In the thousands of years since humans first started smoking cannabis, they have always chosen to smoke it. Indeed, the innumerable methods we have invented that allow us to smoke the substance seem almost as old as the substance itself.
However, with cannabis usage increasingly entering the mainstream, smoking has been joined by two other delivery methods as the dominant ways in which to imbibe the substance: vaping and dabbing.
To traditionalists, these new ways to use cannabis can seem unnecessary. After all, if the smoking of the plant has worked for thousands of years, what is the point in changing things up now?
As it turns out, the reasons are many. Vaping and dabbing present unique advantages that are not present in the traditional methods of smoking cannabis.
The most important distinction between using a portable vaporizer and smoking dry herbs is the actual substance that is being inhaled by the consumer: vapor versus smoke.
Smoke is produced when a device -- whether it is battery-powered or otherwise -- brings the heating element into direct contact with the substance being consumed. This has the effect of burning the dry herbs and producing smoke, a process called combustion.
Vaporization occurs when hot air is blasted through dry herb flowers and, in the process, absorbs their chemical compounds in a way that produces the THC-laden vapor. Vapor is known for being far less imposing than smoke: After the user exhales from a vaporizer, the aroma lingers for a moment and disappears almost immediately. This is what is known as convection heating.
Vaporization carried out by portable convection oven vaporizers -- such as the high-powered E-CLIPSE or Yocan iShred -- has a number of advantages over more conventional smoking methods like joints and bongs. For starters, there is the health factor: Vapor is much lighter on the consumer’s lungs than is smoke and is unlikely to induce as many coughing fits.
There is also the issue of discretion. If you use a dry herb vaporizer -- particularly in locations that might not welcome the idea of you doing so -- being discreet is often of the utmost importance. Vaporizers’ lack of smell is a definite advantage for people who want to blaze on the go but do not want anyone to be any the wiser.
Vaporizers themselves also have several advantages over the more traditional methods of smoking. For starters, they come in an array of shapes and sizes. There are the smaller and most easily portable combustion-style options -- such as the Pocket Vape or the Atmos Jr vape pen -- that are able to be stealthy because of their more minuscule frames.
There are also the larger and more sophisticated convection oven options. These vape pens -- such as the Stoner Joe or the Apex 2.0 -- not only have the benefit of featuring convection oven technology; they also come equipped with customizable temperature settings. This feature essentially enables the consumer both to set the pace at which they are vaporizing their dry herbs and to set the pace in which they use their battery.
Vaporization is also different because there are vaporizers that accommodate almost every consumer preference. Dry herbs, shatter, wax: All have a particular vaporizer that specializes in their use. Joints or dab rigs, on the other hand, operate best when paired with a specific substance.
Unlike the technologically-advanced world of dry herb vaporizers, the phenomenon of dabbing is relatively straightforward: The user utilizes a series of low-tech materials to produce a clean and flavorful vapor.
The entire process begins with what is called a dab rig. Similar to a small bong in its shape, the dab rig is the water-filled device through which the user inhales the vapor.
Affixed to the dab rig -- where on a bong there would be a bowl -- is the dab rig’s domeless nail. This piece is heated with a blowtorch until it is red-hot. After wating 20-40 seconds, the consumer then touches a piece of wax or shatter to the nail, which instantly produces vapor that the consumer inhales through the rig.
Domeless nails may be made of various materials. Some nails -- such as the small 10mm Female Titanium Nail -- are made of fast-conducting metals that are able to heat more quickly and thus save time for the consumer when they are using the blowtorch.
Other domeless nails -- such as the 14mm Male Quartz Banger Nail or the Interchangeable Ceramic Domeless Nail -- are made of materials that emphasize the flavor of the vapor over the quickness of the heat-up time: Ceramics and glass are known to often produce better-tasting vapor than are materials like steel or titanium.
For the more practically-minded consumer, there are also portable dabbing tools available. The Yocan Torch, for example, is a portable nail that includes its own battery: Users who prefer to forego the blowtorch and nail inherent to the normal dabbing process may instead opt for a more technologically advanced approach to dabbing.
One of the main differences between the use of joints or bongs or vaporizers and the use of a dab rig is that dab rigs deal all but exclusively with cannabis extracts. Materials such as waxes and shatter are able to be vaporized quickly using the blowtorch-and-nail method, whereas dry herbs would not result in nearly the amount of vapor produced, nor would the vapor that is produced be nearly as potent.
Another difference between dabbing and other ways of using cannabis is that dabbing the gargantuan high that consumers may receive with just one pull. A sizable amount of wax concentrate -- which itself is far more potent than regular dry herbs -- put through the dabbing process delivers a far more immediate, potent, and longer-lasting high than do other more ordinary methods of use.
To Sum Up: Vaporization and dabbing have a number of benefits that are not prevalent in the more traditional ways of using dry herbs and waxes.