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People have been enjoying the positive medicinal effects of cannabis for thousands of years in cultures around the world. Over the ages, smoking has been the traditional consumption method and some societies also used it in food and topical balms. In our current culture, technology is disrupting traditional cannabis consumption and for many people, it is absolutely a positive, welcome development. Quite simply, the advent of vaping devices is changing how, when, and where people consume cannabis.
What is “Vaping,” a “Vape,” or a “Vape Pen?”
Vaping — Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling an aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by a vape pen or similar device. The term is used because vape pens do not produce smoke, but rather an aerosol that actually consists of fine particles.
What is a “Vape or Vape Pen” a vaporizer pen or vape pen (a type of e-cigarette) is a nifty little device ranging in size from a standard pen to a large cigar that one can use to inhale heated cannabis oil or raw flower plant material.
Here are the Components of a Vape Pen:
- Tank or Cartridge — Essentially, there are three basic forms of vapes: refillable oil/wax, non-refillable, and flower. For oil-based pens, it will either have a tank (if it’s refillable) or a pre-filled cartridge that may or may not be replaceable. The tank or cartridge holds the cannabis oil or wax concentrate. Tanks are made out of polycarbonate plastic, glass, or stainless steel. We like the plastic or glass varieties because you can see how much liquid remains. Some pens enable you to simply replace the used cartridge with a new pre-filled one. The sealed, pre-filled disposable pens are the easiest to use because when the all the oil is gone you simply dispose of or recycle the entire pen.
- Atomizer — The atomizer is a tiny heating element inside your vape pen that heats the oil in the tank or cartridge. It converts the cannabis oil into tiny, airborne droplets that you then inhale.
- Sensors — Many vape pens turn on automatically when you inhale. Others require you to push a button to activate the atomizer to heat up the oil. Either way, this requires a sensor to activate the atomizer.
- Battery — Vape pens (and eCigs) are powered by small lithium-ion batteries which provide power for the atomizer heater. Some batteries are rechargeable while others have a preset battery life of 50, 100, or 200 uses, etc., based on the amount of oil in the pre-filled, disposable pen.
- Charger — Every rechargeable vape pen should come with a charger. The charger typically screws on to the end of your vape pen (with the tank off) and most have an indicator that shows when they are fully charged and ready to go. USB chargers, car chargers, and wall chargers are all available.
To Vape or Not to Vape, We Answer the Question
The recent acceptance and rise of medical cannabis and hemp-based CBD products across North America is nothing short of astounding. People from all walks of life are discovering the many medicinal benefits that the cannabis plant provides, and the previous societal stigma surrounding it is changing. However, many mature adults are not interested in consuming cannabis through the traditional method of smoking it. Inhaling smoke from raw flower can be harsh and may irritate a person’s throat and lungs. Coughing is not an uncommon response even among experienced cannabis consumers, and for those people with asthma or other lung diseases, smoking is a non-starter. It’s also important to remember that cannabis smoke is still smoke and may contain carcinogens. Whether cannabis smoke is harmful is open to debate within the cannabis community, but in general, vaping is considered a healthier option. Smoking is also a very public announcement of cannabis consumption as it generates residual smoke and the legendary cannabis odor, described by many as a “skunky smell.” It definitely does not endear you to your neighbors, family, or a person sitting next to you on a park bench.
How Do Vapes Work?
Using vape pens to inhale cannabis simplifies the consumption process in many ways. It’s convenient, hassle-free, discrete, and portable. Vaping is a relatively new consumption method and can be used with raw flower plant material (which you must grind properly) or with the no-fuss, pre-filled cannabis oil cartridges we mentioned earlier. Again, most vapes are designed for either flower or oil, but some vape products provide both options. In general, vapes work by using the battery-powered atomizer to heat the combustion chamber where you place the flower or oil cartridge. Depending on the pen, the heating process will either be via “convection” where the air is heated around the oil or flower (like a convection oven), or “conduction” for flower vapes where the heating element actually touches the plant material. Vapes range in size from large tabletop versions (good for group sharing sessions), to handhelds, to ultra-portable pens. Higher-end tabletops and handhelds also offer temperature control so you can set the optimal heating temperature for a particular flower strain or oil product.
