Contents of this page:
1. THC How to Choose a Dry Herb Vaporizer Short-List
2. THC Vaporizer Information Page
3. San Francisco, CA, April 2007: "Smokeless" Cannabis Delivery System Found "Safe And Effective," Study Says
4. California NORML Release - May 2 2003 - Study Shows Vaporizer Can Drastically Reduce Toxins...
5. California NORML Release - Jan 7 2001 - NORML-MAPS Study Shows: Vaporizers Reduce Toxins...
Toronto Hemp Company (THC) specializes in Vaporizers (among so many other special things). We provide this informative page in hopes of educating folks about vapor (vapour), vaporizers (vapourizers), and vaporization (vapourization).
For more information, check out:
- The MAPS and NORML studies on marijuana inhalation methods and their relative safety
- TCC's Medical Marijuana User's Guide
- THC's Frequently Asked Questions
Our "How to Choose a Herb Vaporizer" Short-List -
Update 2021 / 01 / 06
Amazingly, there's really not a heck of a lot to add to or change on the following list EXCEPT that our two favorite brands have added to and changed some of their amazing offerings.
Arizer, which is the amazing company in Ontario Canada that makes some of the finest vaporizers in the world while keeping the pricing of those vapes super low and reasonable, has added a portable called the ArGo (a.k.a. Arizer Go) - it's great, but it sure doesn't make the Air2 or Solo2 (or even the Air or Solo) any less attractive, especially for their prices! The 'Minimum Advertised Pricing' policies have been lifted for the Air and Solo (and their tabletops the ExtremeQ and V-Tower), so they are now available at amazingly low prices!
Simply put, ALL of Arizer's vaporizers are STILL by far our first, best and easy no-brainer choice for a kick-ass vaporizer at an amazing price. We had chosen for a long time to not bother stocking the V-Tower as it's just basically an Extreme-Q minus some features for just a little less money... We felt that the few bucks for the Extreme-Q upgrade was WAY worth doing, and so the V-Tower was not really worth carrying... But since we want to provide all of the best vapes for people at all budget levels, we now carry the V-Tower as well as the Extreme-Q and our customers seem to appreciate that. We'd still heavily recommend upgrading to the Extreme-Q if you can!
As for Storz & Bickel, they've made some pretty big changes to their range, and some small ones... Most importantly, they've discontinued the DIGIT and now produce the Hybrid in its place... a bit more dough, but flexible operation with the choice between using bags or a 'whip' for inhalation. Otherwise pretty much the same deal. They've also added a limited edition (available only for a limited time) Gold Plated Classic, and perhaps more relevant is the upgrade to the Crafty. After some incremental improvements over the years (like 20% battery life increases etc.) they now are producing a Crafty Plus while apparently phasing out the original Crafty.
Bottom line is that we HIGHLY recommend ANY vape from Arizer or Storz&Bickel - our preference is of course for the higher-end models like the Air2 and Solo2, Extreme-Q, Crafty Plus, Mighty and Hybrid (though the Volcano Classic AND the 'lesser' Arizers all have huge benefits like the Classic's bullet-proof construction and all of their relatively low prices).
Updated 2018 / 11 / 25
I'm going to keep this real short, quick and simple, because that's what most people are looking for... there's lots more information available all over the place of course, but here's the simple short-list and short answer to the question "What Vaporizer Should I Buy?" (and please keep in mind that Vapor Central, a cool spot where you can pay a $5 entry fee and try various vaporizers and enjoy a relaxing and friendly lounge, is next-door to THC!)
What Vaporizer to buy?
