We all know smoking cigarettes are bad for us. The fact that it’s the number one cause of preventable deaths shows just how bad.
As a result of these facts, people have always tried to look for an alternative to smoking. One of these alternatives is called dry herb vaping.
Dry Herb Vaporizing Carries Significantly Less Tar and Carcinogens into the Lungs than Smoking.
Briefly, dry herb vaping is the method of heating up natural herbs, just like an oven. Plant material heated up to 200° or so Celsius (390° Fahrenheit), releases vapor with active ingredients of the plant.
Unlike smoking, this method doesn’t combust the herbs. The process is a little more complicated (if you’d like to learn more about how vaporizers work, click here) however, the point is that vaporizers only heat up the herbs to the point when essential oils and other molecules in the plant sap release in a vapor form.
This way there is no, or minimal amounts of carcinogens, tar and other harmful chemicals released into the body.
The lack of those nasties does not mean that other harmful elements cannot be introduced into the vapor from the vaporizer itself.
So this leads to the question of this post, are vaporizers safe to use?
Vaporizer Safety Largely Depends on the Device You Use
While vaporizing, we are effectively inhaling air through an electronic device.
I am not a medical professional or a safety expert by any means, I am a vaporizer user, just like you (and have been doing research on the safety of vaporizing), but it is obvious to me that the materials used in any specific vaporizer will determine how safe it is to use.
What Materials are Vaporizers Made of?
Let’s start with the Chamber – this is where your ingredient is heated and is a vital component in your vaporizer.
Below is the list of materials that are used by manufacturers for chambers.
- Ceramic – is the most commonly used material for chambers. When heated, it does not give off any odor or flavor which can otherwise affect your herb. Ceramic is a porous and fragile material which causes it to have small holes or craters. Meaning, you need to be extra cautious when cleaning them. Silicon carbide (SiC) is a commonly used material for ceramic chambers for high-quality vaporizers. Ceramic has been associated with lead content in the past and that is surely something that you would not want in your chamber of course.
Having said that lead is used in glazing and decorations, so ceramic chambers for high-quality vaporizers are extremely unlikely to have anything to do with lead. If it concerns you, check with the retailer or manufacturer or go for a glass chamber.
- Glass – another non-reactive material which is perfect for heating your ingredients. Glass has no small holes compared to ceramic, so there’s no risk of small particles being stuck in it. However, glass is more fragile compared to ceramic. Borosilicate glass is a high-quality material that is often used in vaporizers.
- Stainless steel – has a clean and smooth finish overall. This material also does not alter the taste (when used for chambers) and does not give off any external odors other than your ingredient. This metal can be very heavy and expensive but is a good conductor. High heat areas such as a vaporizer chamber require medical grade stainless steel for maximum safety.
Haze Dual Chamber Portable Vaporizer
These are the 3 most commonly used materials for chambers in vaporizers and they all have a relatively high level of safety, most especially glass. We also have been using stainless steel for cooking, medical equipment and other areas that suggest its relative safety for vaporizer chambers.
Next, let’s look at the heating element materials.
- Nickel – is famous for its resistance to heat and corrosion, as well for being a good conductor of heat, making it an ideal metal to use for heating elements of vaporizers.
- Mica – is also a great choice for vaporizer heating elements. Mica heating elements are made out of thin sheets of mica, creating a low thermal mass and super quick heat up time.
- Brass – is a controversial material to be used in vaporizers. Brass is an alloy of nickel and copper, however sometimes small amounts of lead are added, so the material is more pliable. Obviously, no amount of lead would be tolerated in a vaporizer, and even though you would assume that no manufacturer would use brass with any lead content, the simple possibility of it makes many vapers say no to brass heating elements.
- Aluminium – is commonly used in vaporizing heating elements. It is also used in cookware alloys for the exact same reason – it conducts heat incredibly well with good degree of safety.
I wanted to cover the chamber and the heating element in one go and now, let’s go back to the rest of the vapor path.
Just like the chamber, other parts of the vapor path (filters, and screens, tubes and pipes, balloons and mouthpieces) should be food grade materials as well. These parts are all exposed to the hot vapor, and we want to make sure they don’t release any unwanted materials into our vapor.
- Filters – are fitted into some vaporizers to filter the vapor or sometimes liquid pads are added to be able to vaporize smaller quantity herbs in the chamber. The materials for these parts tend to be made out of medical grade stainless steel, glass or ceramic depending on the model.
- Tubes and pipes – are part of the vapor path in the process of transporting the vapor from the chamber to your mouth. These tubes and pipes are either glass, silicone or stainless steel making them perfect for transferring the vapor to your system. Some are made of food grade plastic, that some people dislike compared to the previous materials. Moreover, the components used in these tubes should not affect the quality of your vapor.
Balloon – this is for the Balloon type vaporizers. These balloons are used to collect the vapor extracted by your vaporizer and is not heated directly. More importantly, the balloons used are food grade plastic, meaning it has chemical resistance which is perfect for housing the vapor.
- Mouthpieces – Mouthpieces come in many heat-safe materials, such as glass, stainless steel and food grade plastic. Stainless steel mouthpieces are said to have some effect on vapor taste.
Apart from the heating element and the vapor path, you still only want to see materials used that are safe, even when they are exposed to heat. For example, many vaporizer manufacturers use silicone to mount and secure the heating element and/or heating chamber within the devices. These silicone parts should be heat resistant with a healthy buffer to make sure they are suitable to be used in a vaporizer.
Most vaporizer manufacturers are responsible businesses that engineer devices to high safety standards and use only food grade materials. If any materials concern you, just go for glass that has been around since 4000 BC and known to be safe for heating food for sure.
Other Consideration for Vaporizer Safety
Based on the above, I believe most of us can find a vaporizer that is made of materials that we believe to be safe, even when heated. That is, however, not the only thing to consider when we are talking about vaporizers being safe or not.
I have recently published a post about how to stay safe while vaporizing that you may want to check out. In that post, I talk about battery safety when it comes to portable vaporizers and I won’t spend too much time with Lithium ion batteries here.
Another important point to talk about is a key feature that keeps stationary and portable vaporizers safe, the auto-shut off mechanism.
Auto-shut Off Mechanism
Most, if not all vaporizers offer a feature called ‘auto-shut off mechanism’. This unique feature allows the vaporizer to turn itself off automatically after a certain time period of non-activity. To turn it back on, the user simply needs to press a button on the device. This helps to ensure that even if you leave your vaporizer unattended or forget about it while it’s on, it is not going to overheat or ignite a fire or anything like that.
Overall, the more I’ve learned about vaporizers over the years, the more I tend to think that it is not that hard to find a high-quality vaporizer that meets your standards in terms of safety.
I do suggest to take your time to look into what materials are used in your vaporizer to ensure you are looking after your health from every direction.
Considering the overall health benefits of switching from smoking to vaporizing, it is surely worth it.