A Look at the Technology Behind Vaporizers

The vaporizer is a device that is used for the purpose of inhaling the active ingredients of certain plant materials that have been traditionally smoked. Vaporizers can be used as an alternative to smoking tobacco or for a variety of other purposes.

Photo: Social Smoking/Flickr

With modern technology moving at such a rapid pace, it’s easy to become a habitual user of a product while still having no earthly idea of how it works.  One such advancement in the technology of smoking is the vaporizer.  For those that are unfamiliar, a vaporizer is a device that is used for the purpose of inhaling the active ingredients of certain plant materials that have been traditionally smoked.

Most notably, vaporizers are used as an alternative to smoking tobacco or cannabis allowing the “smoker” to inhale a comparable amount of nicotine or THC, respectively.  Vaporizers can also be used for a variety of other purposes including, but not limited to, the inhalation of pharmaceutical concoctions or chemicals for medicinal purposes.

One of the most important benefits of using a vaporizer over smoking plant material is the ability to avoid breathing in potentially irritating toxic, or carcinogenic, by-products contained in smoke.   But what is a vaporizer, really?  And how does a vaporizer work?

Vaporizers typically use a variety of chambers, known as “extraction chambers.”  These extraction chambers are made of either metal or glass and usually fall under categories named straight bore, venturi, or sequential venturi.

For these types of vaporizers, the vapor is extracted in the chamber and then collected in an inflatable bag, jar, or directly inhaled through a pipe.  Because of the cooler temperatures and the lack of smoke, a substantially less amount of material is necessary to achieve the desired level of effect.

This fact alone helps to reduce any irritating or harmful effects that are typically associated with smoking plant material in the conventional manner.

In some cases, a vaporizer will essentially extract the desired ingredient from the plant material and convert it to an inhalable vapor.  In the example of cannabis, THC evaporates at 365 degrees Fahrenheit while a standard cigarette lighter can get up to nearly 10 times that temperature.  Because of this, a vaporizer is actually a far more effective and efficient method of smoking cannabis.

Some vaporizers are made for use with a special substance that takes the place of plant material.  In the traditional act of smoking, a portion of a particular plant, which contains an extremely small percentage of the active chemical, is totally burned and the smoke inhaled.  As a result, higher levels of heat are required and a variety of other chemicals and by-products find their way into the smoke.  When using a vaporizer, a special extract is typically used in the place of the raw plant material.

This extract usually contains a particular concentration of the active ingredient and is sometimes diluted with an inert base solution.  In e-cigarettes, a liquid known as “e-liquid” contains a base of propylene glycol that essentially “houses” the nicotine.  The concoction used is intentionally designed to vaporize at a lower temperature.  As the vaporizing device heats up the liquid, it is converted into vapor for the purpose of inhalation.

In the past, the cost of vaporizers was considered a major deterrent for a variety of potential users.  With advancements in technology, vaporizers have not only become more affordable but also more ingeniously designed.  As a result, if you are interested in the benefits of using a vaporizer, instead of looking for the cheapest model, start by looking for the best vaporizer on the market.

You may be surprised at what is within your price range.  Even still, in the long run, using a vaporizer will save you a considerable amount of money.  New and more effective models come out every year, which opens up the possibility of a better overall experience with smoking cannabis or tobacco.

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