1. Arizer AIR and AIR 2
The super-portable pocket-sized incredible convection vape by Arizer (makers of the best selling ever, and until these came along the best all-round vape available, the Arizer Solo), the Arizer AIR is an amazing smaller version of the original. AIR 2 takes the improvements even further by adding features like digital temperature read-out and super-customizable temp setting, extended battery life and Micro-USB charging port. Functioning as well as the beloved Solo, the AIR (and AIR 2) have a whole lot going for them! Portability is foremost of course - totally pocket sized. Price (compared with other vaporizers more generally) is number two - The AIR and AIR2 are amazinglyt reasonably priced! And you get a LOT for your money - like a user-replaceable Li-ion rechargeable battery system which means that not only can you swap out the battery if it ever starts to not hold as much of a charge, but you can also purchase a spare (or more) and keep it/them charged to extend your vaping time with ease! Which leads me to the next great advantage which is the Air's other available accessories - both Air and Air2 really kick butt in this regard especially because most Arizer Solo (see #2 below) accessories fit! That means you can already connect your Air/Air2 to a water-pipe if you want to using our Arizer OR Planet Vape Glass-on-Glass GonG connectors, and you can use our many optional Arizer or Planet Vape High Efficiency Stems of various types (straight, bent, shorty, turbo, etc.)... The Air/Air2 starter kits also come with TWO stems already, including a short one with plastic mouth tip and a longer all-glass one. Most amazingly, they come with a silicone protective case AND a belt-loop equipped carrying case with spots for two accessories. There are tons of other benefits to these units, most of all being that they function amazingly well AND super reliably; sporting TRUE Convection Vaporization (hot-air, rather than hot-plate type conduction baking/frying type vaporization which is nonsense)... not to mention features like auto-shutoff and the 'pass-through' ability to vape while charging. All around, and especially for our guaranteed lowest-allowed prices, this Arizer Air/Air2 are totally revolutionary and amazing
2. Arizer Solo and the Solo 2
The original Solo, as we mentioned above, is an awesome all-round middle-of-the-road vaporizer choice. Much less expensive than the Volcano brand portable options. Portable in that it is lithium-ion rechargeable battery operated, but not really pocket-sized (but close!). We sell probably ten times more Solos (and Airs/Air2s now that they are proven and have surpassed the Solo) than any other vaporizer. Tons of accessories available including high efficiency stems and connectors and carrying cases etc., and priced amazingly. Just awesome all around. Super amazing choice no matter what. But the Air is definitely an upgrade! The Solo 2 takes Solo's form factor and boosts performance to another level! Much longer battery life (though the Solo2 battery is NOT replaceable), slightly sleeker more sturdy design, digital temperature display and accurate to-the-degree-setting. Solo2 is awesome, and definitely steps up the Solo game, but for not that much more money, and as long as you can handle charging/swapping batteries more often, the Air2 definitely is another step up.
3. Crafty and Mighty by Storz and Bickel (makers of Volcano)
Crafty and Mighty are incredible. Finally, pocket-sized portable vaporizers by the Germans who gave the world the wonderful Volcano. Work as well as you could hope and expect - amazing all-around. Crafty is controllable by Android/iPhone app and rechargeable via Micro USB - just awesome, but costs a pretty penny. Mighty is similarly incredible, works at least as good if not a little better due to having dual li-ion batteries and controls on the unit with no Bluetooth iPhone/Android app connectivity. We love it, and find choosing between it and Mighty to be a real toss-up!
Helpful list of differences: 1) price - the Mighty is a good little bit more than Crafty 2) charging - while Crafty is more universally chargeable thanks to Micro USB connection, Mighty has a regular AC/DC adapter type plug-in charging system (but batteries last twice as long in Mighty). 3) Mighty has no Bluetooth connectivity (while of course all the functions are actually on the unit instead, including an awesome LED temperature screen) - tough to say which method is cooler!; and 4) the Crafty is much more pocket-sized while Mighty is substantially larger. Also, a tiny thing - oddly the Mighty has a rounded bottom so doesn't really stand up without its little kick-stand poker piece at least, as far as I can see (not a real problem of course, just worth noting as a bit of an oddity).
4. Volcano (DIGIT and/or Classic)
STILL the ultimate vaporizers, as long as you're not looking for portability at all, and are OK with the cost. Quite large, plug-in units that works basically perfectly. Not cheap, but can't be beat!
And that's about it... Of course there are tons of other options, including some very good ones - Arizer's Extreme Q for table-top, and the awesome little torch-lighter-powered DynaVaps, as well as handheld battery-op units including some from DaVinci, Grasshopper, FireFly and Ghost I could totally comfortably recommend, for example. True convection 'volatizers' / 'vaporizers' that really work well... but if I'm keeping it simple for folks, this is how I would choose: for purely at home use, and if you don't mind spending the money, get a Volcano DIGIT (or Classic). If you don't want to spend that much, or want it to be a mix of at-home use and portable, then try an excellent Arizer Air2, Air, Solo2 or Solo. If you want a more pocket-friendly unit and don't mind spending the money, then also consider a Crafty (or Mighty), in my humble opinion :)
Conduction Vapes: No matter how 'illogical' it might SEEM, some people just love, and even prefer, their 'conduction' ('hot-plate' rather than 'hot air' / convection') vapes - some love that they seem to bake their herb more thoroughly than pure convection vapes generally do, some simply love that they can be a good bit less expensive than proper 'convection' vapes. I say CAN be, because some conduction vapes are among the more expensive options, like those from PAX Labs (Pax 2 and Pax 3 for example) while other conduction vapes are less 'beautiful' and 'function-rich' and can be had for a lot less dough - like some XVape / XMax, Vivant, and Pulsar products. While they're not in our top few, we do sell LOTS of these few brands' offerings!! If you REALLY don't want to spend the little bit more money to have a true and proper convection vaporizer and simply want a cheap yet functional unit, the best of the 'conduction' vapes for the money include the Pulsar APX and the XVape Vital. For substantially less than $100 you can have a workable (while 'conduction' so in our opinion incorrect) hand-held battery-powered portable vaporizer.
