how to start vaping cannabis

Vaping cannabis for beginners: Everything you need to know

There’s a wonderful world of vaping out there, dive in and find what's best for you. 

 

John-Michael Bond

Dot Recs

Published Oct 22, 2021   Updated Oct 28, 2021, 9:23 am CDT

Thanks to its numerous benefits, from health to potency, stoners everywhere are exploring vaping cannabis. But it can be a confusing process without help. That’s why we’ve built this beginner’s guide to vaping weed. 

It’s more complicated than simply buying a cart and a battery. Like everything in the world, cannabis variety is the spice of life. Don’t prematurely close the door to vaping dabs or dry herb before you’ve learned about them. 

Let us guide you through everything you need to know. Explore the benefits of vaping cannabis, the different kinds of vapes, and get a head start on finding the best vape for your needs. There’s a wonderful world of vaping out there, dive in and find what’s best for you. 

Getting started with vaping cannabis

What is vaping?

We’re all familiar with smoking, using fire to combust material so you can inhale the smoke. Vaping is a way to consume herbs or oils without combustion. Rather than producing smoke, vaping heats up your matter, be it herb or concentrate, until it creates a vapor you can inhale. 

Multiple Cannabis Oil Distillate Filled Vape Pens
Shannon L. Price / Shutterstock

What are the benefits of vaping cannabis?  

Vaping has dramatic benefits over other forms of cannabis consumption. Whether you’re looking for a healthier approach to getting high or just want more subtly, vaping offers a wide range of advantages. 

1) Vaping reduces the amount of carcinogens in your cannabis

Cannabis has plenty of health benefits, but smoking a plant is smoking a plant. Especially if your main method of smoking is a blunt, adding tobacco to the equation. Vaping on the other hand doesn’t involve smoke, you’re literally just inhaling the vapor. While there is still the chance of finding a carcinogen in a vape tank, it’s dramatically healthier.

2) Vaping cannabis is discrete

Anyone who has ever tried to hide the smell of pot in a hotel room knows the harsh truth of bud; that stuff smells like weed. One of the biggest advantages of vaping is how little it smells like weed. Again, there are exceptions to the rule, particularly if you’re using a dry herb vape. 

However, if you’re vaping concentrates you’ll notice a wildly different level of odor. That’s why cannabis vapes have become so popular as an everyday carry for stoners. You get weed, and the world is none the wiser. 

3) Vaping offers a more stackable high

If you spark a joint or a bowl, you’re going to probably finish it. Some people have the self control to sip on a bowl or a joint all day. But for most smokers, the serving size is often what you pack. A cannabis vape opens the door to moderation because you don’t have to worry about ashes or the small. 

Instead, you can take a hit, wait 20 minutes, take another hit, wait 20 minutes, and repeat until you’ve found nirvana. Switching to a vape takes away the urgency of a packed bowl or a joint. That allows you to slowly find your ideal high on your own terms. Seriously, try microdosing weed, you may never go back. 

4) Affordability and flexibility is king 

The final selling point of cannabis vapes is the sheer affordability and flexibility of vapes on the market. You’ll find concentrates and cartridges at every price point at your local weed store. But the real wonder is how easy it is to find a vape that meets your specific needs. 

Want a cheap, disposable battery that won’t break your heart if you lost it? You’re covered. Do you long for a high-tech hookah that gets you so stoned you can touch stars? There are devices for you. From small and portable pocket vapes to giant coffee table centerpieces, the world of vaping is almost as vast as the cannabis industry itself. 

What are the different kinds of ways to vape cannabis?

Ultimately there are three different kinds of vapes for cannabis enthusiasts to explore. Each has its own benefits and disadvantages. Ultimately it’s a matter of what kind of experience you want. 

Isolated cannabis vape cart for THC & CBD on white background
Cavan-Images/Shutterstock (Licensed)

Carts and batteries

Carts are the most common form of cannabis vapes. These prepackaged cartridges normally come loaded with between .5 and 1 grams of cannabis oil. To use carts you screw them into a battery with a 510 threading. One thing that’s great about these batteries is they’re multifunctional. 

Beyond cannabis, they can be used to vape essential oils, Delta 8 THC carts, loose concentrate tanks, and even traditional nicotine juice. The market for these batteries is absurdly diverse. On the low end of the spectrum, you can easily find a basic cart battery for around $20 online. However, like with pot, you get what you pay for. 

