Several decades ago the number of ways in which one could enjoy their cannabis was limited. This was not for their lack of creativity but because of limitations in equipment and technology aiding the diverse ways to enjoy weed.
The said technology has however come a long way. Today, aside from smoking weed, there are numerous methods of having weed; one of which includes vaping. Vaping has gained popularity in the recent past which has led to the introduction of numerous vaping equipment; portable and with numerous impressive and functional features.
Now, if you are reading this, I am sure you have a general idea of what vaping is; otherwise, you would not be looking for a vaporizer in the first place. But even while you know what vaping is, there surely are some gaping holes in your understanding that need to be filled to have you pick the best dry herb vaporizer on the market.
In this event, you are wondering what you should expect when using a dry herb vaporizer? Or if the vaporizer you choose depends on the type of herb you prefer, you are in the right place. In this piece, I seek to clear any and all doubts in this regard. So before we even get into the intricacies of choosing the best dry herb vaporizer, below is a brief explanation of some terminologies you will come across and that you need to have a firm understanding of.
Convection vs. Conduction Vaping
All dry herb vaporizers all have the same end goal in mind. However, they do not all use the same process to achieve the said goal. It is as they say; there are many ways to kill a cat. Dry herb vaporizers have two methods of heating and varying ideal temperature settings designed to get the best flavor and experience from the vapes.
The two methods used in vaporizers are convection and conduction. In conduction, the dry herb is heated directly. The dry herbs are placed directly in the oven where they are heated when a button is pushed. The method of heating is perfect for the individuals who smoke frequently in the great outdoors or during the day. The best part about the vaporizers that incorporate this heating method is that significantly lower temperatures are required to produce great quality vapes and in the required consistency.
The convection method, on the other hand, heats the dry herb using hot air passing around and through it. The idea is similar to what we learned in high school about heat transfers. Since in this method no combustion takes place, it is preferred by most vapers. But why does ‘no combustion’ reel in so many fans? Well, the inference is that there is a reduced risk of inhaling the combusted dry herbs. Needless to say, the combusted dry herbs have adverse effects when inhaled.
Great, you now know of the different heating methods and have a general idea which would be best for your needs. Now, let us proceed to vaporizing temperatures. Does the type of herb used dictate the best vaporizing temperature for the best vaping experience?
What Temperature Is Perfect For Vaping?
Generally, most vaporizers make use of temperatures in the ranges of 325 degrees Fahrenheit and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Having said that, I should point out that there are 3 preferred temperature ranges. These are;
- 325 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit: this temperature range is perfect for emitting light vapor. It is perfect for herbs with low amounts of moisture.
- 350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit: this is the ideal temperature range for vaporization. Within this range, you should expect great results.
- 375 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit: this temperature produces a great deal of vapor. It is perfect for the dry herbs that are high in moisture.
So yes, the temperature you use will depend on the type of flower you use. While choosing the best dry herb vaporizer, you should first consider the type of flower you prefer using. Luckily, most of the modern dry herb vaporizers feature different temperature settings. With these settings, you will get the best from your dry herbs regardless of the type.
Types of Dry Herb Vaporizers
Since vaporizers were introduced to the world a few years ago, they have since flooded the market. Today, there are lots of types and varieties to pick from. One would think that with so many options, choosing the best dry herb vaporizer would be a walk in the park. But on the contrary, it only makes the decision-making process harder, especially for newbies learning the ropes. But since buying a dry herb vaporizer is an investment, it is in your best interest to take time and choose the best type of your lifestyle.
These are by far the most popular dry herb vaporizer type on the market. If you are one who is on the road most of the time or love the convenience of vaping pretty much anywhere and everywhere, then portable vaporizers are perfect for you.
Going with their name, one this rings loud and clear, they can fit in a bag, in your jeans pocket and discreetly in your hand. However, you should be warned that not all of them can fit inconspicuously in the hand. Also, they are not the most discreet form of vaping – vape pens win the medal for that. But with regards to longevity and quality, they will do you proud.
Portable vaporizers are designed to provide some of the smoothest drags on the market. The portable vaporizers that feature precise temperature controls provide its users with more control over the tastes and effects.
I should point out that courtesy of their popularity; they come in great diversity sporting different features and different technologies. As a consumer, you have the option to choose between the heating options, flame and butane options and rechargeable batteries.
Overall, if your concern is the quality of vapor and your vaporizers portability, then portable vaporizers are the best.
