by Silent Jay on 19/11/2014 | Consumption

Smoking vs. Vaporising

Consumption Vaporising cannabis is much more efficient than smoking it. Combustion happens regardless of whether or not the consumer is inhaling, which means that cannabinoids continue being released into the air as long as it is burning. Vaporising also preserves THC contents much better than combusting.

There are many methods of benefiting from cannabis, regardless of whether or not it is consumed for medicinal purposes.

However, depending on the medicinal purpose, one can be directed towards a certain method of consumption rather than another.

Even nowadays, smoking cannabis is one of the most commonly known ways of benefiting from the plant’s many properties. It is still considered a valid “default” or “emergency” way of medicating, however for certain conditions, the fact that the substance is combusted and inhaled is somewhat counterproductive.

For instance, asthma sufferers looking to alleviate their respiratory symptoms could experience mixed results for this reason.

Vaporising is known to be one of the methods that are the most effective and the least hurtful to health in order to consume cannabis, and is therefore highly recommended to patients and casual users alike.

Many medicinal cannabis users do not want to smoke joints or bongs. For these people vaporisers are a great alternative to combustion.

Smoking Cannabis

When smoking cannabis, as well as when smoking tobacco or any other substance, the average consumer can’t avoid the different polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, that are released in their organism as a result.

Namely, tar and other carcinogens are among the chemicals that are the most present in smoke resulting from combustion. In the case of cannabis, these chemicals do not come from the plant itself, but from the combustion process. They can also be the result of materials other than cannabis combusting, such as rolling paper.

When making an in-depth analysis of the smoke originating from combusted cannabis, scientists have registered more than a hundred of different chemicals released, and more than 80% of them are not cannabinoids.

In other words, more than 80% of the gases contained in the smoke have neither medicinal properties, nor psychoactive ones. From a medical standpoint, this method is therefore very far from being optimal.

Of course, when seeking an effect of the recreational type, the cannabinoids released through combustion are generally sufficient to attain the desired state of intoxication.

But even on this level, effects could be heightened by a different consumption method that is more focused on releasing cannabinoids efficiently, not to mention the health issues related to inhaling tar and other toxic chemicals, especially on a long term basis.

When combusted in the form of a joint, in a pipe, or even in a water pipe, cannabis can reach a temperature of more than 1000°C, even though the combustion process starts around 200°C.

Some substances added by the consumer to facilitate consumption (such as dried tobacco or other dried herbs) can also contribute to reaching this high temperature.

Vaporising cannabis

A vaporiser’s role is to heat up the cannabinoids contained in the cannabis plant to their boiling temperature, thus extracting them by way of evaporation.

When compared to smoking dried cannabis flowers, a vaporiser is a much healthier choice for all people eager to benefit from the many medicinal properties of the plant in complete safety. Indeed, while many people mistake vaporising for a vaguely different method of combusting the plant, it is absolutely not the case.

Cannabis starts vaporising at 140°C, and on many devices, the temperature can be adjusted to the user’s preference, without going anywhere close to the minimum temperature required for combustion.

The active ingredients contained in cannabis are released in the form of vapour, and upon analysis, it has been revealed that 95% of this vapour consists of cannabinoids. On the other hand, only 5% of this vapour contains PAHs, in small amounts.

170°C is known as the “ideal” temperature at which cannabis should be vaporised. Regardless, even in the case of vaporisers that do not allow the consumer to opt for their preferred settings, the temperature at which they operate should allow a satisfying experience, especially if they have been calibrated for medicinal use.

Why should you switch to vaporising?

There are many reasons why an increasing number of cannabis enthusiasts switch to vaporising after years of combusting cannabis in one way or another. But on top of the obvious health benefits mentioned above, there are countless reasons why vaporising can be beneficial to one’s quality of life.

  • Better than edibles

Vaporising is one of the healthiest methods in existence to fully benefit from all the advantages of cannabis. It can even be considered better than ingesting it (i.e., via edibles), as the effects caused by cannabinoids are practically immediate.

Eating cannabis-based food is equally safe, but will require much more time to affect the consumer.

