Vaporizing Versus Combustion: Marijuana Inhalation Warning

In the old days before dabs and the many other super-duper cannabis concentrates that you need a blow torch or other devices to use, people took dried whole flower marijuana, wrapped it in paper, lit it on fire, and inhaled the smoke.

Inhaling decarboxylated cannabis smoke into your lungs is a fast, easy way to get dosed. Unfortunately, anytime you burn and inhale anything, you create dozens if not hundreds of dangerous volatiles and particulates that harm your entire respiratory tract, not just your lungs.

Beyond that damage, you also pollute your high. What I discovered when I switched from combustion to vaporization of whole cannabis was that some traits I considered part of the marijuana high were actually caused by harmful combustion byproducts that come from burning weed and rolling papers.

The high I got from combustion almost always included a very heavy, lethargic, cloudy feeling that lasted for the first half hour to an hour of the high, even if I was burning pure Sativa. Sometimes I also experienced low blood pressure effects, along with dizziness, nausea, lack of energy, and a slight headache. Some people call this “greening out,” referring to feeling bad immediately after you get high.

Until I started vaporizing cannabis below combustion temperatures, I thought those unpleasant effects were just an unavoidable aspect of using marijuana. But I was wrong about that.

When I got a vaporizer and learned how to properly use it, at first I felt that the cannabis didn’t seem as “strong,” because I wasn’t getting the heavy, headache-y, thudding traits I was used to from a combustion high.

Then, I interviewed cannabis scientists and medical experts. They explained that inhaling combusted plant material including cannabis sends poisons into you, not just particulates that dirty your lungs and throat. These poisons include carbon monoxide, ammonia, and cyanide. If the cannabis has been grown by unethical people using Eagle 20, Avid, and other foliar spray or root-feed systemic fungicides, mildewcides, and pesticides, you’re inhaling even more poisons.

These poisons produce headaches, dizziness, mental confusion, fatigue and other bad feelings and physiological harms. Over time, the poisons can cause serious health problems. And they lower the high of your high, turning it into a “low.”

But rejoice, there’s great news–using a precision vaporizer set to the proper temperatures, you can deliver ONLY cannabinoids and terpenoids into your body.

If you’re used to inhaling combusted cannabis and you switch to vaporizing it, you immediately notice that the high is cleaner, more vital and energizing, and you don’t have that burned-out foggy feeling that you thought was just part of getting stoned.

After I decided to use vaporizers instead of flame, it took me about a year, and a lot of lost money and hassle, to find a quality vaporizer. Let me give you a stark warning about vaporizers of all kinds, including the ones that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have banned and regulated because of severe illness and even death coming from them: most vaporizers suck.

I started out with portable handheld vaporizers and discovered that most companies have no idea how to make them properly. These units cost between $125-300, and yet they all sucked for one reason or the other including: lacking precision temperature control, batteries that didn’t hold a charge for more than a few minutes, glitchy software, unreliable heating elements, inferior design and manufacture.

Even worse was the arrogant, dishonest attitude of the companies I dealt with. They lied about their product flaws, refused to honor warranties, tried to pass the buck to the retailer I’d bought the product from. Their customer service was a disservice.

The worst experience was when an expensive portable vaporizer off-gassed poison to the extent that I ended up in the emergency room with my throat swollen shut, barely able to breathe. I didn’t tell medical personnel I’d just used a portable vaporizer. The doctors said I’d been poisoned by inhaling a poisonous gas that likely came from the burning of silicon or rubber. I knew it was the vape, because I’d tasted it when I was vaping.

When I got home, I contacted the portable vape manufacturer. They admitted they were having problems with toxic materials in their portable vape off-gassing. “We’re trying to figure out what to do about it. We don’t want to tell the public because it would hurt sales,” the lady who represented the company said.

I told her she ought to be more concerned about me getting an attorney and suing her company for negligence and actual harm. Her pathetic response was to offer to send me a replacement portable, but she couldn’t assure me that the poison off-gassing problem had been fixed, so the new portable would be likely be just as bad as the one that harmed me! She wouldn’t even give me a refund for the cost of the unit that made me so ill.

When I told her I was a cannabis journalist and was going to bust her company by writing an article about what their vaporizer did to me, she desperately begged me not to. It was pathetic. When I said I had a duty to warn my readers, she said her company would “sue you and your magazine out of existence.” Unfortunately, that lack of ethics is common in the vaporizer manufacturing industry, with a rare exception that I’ll explain later.

After trying portables from most major vaporizer manufacturers,  I gave up on portables and started trying desktop vaporizers. These are much-larger units with more precision and less likelihood of catastrophic failures that harm your health, but it still took me a while to find a perfect unit. Many of the desktop vaporizers I tried were defective, poorly-designed, hard-to-use pieces of shi*t.

How glad I was to find a fantastic vaporizer called the Arizer V-Tower.  It’s remarkably low-priced considering that I’ve had it for years, it still works perfectly, and the parts you need to periodically replace (bowls, screens, whips, etc.) are low-priced and easy to get direct from Arizer.

I’ve told many of my friends and readers about Arizer and have heard only thanks and very positive feedback from people who took my advice and got the Arizer V-Tower. We all agree Arizer is an honest company making well-engineered, affordable products, offering friendly, timely, professional customer service.

I just found out that Arizer is making portable vaporizers. I need one for concerts and other occasions when a desktop vape isn’t applicable. I’ve been relying on dabs and dry sift for times when I’m outside my home and want to get high, but would prefer a portable whole-flower vaporizer.

I might get an Arizer portable and test it. If I find that it works great, I’ll come back and update this article to let you know.

Now for some vaporizing tips:

  • Using a precision vaporizer like the Arizer V-Tower, use temperatures in the range of 380-419°F. You’ll find that at almost every temperature within that range, you get different tastes, scents, and the high is different. Using temperature control in this range, you get a vast diversity of psychoactive, medicinal and aesthetic experiences from the same bud!
  • Don’t go over 419°F, because higher than that you’re entering combustion territory.
  • If you want to test buds but haven’t harvested yet or you have harvested but the buds aren’t fully dried, put them in the V-Tower bowl and heat them in the unit with the whip installed at 500°F for about half an hour. Make sure the whip is lower than the bowl so moisture condensate removed from buds can drain out. Then as you do inhalations and you’re getting ample hits of strong vapor, you gradually reduce the temperature into the 380-419°F range. This heating technique safely and gently dries your cannabis fast, and until the bud totally dries out, you inhale soothing water vapor along with cannabis volatiles.
  • THC vaporizes at a lower temperature than CBD and CBN. I prefer mostly the THC high. So when I have Indica or any cannabis with lots of CBD, I use 380-394°F to vaporize mostly just THC, leaving the CBD in the bud.
  • Vaporizers are much more efficient than combustion, so you need less bud to generate the same intensity and potency of your high.
  • Don’t vape oils or any product about which you’re not sure of 100% purity and safety. Only vape whole flower cannabis or cannabis concentrates such as dry sift, or dabs made without chemical solvents that contain zero toxic residue.

Once you start vaporizing instead of combusting, you’ll probably never go back to combusting. The last time I smoked a joint was with a beautiful woman who offered me a hit, and looking into her deep blue eyes, how could I say no. Sadly, within a few minutes of inhaling the acrid smoke, I felt those ugly combustion poisoning side-effects.

That’s why I’m a proud and permanent member of the Vaporization Nation!