Vape pens as they are commonly referred to are the smallest there is on the market. They are designed to resemble a pen and to fit comfortably in your palm. Courtesy of their compact size, they are by far the most discreet dry herb vaporizers. Since they can fit in your pocket, they are not only portable but easy to hide away.
Another great advantage of the vape pens is that they are easy to handle. They constitute a chamber, a battery, and mouthpiece. To use the unit, all that is needed is to load the chamber, heat up the pen and vape away. Also, they are inexpensive compared to the portable vaporizers and the desktop vaporizers.
At this juncture, I should point out that this category of vape pens does not refer to vape pens designed to vaporize wax and e-liquids. These fall under a different category altogether.
But with all their benefits, does it mean that they are flawless? Well, not quite. Their biggest pro is their greatest downfall – their compact design. Since they are small, they do not sport as many features as other portable vaporizers. As such, they do not come with the option of precision temperature controls. So the moment you tap on the heat button, you have no control over whether you get a mental or body high.
Vape pens are also not as powerful as the desktop and portable vaporizers – again courtesy of their compact design. This greatly limits the quality of vapor produced and their efficiency.
If you do end up preferring vape pens, you should exercise caution as you pick out the unit. There are only a handful of these vaporizer types that have been adapted and designed to handle dry herbs. But the limited choice does not rob you of choice. There still are sufficient types and brands to pick from.
All vape pens use conduction heating method. As such they have a tendency to overheat. You need to be careful not to burn the dry herb and to keep the overall temperature in check to avoid burning your lips as well.
If you are looking for stealth and portability, then the vape pens are the best choice for you.
When you take a closer look at these vaporizers, one thing shines through; they are more of stay at home vaporizers than anything else. Their construction and design do not allow for convenience and portability – not in the way that vape pens and portable vaporizers do.
These vaporizers are considerably larger in size and are meant to stay on table tops.
But what these vaporizers lack in portability and convenience, they more than make up for in quality. They are designed to deliver quality vapor and last for long. Courtesy of their large size, they have more than sufficient room for convection heating. With this heating method, temperature control is easier and precise and the heat distribution is more than efficient.
Moreover, given their large dimensions, the desktop vapes provide for group and solo vaping sessions. Other vaporizers can only hope to provide such convenience.
Factors to Consider When Choosing A Dry Herb Vaporizer
As you are making your purchase, you need to pick a vape that will fit your lifestyle. Listed below are some of the factors that you ought to take into serious consideration.
When you are purchasing a dry herb vaporizer, the price is a factor you will want to consider. The prices of vaporizers in the market vary greatly. There are some pricey ones and some affordable vaporizers.
With the price difference, it can be tempting to go with the cheap and affordable options. However, while you do so, bear in mind that you get what you pay for. In the event you purchase a knock-off vaporizer, you will end up inhaling low-quality vapors.
That said, in general, vape pens tend to be slightly cheaper than vaporizers. But this is because of their reduced functionality. They do not feature precise temperature controls. Portable vaporizers are usually reasonably priced and come packing a great vaping experience.
The oven is the part of your vaporizer in which you the dry herb will be heated and converted into water vapor. The size of the oven is a great determinant of how much you will get to enjoy in a single day. The amount of dry herb you use in a day is highly dependent on the lifestyle you lead.
If you intend to vape solo, a unit with a small oven will meet your needs and even surpass them. But on the other hand, if the intention is to have a fun vaping session with your friends, then you should choose a unit with a large oven. This will allow you longer sessions and provide enjoyment.
Why is getting a right-sized oven imperative? Well, it gets rid of the hassle of constantly needing to turn the herbs, refill and have to deal with the pain of undercooking.
This might be difficult to understand or believe but it is true. The material used to make the dry herb oven will make quite a huge difference in the vapor quality you get to enjoy. Now there are 3 main materials used to construct ovens. These include; glass, stainless steel, and ceramic.
The ceramic ovens are considered to be of high quality. Why is this? Well, the material is inert and does not add any flavors to the vapor. It helps to retain the purity of the dry herb. You should, however, bear in mind that this material is quite fragile and as such you should be careful every time you set it down. Additionally, the ceramic ovens are usually porous which makes their cleaning quite a hassle.
Stainless steel ovens are also considered inert. As such, they too preserve the purity of the flavor of the herb. Unlike the ceramic material, they are not porous and are therefore easier to clean. With this advantage, the stainless steel ovens tend to be slightly more expensive and heavier than the vapes.
These are known for their superior quality. They have the best of both worlds. They are both inert and nonporous. In addition to these, they also are easy to replace. But on the flip side, they tend to be fragile. As such, without proper care and handling the glass oven breaks.
