Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 10:13 pm
Vaporizing is a fairly simple, straightforward, and enjoyable experience. But when it comes to the technicalities of the process, there are a few very important things to consider. For starters, there is a major difference between the heating processes used by different dry herb vaporizers. Your unit will either use conduction or convection to get the job done. However, there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to heating your unit. We took the aforementioned heating methods and broke them down for you in the following article.
How Does a Vaporizer Work?
Most of you reading this at this point have already heard or read a lot about herbal vaporizers. But how do they actually work and what sets them apart from your typical go-to pipe or bong? There’s a long and short of it but basically, a vaporizer is an electronic device which uses a battery to transfer current to a heating element (usually ceramic). The heating element which is used to hold the dry herb then heats up slowly and thus “vaporizes” the active ingredients in the herb in the form of vapor.
It’s important to note that there are different types of vaporizers and each of them works in a different way to release that much sought after vapor. Our job is to tell you the pros and cons of each to help you determine which style of vaporizing works best with your preferences. So let’s get started!
What is Conduction Vaping?
Conduction vaporizers use a heating element to hold your dry herb and heats it up through direct contact. It’s similar to how you would cook a tasty, juicy steak on a frying pan. This is often the easiest, cheapest, and most straightforward method of vaporizing your dry herb
In contrast with convection heating, conduction heating provides a less efficient vape that causes uneven vaporizing. Vapers will also have to stir their herbs to achieve the desired effect. Additionally, you won’t see the high quality vape that you do from convection heating, since it is a simpler form of vaping that often fails to produce high quality results.
The aGo G5 3 in 1 vaporizer is the perfect and ideal candidate for a conduction vaporizer. The heating chamber of this is a ceramic cylinder with a flat circle coil at the bottom. With a click of a button, the coil gets red hot, at temperature above vaporization. Due to the nature of the coil and area of the chamber, not all of the herb gets burnt, or vaporized if you use a glass screen filter so you must stir the herbs.
Obviously, the choice for which type of vaporizer you choose is completely yours. However, consider the heating element before making a purchase. Doing so will save yourself the unnecessary time and heartache of trying to find the right unit.
How Does Conduction Heating Work?
Conduction heating is a simple, yet powerful process. Most of your portable e-pen, e-vape, and other such smoking or vaping devices use conduction to heat up botanicals and herbs. Conduction occurs when materials (i.e. botanicals) are in direct contact with heat. Any flammable material located directly on-top of or resting on the heating coils will be exposed to the heat. This will transform from solid to burnt particles. Vaporizers extract botanicals and byproducts by heating up the material to a desired temperature.
There is a simple glass screen filter you put on the heating element coil for portable electronic vaporizer. You simply put it on top and place your ground up herbs on top of it. As you heat up the dry herb coil, the coils heat should reach your herbs causing it to slowly vaporize.
Faster heat up
Due to heat being transferred directly from the heating element to the dry herb, transfer of heat is a lot quicker on conduction type vaporizers. The faster and more efficient heat transfer can be useful for vapers who prefer to carry around smaller vaporizers. These types don’t require larger batteries, unlike their convection-style counterparts.
Conduction style vapes use a relatively simpler technology. Fewer parts are involved overall and the bottom line is that they tend to be a lot cheaper than other types of vaporizers.
Easier to care for
Due to their simple operation, conduction style vapes only require you to clean out the heating element. You can also clean airflow channels in order to keep the vaporizer in optimal working condition. The technology is relatively more simple so that also means that there’s less potential for something to break or go wrong.
When used right and depending on the quality of the chamber that your vaporizer is using, thicker clouds and more intense flavors are to be expected from a conduction style vape. This is mostly due to the direct heat transfer and faster heat up times.
Uneven heat distribution
Just like how pan frying a thick steak on high heat tends to leave the outside charred while the inside of the steak can still be raw, the same applies to conduction style vaporizers. While this can be somewhat mitigated by using just enough herb to cover the heating element, its often not the most enjoyable way to vape.
Burns at a higher temperature
When set to higher temperatures, conduction style vaporizers have a strong tendency to burn your bud instead of vaporizing it. This ruins the entire point of using a vaporizer in general as it’s not any different from smoking your herb using a joint or pipe.
What is Convection Vaping?
Convection strictly relies on the movement of air across a heating element to create the desired effect. The result is a powerful release of herbs and vapor upon contact. By pushing air up and over the heating element, the unit causes vapor to be released. Convection, therefore, avoids any direct contact with the material yet still reaches the necessary temperatures to create vapor.
The best convection heating is typically seen as the end-all be-all of vaporizer heating elements. It is highly efficient, and prevents scorching of the botanicals. This obviously provides a better tasting vape and is also much smoother in overall experience. By evenly heating all of the botanicals or herbs found in the chamber, convection heating releases the power of the plant without any side-effects. The cons of convection heating would simply be overheating the herbs. There really are no additional concerns with this method.
