How does “Vaping” 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.
The preponderance of electronic cigarettes was brought on, in part, by a desire for an alternative way to satiate a tobacco smoker’s nicotine craving than combustible products like cigarettes. Vaping cannabis grew in popularity for similar reasons, it circumvented the inhalation of smoke.
Rechargeable vape pens work by heating up a small amount of oil, tincture, budder, shatter, or wax, in a special cartridge, to a suboptimal level required for burning. Pressing a small button on the pen causes the cartridge to heat up, and subsequently the e-liquid is agitated and releases either cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, or nicotine.
Should You Vape or Smoke?
Vaping and traditional smoking have some very noticeable differences. Many medical marijuana patients, recreational user’s, and former cigarette smokers, turn to vaping because it has been proposed that it mitigates some of the risks associated with the inhalation of smoke, either from cannabis or tobacco. The science is not nearly settled on this topic, but in very general terms the argument is predicated on the following;
Smoking requires combustion, either of cannabis or tobacco. Smoke inhalation is a leading cause of lung disorders such as cancer and respiratory stress. Inhaled smoke contains more carcinogens and results in harmful chemicals settling in the lungs.When vaped, certain chemical components of cannabis and tobacco can be separated, to a certain degree, from the particulate matter.
Referencing this article by The Weed Blog, we can see this process at work, the article cites that 88% of cannabis smoke contains non-cannabinoids, while 95% of vaporized gases contain preserved cannabinoids. In other words, vaped cannabis has a higher percentage of preserved cannabinoids and less particulate matter than smoked cannabis.
The implication some vaping proponents or enthusiasts make is that this means “vaping” is healthier than smoking. In the context of tobacco smoke, the same implication is made, vaping tobacco is better than smoking tobacco because nicotine (as an e-liquid) is separated from the particulate matter responsible for lung damage and respiratory stresses. THIS IS NOT TRUE.
What are the Differences Between Vaping and Smoking?
In regards to cannabis, “vaping” is purported to deliver an overall more noticeable high (high cannabinoid concentration in e-liquid) and for patients, a more efficient delivery of their medicine.
Moreover, the odour of cannabis is often undesirable, the smell is absorbed by clothes, as well as hair and skin – especially around the mouth and fingertips.
Smoking cannabis can also be cumbersome; you often need to carry many things to ingest the product including; the 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.
Is Vaping Less Harmful than Smoking?
While an interesting hypothesis, concrete statements about the health implications or clinical significance of “vaping” in the context of lung diseases like cancer, and other respiratory stresses cannot be made. This narrative is pervasive both in the tobacco industry and cannabis industry.
In regards to tobacco, this narrative is utilized in a very similar way, albeit with a few distinctions. In addition to reducing the presence of particulate matter, the smell, and the effective titration of nicotine, “vaping” also enables tobacco companies to re-market a product that has universally been labelled as “harmful”.
By reinforcing the idea that “vaping” removes everything harmful about tobacco or nicotine, they can continue to sell product to an entirely new segment of the market.
Think about it, if you are, or have been, a tobacco or cannabis smoker you may or may not be receptive to “vaping”. However, the converse may also be true, and that can be troubling insofar as there may be people who would try “vaping”, but would never smoke.
In this sense, tobacco and cannabis companies can capture an entirely new audience that isn’t attracted to smoking, but is attracted to “vaping”. This is where factual statements about the clinical significance or health implications of “vaping” becomes dangerous, because depending on who they come from, and in what context they are made, they can be misleading.
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