Hey guys, it’s Sneaky Pete here, and today I want to go over my top 10 dry herb vaporizer tips and tricks that will help you get the best results from whatever vaporizer you are using. Even though each device is different and their operation is nuanced, these are my 10 best general tips that will optimize the experience with pretty much any vape you are puffing on.
Many of you have used a multitude of vaporizers over the last decade, and some of you may be just considering your first purchase. This list is designed to appeal to both new and experienced users, it’ll cover the whole gamut of the experience, so let’s get started with tip number one!
Vaporizer Tip #1 - Herb Quality
The quality of your flower is probably the most overlooked aspect of getting good results from a vaporizer. When you think about cooking for example, the quality of the ingredients is usually just as, if not more, important than how you prepare them, and it’s the same with vaping. You will usually get better results with 10 out of 10 flower and a crappy vaporizer, than you will with crappy flower and a top of the line vape like the Hybrid Volcano.
When your flower isn’t very good, there just won’t be that much active material that is going to be contained within the flower. All of the visible vapour production that you see happening is the active material that is being converted into vapour, so if there’s not a lot of active material in your flower you won’t see much when you exhale.
A vaporizer should act as a smell to flavor conversion tool, meaning that whatever you smell in the bag, you should taste in the vapour. I sometimes hear people complain that they never taste any of the interesting flavors they hear people mention, and it’s usually because they're using so-so flower.
A couple of key takeaways - if your flower doesn’t smell amazing, it’s not going to taste amazing. And in regards to vapour production - if you have schwag, you won’t fill the bag. It all boils down to quality in, quality out.
Vaporizer Tip #2 - Grinding
While it is definitely possible to use a vaporizer with whole flower, you’ll get superior flavor output and vapour production from virtually any vaporizer when you properly grind your flower. I have found very few vaporizers that work better with a coarse grind, a medium to a medium-fine grind is optimal for the vast majority of devices. With a nice consistent medium grind it ensures enough surface area is exposed to the heat so that all of the active ingredients are thoroughly vaporized.
If you use whole flower or too coarse of a grind, you leave a lot of active ingredients hidden inside the larger pieces that won’t be exposed to heat, and therefore will not be vaporized. Alternatively, if you use too fine of a grind, the material won’t sit properly in the vaporizer while you’re inhaling, it will get sucked up into the intake holes or clump together at the top, which leads to poor vaporization and will mean your device to needs to be maintained more often.
Keep in mind that although they are worthwhile investments, you do not need an expensive high-end grinder to achieve an optimal grind, pretty much any grinder will enhance your vape game. You can also achieve a similar result with a pair of scissors, even manually pulling your bud apart by hand can achieve a crude but totally acceptable result.
Vaporizer Tip #3 - Moisture Content
When it comes to moisture content, it’s a bit of a Goldilocks situation. You don’t want it too moist, you really don’t want it too dry, you want it to be just right. When your flower is too moist, it also tends to be a little bit too sticky, which can make it clump together instead of sitting loosely when it’s being vaporized. Also, when it’s quite moist the first few hits will be spent drying out the moisture content in that flower and not vaporizing. Once the extra moisture is gone, then the active material will have an opportunity to be vaporized properly.
On the other hand, when your material is too dry, it is very difficult to effectively pack it in certain vaporizers, like an Arizer stem for example. The flower needs some moisture, so that the pieces can stick together. When the flower is too dry the vapour produced is way harsher, which I try to avoid. The only advantage of really dry flower is that you will get the most efficient vapour production, since there is no moisture that needs to be evaporated while the flower is being heated, all the heat goes straight into vapour production.
The best way to control the moisture content of your flower is by keeping it in a sealed container like a Jyarz, with a Boveda or Boost humidity pack inside, which will keep your flower at a consistent and optimal humidity level.
Vaporizer Tip #4 - Packing the Bowl
If you’re using a purely conduction vaporizer, like a Pax or a DaVinci IQ, you should make sure that you pack the bowl completely full, press it down a little bit, add a little more, and press that down. In a conduction device, the heat will transfer from the heating edge of the bowl to deep within the material and reach the very center. If you have a loose pack, it won’t transfer the heat to the center of the flower, and will lead to wispy results.
For pretty much any other type of device though, I recommend using a full but not tight pack. Fill your bowl more or less to capacity, then lightly tamp it down with either your finger or a tamp tool to create a nice consistent bed for the heat to pass through and also keep the flower in place.There aren’t many devices that work well when they’re not fully loaded, because the material will move around like a tornado while you inhale, and it won’t get properly vaporized.
Some vapes have massive bowls and I often don’t want to load a huge bowl because I like to refresh it often for better flavor. In this type of case, instead of just half-filling the bowl, it’s better to use a tool that will allow you to load it to capacity, but with a reduced bowl size. We stock accessories for this purpose, like the Sneaky Pete Half-Bowl Converter for DynaVaps, or our Crafty+/Mighty+ Glass Bowl Reducers.
Vaporizer Tip #5 - Vaporization Temperature
Temperature choice is imperative to the experience and will vary somewhat between devices. If you have the temperature set too low, you won’t see any visible vapour and the effects will be minimal. If the temperature is too high, the vapour is going to be dry and harsh, and all of those delicious terps will be wasted.
I usually set my temperature to around 370°F while I’m testing a new device, then I adjust the temperature up or down, depending on whether I want more vapour production or less harshness. When I’m vaping through water though, the added cooling power means I usually start at 395°F, and work my way all the way up to 410°F, depending on what vaporizer I’m using.
