There are several methods of consuming cannabis for both medical and recreational cannabis users.
However, perhaps the oldest method, smoking, remains the most popular form of cannabis consumption, at least among recreational users. But with the advent of vaporizing, many people want to know is this newer method of cannabis inhalation is healthier than smoking weed？
This article will look at the differences between vaping and smoking, covering their various pros and cons.
Is Smoking Weed Healthier than Vaping?
Overall, vaporizing is considered a healthier alternative to smoking, but that doesn’t always mean it is a better choice for you. Smoking and vaping are very different, so it depends on what you want from the experience – however, they can both get you high and help treat medical ailments.
There hasn’t been much research done on the long term smoking of cannabis. Still, we do know that smoke from the combustion of cannabis has been shown to contain several known carcinogens, and the tar it creates has 50 percent more of some chemicals linked to lung cancer when compared to tobacco smoke.
It’s also proven that regular smoking of cannabis causes visible and microscopic damage to the large airways, which would be associated with an increased likelihood of chronic bronchitis but would subside after cessation of use. None of which sound very healthy. However, there has been no apparent link to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
In one study of over 2,000 people, lead by Donald P. Tashkin, scientists were surprised to learn that they found no increased risk of developing lung cancer from marijuana smokers.
From another study on rodents its thought that the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) released when smoking cannabis are retained in pre-carcinogen form as THC exposure inhibits the enzyme responsible for converting these PAHs into carcinogens, which would be a fundamental difference between cannabis and tobacco smoke.
As most human studies have compared the effects of smoking tobacco with those of smoking marijuana, we need more evidence on long term cannabis vaporizing to determine how healthy it is in comparison. However, its generally regarded healthier as no combustion is achieved, so there is a distinct lack of tars and PAHs making the overall risk of lung and airway tract damage significantly lower.
Smoking Cannabis Pros
The main advantages to smoking over vaping is that it’s cheaper with no real upfront investment, it’s often more sociable to share a joint, pipe, or bong than a vaporizer, and this behavior can be very ritualistic. It’s also the easiest low maintenance way to inhale cannabis. A simple pipe or rolling papers, lighter, and weed are easy to carry in your pocket and take virtually anywhere.
1 Little or no Investment:
Perhaps the main advantage of smoking over vaping is that it’s much more accessible. You don’t need anything more than some rolling papers, some weed, and a lighter.
Sure, you can invest in a fancy bong like those from online headshop Lookah, but that’s an option, not a requirement. If you’re just an occasional cannabis smoker investing in a vaporizer or even a bong may seem excessive, and the upfront cost is undoubtedly one thing that puts people off vaping.
2 Low Learning Curve:
Smoking is simple; with a little practice, anyone can light up a bowl or roll a joint; a vaporizer can require a bit more knowledge and experimentation to find the best temperatures and settings to get the most from your weed.
3 Low Maintenance:
As far as maintenance goes, a pack of papers and a lighter are about as easy as it gets. In order to keep your vaporizer functions well, you’ll need to clean it. That’s more than is needed when smoking a joint. Even cleaning a pipe or bong can be simple in comparison to taking apart and cleaning a vaporizer, installing new atomizers, and remembering to keep it charged.
It’s important to regularly clean your weed vaporizer as leftover residue and buildup can impact your vapes performance. It’s pretty easy to tell when it’s time to disassemble and clean out your vape. You’ll notice that your hits are not as flavorful and it will seem clogged. Depending on whether you are cleaning an herb vaporizer, e-nail, dab pen, or e-juice pen you’ll follow different steps. However, normally you’ll just need to tap the heating chamber to remove debris and use a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol to cleanse by hand. In the case of dab pens which are much stickier, it’s recommended to soak the atomizer for 30 minutes in rubbing alcohol and let it air dry. It gets a bit more complicated with e-nails which have more parts that require maintenance. Overall, you need to be careful with the coil which is delicate, putting light pressure with a q-tip and as little rubbing alcohol as possible. The nail can be cleaned more aggressively with a dab tool or paper clip to remove difficult residue. The water bubbler can be soaked for an hour, then rinsed and left to dry. Although it depends very much on use, the Everything for 420 online headshop recommends to clean your vape after every 10 uses to have it perform optimally.
4 Faster Onset of Effects:
Smoking cannabis, whether in a joint or a bong, can create an intense euphoric effect faster than vaping. The higher temperatures and rapid combustion while destroying some cannabinoids and THC will nevertheless release them more quickly than vaping.
Smoking Cannabis Cons
By far, the most considerable disadvantage of smoking is adverse health effects when compared to vaping. But you also have less control when smoking, and it’s nowhere near as inconspicuous as vaping as the smell and smoke are much more noticeable.