The G Pen Pro is one of the most popular convection type vaporizers available right now thanks to its rapid heating, high-quality ceramic chamber, and compact form factor. The Boundless CFV also gets special recognition with its durable and robust design, heat-insulated design, and ribbed ergonomic chassis.
How Does Convection Vaping Work?
Convection style vaporizers use what can essentially be considered mini-sized ovens to store your herb. How it works is by heating up the air surrounding it. The heat eventually turns the solid herbs active ingredients into vapor. These are better at heating your dry herb more evenly as the hot air easily penetrates through the layers of dry herb inside the chamber.
Low risk of combustion
Thanks to the even distribution of heat with convection style vaporizers, the chances of burning or combusting your herb before extracting all those yummy THC and CBD compounds are a lot lower.
Since convection style vaporizers have a low probability of burning your dry herb, you can enjoy the benefit of inhaling 100% vapor without any of the nasty smoke which is a result of combustion. This leads to a relatively much healthier vaping experience.
While conduction vaporizers have bolder flavors, the slower and more careful heating of your herb through a convection style vaporizer is much better for vapers who want to taste all the small nuances in their herb, experiencing its true taste.
Better able to dose your herbs
It’s a lot easier to control the amount of marijuana vapor you’re inhaling due to the controlled heating method of convection style vaporizers. This allows for easier dosing for those vaping due to medical reasons and enables you to stay functional while experiencing the pain-relieving and mildly relaxing effect of marijuana.
While conduction style vaporizers often let you choose how much heat or power gets pumped into your herb, it’s not a 100% guarantee that whatever setting you’ve chosen will automatically translate to the internal temperature of the herb chamber. Convection style vaporizers, however, are much more precise and let you dial down the temperature to a tee, giving you a lot more control on how you vape your weed.
Speed of heat up time
It’s no secret that air isn’t the best conductor of heat especially when compared to the excellent conductive properties of ceramic (which is what conduction style vapes normally use). This makes convection style vaporizers slower in terms of heat up time as they need to slowly heat up all the air inside the chamber instead of a singular heating element.
With greater precision comes greater cost. Convection style vaporizers are a bit more complex in operation compared to their conduction style counterparts. This tends to ramp up the cost to levels that might be prohibitive for some vapers depending on the model you’re getting.
What is Hybrid Heating in Vaporizers?
As the name directly implies, hybrid heating vaporizers use the best of both worlds. Both conduction and convection methods are used to heat up the dry herb in your vaporizer’s chamber. The chamber heats up your weed while a small oven is also at work at heating up the surrounding air for a more even heating up process. This is much more efficient than just conduction simply because you have another heat source. You don’t fully combust your herbs.
The Arizer Air 2 is considered one of the go-to vaporizers as far as hybrid heating style vaporizers are concerned. It’s excellent battery life paired with a 45-second heat up time make it one of the most convenient options available. The AirVape Xs is also a good candidate for consideration as its relatively lightweight and compact and features precision temperature control unlike other portable vaporizers
Best of both worlds
The combination of conduction and convection as methods to heat up the herb results in a much faster heat up time but without the added risk of burning your bud.
Since heat is more efficiently distributed throughout the herb and results in a much faster vaporization process, less current is drawn from the internal battery and extended battery can usually be felt depending on your device’s settings
The direct heat applied to the herb yields just as much of a robust vapor as you would get with a conduction style vaporizer. This can sometimes feel overwhelming depending on how you like your vape.
Prices can be all over
Unsurprisingly, hybrid style vaporizers tend to cost more than it’s conduction or convection style vaporizers. Prices can range from mildly expensive to “now I cant afford to pay rent” depending on the model you choose. While price can often be considered an indicator of quality, it’s important to note that improvements of high-end models over budget devices can sometimes be considered marginal.
Vapor is hotter than convection heating
Your vaporizer now has two sources of heat so that’s definitely going to drive up the temperature of the vapor inside the chamber. The faster heat up times means that the collected vapor is still hot by the time you’re ready to vape so take that into consideration before deciding to get a hybrid style device.
What’s the Difference Between Convection and Conduction?
The primary and most noteworthy difference between convection and conduction is the placement of the material. With conduction vaporizing, herbs and botanicals sit directly on the heating element. With convection vaporizing botanicals and herbs sit further up and have an air vacuum underneath pushing hot air up under the materials creating vapor. Obviously, each heating element presents its own unique challenges and also offers its own unique benefits. Let’s take a closer look at each of those.
Which one is better?
While it’s difficult to generalize on which type of vaping method is the best since personal preferences always come into play, it’s not a bad idea to select a vaporizer based on what effect you’re looking to get out of your vaporizer.
When to use which?
Conduction style vaporizers tend to produce a more intense and heady effect due to the denser vapor released. Convection type vaporizers are great for micro-dosing so vapers who are looking to experience more of the medicinal qualities of marijuana while still remaining functional. Hybrid heating vaporizers excel at both due to the wide range of temperatures it can deliver. Take note that none of these are mutually exclusive to their intended purpose and it all totally amounts to how much you vape at any given time.