There are a myriad of ways to get high – but one of the most clean and fun ways is to vaporize cannabis. While smoking a good old joint is a timeless ritual, vaporising herb offers an unprecedented level control over the high. Once the art of vaporizing is mastered, it allows for a pure and pleasurable experience.
Vaporizers work by heating up marijuana to the point were certain cannabinoids “boil” and literally evaporate, leaving behind just fibrous plant matter. When you light a joint, the smoke is a mix of cannabinoids and a number of somewhat toxic combustion by-products, such as PAHs.
In fact, analysis has shown that joint smoke only contains just over 10% cannabinoids, the rest consists of combustion products. In contrast, the clouds that come out of a vaporizer contain up to 95% cannabinoids, with only small traces of PAHs. In addition, because low temperatures don‘t destroy any cannabinoids through heat, the mileage you get out of your buds is much higher with a vaporizer.
One way to get to know your vaporizer well, is to just play around with the temperature settings – after all, it‘s pleasant research. But a slightly more scientific approach is to get to know the boiling points of the different cannabinoids and their properties. Now that‘s fun applied science!
What‘s the perfect temperature?
Before exploring the depths of cannabinoid boiling temperatures, here are the key findings: There‘s a temperature range in which different compounds of cannabis are released, each showing unique qualities in effect.
While only experimentation will show you the high that suits you best, an ideal temperature to extract a wide range of psychoactive compounds is 185 °C. The optimal temperature range for cannabis is between 180 – 210 °C. Temperatures below 190 °C. tend to produce a more cerebral high, temperature above that tend to induce a body high.
Cannabinoid Temperature Guide
The range of temperature in which all cannabinoids evaporate lies between 157 and 220 degrees Celsius. As all cannabinoids have different boiling points, vaporizing the same bowl of herb at different temperatures will generate different results. In general, there‘s two main effects which we will call the “buzz high” and the “body high”. As mentioned above, lower temperatures will have more of a heady effect, whilst higher temperatures will have a more body load effect.
Note: Although some of the following cannabinoids require temperatures above 200 degrees Celsius to evaporate, setting a vaporizer to that temperature runs the risk of causing combustion, which should be avoided.
- THC: 157 °C. The most famous cannabinoid. It has both euphoric and analgesic effects, inducing a great sense of relaxation.
- CB: 160 – 180 °C. The cannabinoid most sought after by medical users for its vast array of medicinal applications. It partly counters the effects of THC, effectively countering feelings of anxiety and paranoia.
- Delta-8-THC: 175 – 178 °C. This cannabinoid is very similar to THC, but it is more stable and less psychoactive. It has great anti-vomiting properties.
- CBN: 185 °C. CBN is often found in quite small amounts, however, its effects can still be felt. It breaks down THC and is highly associated with a sedative effect.
- CBC: 220 °C. This cannabinoid has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties.
- THCV: 220 °C. THCV has been shown to moderate the psychoactive effects of THC, but more research is required.
Combustion: Dry weed can begin to combust at around 200 °C. The maximum heat weed can take before starting to burn is around 230 °C., depending on how humid it is.
Along with terpenoids, flavonoids are little known compared to the famed cannabinoids. Flavonoids are a large class of plant pigments that are sometimes referred to as Vitamin P. Terpenoids and Flavonoids are partly responsible for the looks, taste and smell of a particular strain. They are the reason we open the zip lock before we buy, because their smell reveals a lot about the character of the plant.
They are also thought to have secondary health benefits. The following outlines both the effects and the temperatures at which the flavonoids vaporize at.
- Beta-sitosterol: 134 °C. This flavonoid is thought to have anti-inflammatory qualities.
- Apigenin: 178 °C. Apigenin is thought to be estrogenic, anxiolytic and have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Cannflavin A: 182 °C. This flavonoid is a COX inhibitor.