All the best!
Vaporizers are used because they are the healthiest way to ingest herbal medicine. In fact, a study done by M.A.P.S. (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) and NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) a few years ago found that after vaporizers, rolled "joints" are the second healthiest method (presumably due to the self-filtering), followed by waterpipes and pipes (and that waterpipes don't offer much of a health benefit over pipes, if any). From what we know, due to the lack of vigorous burning a properly-used vaporizer will deliver much more of the desired active chemicals without the tar and other undesirable by-products of combustion. The difference in effect and efficiency are unmistakable.
There are two methods of vaporization today; the hot-plate (conduction) method and the hot-air (convection) method. The first is 'old technology,' and generally involves a heating element (originally used to be obtained from a soldering iron) which is attached to some kind of a bowl or 'oven'. The bowl/oven heats up, 'vaporizing' the herbs held within by directly transferring heat to the herbs basically by baking them. This method has been shown (by the same above-mentioned studies) to be relatively inefficient and detrimental to flavor and enjoyment. There are many companies still producing hot-plate/conduction vaporizers. They are sold at a reasonable price (generally between $60 and $100 Canadian) and instructions are easily available to make your own. Due to the relative inefficiency and ineffectiveness of this method we do not recommend hot-plate vaporizing products, and we still hope the market will see a phasing-out of them.
The second method, the hot-air method, uses a heat gun (commercially available for stripping paint, etc.) or similar air-heating device to pass hot air through the herbs, thus vaporizing the active chemicals. This method has proven to be far superior to the hot-plate method. There are many hot-air vaporizers on the market. See further below for more details. Purchase Vaporizers and Vaporizer Accessories Here at THC's Vaporizers and Vaporizer Accessories Online Store Collection!
"Smokeless" Cannabis Delivery System Found "Safe And Effective," Study Says
San Francisco, CA, April 2007:
Vaporization is a "safe and effective" cannabinoid delivery mode for patients who desire the rapid onset of action associated with inhalation while avoiding the respiratory risks of smoking, according to clinical trial data to be published in the journal Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics. Investigators at San Francisco General Hospital reported that use of the Volcano vaporizing device delivered "efficient" doses of THC to subjects in a "reproducible" manner while significantly reducing their intake of gaseous combustion toxins, including carbon monoxide. Eighteen subjects participated in the six-day study, which was sponsored by the California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research. "Vaporization of marijuana does not result in exposure to combustion gases, ... and [was] preferred by most subjects compared to marijuana cigarettes," authors concluded. "The Volcano [vaporizer] device is an effective and apparently safe vehicle for THC delivery, and warrants further investigation in clinical trials of cannabis for medical purposes." Researchers reported that vaporization resulted in higher plasma concentrations of THC compared to smoked cannabis for up to 60 minutes following inhalation. Investigators also reported that subjects 'self-titrated' their intake of cannabis vapor, taking smaller and less frequent puffs when exposed to stronger marijuana. On average, the Volcano vaporizer exposed subjects to 54 percent of the applied dose of THC. Previous studies have shown that as much as 80 percent of the THC burned in cigarettes or water-pipes is lost in slipstream smoke. A prior clinical trial assessing the safety and efficacy of the Volcano vaporizer published in 2006 in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences also reported that the device delivers set doses of THC to subjects in a reproducible manner "while avoiding the respiratory disadvantages of smoking." The efficacy of the Volcano vaporizer was initially reported in a 2004 study co-sponsored by NORML and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which found that the device delivered vapor of high purity with practically no toxic tars or hydrocarbons. Vaporization heats cannabis to a temperature where active cannabinoid vapors form (typically around 180-190 degrees Celsius), but below the point of combustion where noxious smoke and associated toxins (i.e., carcinogenic hydrocarbons) are produced (above 230 degrees Celsius). Separate survey data published this week in the Harm Reduction Journal also reports that vaporization is subjectively associated with fewer respiratory symptoms than smoking cannabis. Abstracts of the study, "Vaporization as a smokeless cannabis delivery system: a pilot study," are available online at www.galenicom.com. Abstracts of the study, "Decreased respiratory symptoms in cannabis users who vaporize," are available online at: www.harmreductionjournal.com
www.canorml.org - California NORML Release - May 2 2003
STUDY SHOWS VAPORIZER CAN DRASTICALLY REDUCE TOXINS IN MARIJUANA SMOKE
Harmful toxins in marijuana smoke can be effectively avoided by a vaporization device, according to a new study by California NORML and MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) with support from a grant from the MPP (Marijuana Policy Project).