  • More effect from the same amount

Vaporising cannabis is much more efficient than smoking it. Combustion happens regardless of whether or not the consumer is inhaling, which means that cannabinoids continue being released into the air as long as it is burning. Vaporising also preserves THC contents much better than combusting.

  • A 100% smoke-free environment

Many things come with smoking tobacco or cannabis, be them remains of some kind (ashes, smell), or purely aesthetic considerations.

Once cannabis has been fully vaporised, the bud can quickly be discarded, and there are no ashes. The smell of cannabis is still present, but with the smoke parameter gone, it is much less invasive and dissipates faster.

In short, switching from smoking cannabis to vaporising should be a definite no-brainer. Whether it is in regards to the consumer’s health, their finances or general well-being, there doesn’t seem to be a single good reason why NOT to do it.

If you need inspiration, feel free to browse our webshop which offers several models of vaporisers. You can also put questions to our shop staff in Amsterdam.

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Wrong on almost all accounts.

I'm surprised Sensi Seeds would allow such disinformation to grace their site. Let's start at the top....

1. Smoked cannabis does not cause or exacerbate COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) according to a UCLA meta-study done by the country's leading Pulmonary Specialist done in 2001. Dr. Tashkin started as a drug warrior looking for the exact degree to which cannabis harms lungs, but as is a common story among truly honest scientists (I'm looking at you Dr. Grinspoon), once the data was discovered he changed his position.

Smoked cannabis also does not cause lung cancer - another conclusion from the same study by Dr. Tashkin. He has been quoted as saying he would not be opposed to any of his patients smoking cannabis - quite a startling statement by such a prominent physician. The results of the study actually indicated a slight protective effect against developing lung cancer in long time cannabis users, which makes sense when taking this plant's ability to actually cure cancer into account.

2. Cannabis is not homogenous - there are 40+ different cannabinoids in the plant, most of which we have not studied at all. Each component vaporizes at widely different temperatures - in fact CBD only vaporizes at close to combustion temps. Setting the temperature of a vape to 170 degrees will get you a fraction of what the plant has to offer - mainly THC - while leaving much behind in what is discarded.

Smoking destroys some of the cannabinoids at the tip near the "cherry" but the superheated smoke effectively vaporizes the cannabis behind the lit portion - especially in a joint, which truly is the best way to ingest it.

Smoking is a nasty thing to do - smelly and ash-ridden - but, aside from the non-psychoactive fresh flowers used in smoothies (even less well known and incredibly healing according to many who've used it) smoking a joint is the most beneficial and efficient way to use cannabis when you need quick effect and accurate dose.


Sweet leaf

Vamping doesn't get me medicated. Especially the volcano.



Sylent Jay,

I was mistaken about CBD's boiling point - it's within the range you mentioned. I found a chart with the known cannabinoids, flavinoids, and terpenes - half of them vaporize at higher temps than the max you suggest of 180C, and even fewer vaporize at what you call the ideal temp of 170C. I'll include the chart I found at the end of this reply.

I don't doubt vaporizers are effective for many people but my point is that vaporizing is not better across the board for everyone.

You mention that "95% of this vapour consists of cannabinoids". That sounds good but you're getting less than half of the many active compounds available in the plant using the temps you suggest. Since most strains are so high in THC and low in CBD, that vapor is going to be mostly THC and like the complaints with Marinol suggest, THC is not always the most desired cannabinoid for medicating.

You also say that "tar and other carcinogens are among the chemicals that are the most present in smoke resulting from combustion." - a fact that is true but inconsequential according to the 2002 UCLA meta study by Dr. Tashkin I mentioned in my first comment. Cannabis smoke does not do long term damage to our lungs according to this study. The primary effect of cannabis smoke is as an expectorant - nothing more - so the "tar and other carcinogens" is a red herring and misleading for readers.

You touch on the "dangers" of cannabis smoke further down in your piece - "not to mention the health issues related to inhaling tar and other toxic chemicals, especially on a long term basis." There is no issue with cannabis smoke according to science, but the idea is effective to elicit an emotional response - just what we have too much of when discussing cannabis.

