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The history of vaporizers goes back further than you would think. Although no single person is credited with the invention, there were many vaporizer concepts throughout history. However, the modern vaporizer was created by Bill Amato in Amsterdam in the early 90s. This was the first real tabletop vaporizer and was shaped like a gumball machine. These globe-style vaporizers started gaining some popularity until the Volcano was released in 2000. The Volcano was far advanced and is still undeniably the best tabletop vaporizer on the market (and still quite expensive). With the growing interest in vaporizers, competitors created tabletop designs of all shapes and sizes for varied price ranges to appeal to a wider market. The modern e-cig was invented in 2003 and various styles of vape pens and portable vapes have been introduced since then. With its health benefits, ease of use and the wide variety of styles available now, vaping has taken off in recent years. With the limitless options on the vaporizer market today, how do you know which vape is right for you?
In search for the answer to this question, we will break down the key features of dry herb vaporizers and take an in-depth look at the pros and cons of each type.
Although the average vape is the healthier, convection style vaporizer, this is still the most important aspect to distinguish when shopping for a portable vaporizer for herb. With a convection vaporizer, the heating chamber functions similar to a convection oven. The chamber will evenly heat to a controlled temperature and the hot air will bake the herbs. The dry herbs will slowly break down and discolor, likely turning brown - but, they will not burn and turn to ash. When dry herbs burn, their chemical composition changes resulting in carcinogens and a harsher emission. Convection vapes are the healthier way to smoke and truly vaporize. If this is what you are looking for, you’ll love the E-CLIPSE. For the budget conscious buyer, the Titan 2 is another great choice
During combustion, the heating chamber is structured similar to convection vapes until you get to the bottom where there is usually an exposed coil that provides direct heat rather than the oven-like effect. With an exposed hot coil, there is no temperature control and the coils direct contact reduces herbs to ash. A combustion vape is an easier way to smoke herb and a lot of people prefer this. Not everyone is looking for a healthier way to smoke, but rather a more convenient or discreet way. Picture yourself snowboarding down a mountain or lounging on a beautiful breezy beach with an AGO dry herb vape. Now, with just the press of a button, you can enjoy yourself without a lighter or worrying about wind or cold, wet conditions.
Temperature control is one of the most important aspects to many dry vaporizer users. While the ideal temperature for vaporizing most herbs is around 410°F (210°C), some users like to burn hotter or cooler. The general recommended dry herb vape temperature is between 375°F and 430°F. For those with lung issues or just those looking for smooth, light vapors will want to set their vape closer to the 375°F mark. You definitely want to keep your dry herb vaporizer under 455°F to avoid burning the herbs. If you’re going for ‘true vaporization’, every vaporizer in that category has temperature controls. Temperature settings will vary and the amount of control needed is based on personal preference. The average casual user can get by with three settings, like low, medium and high. The higher the setting, the thicker the vapor will be. If you like to fine-tune your experience, get a vape with multiple settings. The Titan II has the most customizable settings around — you can change the temperature by a single degree ranging from 200-428°F.
Another key characteristic among vaporizers is the time it takes to heat up. Back in the early 2000s before vape pens came along, it took awhile to get your vape going. Even today, most tabletop vapes will take roughly five minutes to reach an ideal temperature. While this isn’t too bad if you are just chillin’ at home, it’s not super ideal if you are looking for a quick vape sesh. Thankfully, most vape pens or other portable vapes will heat up almost instantly. Combustion vapes often heat up in a matter of seconds. Once you turn them on, they are ready to go. While the ceramic elements in convection vapes might take slightly longer, they are not far behind. If time is an issue, we definitely suggest getting a portable vape.
When it comes to the size of the heating chamber, there is no best size. As you could imagine, a larger heating chamber is more convenient for dry herbs because you can vape for longer before changing out the herbs. However, a larger chamber results in a bulkier vape so if you really want something that slips easily in your pocket, go with something like the AGO dry herb vaporizer. Otherwise both the E-Clipse, Stoner Joe and Titan 2 are great mid-size options.
While some tabletop vapes might have a chamber that pops on, all portable dry herb vapes will either be top loading or bottom loading. The E-Clipse and Titan 2 are both top-loading, which means you load it right under the mouthpiece. Others like the Pax and Da Vinci IQ load from the bottom. Neither option is ‘better’ than the other necessarily. Both styles provide easy access to chamber and are equally functional.
Many dry herb vapes use a ceramic heating chamber. This material provides consistent heat and can heat up in seconds. The Stoner Joe and E-Clipse are great ceramic dry herb vaporizers, but the AGO dry herb vape is a solid budget-friendly ceramic option. The Pax 3 veered away from ceramic and uses a stainless steel ‘oven’ heated by their own thin-film heater to vaporize dry herbs. This also works quite well but hasn’t proven to be any better than ceramic.
Battery capacity is measured in mAh so the higher the mAh, the longer the battery will last before needing a charge. Since a higher mAh battery holds more juice, it will also take longer to charge and they take up more space. For day-to-day use, a small battery, like the 650 mAh battery in the AGO Vape works fine. It should last at least a full day and it reaches a full-charge quickly. If you want a portable vape with a larger battery, the E-Clipse with its 2200 mAh battery is the perfect option.
Make sure you get a vape with a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery. Almost all vapes should come with this type of battery now but you might find an older model that uses Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH). Li-ion batteries hold their charge much better and hold up their max charge much longer than their NiMH counterparts. Li-ion batteries will usually last several years and are easy and relatively cheap to replace when that time comes.
A vaporizer is used often and it is also shared with friends, so look and feel can be an important deciding factor. Vaporizers come in all shapes and sizes and some are easy to hold while others can be more awkward. Most portable vapes are easily held in one hand but some users prefer the pen-style (or rounded) vapes as they look and feel like an e-cig. On the other hand, rectangular vapes are preferred by many users. While they are slightly bulkier, they are often easier to hold on to than the thinner vape pens. Rectangular vapes are usually preferred for users with larger hands. The Stoner Joe dry herb vaporizer is a perfect shape for holding and comes with a very comfortable rubber grip so it doesn’t slip out of your hand after you’ve vaped a little too much.
While simple vape pens won’t have any display, any vape with heat options will have some sort of digital display. Functionally, LED displays are just as good as OLED. However, if you really want that classy look, go for a vape with the advanced OLED technology.
We will always love desktop vapes as they were a true pioneer in vaping technology. However, with the advanced technology available in today’s portable vapes, there’s really no advantage to having a desktop vape. Sure, filling up Volcano bags is fun when you’ve got a group, but vapes like the E-Clipse and Titan 2 work just as well and they are more convenient and affordable.
Technology is ever advancing and there are some pretty cool new features. Again, OLED screens are similar to top technology in televisions so it’s pretty cool that you can have one on a portable vape. There are several box mods that have touch-screens and the Pax 3 even has Bluetooth technology so you can control it from an app on your smartphone. At the moment, you can save preferences for future use, but this opens up a new window of possibilities - imagine tuning in the perfect temp for your favorite new strain and being able to send the settings to your friends.
Now that you are more informed on the choices available and the pros and cons of different features, you are ready to make a decision. While the biggest factor is often price, there are great vape options at every price point. Some users want full-control of temperature and the newest features, while others don’t want to spend too much and just need a simple pen to vape dry herbs. Whatever your needs, the perfect vaporizer is waiting for you. Feel free to check out our selection of dry herb vaporizers.