Nicer, yet more expensive batteries, offer a wide range of voltages and options. Different voltages allow you to take stronger or weaker pulls from your vape cart. Beyond controlling how big your vape clouds are, this allows you to take smaller hits. Lower voltage hits also sometimes have a deeper flavor than hot high voltage hits. 

If that sounds too complicated don’t worry. Actually using a cart is painfully easy. Simply remove it from its packaging, screw it into the top of whatever battery you buy, and inhale while pressing the power button. 

The biggest advantage of carts is their strength, low profile, and variety. Every dispensary is packed with strong flavors and strains at different price points. But more importantly, it doesn’t smell like weed the way weed does. 

You can discreetly hit a vape pen at a ball game or Renaissance festival without drawing attention to yourself. The only downside is THC vape carts tend to not be as good at providing a body high versus a cerebral high. That can make them less than ideal for those medicating for pain relief instead of a nice buzz. 

Best for: People who value portability over everything else, cannabis fans looking for a cerebral rather than body high

Portable E-dab rigs 

Portable e-dab for loose concentrates are a different beast than carts. Rather than a disposable cartridge full of cannabis oil or distillate, to use an e-dab rig you simply open the device, load the concentrate of your choice and hit the power button. While carts and batteries are hyper portable, e-dab ribs take many forms. 

There are small tanks that screw into the same batteries cart vapers use, rechargeable pens, and even full-on e-dab ribs that turn your bong into a water-based vape machine. The only downside is dealing with loose concentrates. 

Loose concentrates are designed to melt, so you’ll need to keep them cool if you’re traveling. We suggest using a loose concentrate vape at home. Take a cart to the beach.  

Here’s a quick list of your options in the world of concentrates.  

  • Shatter: A hard, yet sticky texture like candy. Like the name promises, you can usually break shatter, making dosing smaller pieces simple. 
  • Live Resin: This is one of the highest end options on the market. Live resin is an extremely sticky concentrate that best retains the flavor profile of cannabis. Each hit is full of terpenes, delivering the natural flavor of the flower used to make it. 
  • Sugar: A concentrate that has the texture of sticky sand. Easier to scoop than shatter, but a little messier.
  • Sauce: A viscous thick sauce, with a grainy texture. Can be very sticky. 
  • Badder: This concentrate has a more solid structure than sauce, in many ways behaving like cold butter. Of all the concentrates this is the easiest to handle and use in other methods like combining with a joint. 
  • Crumble: Crumble feels like fragil wax, a delicate substance that indeed crumbles when touched.

Best for: Dab fans, tech nerds, people who can pronounce “terpenes.” 

Vaping cannabis flower

Finally, we have dry herb vapes, the unsung hero of the cannabis vaping world. For years the image of dry herb vapes was a big wooden box with a long plastic hose attached to it. Today the technology has advanced, though you can still find those classic monsters if you look. 

One of the most interesting aspects of cannabis is that you don’t need to smoke it to get its benefits. The THC in cannabis is activated before the point of combustion, so simply heating it the right way can produce vapor that gets you buzzed. This same theory is why cooking cannabis activates its potency for things like cannabutter. 

Dry herb vapes on the lower end of the price scale have a tendency to scorch your weed if you’re not careful. But you don’t need to scorch your weed to worry about its smell. Dry herb vapes produce the most “weed” smell of any of the cannabis vapes we’re discussing. 

It’s not the same thing as smoking a joint, but it’s much more noticeable than the other methods we’ve mentioned. This is particularly true when it comes to leaving a portable dry herb device in your car. Cannabis that has been heated smells like cannabis. Be mindful of things like scent if you’re in a state with developing laws.  

Best for: Cannabis fans whose first love is flower, people who don’t need to consider discretion  

What to consider when buying a cannabis vape? 

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to put that knowledge to use. Here are some things you need to think about before you buy. 

What will you be vaping?

The first question is what will you be vaping? That will let you know whether you’re simply looking for a battery to attach a cart to or if you’ll need a more complicated device. 

Size

Portability is a major factory with vapes, especially if you’re looking to consume loose concentrates. 

Do you need something that fits in your pocket and won’t spill if it turns the wrong way? Carts will do wonders. Do you want the experience of doing dabs but hate the high heat? An e-dab rig is an alternative you desire. Maybe you love the taste of flower, but are trying to stop smoking. A dry herb pen will be your best friend. 

Power and battery

Is this vape something you’re going to be throwing in your carry-on bag for a long trip? Are you ok recharging it every night or do you need something that will last a long time on a single charge? Every vape has a different battery. Make sure the one you pick meets your needs. 