1.Better than edibles.
This is not true. Faster onset to be sure, but eating cannabis is more body-centric, longer lasting and generally more effective for pain.

2. More effect from the same amount.
Again - not true. Gram for gram, eating cannabis is much more effective than smoking or vaporizing - 1/2 gm in a brownie will go much further in effect than that in a vaporizer or pipe, plus you're getting the full spectrum of beneficial compounds.

Thanks for the opportunity to respond and for your response too, and for this article. Vaporizing is an excellent choice in some circumstances for some people, but as the "best" way to benefit from cannabis, I don't think it measures up.

Here is the vape chart I found online:

Phytocannabinoids, their boiling points & properties

1. ?-9-TetraHydroCannabinol (THC) Boiling point: 157°C / 314.6°F Properties: Euphoriant, Analgesic, Antiinflammatory, Antioxidant, Antiemetic

2. Cannabidiol (CBD) Boiling point: 160-180°C / 320-356°F Properties: Anxiolytic, Analgesic, Antipsychotic, Antiinflammatory, Antioxidant, Antispasmodic

3. Cannabinol (CBN) Boiling point: 185°C / 365°F Properties: Oxidation, breakdown, product, Sedative, Antibiotic

4. Cannabichromene (CBC) Boiling point: 220°C / 428°F Properties: Antiinflammatory, Antibiotic, Antifungal

5. ?-8-TetraHydroCannabinol (?-8-THC) Boiling point: 175-178°C / 347-352.4°F Properties: Resembles ?-9-THC, Less psychoactive, More stable Antiemetic

6. TetraHydroCannabiVarin (THCV) Boiling point: 220°C / 428°F Properties: Analgesic, Euphoriant

Terpenoid essential oils, their boiling points, & properties

7. ?-myrcene Boiling point: 166-168°C / 330.8-334.4°F Properties: Analgesic. Antiinflammatory, Antibiotic, Antimutagenic

8. ?-caryophyllene Boiling point: 119°C / 246.2°F Properties: Antiinflammatory, Cytoprotective (gastric mucosa), Antimalarial

9. d-limonene Boiling point: 177°C / 350.6°F Properties: Cannabinoid agonist?, Immune potentiator, Antidepressant, Antimutagenic

10. linalool Boiling point: 198°C / 388.4°F Properties: Sedative, Antidepressant, Anxiolytic, Immune potentiator

11. pulegone Boiling point: 224°C / 435.2°F Properties: Memory booster?, AChE inhibitor, Sedative, Antipyretic

12. 1,8-cineole (eucalyptol) Boiling point: 176°C / 348.8°F Properties: AChE inhibitor, Stimulant, Antibiotic, Antiviral, Antiinflammatory, Antinociceptive

13. a-pinene Boiling point: 156°C / 312.8°F Properties: Antiinflammatory, Bronchodilator, Stimulant, Antibiotic, Antineoplastic, AChE inhibitor

14. a-terpineol Boiling point: 217-218°C / 422.6-424.4°F Properties: Sedative, Antibiotic, AChE inhibitor, Antioxidant, Antimalarial

15. terpineol-4-ol Boiling point: 209°C / 408.2°F Properties: AChE inhibitor. Antibiotic
16. p-cymene Boiling point: 177°C / 350.6°F Properties: Antibiotic, Anticandidal, AChE inhibitor

17. borneol Boiling point: 210°C / 410°F Properties: Antibiotic, ?-3-carene 0.004% 168 Antiinflammatory

18. ?-3-carene Boiling point: 168°C / 334.4°F Properties: Antiinflammatory

Flavonoid & Phytosterol components, their boiling points, & properties

19. apigenin Boiling point: 178°C / 352.4°F Properties: Anxiolytic, Antiinflammatory, Estrogenic

20. quercetin Boiling point: 250°C / 482°F Properties: Antioxidant, Antimutagenic, Antiviral, Antineoplastic

21. cannflavin A Boiling point: 182°C / 359.6°F Properties: COX inhibitor, LO inhibitor

22. ?-sitosterol Boiling point: 134°C / 273.2°F Properties: Antiinflammatory, 5-a-reductase, inhibitor


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