The study, conducted by Chemic Labs in Canton, Mass., tested vapors from cannabis heated in an herbal vaporizer known as the Volcano® (manufactured by Storz & Bickel GmbH&Co. KG, Tuttlingen, Germany; http://www.storz-bickel.com) and compared them to smoke produced by combusted marijuana. The Volcano® is designed to heat material to temperatures of 130° to 230° C (266° to 446° F) where medically active vapors are produced, but below the threshold of combustion where smoke is formed.
The vapors from the Volcano® were found to consist overwhelmingly of THC, the major active component in marijuana, whereas the combusted smoke contained over 100 other chemicals, including several polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), carcinogenic toxins that are common in tobacco smoke. The respiratory hazards of marijuana and tobacco smoke are due to toxic byproducts of combustion, not the active ingredients in the plant, known as cannabinoids.
The study suggests that medical marijuana patients can avoid the respiratory hazards of smoking by using a vaporizer. In its 1999 report on medical marijuana, the Institute of Medicine recommended against long-term use of smoked marijuana because of the health risks of smoking. However, the IOM failed to take account of vaporizers.
Previous studies have found that vaporizers can reduce harmful toxins in cannabis smoke. However, this is the first study to analyze the gas phase of the vapor for a wide range of toxins. A previous NORML/MAPS study conducted by Chemic Labs found that a vaporizer known as the M-1 Volatizer® (http:// www.volatizer.com) completely eliminated three specific toxins (naphthalene, benzene and toluene) in. the solid phase of the vapor (D. Gieringer, "Cannabis Vaporization: A Promising Strategy for Smoke Harm Reduction," Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics Vol. 1#3-4: 153-70 (2001)
The new study used a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer (GCMS) to examine the gas components of the vapor. .The analysis showed that the Volcano® vapor was remarkably clean, consisting 95% of THC with traces of cannabinol (CBN), another cannabinoid. The remaining 5% consisted of small amounts of three other components: one suspected cannabinoid relative, one suspected PAH, and caryophyllene, a fragrant oil in cannabis and other plants. In contrast over 111 different components appeared in the gas of the combusted smoke, including a half dozen known PAHs. Non-cannabinoids accounted for as much as 88% of the total gas content of the smoke.
The study used standard NIDA cannabis with 4% THC content. A quantitative analysis found that the Volcano® delivered 46% of the THC into vapor following three 45-second exposures of the sample to the heat. This compares favorably with the typical efficiency of marijuana cigarettes as observed in other studies, which depending on conditions can fall below 25% due to loss of THC in sidestream smoke. An important feature of the Volcano® is that it uses a balloon to capture the vapor, thereby avoiding leakage to the air. It is possible that higher THC efficiencies could have been reached with the Volcano® by stirring the sample around and exposing it to more heat.
The combusted sample achieved a relatively high THC efficiency of 78% upon complete combustion. The high efficiency seems due to the fact that the sample was completely consumed by combustion, and that smoke leakage was effectively prevented by the laboratory setup. Similar conditions do not obtain under normal circumstances when a marijuana cigarette is smoked and much of the THC is lost to the air or left in the unburned "roach."
Two other cannabinoids , cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN), were detected in the NIDA cannabis in trace amounts of 0.1%. Both the Volcano® and combustion delivered an apparent increase in CBD and CBN, but the variance of the data was too high to reach statistically significant conclusions.