Durability and ease of cleaning

One of the main reasons carts are so popular is their simplicity. Cleaning your vape is as simple as throwing away the cart when its done. Maybe it leaks, but then you just clean it with a q-tip and some rubbing alcohol. 

Other vape rigs are more complicated. Dry herb vapes need to be regularly monitored so you don’t burn the herb. E-dab rig vapes often have heating elements that need to be replaced from time to time. However, you’ll also need to make sure your mouthpiece stays unclogged. Some e-dab rigs even have glass pieces that must be cleaned occasionally. 

There’s also the matter of how clumsy you are. If you’re someone who loses your phone all the time or constantly drop it, don’t spend a ton on a vape. Someone who drops their phone sober will drop their vape high. 

Or, if you do want to drop some coin on a high-end vape, make sure you buy one that brags about its durability. 

What are the best ways to get started vaping cannabis at any price point?

Best Dry Herb Vape Pens 

Best starter set for vaping cannabis dry herbs: Yocan Evolve-D Gold 2020 Edition – $39.95

yocan evolve-d gold vape pen against a white background
Vapor.com

Good starter dry herb pens are more expensive than vapes that focus on carts or concentrates because they’re more complicated. Still, the Yocan Evolve-D Vaporizer is a budget-friendly option for flowerheads everywhere. 

Looking exactly like a writing pen but packing a big punch, this wonder is perfect for on-the-go use. Its magic really unlocks however during use. This system uses a pancake dual coil to gently heat your flower. This gives smooth, powerful hits, from toke one until your session is over. 

Our favorite feature however is the removable heating element, allowing you to replace just one part instead of the whole thing when it burns out. For less than $40 you get a world-class vape for your flower. That’s a steal.  

Best high end device for vaping cannabis flower: Storz & Bickel Volcano Desktop Vaporizer – $479

storz and bickel volcano
Vapor.com

This is not a portable vaporizer, but by god, it is the gold standard for vaporizers. Or, given its high price tag, the platinum standard of vaporizers. The Volcano is a legendary vaporizer for a reason; it works better than everything else for delicious powerful hits. It even uses less flower than its standard dry herb vapes per bowl. 

The Volcano gently vaporizes dry herbs, then fills a large plastic bag with the resulting vapor. Each bag has a mouthpiece attachment, allowing you to fill a bag, pass it around the room, or just keep it with you during a movie. Each balloon has 50-100 uses, but packs of replacement bags are only around $7. 

If money is no object, the Volcano will legitimately change everything about how you consume cannabis flower. 

Best vape overall for dry herbs: G Pen Pro Vaporizer – $89.95

You don’t have to spend hundreds to get a world-class dry herb vaporizer experience, especially with the G Pen Pro. G Pen is famous for its concentrate vapes, but this dry herb vape is magic.

Heating up in just 20-30 seconds and featuring three preset Temperatures, the G Pen Pro brings simplicity and function to vaping flower. 

You’ll notice this is the same price as Yocan’s Dry Hit vape that we recommended above. For science nerds who want temp customization, that is still an incredible pen. But the G Pen Pro is our favorite because anyone can use it. Pick it up, hit the warm-up button, and take the hit. It’s that simple. 

Its ceramic bowl does an incredible job of evenly heating your plant matter and its sleek design is perfect for a day at the park. We’ve used one of these in our personal life for two years, and it still works great with no loss in battery life.   

Best Cartridge Cannabis Vape Pens

Best starter vape battery for carts for vaping cannabis: Pulsar GIGI Vaporizer – $22.95

Pulsar GIGI Vaporizer against a black background
Smoke Cartel

Being on a budget doesn’t limit your options with cartridge vape batteries. If anything, the number of affordable options on the market makes these vapes worth exploring your options on. But in our eyes, no budget 510 threading battery beats the Pulsar GIGI Vaporizer.  

Its two-inch tall design makes it perfect for palming subtly or just keeping in a pocket. Each device has a 500mAh battery, giving you long life that lasts days not hours. The Pulsar GIGI also comes in ten different colors for customization. 

You’ll also love the handy pre-heating function. This will slowly heat up your cart, allowing for a strong first hit each and every time. 

Best high end vape battery for carts: Honey Stick AeroBee Cartridge Vaporizer – $69

AeroBee Digital Vaporizer Honey Stick
Smoke Cartel

As you can see from AeroBee’s price tag, even high-end cart batteries are affordable. For vapers who value precision and customization, the AeroBee is a wonderful workhorse. The AeroBee has an 800 mAh battery, giving it an absurdly long life between charges. Its 510 threading means it will work with carts from any dispensary. 

