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How to Use a Vaporizer: A Beginner’s Guide

Whether you’re a seasoned pot smoker or just got a prescription for medical marijuana, using a vaporizer is a simple alternative to smoking, eating edibles or ingesting oils. Vaporizers are portable, produce little to no smell, and the effects kick in within minutes.

They range in size for various purposes: instant, handheld “vape pens” for on-the-go users, and bigger ones with detachable bags that fill up with large amounts of vapour, like the Volcano.

Vaporizers heat marijuana to a specific temperature — anywhere from around 310° to 430° F — in order to turn it into vapour. This eliminates certain health risks associated with smoking, such as ingesting carcinogens or any hazardous combustion products, like tar and carbon monoxide.

Why vape?

Similar to smoking, consuming edibles, and ingesting oils, vaporizing can help with a wide range of symptoms from pain to lack of appetite and post-traumatic stress disorder. But according to one study of 96 cannabis consumers, respondents said vaping has many advantages over smoking. They revealed that vaping cannabis tastes better, smells better, and delivers stronger effects than smoking the same amount of pot.

Vaporizers also allow you to customize your experience. You can use any strain of marijuana, so you can opt for the strain you want or you can create a custom blend.

Vaping in Canada

Vaporizers can be filled with cannabis oil, wax or flower (the dried herb, also known as bud); however, not all methods are currently legal in Canada.

Products like pre-filled vape pens with cannabis oil are currently illegal (unless filled with a concentrate made by you or your appointed caregiver, which involves a difficult, and sometimes dangerous, extraction process). Prescription cannabis oil provided by licensed producers is meant for oral use, and isn’t concentrated enough for the effects to be felt when vaping. Therefore, the only method to legally vaporize in Canada is to use prescription cannabis flower, but this will likely change soon.

According to Health Canada, “single-use forms of dried cannabis products intended for inhalation (such as ‘heat, not burn’ vaporization cartridges)” may be legal for recreational use when the Cannabis Act comes into effect.

Choosing a vape

Find a vaporizer that fits your lifestyle and medicinal needs. Things to consider when buying a vaporizer are its price, size and design. The average dose for a new user is between 1-3 grams per day, but users are encouraged to consult with a doctor first to come up with a plan.

Read the instructions after purchasing your vaporizer so you know where all the parts are and how it works.

In the following section, we will break down vaping into five simple steps.

You will need:

  • A vaporizer
  • A grinder or grinder card (to break up marijuana)
  • A grinder shovel (to scoop ground-up cannabis)
  • Cannabis flower (dried bud)

Step 1: Pack it

Break up the marijuana with a grinder or grinder card until it becomes a fine, powder-like consistency. Use a grinder shovel to scoop cannabis into the chamber. The location and size of the chamber will vary depending on the device. You can decide whether to pack it sparingly or almost to the brim, but make sure to leave some room to allow for air flow.

Step 2: Set it

Turn the device on and let it heat up. Some devices allow you to choose the temperature, whereas others are automatically set when the device is turned on. The higher the temperature, the more potent and thick the vapour will be.

Step 3: Sip it

It’s time to inhale when the desired temperature is reached. Most automatic devices light up to indicate that they are ready to be used. Breathe in from the mouthpiece, where a small opening allows vapour to stream out. This action is called “sipping” because it mimics how people sip with a straw. This motion will feel different than the traditional drag or haul with which joint smokers are familiar.

After a few sips, the device’s temperature will drop and will likely require reheating. If you notice less vapour or flavour coming out, you can empty the chamber and add more cannabis. Be careful when doing this as the chamber can be quite hot. Check your device’s instructions for how to safely empty the chamber.

Step 4: Clean it

Keep it neat. Since excess debris can clog the device, vaporizers must be cleaned after each use to ensure that they continue to work properly. This includes completely emptying the chamber and ensuring that all pathways, like the mouthpiece, are clear. The instructions should clearly indicate how to do a thorough cleaning, which will likely involve pipe cleaners, rubbing alcohol, and epsom salt.

Step 5: Charge it

Store your vaporizer in a safe place and out of the reach of children — preferably where you can charge it. Make sure to charge your device after each use so it’s ready to be used whenever you need it.