Flower vapes don’t use an oil cartridge they use cannabis plant material. These vapes provide enough heat to produce vapors from the plant material but are not hot enough to actually ignite the plant and produce smoke. The vapors contain virtually the same medicinal compounds as smoking and when inhaling, you can taste the strain’s distinct characteristics. Yes, Banana Kush actually tastes like bananas in a vape just like it does in a joint or bowl. As we mentioned earlier, the flower must be ground properly before putting it into the combustion chamber. When you’re finished with the medication session, the chamber should be cleaned as well. These extra steps are not terribly difficult, but there is an easier way to vape.
The Rise of Oil
The Cannabis Sativa L plant (its scientific name) contains cannabinoids and the most widely known are THC and CBD, along with hundreds of other compounds. Terpenes, which provide different aromas, flavor, and efficacy profiles, are also an important part of the plant. Together, they work with the body’s endocannabinoid system. . In the world of creating cannabis oil, carefully and consistently extracting and recombining all these elements is the key to an exceptional “whole plant” product. This is critically important for medicinal purposes and a recent study indicates that use of the whole plant (AKA, the Entourage Effect or Full Spectrum) increases product efficacy and quality. Because oil is concentrated cannabis it may also have a higher potency level than flower.
Once processed, cannabis oil is placed in pre-filled vape cartridges, sealed portable pens, or for use in squeezable applicators similar to a large syringe. Over the past few years oil-based vaping is becoming more popular than vaping flower. One brand, HONEY®, strives to provide the very best cannabis oil products and vape pens. When you inhale the high-quality oil vapor from a HONEY® pen, you are receiving all of the compounds found in the plant without the harsh effects of smoking. Exhaling vapor is also much less odiferous because it is not smoke, and the smell tends to dissipate much faster than smoke. While this partly depends on your strain of choice, you’re less likely to be accused of a skunkiness transgression like traditional cannabis smoke. HONEY®’s sophisticated, disposable, and no-maintenance pens provide portable discretion, allowing you to consume cannabis when and where you choose to do so in compliance with your local laws and regulations. HONEY® also offers the only MICRODOSE disposable, where new cannabis users can receive very small doses to gently shift the mental and/or physical states.
When ingesting any substance into your body, quality matters. Cannabis oil for vaping (or eating) is, by its very nature, a more concentrated and potent form of cannabis. Any impurities in the oil or from the chemicals used in the oil extraction process are magnified. This must be taken into account, especially for medicinal patients. This is one very important reason why Three Wells partnered with HONEY®. Part of our mission is to provide trusted resources and information for the entire Three Wells community. The people at HONEY® refuse to use questionable chemical fillers such as glycerin or polyethylene glycol in producing their oils. This keeps their oil quality higher than most of the producers we’ve looked at which means a safer, healthier, and more enjoyable overall experience. Their disposable, pre-filled vape pens are designed for the cannabis consumer who desires high-quality flower but wants the best tasting vape aroma and most active ingredients of the natural plant from a cannabis oil. When you combine HONEY®’s oil quality with the smooth, consistent draw of their pens the overall experience makes them one of our top vaping choices.
While making the switch to vaping is fairly simple, finding the right match for your personal preference may take a bit more time. First, you’ll want to consider the importance of strain-specific oils. Many patients rely on the predictable results they experience from a certain strain. For some, a strain such as Sour Diesel may provide a calming, yet uplifting sensation that works well for both anxiety and depression. Other people may prefer the relaxing effects of an OG Kush for their muscle spasms. Whatever your requirements, strain-specific pens and cartridges are an excellent way to get the medicine you need, when you need it.
Cannabis use is a personal experience and everyone has a different relationship with the plant. Whether you choose to smoke, vape, eat, drink, or use tinctures, it is solely your decision for ways to consume. Without a doubt, vaping has made an extraordinary difference in the ways people consume cannabis. Cannabis vaping technology and products will surely continue to evolve and improve people’s lives. For Three Wells and our selected product partners, we’re looking forward to educating people about the evolution and capabilities of this incredible plant and ways to consume it.
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Karl Phillips is a writer who covers the cannabis business.