Vape Culture: The How, Why and When

Vaping, or vaporizing; is a method of ingesting marijuana and nicotine products, seen as early as ancient Egypt (Vaping Daily Article). Since then, vaporizing cannabis and other inhalants has drastically evolved and looks totally different today. For some, vaping is a necessity rather than a preference, as medical cannabis ingestion may be their preferred means of pain relief or maintaining a general feeling of well-being. Let’s take a look at the process, and history of vaping.

How does it work?

Vaping is the act of HEATING products like cannabis or nicotine in various forms  including, but not limited to, waxes, oils or flowers to a temperature that allows material to convert to an ingestible vapour WITHOUT COMBUSTION. The most common vaporizing processes today involve combining nicotine, cannabis or its extracts with propylene alcohol and flavouring to create an e-liquid. The e-liquid is then electronically heated to an optimal temperature that allows for the THC or nicotine product in the liquid to be ingested as a vapour rather than smoke. The optimal temperature for vaporization is between 180 and 210 degrees Celsius.

There are several devices that work to vaporize cannabis products, whether you’re at home or on the run. Similar to the rise of cellular devices, portable speakers and other electronics, vaporizing devices have evolved to fit into a pocket too.

The explosion of electronic cigarettes was brought on in part by a desire for a sleeker, safer, and modern way to satiate a tobacco smoker’s nicotine craving without the health risks associated with combustible products like cigarettes. Vaping cannabis gained traction soon after for similar reasons. Rechargeable vape pens work by heating up a small amount of flower, oil or wax in a special cartridge to the optimal level for vaporization. Pressing a small button on the pen causes the cartridge to heat up and releasing the button turns off the heat; doesn’t get much easier than that.

Why vape?

Vaping and traditional smoking have some very noticeable differences. Many medical marijuana patients, recreational user’s and former cigarette smokers turn to vaping not simply because they find it appealing but because they should. Let’s take a look at why exactly that may be:

  • Smoking: causes combustion of the cannabis plant which, not surprisingly, produces smoke. Smoke inhalation accounts for the main causes of lung disorders such as cancer and other respiratory stresses. Inhaling smoke overall contains more carcinogens and harmful chemicals to settle in the lungs. When the cannabis product is produced, less cannabinoids (the chemical that induces a “high”) remain. Some studies, like this one by The Weed Blog, show that 88% of cannabis smoke contains non-cannabinoids while 95% of vaporized gases contain preserved cannabinoids. The presence of a higher percentage of cannabinoids in THC translates to an overall more noticeable high and, for patients, a more efficient delivery of their medicine. The odour of cannabis smoke is often undesirable, the smell is absorbed by clothes, hair, and even skin especially around the mouth and fingertips. Portable smoking of cannabis can be bulky and difficult; you often need to carry many things to ingest the product including the cannabis flower or derivative, grinders, pipes, papers, popper tubes, bongs, screens, lighters, etc. There is also the added concern for the smell of your product. Even in places where cannabis is legal, most prefer a subtle way to travel with their product so as not to offend anyone in a public space. BOTTOM LINE: transporting cannabis and on-the-go smoking can be tricky.
  • Vaping: since cannabinoids are extremely susceptible to heat, the difference in temperature between vaporization and burning is extremely delicate. Vaping will cause minimal irritation to the lungs and throat. Since the product is not burned, and the user inhales vapour rather than smoke, the risk of respiratory complications and lung cancer is essentially nonexistent. Burning the product releases chemicals that are harmful to the lungs and other organ systems in the body. This recently published article by New Scientist outlines exactly how vaping reduced carcinogens in comparison to combustible product. Vaping is more discrete and easy to travel with. Since you only have a single device loaded with your product, there is no need to carry multiple items with you. An added bonus is that you won’t need to worry about smelling like cannabis; since no smoke is emitted when you vape, the fragrance is a lot subtler and there is virtually no harsh smelling residue. Moreover, with the advent of flavouring, vapour doesn’t need to resemble the odours of cannabis or tobacco at all. This is especially relevant to tobacco smokers, who often site smelling like smoke as one of their reasons for making the switch to vaping. Since vaping preserves a lot of the physical product, whether its tobacco or cannabis, product lasts longer when vaped.

Everyone has their own reasons for choosing to vape their weed over traditional cannabis smoking. Which of these reasons is most compelling for you to make the switch?

When do users prefer to vape cannabinoids rather than smoke their product?

For many, vaping product rather than smoking it is a necessity rather than a desire. Since vaporizing cannabis does not produce irritating smoke, many medical cannabis patients that have a negative reaction to inhaling smoke find vaping cannabis easier on their lungs.

Others find smoke irritating to their eyes or skin. Just like other allergies to vegetation, including pollen or certain grasses, having an allergic reaction after breaking up or handling cannabis or getting cannabis smoke in your eyes is fairly common. Vaping eliminates the need to handle product, and eliminates the risk of triggering an allergic reaction to the smoke created by burning the plant.

Vaping to Supplant Smoking?

As portable smokeless cigarettes continue to grow in popularity, the use of vaping cannabis products similarly shows no signs of slowing down.

Part of the reasons vaping is here to stay is because electronic vaping perpetuates modern vape culture by bringing it into an age of growing mobility and updated, sleek products.

As medical marijuana breaks ground in many countries, including Canada, who is particularly progressive when it comes to marijuana law and usage; finding an affordable, efficient, and safe way to deliver medicine is becoming increasingly important.