Portable personal vaporizers are making a big impression amongst those of us who like to participate in dry herb therapy. Whether you’re one of the occasional dabblers in relaxation treatments, or you’re getting your medicine daily, you’ve surely heard about or seen depictions of botanical vaping on video or television. Maybe you’ve even heard the tales that vaporized plant material is far less harmful than the same material smoked. If all of this has piqued your interest, but you want to know how the whole process works before taking the plunge, you’ve come to the right place.
The first thing to understand is what exactly the point is. What process are we trying to catalyze with our hand held, portable vaporizers? At the most basic, we’re adding just enough heat to our herbs to volatilize the essential oils they contain without causing any combustion. There are plenty of different approaches to that goal offered within the vaping community, but that simple process remains the basis of everything the industry is doing. With that out of the way, we have some basis for discussion about the way these small hand-held electronic devices accomplish the task they’ve been designed to complete.
The average personal vaporizer will have some sort of herb chamber or atomizer. This is where you will hold your finely ground botanicals for heating. It should be very easy to identify, and you will hopefully have the chamber located about as quickly as you have the device unpacked. If not, the briefest skimming of the user’s manual will bring you up to speed. The chamber is going to either conduct heat from the coils in your atomizer to your vaping material, or it’s going to direct hot air in a convection system all around the material. Connected directly to that chamber will generally be the mouthpiece, from which you will directly inhale the vapor.
The coils mentioned above create heat through the electricity they pull from your rechargeable lithium-ion battery. That battery also powers a heat sensor and (usually) some sort of digital user interface. The sensor is going to make sure that you don’t heat anything up beyond the temperature that you’ve input to the user interface. The interface is there to allow you to set the correct temperature to achieve the desired effect for the herbal blend being used, and perhaps more importantly, has the button you press to activate the whole device.
And that’s as good a place as any from which to tie the whole process together. When you’re ready to use your portable vaporizer for its intended purpose, you will first fill the chamber, then set the vaping temperature (say around 400 degrees for starters) now the exciting stuff can happen. Press the power button and electricity goes from the battery to the coils, which start to get hot. The heat they create gets transferred to the chamber, either directly (like a frying pan on a stove) or by a convection process that passes hot air around your dried botanicals. The sensor will detect the temperature in the herb chamber, shutting off electricity if starts to overheat, or allowing more to come through if it’s too cool. As the ideal temperature is reached, the essential oils begin to volatize, and a noticeable vapor is produced. At that point you will be able to inhale from the mouthpiece and enjoy all the flavors and therapeutic compounds contained in your chosen herb.
That’s it. Hopefully we’ve been able to explain the proper function of a personal vaporizer well enough that you can confidently get and use one your own and give up the flame for good.
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