1 Risks Associated with Combustion:
When any plant matter is burned, it will release carcinogens, tar, and other by-products such as naphthalene, benzene, and toluene. This is the unavoidable result of smoking. While weed smoke is healthier than tobacco smoke, inhaling any smoke into your lungs has some adverse effects.
2 Not as Efficient:
Smoking burns the cannabis faster and hotter, so some of the cannabinoids and THC will go up in flame and be lost as the combustion point is higher than the boiling point of those compounds you want to extract. When you vape, the herb can be heated at or closer to the boiling point of these chemicals extracting more of the goodness so that you can extract every last puff of cannabinoids like CBS and THC.
3 Not Discreet:
Smoking cannabis produces a stronger and distinct odor. The smoke and odor linger much longer than vapor, which can be detected from many meters away and is bound to draw the attention of those around you.
4 Less Flavor:
When you smoke cannabis, you get less flavor and taste than when vaping, this is in part because the combustion burns up many of the terpenes and flavonoids, but also they are masked by the burned aromas. Vaping preserves these flavors and gives a more distinct flavor profile.
Vaping Cannabis Pros
The most popular reason people vape cannabis is because it’s better for their health. Additionally, cannabis enthusiasts will enjoy the more distinct flavors making it possible to distinguish different strains apart. It’s also more discreet, so vaping outdoors will draw less attention.
More research is needed on the long-term effects of vaping cannabis, but all the studies done to date show vaping cannabis is better for your health than smoking it.
2 More Defined Flavor:
Vaping will offer a more pronounced flavor than smoking. You get to taste the terpenes and cannabinoid profile of the different strains, which come across more distinctly in vaping than when smoking. This allows you to experience the nuances between different strains of marijuana.
3 Better Temperature Control:
When smoking weed, you have little or no control over the combustion temperature. Most weed vaporizers, in comparison, have different temperature settings. Cheaper tabletop vaporizers typically have three or four preset temperatures, while higher-end tabletop vaporizers can let you set the temperature more precisely.
It may take some trial and error to find the best temperature. Still, this sort of control allows you to find the best temperature for vaping your weed, whether that’s focusing on extracting more flavor or getting an intense euphoric high.
4 More Efficient:
Vaporizing weed means that you can extract the cannabinoids and THC from the dry herb more effectively. While this may take longer than smoking, you will often be able to get more sessions from the weed. As you vaporize the weed, you can move through the different temperature settings releasing as much of this as possible. The spent weed can also be used to create tea or edibles after, unlike with smoking in which you are left with ash.
Vaporizing weed doesn’t produce the sort of smoke and ordo that’s released when burning cannabis. The vapor released is not as dense as smoke, so it dissipates faster, the result is that vaping cannabis smells a lot less than smoking it, and the absence of smoke means you can vape discreetly, even indoors.
6 No Matches/Lighter:
Vaporizers are powered by a battery or other built-in heat source and don’t require a lighter or matches, so you’ll never be stranded with a joint but no lighter.
Vaping Cannabis Cons
The main drawbacks to vaping weed are the upfront cost of buying a vaporizer and learning how to use the device. While some can e fairly straightforward, other desktop vaporizers may take some practice to used and clean.
1 May Require a Grinder:
Many vaporizers need cannabis to be ground to a medium or fine grind to work properly. This is particularly true of most portable handheld vaporizers that use conduction heating.
This sort of uniform grind is hard to do with just your hands, so a good grinder is required. By grinding the herb, you increase the surface area and also allow for air to move between it evenly. This allows all the cannabis to be properly heated and the cannabis and terpenes to be extracted.
2 Must be Plugged in or Charged:
While you won’t need a lighter, you won’t get far if your vaporizer isn’t charged or plugged in. While most portable vapes can last a good while once fully charged, they will still need a power source, which may not always be available other than carrying a power bank with you.
3 Learning Curve:
There can be a significant learning curve with vaping weed. It can take the experience to learn the best grind, how to pack the vape, set the temperature, and inhale from your device. All this takes some time investment but can be richly rewarding for those prepared to invest in it.
4 Requires Maintenance:
All vaporizers need some sort of maintenance. Keeping your vape clean will ensure it offers the best performance, so after every session or so, you’ll have to clean out the vape. While this can be seen similar to cleaning a bowl or bong, some vaporizers can require a higher level of maintenance.
5 Upfront Cost:
A good dry herb vaporizer isn’t going to be cheap. While some good portable units can be purchased for $50 to $100, higher-end ones can easily cost double that.
So is Vaping Better than Smoking?
Well, that depends on what your needs are. If you want to get completely blazed, then smoking is the cheapest and probably the best option for you. If you want a more discreet toke, want a cleaner taste, or are a medical cannabis patient, then a vape is probably for you.
Ultimately the choice is yours, but you should try vaping weed at least once, then you will see for yourself that it’s very different from smoking.