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Which Type of Vaporizer Best Suits You?

Living in such a tech-forward era comes with many conveniences, but also with many burdens such as choosing a vaporizer amidst a sea of endless options. This can be particularly difficult for those who are just now diving into the cannabis game or returning from a very long hiatus. A changing legal climate has given rise to all kinds of newfangled contraptions that deliver your desired effects with unprecedented precision, efficiency, safety, and quality of flavor. But how do you choose from the astonishing number of options now available?

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Before we get into specific brand recommendations (and we will later on), we’re going to give you a brief primer on vaporizer types to help you narrow your search down. Each vaporizer type caters to different lifestyles and budgets, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself on the basics before committing to one.

Table-Top Vaporizers

Two table-top cannabis vaporizers on a wooden table

Refers to: Larger vaporizers that plug into a power source

Ideal for: Homebodies, flavor enthusiasts, medical patients

Portability: If you’re the type of person who only indulges at home, your best option is likely a table-top vaporizer. Due to their size and dependence on a wall outlet, this vaporizer probably won’t leave your house often, if at all. They generally come with a hose-like mouthpiece or a bag that fills with the vapor so you can inhale at your own pace. These stationary vapes aren’t exactly ideal for the one-hit-and-done type of person, but they’re excellent options for sharing and for those who’d normally conquer a full bowl by themselves.

Functionality: Though often too clunky to conveniently lug around, these setups tend to offer the most advanced technology among vaporizers. But, of course, it depends on how much you’re willing to invest. Some of the better devices can cost several hundred dollars but offer precise and adjustable temperature control. This is important as different cannabinoids and terpenes – all with their own unique effects and medical benefits – vaporize at different temperatures. Also, if you’re a fiend for good flavor, a nice table-top vaporizer will go a long way. Cheaper ones can make your bud taste like burnt popcorn, but high-quality devices tend to deliver vapor that stays true to the flower’s natural aroma.

Quality of Effects: The precise temperature control also allows you to get more of the flower’s cannabinoids and terpenes, so the effect profile may change depending on which ones you’re aiming for. Use this guide to help you determine what terpenes and cannabinoids you should target and at what temperature to set your vaporizer at to achieve them – for example, the terpene pinene helps with alertness and memory and vaporizes at 311°F. Play around with temperatures to see how it changes your experience!

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Portable Flower Vapes

Two portable cannabis flower vaporizers next to a grinder filled with ground cannabis on a wooden table

Refers to: Smaller, battery-powered vaporizers with a chamber for cannabis flower

Ideal for: On-the-go flower enthusiasts

Portability: Generally speaking, portability is about the only reason you’d invest in a portable flower vape over a stationary table-top device. Because they’re small and run on a battery, these vaporizers don’t restrict you to one spot at home.

Functionality: While these vaporizers have the advantage of portability, their functionality is often more limited. Many flower vaporizers heat the flower at a single fixed temperature which may be too hot if you’re trying to get more of those flavorful terpenes. Some permit you manipulate the heat but may not allow you to choose a specific temperature. Flower vapes may grant more customization with specific strains compared to portable oil pens, which sometimes offer strain-specific oils but are often blends of many different strains.

Quality of Effects: Although portable vapes don’t often give you the temperature control found in table-top devices, they can still capture some of the nuances of each unique strain. Portable vaporizers with some level of temperature customization are often preferred to those without, as they can be turned down if the product tastes burnt or turned up if you aren’t getting a full enough vapor.

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Portable Oil Vapes

Two portable cannabis concentrate vaporizers on a wooden table

Refers to: Small, battery-powered vaporizers that use oil instead of flower

Ideal for: On-the go concentrate enthusiasts, small budgets

Portability: Preferred for their portability and discretion, portable oil vapes are perfect for the mobile oil enthusiast. Some don’t require loading or unloading product – it all comes neatly contained in a sealed oil cylinder. However, others can be filled with your own cannabis oil.

Functionality: Vaporizers that look just like a pen or a stylus are gaining popularity because the battery is inexpensive and the CO2 oil inside them hits smoothly and lasts a long time. Some have had issues with battery life and leakage, but this these are generally rare malfunctions. Vaporizers that require you to load your own oils can be great alternatives for those without access to cartridge pens, but sometimes getting the right consistency of oil can be tricky.

Quality of Effects: You may notice that the CO2 oil in cartridge pens offers distinctly different effects from other types of cannabis oil. For some, the high is often more cerebrally-focused with fewer body effects, although these sensations vary across brands and strains. Cartridge oils are often diluted with propylene glycol (also used in e-cigarettes), a solvent used to achieve the right consistency for vaping. These solvents are not a concern for non-cartridge vaporizers; it’s up to you which oil you decide to put in them.

Now that you’ve learned the basics of vaporizer types, look out for our next article with specific brand recommendations. You can also browse vaporizer brands and products on Leafly.

Do you have a favorite brand or type of vaporizer? Share your thoughts and advice in the comments section!