Size of the device
This is yet another important consideration you ought to make before spending your hard earned cash. While size may not matter in other parts of your life, when choosing a vaporizer it is of absolute importance. Here is why.
First, if you are constantly on the move, you will need the unit to be discreet enough to allow you to enjoy your weed without people staring. Second, the size of vapes affects the quality of vapor you inhale. Portable vaporizers are the best at this. Third, if you are one looking to have a shared vaping experience, the vaporizer you choose needs to accommodate your friends during these sessions with great ease. A desktop vaporizer, in this case, is best.
Session vs. On Demand
Different technologies allow for different vaping usage. So that we are on the same page with the terminologies, here is what these two mean. On-demand refers to taking a single hit taking a break and then getting back to it later. A session, on the other hand, refers to having a dedicated period in which you take multiple hits back to back.
The difference between these two usages is caused by the heating method of the vaporizer in question.
For the most part, convection-style vaporizers are considered to be on-demand. These types of vaporizers allow for immediate and on the spot hits. You can stretch these throughout the entire day. They help the herb to last for a longer time.
Conduction vaporizers, on the other hand, are designed for sessions. These vaporizers allow you to enjoy your dry herb immediately after it heats up. It is perfect for some downtime and sharing with your close friends.
Vaping is different from smoking
This cannot be emphasized enough. Smoking depends on combustion. Combusting dry herbs can have adverse effects on your health. Vaping, on the other hand, is totally dependent on the distribution of heat and water vapor. As opposed to inhaling smoke laced with harmful carcinogens, users inhale vapor free of tobacco and nicotine.
Because of these minor differences, the vaping experience is significantly different from the smoking experience. Smokers usually experience an intense hit in their throats while vapers experience a smooth and soothing inhalation sensation. In addition to this, smokers will exhale some large clouds of smoke. As for vapers, the size of the cloud exhaled depends on the vaporizer. The exhaled cloud can be discreet or mild. That said, if you are more of a cloud person, you should consider the density of the cloud you are seeking and get a vaporizer that can provide you with your needs.
Truth be told, vaping is an investment. And as we pointed out before, with vaporizers, you will always get what you pay for. Generally, the superior vaporizers are expensive. The price is usually upwards of $150. Such vaporizers are great when it comes to versatility, vapor quality, operating systems, efficiency and number of features and convenience it offers.
Purchasing a cheap unit means that it is lacking in some features and level of quality. There is a reason why the company can afford to sell it at a low price and still make a profit. Most often than not, they are lacking in quality or sturdiness. With a reduction in price, expect a reduction in quality.
But this does not mean that you spend on the most expensive units, no. Always strive to strike a balance between the price and the quality and number of features the unit features.
All quality vaporizers feature clean air paths. Air paths, in this case, refer to the general delivery system of the vaporizer and the mouthpiece. So what is meant by clean air paths?
Well, this refers to the material used in constructing the mouthpiece. Let’s think about it for a second. The vaporizer is constantly in use and is as such exposed to water vapor and heat. With these conditions, you need to ensure that the material used to construct the air path can withstand the said pressures and conditions.
Just like the glass ovens, air paths made from glass tend to be the best and deliver the purest and most flavorful vapor. Sure there are other materials including glues, chemicals, plastics and rubbers, but these will generally affect the quality of vapor you inhale. This is not only with regards to the flavor but also with regards to your health.
Owning a vaporizer that functions at its best is a responsibility. For it to keep operating at its best performance, it requires some regular maintenance.
For this reason alone, you should ensure you read the manual included in the box when you make the purchase. I know very few people do this, but it is imperative that you do. Learn the recommended maintenance methods and processes for the unit before you start using it.
Part of the regular maintenance is that vaporizers need regular cleaning. This will not only ensure that you enjoy clean and flavorful vapors but also help preserve the quality and functionality of the vape. The screens and filters will need to be replaced every so often.
Our Top 3 Picks for Best Dry Herb Vaporizers 2018:
While it can be easy to postpone maintenance and eventually slack on it, you should avoid it as much as you can. Failing to give your vape the required care will only undermine the performance. Here are the best dry herb vaporizers reviewed.
1. Hydrology 9
This is a futuristic vaporizer designed with an inbuilt temperature setting, a water filtration system and lots of fancy LED lights to complete its futuristic look. With all that the unit has to offer, it comes as no shock when it is among the priciest unit available on the market. With the features, it comes packing (detailed below), the unit competes against the market giants including the Firefly 2 and PAX 3.