Where it truly shines it the LCD screen and heating options. You can set your temp to an exact number rather than pre-set heating settings. They don’t even care where in the world you are, thanks to both Fahrenheit and Celsius options.

Most importantly the AeroBee is built to last with aerospace aluminum and magnetic threading connections. All these features in a tiny palm-sized package? The AeroBee will make you feel like a scientist before taking you to space.   

Best vape battery for cartridges overall: Ooze Duplex Dual Extract Vaporizer – $60

ooze duplex dual extract vaporizer
Smoke Cartel

With so many amazing vaporizers on the market, it’s difficult to find the best overall deal. But no one offers the combination of affordability and features that the Duplex Dual Extract Vaporizer has. That’s because this beauty comes ready for 510 threaded carts or loose concentrates. 

That’s right, this pack includes a 510 threaded dual quartz wax tank and 1ml glass oil thank. These allow you to load and vape your own concentrates. You get a world glass cartridge battery and dab pen all in one. Did we mention how great the battery is?

With a powerful 1000 mAh battery that goes forever, this is the perfect pen for camping. The Duplex has four voltage options, giving you customization without demanding you remember specific temperatures. This is at once easy to use and advanced, perfect for someone who uses carts but wants to explore other kinds of concentrates. 

Best Concentrate Vapes and Dab Pens

Best budget pen for vaping cannabis concentrates: Boundless Terp Pen Vaporizer – $29.95

boundless terp pen vaporizer

Terp pens are one of the coolest evolutions in vaping concentrates in recent memory. Low-profile, affordable, yet wildly effective, terp pens are a stoner’s dream. In our eye the Boundless Terp Pen is the dream you should make a reality. 

Simply load a small amount of concentrate into the pen’s ceramic coil, replace the cap, and inhale to activate the heating mechanism. With a handy magnetic cap and compact design, this is a concentrate vaporizer for people on the go. 

You might think at such a low price this device isn’t well built. You’d be wrong. Its medical-grade steel construction makes cleaning without damaging anything simple. And if that isn’t enough to sway you there’s the 3-year user warranty. Boundless’s Terp Pen lives up to the company’s name. 

Best high end device for vaping cannabis for concentrates and flower: PAX 3 Vaporizer – $199.95 – $249

pax 3 vaporizer in a grown man's hand
Vapor.com

For discerning vapers who want a luxury experience with the ability to vape not just concentrates but dry herbs turn to the PAX 3. The PAX line originally started as a hyper portable dry herb vape device, but the PAX 3 adds an incredible concentrates feature. 

The standard PAX 3 is just a dry herb vaporizer that sells for $199.95, with a $50 attachment for vaping concentrates. You can also purchase it as a complete $249 set. Why would we suggest this pen for concentrates then? Because it’s easily one of the best on the market. 

Dabs taken with the PAX 3 are smooth, flavorful, and never scorched. Plus its tiny and discreet design makes it perfect for anything from a beach trip to stowing in your carry-on bag.

Our only caveat is to make sure you get the complete kit or buy the dab accessory. Otherwise, you’ll face the tragedy of just owning one of the finest dry herb pens around. 

Best overall vape for concentrates: G Pen Connect Concentrate Vaporizer – $179.95

G-Pen connect vaporizer for cannabis concentrates
Vapor.com

Outside of the Volcano, we haven’t recommended many sit-down vapes on this list. Portability is ultimately most important unless the function beats it out. For people looking to vape loose concentrates, we truly cannot recommend any device more than the G Pen Connect. This tiny, easy-to-use wonder, turns your favorite bong into a full-on vaping dab rig. 

Each device comes with a 14mm female glass connector, a battery, and a replaceable ceramic e-nail. Different female glass connectors are available if your water pipe uses a different size. To use, just take the magnetic lid off the tank, add your dab, and press the power button three times. 

This will slowly heat up your dab to three different selectable temps depending on what you’re vaping. Different heats work best for different kinds of concentrates, but we’ve found the middle Green setting works for almost everything. Hits are powerful, smooth, and delicious. 

Best of all the device features a manual heating option. Hold the power button down and it will heat until you let go. This is great for longer stronger hits, but we don’t recommend it if you’re new to dabs.

The only downside is the need to replace the tank every three to five months, depending on how much you use it. Still, this unit combines everything that’s wonderful about waterpipes, dabs, and vaping all into one package. Long live the King. Long live the G Pen Connect.  

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*First Published: Oct 22, 2021, 11:12 am CDT