- Quercetin: 250 °C. Quercetin is an antioxidant and anti-viral flavonoid. It boils at 250 °C, well out of the cannabis vaporization temperatures.
Terpenoids are structurally related to terpenes and are naturally occurring in a wide range of plants. In part, they contribute to what what gives plants their unique aromatic quality. The scent of cinnamon, cloves and menthol are examples of well known terpenoids. In fact, the strongest known naturally occurring psychedelic compound – Salvinorin A – is a terpenoid.
The following descriptions outline both the effects and boiling points of terpenoids.
- Beta-caryophyllene: 130 °C. Thought to be anti-inflammatory and anti-malarial.
- Alpha-terpinol: 156 °C. This terpenoid is an antioxidant, sedative, antibiotic and anti-malarial.
- Beta-myrcene: 166- 168 °C. This is analgesic, an antibiotic and anti-inflammatory.
- Delta-3-carene: 168 °C. This terpenoid has anti-inflammatory properties.
- 1,8-cineole: 176 °C. 1,8-cineole increase cerebral blood flow, acts as a stimulant, and is anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and an antibiotic.
- D-limonene: 177 °C. Perhaps surpringsingly, D-limonene appears naturally in cannabis. It has anti-mutagenic, antidepressant and immune system potentiating properties.
- P-cymene: 177 °C. P-cymene is an antibiotic and an anticandidal agent.
- Linaloo: 198 °C. This is an antidepressant, sedative and immune system potentiator.
- Terpinol-4-o: 209 °C. This is an antibiotic and an AChE inhibitor.
- Borneol: 210 °C. Borneol is an antibiotic.
- Alpha-terpineol: 217 °C. This terpenoid is a sedative, antibiotic, antioxidant and AChE inhibitor.
- Pulegone: 224 °C. Pulegone is a sedative and potentially has memory boosting properties.
What are toxins?
Very simply put, toxins are chemicals that can be harmful to our body. The advantage of vaporizers lies in their unique ability to extract the active ingredients of cannabis, but without the toxins of combustions, such as tar and carbon monoxide.
Vapor can still contain trace amounts of toxins. But compared to the over 100 different PAHs found in smoke, the one single PAH discovered in vapour is obviously a massive reduction. On the other hand, toxins that come from pesticides, herbicides and other chemical agents will also concentrate in vapour – that‘s why choosing organic cannabis is always smart.
The following is small selection of some of the toxins that are released through combustion.
- Carbon monoxide and tar; Released by combustion in the form of smoke. They are carcinogenic and can cause lung related problems.
- Toleuene; This is not thought to be a very serious toxin, and only appears in small amounts. It can cause light-headedness, nausea, sleepiness and a loss of appetite. Its boiling point is 110 °C., so there is no avoiding it.
- Benzene; Benzene is a carcinogen and has a boiling point of 200 °C.
- Maphthalene; This toxin is possibly a carcinogen and causes light-headedness, nausea, loss of appetite and pale skin. Its boiling point is 218 °C.
Cannabis moisture and vaporizer temperature
Unlike when you use a bong or smoke a joint, bone dry cannabis can still be a delight in a vaporizer. However, because it is so dry, it will vaporize much faster – if it is too hot you run the risk of flash boiling the active ingredients, eliminating taste and flavour.
As it is largely going to depend on the situation and cannabis strain you are using, there is no definitive guide to how to properly vaporize particularly dry weed; but as a rule of thumb you will want to reduce the temperature from your norm, going lower the drier it is.
Conversely, if your bud is fresh, then it may be very high in moisture. As a result, it can sometimes be hard to get cannabinoids out. To deal with this, it is recommended to do what‘s called a flavonoid run. By putting the vaporizer at a lower temperature (around 138 – 148 °C.), it is possible to gain a bag of flavonoid vapour whilst slowly drying out your cannabis a bit. After this run, your cannabis should be dry enough to vaporize efficiently at THC and other cannabinoid temperatures.
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