The first thing one notices when they unbox the unit is the unique design – it is like no other you have seen before. Its futuristic design is without a doubt innovative and breathtaking, to say the least. The unit is constructed using an anti-rust aluminum alloy casing complemented with borosilicate glass. With so many plastic and cheap looking products, it is a relief to see a brand that goes out of its way to provide a high-end and quality unit.
The unit measures 7 inches tall and is 1.5 inches wide. While it is huge, it is still considered a portable unit. It is, however, not a unit you will throw into your pocket and go about your day with no thought of it being present.
Given that the casing is reinforced with glass, one might be tempted to think that the unit is fragile. Well, this could not be further from the case. The borosilicate glass is thick and strong. The unit can survive being hurled at a brick wall.
Now, this is what we all are interested in. the unit looks great, no doubt. But how does it perform? At the beginning of this review, we pointed out that the unit features a water filtration technology. This technology has played a big role in placing the unit on a high pedestal and in competition with the big wigs of the industry.
Vaping in itself provides a smooth and tasty vapor. The addition of the filtration system works to smoothen the vapes all the more. The water included in the system is designed to help in cooing the vapor, thus making it easier and smoother when it gets to the lungs.
With regards to its battery life, it is quite impressive. If you intend to use the unit several times in a day, you will be pleased to note that you only will need to charge it several times in a week. The icing on the cake is that it only takes a couple of hours to reach its optimum charge.
This unit sports two air intakes which are designed to help make the adjustment of the air flow for optimum vaping a breeze. These vents are placed in a location that makes them easy to adjust. Why is this a big deal? Airflow is imperative to the vaping process. Additionally, it is more of a personal preference setting for each vaper.
It is also worth noting that the unit comes with a stir stick built into the design of the unit. With this stick, you get to stir the herb without opening the vaporizer. Ll you need to do is turn a dial located at the bottom of the unit and rotate the hook and it will move the herb around on the inside allowing for even heat distribution. This feature is functional and comes in handy. It comes as a shock why there aren’t many vaporizer brands and manufacturers that have made it a standard feature.
For the longest time, the dry herb vaping market has not experienced great progress as expected. The technology brought several changes and improved the way of life but truth be told, the very little impact was felt with regards to the design and features of the unit.
The Hydrology 9 features great incentive for those willing to pay the price. The experience is to die for and the features, tech, and design are out of this world. Simply put, this unit gives the best on the market a run for their money.
2. PAX 3 Vaporizer
The PAX 3 is commonly and famously known as the iPhone of vaporizers. It is referred to as such courtesy if its high tech and fancy design. The exterior is sleek and smooth and features more of a minimalistic look. Judging from the popularity it has garnered over the years (a short time after it was introduced into the market), PAX Labs must have been doing something right.
And now that we have the introductions out of the way, let’s get down into the features and performance of the unit – the heart of the matter.
Features and Performance
The PAX 3 unit is a dry herb as well as a concentrate vaporizer presented to the market by PAX Labs. The unit sports a-one button activation. A simple press of the button will get it started and heating. Holding this button for longer, say two seconds will take you right into the temperature controls. In this setting, you will be in a position to tweak the temperatures as you please. You can click on the button to go through the preset heat settings – they are 4 in total.
Another cool and functional feature about the PAX 3 is the fact that to check the battery level, all you need to do is shake the unit. This is super convenient and easy. As a matter of fact, it is arguably the easiest method of checking on the vaporizer’s battery level. During the testing, I easily got a whopping 9 sessions from the unit before it ran out of charge. These sessions, however, fluctuated from 5-9. Nonetheless, the battery life is still considered to be solid and great.
Given its status in the market, the unit surely must be giving other units a run for their money. And true to this, it is. The PAX Labs designed an App to work with the PAX 3 just like its competitors, the Firefly 2 has. With this App, the PAX 3 can be remotely controlled on both Android and iOS platforms.
The use of this app presents you with uncanny control and precision of the temperature settings. In addition, you get to control the brightness and dimness of the LED lights, upgrade the firmware, play several games and lock the device if you please.
Okay, okay, so this PAX unit features some pretty cool features, but is that it? How does the unit actually perform? Does its performance meet and match the features it sports? How is its vapor quality?
In the event you have used the PAX 2 in the past, then you have a slim idea of what you are getting yourself into. The PAX 3 is just an upgrade to the PAX 2. As such it comes with everything the PAX 2 comes with plus some few additions which work to ramp up the performance of the unit.