Keep in mind that temperature not only impacts the visible vapour production, but also the effects. I find the effects much more light, energetic, and cerebral at lower temperatures, whereas at the higher temperatures it’s more in the body with that stony feeling, or the Family Guy effect as I call it, so experiment with different temperatures to see what you like best. Another thing to be aware of is that with many vaporizers, when it alerts you that it’s at temperature, only the actual device is at temperature and the flower is not quite there yet. It’s never a bad idea to wait 10 to 30 seconds after your device alerts you before you start hitting it.
Vaporizer Tip #6 - Inhalation Speed
This is a critically important factor that causes a lot of new users to have a bad experience. Many people who are new to vaporizers are used to smoking their cannabis, so they’re used to inhaling from a joint, bong, or a glass pipe. How you hit one of those is different from how you should hit a vaporizer, leading to some people sucking hard and furiously on their vape, which isn’t how they’re designed to be used.
I think of hitting a vaporizer like a whisper compared to the scream of hitting a glass pipe. You want a nice slow and consistent inhalation when you’re using a vaporizer, you shouldn’t be ripping it as hard as you can. The heaters in vapes are plenty strong when you use them as intended, but if you inhale too hard you are simply going to pull more heat than the device is designed to produce in such a short time period.
There are a few devices, usually desktop vaporizers that connect to mains power, which you can hit as hard as you like and they will keep up without issue. But even they will work better with a slow and consistent inhalation, so start there before you start going harder.
Vaporizer Tip #7 - Inhalation Duration
The second mistake that new users often make is taking short little puffs like you would take from a joint. Instead of many short and spaced out hits, you should take long and slow draws to get the very best results. With a vaporizer it takes some time for the heat to fully infiltrate the flower and convert the active material to vapour, so if you don’t give the warm air enough time to pass through your material, it won’t effectively vaporize.
Also, every time that you hit your device, you are pulling a huge amount of heat from both the bowl and your material, so it takes a bit of time for that heat to build back up. When you hit it with a nice, long and consistent style, the material has enough time to fully reach temperature, and then produce ample amounts of vapour for the remaining duration of your hit.
If you have difficulty taking a long and sustained hit, you can still get great results, just keep your hits slow and consistent in their speed, with as much length as you can manage, and your device will perform just fine.
Vaporizer Tip #8 - Stirring Mid-Bowl
Stirring your load mid bowl is one of the very best things that you can do to improve the performance of your vaporizer. When you stir your load after a session, it exposes surface area that was previously covered by other pieces of flower. When this fresh surface area is exposed to the heat for the first time it will release active ingredients that were missed during your previous session. If you don’t stir your bowl there will always be some dead spots that simply won’t get properly vaporized, and some other spots may get too much heat, which can lead to some popcorn flavor or even combustion.
It’s always easiest to stir your load while it’s still warm and pliable, rather than letting the load cool down and get a little crunchy and jumpy when you try to stir it. I think stirring it once after your first session is usually sufficient, once the flower starts to dry out it benefits less from stirring. After you stir it, don’t forget to give it a slight tamp to maintain optimal performance.
Vaporizer Tip #9 - Cleaning and Maintenance
Cleaning and maintenance is essential for proper long-term vaporizer function. Vaporized flower leaves a sticky, golden honey-like residue as it passes by, and this will build up over time. The buildup can get so thick that it’s possible to scoop it out and consume it, this will be very strong but taste very nasty. As you get this thick sticky buildup, it can clog the components and greatly reduce your airflow. When the buildup gets really bad it can even make vaporizer use a little messy, this stuff can be like sap and end up everywhere.
With a glass Arizer stem it’s easy to see, but inside the cooling unit of a Mighty+ it builds up in secret. When a vaporizer, and especially a water pipe, is dirty, I also find it way harsher to use. Whenever I find my hits are a little harsher than usual, giving the vape and the glass a good clean makes a world of difference.
If you want your vaporizer to work properly for a long time, make sure you maintain it regularly, but you don’t need to overdo it. It’s also a lot easier if you clean it regularly, because there won’t be as much buildup and it won’t take a long time, whereas if you only do it on rare occasions it is going to be a messy pain in the ass.
Vaporizer Tip #10 - Practice
Your first session from a new vaporizer is rarely the best session that you are going to have. It takes some time, patience, and experimentation to get the optimal results from your device. Even though some vapes can be quite similar, others can be totally different, so you need to be aware that there are different techniques required for different vaporizers. If you compare something very automatic like an Arizer Air MAX to something hands-on like a DynaVap M, they both require a totally different style of use to get good results.
If you think back to the first joint you ever rolled, it was probably pretty gnarly looking. But eventually over time it just sort of clicks and you understand it, then you start rapidly improving your technique. Using a new vaporizer is exactly the same, just apply all of these tips and tricks to your new device, and you will minimize the learning curve on the unit and maximize your enjoyment.
With the experience of using a variety of devices over time, you’ll develop a kind of sixth sense that makes it much quicker and easier to figure out how to best use a new vaporizer. This ain’t exactly accounting homework, this is the most enjoyable homework possible, so take your time, practice diligently, and have fun!
I hope you enjoyed this list of my top 10 dry herb vaporizer tips and tricks, and that it will help you take your vaping experience to the next level. Thanks so much for reading and watching, I really appreciate it.
Keep it green, keep it sneaky!