with little chance of combustion or burning, which releases tar, carbon monoxide, and other destructive compounds. Vaporizers are designed to convert herbal compounds directly into gas form (vapor) without burning the blends, this can reduce not just the health risks but also adverse effects to flavour and taste.
One of the most recent studies on vaporization by the University of California in San Francisco published in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Neurology examined the effectiveness of a vaporizer compared to using combustion with a flame. The results were astonishing with the effectiveness of the vaporization technique removing an unquantifiable amount of harmful toxins and carcinogens as well as using up to 60% less material for the same effect as compared to using a flame.
Although both methods use heat to release the actives ingredients, the major difference is the temperature used and the resulting by-products of each method.
When combusting, temperatures can reach ~ 800-900C. At this temperature, pyrolyzation occurs, which not only chemically alters some of the actives, but results in many harmful by-products such as carbon monoxide, benzene, toluene, naphthalene, tars, particulates and polyaromatic hydrocarbons.
When vaporized, the herb stays below the point of combustion ~ 230C. Desired active compounds are released, while harmful combustion by-products are dramatically reduced or avoided entirely.
Vaporized herb tastes much better and smoother. This allows the user to inhale deeper and for longer duration. In general, vaporizers can be a healthier and more effective way to administer herbs and herbal blends.
Note: This article is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.
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