Overall, the quality of vapor and its production is roughly the same in both models. This might be slightly disappointing for some but when you consider the phenomenal vapor quality and production in the PAX 2, you have got nothing to worry about. And truth be told, I wonder if there was any room for improvement on this frontier.
With regards to control, with the PAX 3, you get additional control over the pre-set temperature settings. This, in turn, translates into you having a personalized performance that works hard to meet your individualized needs.
The greatest differences between the two versions; the PAX 2 and the PAX 3, is the concentrate vaping ability. Is this any different from wax vaping?
Simply put, yet it is different. PAX Labs recommends making use of the highest setting when working with concentrates. So once the chamber is filled with concentrates, you crank up the heat in your PAX 3 and you will be good to go. I was shocked to note that the vapor from the concentrate did not give a burning sensation in my throat. On the contrary, the hit was smooth and of great taste. You might even forget you are vaping wax.
While the PAX 3 is slightly expensive, it is worth every single penny you spend on it. It does a great job of vaporizing both dry herbs as well as concentrates. In the event you have a flexible budget, you should, by all means, get it.
3. Firefly 2
If you have not heard about the Firefly 2, then you might be living under a rock in some remote destination. Firefly has in the recent past grown to be a leading brand producing some of the best units in the market. Those who have had the privilege of using a Firefly cannot seem to shut up about it. But given that you are reading this review, you clearly want to know more about this unit. So without further ado, here is a detailed review of the unit.
Design and Appearance
The Firefly 2 has a similar design as that of its predecessor. However, while the overall design was retained, the new Firefly 2 is much lighter and smaller – about 55% and 33% respectively.
The Firefly team was able to achieve this by switching the material they had initially used to construct the body. The original Firefly was made using aluminum. But the Firefly 2 is constructed from a die-cast magnesium alloy. This material not only makes the unit significantly lighter but also makes it considerably thinner and positively affects the thermal transfer rate. The later helps in keeping the heat contained within the unit.
On the underside of its faceplate as well as the top chassis is a layer of Gorilla glass. This, as you might be aware of smartphone technology, is elegant yet hard to break.
A quick look at the Firefly 2 and it fast becomes obvious that the Firefly design team put in a lot of work into this vaporizer. Their intention was to give it a minimalistic and sleek look, and boy did they excel in doing so. It is important to note that the minimalistic design is the new trend in the vaporizer industry. As such, this unit is modern and trendy.
In a few words, the Firefly 2 is stunning and quite expensive. But all the same, the expense is well worth it.
Ease of Use
The Firefly 2 is activated in a really cool manner. It is close to nothing you have seen or experienced before. To get it up and running, you place the index finger and the thumb on the sides of the unit and you are good to go. At first, you will be tempted to press down on the sides. However, the capacitive-sensitive technology used does not require you to do this. A simple placement of these fingers will do the trick.
After a few seconds, the chamber will glow in an orange color on its viewpoint. The orange glow has a calming effect. I personally thought that this glow was cool and aided in building anticipation for every hit. It also added to the high tech feel of the unit. while there are other vaporizers that attempt to incorporate glow lights in their design, the Firefly 2 is by far the only that has nailed it with such finesse and precision.
When you purchase this unit, you also gain access to its App designed to run on both Android and iOS platforms. This App provides you with great control over temperature settings. You can switch from one setting to the next with great ease.
This unit comes with 6 preset temperature settings. 5 are designed for dry herbs and one is saved for concentrates. The unit can hit temperatures of 400 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 3 seconds and 420 degrees Fahrenheit in just 5 seconds.
The heating chamber is constructed using a metal plate with about 55 precision air holes. These holes make a great difference between Firefly 1 and 2 design and performance. The first generation came with one 6 holes and was much larger.
The heating coil in this unit does not feature nichrome as other units. The material used, though undisclosed to the public is much better in performance compared to nichrome.
With regards to its battery life, the Firefly 2 last almost twice as long as that of its predecessor. In the packaging, the unit features two batteries. With two batteries, you can enjoy long vaping sessions without recharging downtimes.
Overall, this unit is one of the best dry herb vaporizers on the market. Sure it is slightly pricey, but if you can afford it, it will provide you with great service and performance.
Vaporizers are a technology that is advancing at a shocking rate. It is taking the world by storm. Today, there are all kinds of vaporizers available. Of the dry herb vaporizers, there are lots of brands, makes and models that are taunted to be the best in the industry. But despite all the marketing strategies and ruses, above are the most popular dry herb vaporizers that will not disappoint you.