Sponsors believe that the study results lend support for wider use of vaporizers by medical marijuana patients and researchers. At present, the only FDA-approved method for administering marijuana to human research subjects is via smoking NIDA cigarettes. NORML and MAPS are supporting efforts to have vaporizers approved by the FDA. As a first step in this effort, Dr. Donald Abrams of the University of California, San Francisco, has submitted a grant proposal to the California Center for Medical Cannabis Research in San Diego to test the Volcano® in human subjects. If the protocol is funded and the Volcano® approved by the FDA for human research, it will be the first human study using a vaporizer. If the FDA requests additional laboratory data about the Volcano@, additional funding may be necessary.
California NORML Press Release - Jan 7 2001
NORML -MAPS Study Shows: Vaporizers Reduce Toxins in Marijuana Smoke
Medical marijuana patients may be able to protect themselves from harmful toxins in marijuana smoke by inhaling their medicine using an electric vaporizer, according to initial results of a study by California NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies).
The study showed that it is possible to vaporize medically active THC by heating marijuana to a temperature short of the point of combustion, thereby eliminating or substantially reducing harmful smoke toxins that are normally present in marijuana smoke. Vaporizers may therefore substantially reduce what is widely regarded as the leading health hazard of marijuana, namely respiratory harm due to smoking.
NORML and MAPS sponsored the study in the hopes of helping medical marijuana patients and others reduce the health risks of smoking. The hazards of smoking were cited as a major obstacle to approval of natural cannabis by the Institute of Medicine in its 1999 report, Marijuana and Medicine. However, the IOM report failed to note the possibility of vaporization.
The NORML-MAPS study tested a device called the M1 Volatizer®, an aromatherapy vaporizer developed by Alternative Delivery Systems, Inc. It consisted of an electric heating element in a chamber that radiates heat downwards over a sample of marijuana sitting in a standard pipe or "bong" bowl. Output from the vaporizer was analyzed and compared to smoke produced by combusting the sample with a flame.
The vaporizer produced THC at a temperature of 185° C. (365° F.) while completely eliminating three measured toxins - benzene, a known carcinogen, plus toluene and naphthalene. Carbon monoxide and smoke tars were both qualitatively reduced by the vaporizer, but additional testing is needed to quantify the extent of the decrease.
Although the study was not designed to detect the highly carcinogenic tars known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are thought to be a leading culprit in smoking-related cancers, there was good reason to believe that they were suppressed, since they normally form at much higher temperatures of combustion.
When vaporized, the marijuana emitted a thin gray vapor and was left with a green to greenish-brown "toasted" appearance, whereas the combusted sample produced thick smoke and turned to ash.
Significant amounts of benzene began to appear at temperatures of 200° C. (392° F), while combustion occurred around 230° (446°F) or above. Traces of THC were in evidence as low as 140° C. (284° F).
The vaporizer study was undertaken as a follow-up to a previous NORML-MAPS marijuana smoking device study, which concluded that vaporizers offered the best prospects for smoke harm reduction
The study found that neither waterpipes nor solid filters were effective at reducing exposure to smoke tars, due to the fact that they filtered out even more THC, thus forcing patients to inhale more to achieve the same effective dose. A recent Australian study also found that waterpipes failed to reduce tars or carbon monoxide (Linda Gowing et al.,. "Respiratory Harms of Smoked Cannabis," Research Monograph No. 8. Adelaide: Drug and Alcohol Services Council of South Australia (2000).)
Other methods of marijuana smoke harm reduction include oral ingestion and potential new delivery systems, such as inhalers and patches, that are still under development. Smokers may also reduce their respiratory risks by using higher-potency marijuana, allowing them to inhale less smoke to obtain a given effective dose of THC.
The medical marijuana popularly used in cannabis patients' clubs is several times more potent than that commonly provided to researchers by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, according to a survey by NORML and MAPS (http://www.maps.org/news-letters/v09n3/09320gie.html). However, the Australian study found that higher potency marijuana does not always deliver more THC, apparently because THC output is highly sensitive to variations in the burning properties of different samples.
A wide variety of vaporizers are presently available on the underground market. Many medical marijuana patients say they prefer vaporizers because they deliver smoother, less irritating medication. However, there have been no published scientific studies of their effectiveness heretofore.
NORML and MAPS are currently seeking support for further research and development of vaporizers. Research is presently underway to explore the optimal temperature and conditions for vaporization. An additional $85,000 is needed to provide accurate measurement of carbon monoxide and other toxins, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Further studies may be needed to explore alternative device designs and the effects of different sample consistency, potency and preparation.
Release by: Dale Gieringer, CA NORML: (415) 563-5858; firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional contacts: Rick Doblin, MAPS: (617) 484-8711 email@example.com;