If you’re looking to inhale cannabis, there are only two options, vaporizing and smoking. Whether you’re talking about extracts or flower, the only way to get the unique effects of inhalation are to opt for one solution or another.
For those new to exploring the world of recreational cannabis, weighing the differences between the two is important. Innovations in weed vape oil and other extract-based products are changing the way consumers interact with these options.
Is there a clear winner between smoking and vaping? Let’s look at a variety of factors you need to consider, including visibility, health effects, portability, cost, and convenience. That way you can better understand which option will work best for you.
Health Benefits of Vaping vs Smoking
Smoking cannabis can be more dangerous to your health than vaporizing it. When you smoke, the combustion creates many of the same carbon compounds and carcinogens that make tobacco smoke harmful.
While data from the CDC and NIH have indicated that marijuana smokers, even heavy smokers, do not carry the same cancer risks as heavy tobacco smokers, there are several other health concerns that long-term regular marijuana smoking can contribute to:
- Overproduction of phlegm
- Chronic congestion of the chest
- Air pockets between the lung and chest wall
Since there’s no nicotine in marijuana, nicotine-specific effects like artery hardening and heart disease are less likely to occur when smoking marijuana, but these listed effects should be taken seriously according to the American Lung Association.
They advise patients pursuing medicinal marijuana use to consider another method, one that does not combust the plant matter. By contrast, vaporizing does not produce any of the harmful compounds that smoking does. This is because vaporization temperatures tend to be low enough to avoid combusting the flammable materials in the plant matter.
Instead, the vaporizer heats the elements enough to turn the essential oils, terpenes, and active cannabinoids into vapor, liberating them from the bulk plant fiber. It is essentially the same process as drying but at an increased speed and temperature designed to liberate the oils instead of preserving them in the plant matter.
Vaporizing does have some health effects on its own. There are several reports of throat irritation and even allergic reactions to some vaporizer fluids used by hash oil vape manufacturers. Both polyethylene glycol and propylene glycol are known to cause these symptoms, and health-conscious vaporizer manufacturers like Honey® now avoid them in favor of compounds without side effects.
When vaping plant matter, the ride can be even rougher, because some portable vaporizers manufactured outside the United States contain adhesives and plastics that produce harmful fumes when heated to vaping temperatures repeatedly. These concerns are mitigated by relying on quality manufacturers, like Honey®, who use excellent materials and by using disposable vaporizers or those with ceramic parts.
Vaping Oils vs. Plant Matter
When you smoke oils and extracts, you can incur most of the same risks as smoking flower. That’s because you need to put the extract on something like a cigarette or a surface you can ignite, and the temperatures will create burn-off that produces toxic chemicals. On the other hand, when you vaporize oils, you can often vape at a much lower temperature than when you vaporize plant matter. These lower temperatures reduce the risk of fume propagation.
The construction of pen vaporizers that use extracts or oils tends to lend itself less to the kind of burn-off that produces fumes in lower-end plant matter vaporizers, too. That’s because extracts being vaporized as essential oils are stored in a sealed tank that is usually of a single piece in its construction.
They also use technologies familiar to electronic cigarette fans, providing less intensive heating over a shorter period and creating a generous amount of vapor at the same time. Because of the difference in construction between oil vaporizers and plant matter vaporizers, it’s much easier to get a consistent experience that produces satisfying amounts of vapor when you are vaporizing oils and extracts.
Portability and Visibility of Smoking Vs. Vaping
Smoking oils and extracts can be more lower-profile than smoking plant matter, but both run into the same underlying issue, and that is the restriction on public smoking put into place in many municipalities. It can be challenging to find a space outdoors where smoking is allowed, and the smoke produces odors that are very distinct.
There’s no real advantage to a pipe vs. a portable vape when it comes to preparation work or cleanup, but a cigarette or blunt can be consumed with nothing to carry later. Vaping tends to be very low-profile and it’s possible to vape in public without disturbing anyone. Plant matter vaporizers produce little footprint, and what they do produce disperses over a short range, so it is not as pervasive in its odor as smoking.
Oil vaporizers can be even better for low profile public use because weed vape oil tends to be flavored like electronic cigarettes for nicotine. Many of the same popular flavors are present in both markets, with manufacturers on both sides eager to find the flavor combinations that best appeal to consumers.
Cost of Vaping vs Smoking
Both vaping and smoking can be done expensively or inexpensively. Some vaporizer enthusiasts maintain that vaping provides them with a more cost-effective experience because they cite the ability to vape the same plant matter two or three times before it’s consumed.
On the other hand, smoking has been shown in studies to produce more pronounced effects that last longer. Vaping is widely regarded as having a less pronounced peak and a shorter tapering off period, even by its enthusiasts, so there’s not likely to be a noticeable savings in plant matter even if the same mass does go a bit further, since smokers looking for a specific experience will merely need to vape more to get it.
When it comes to vaping weed oil vs. smoking it, vaporizing can be quite cost-effective, because simple electronic cigarette pens can deliver a strong puff of cannabinoids. This makes the cost of entry to vaporizing hash oil and other extracts incredibly low when compared to the hundreds of dollars that high-end vaporizers or health-optimizing glassware can cost.
On top of that, there’s emergence of disposable electronic vape pens with a calibrated dosage of cannabinoids into the recreational marketplace.
By offering consumers an option that provides an all-in-one disposable battery, single-use atomizer, and calibrated dosage, companies like Honey® are giving customers an opportunity to know how much mileage to expect from a puff, and how many puffs to expect from a cartridge.
With no distinctive odor, they can be used wherever you’d use an electronic cigarette, and they don’t have any extra entry fee for equipment.
Is Vaping Weed Better Than Smoking?
In the end, deciding whether you are going for a hash oil vape or a more traditional smoking experience is a matter of weighing your goals and your costs. When you opt for smoking, you’re given a distinct flavor profile, known potent effects, and an efficient, fast ingestion system.
When you vape plant matter in a traditional portable vaporizer, you minimize the health effects of smoking, but you also get a slightly reduced potency and a shorter experience. By contrast, with a dedicated disposable vape pen, you gain these advantages:
- More potent and faster than plant matter vaping
- Minimized health effects by avoiding combustion
- No entry cost for equipment
- No maintenance and cleaning of equipment
- Great flavor selection
- Minimized public impact and great portability
- Compliance with all California quality control and screening protocols
There are good reasons to prefer smoking to vaping. When it comes to enjoying cannabis conveniently, when it is wanted or needed, using an oil or extract and vaporizing it means getting a balanced, consistent method of delivery, allowing you to have as much/as little as you need, where and when you need it.