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How Vaporizers Work

How Vaporizers Work

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Table of Content

  1. What is Vaping or Vape?
  2. What is Combustion?
  3. Historical Background of Vaping
  4. Physics Behind Vaporizing
  5. Smoke vs. Vapor
    Summary

Vaporizing is proving to be an effective alternative to smoking. It is basically the same relaxing puffing action, but a different method of extracting the ingredients from the plants. Instead of burning the herbs and inhale smoke, you can only heat up your herbs and inhale vapor with the help of vaporizers.

Arizer Solo Portable Vaporizer

Doing away from a well-loved habit is very difficult… But undoing your life or lifestyle to regain your health is much too difficult, in fact, that would be impossible at times.

So… if you have the chance (and it’s not yet too late) of re-programming how you live to start a healthy lifestyle, wouldn’t you want to try and explore the available alternative for you?

As more and more studies are proving them to be safe, Vaporizers are becoming popular these days and thousands are switching daily, so if you’re not yet there, why don’t you learn the facts and make an informed decision after?

What is Vaping or Vape?

According to our ever reliable Oxford or Cambridge dictionary…

‘Vaping or vape is the use of e-cigarettes or other devices that let you breathe in nicotine or other drugs as vapour, rather than smoke.’

The term had become so popular, that in 2014, ‘Vape’ was named as the word of the year by the Oxford Dictionary.

Vape is short for vapor or vaporize which means to turn or cause something to turn, from a solid or liquid state into gas. It is also used to refer to the device for vaping or vaporizing.

Vape or vaporizer is an electronic device, that comes in different forms and types. It can be found in massage salons, spas and of course inside homes. It is also something that makes the air less dry… or hot.

As a well known, humidifier or vaporizer produces steam and water vapor, which adds moisture to the air, that helps prevent irritation against dry skin or any allergy symptoms.

Now, let’s talk about what a vaporizer does and how it can be useful for medical purposes, as well as why it’s better than smoking, that uses the process of combustion to produce smoke.

What is Combustion?

Combustion happens at high temperatures, when smoking a cigarette, the burning tip of the cigarette gets up to 900 Celsius (1650 Fahrenheit) while drawing a puff on it, and sits at around 400 Celsius (750 Fahrenheit) between puffs.

Combustion is the process of burning something. In the light of science (chemistry), it is the chemical process in which substances mix with oxygen in the air to produce “heat and light”. The process can either be complete or incomplete. The latter though produces carbon monoxide (CO), which is a harmful, colourless and odourless gas.

Incomplete Combustion Produces Carbon Monoxide.

Combustion is used in many ways such as in cooking, in fireplace, if our homes get too cold, cars and even in smoking to enjoy a relaxing puff. All of these can contain high levels of carbon monoxide.

When carbon monoxide is inhaled into the lungs, it adheres with hemoglobin in the red blood cells to make carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) and it goes into the bloodstream. And when that happens, oxygen is unable to bind with those receptors affected by CO.

A high level of carbon monoxide in the bloodstream then deprives the body of oxygen, causing you to lose consciousness and suffocate or worst can cause death.

Complete Combustion also Produces Toxins.

Incomplete combustion does produce high amounts of carbon monoxide, however, when smoking plant materials, there is usually sufficient amount of oxygen available for complete combustion.

With complete combustion, carbon monoxide is unlikely to reach levels that can actually kill you. When smoking plant materials, there will be more carbon dioxide produced, along with other toxic elements, tar, and other carcinogens. These toxins may not be deadly on a short term, however, they have proven to be over time, indeed.

For the above reason, a few smart individuals thought of creating an alternative to smoking, that does not require combustion. This is where e-cigarettes and vaporizers came into the picture.

Historical Background of Vaping

The concept of vaping or vaporization can be traced back in Egypt, based on the book “The History of Herodotus”.

Herodotus is a Greek historian, who recorded the ancient practice of the Scythians as follows:

“The Scythians take some of this hemp-seed and throw it upon the red-hot stones; immediately it vaporizes and gives out such a vapor as no Grecian vapor-bath can exceed; the Scythians, delighted, shout for joy.”

The high temperature from the heated stones produced the vapor, as soon as the hemp seed were thrown.

Moving forward, 1500 years ago in Afghanistan (or in present time the India-Pakistan border), Irfan Shiekh of the Safavid dynasty invented what is known as “hookah” or a water pipe.

In 1927, Joseph Robinson came up with the idea of the first electronic cigarette for which he filed a patent to the USPTO and was approved.

“My invention relates to vaporizing devices for holding medicinal compounds which are electrically heated to produce vapors for inhalation, and to provide a device for individual use which may be freely handled without any possibility of being burned.” – Joseph Robinson, May 3, 1927, New York

By 1960, a Korean War Veteran Herbert Gilbert filed for “smokeless non-tobacco cigarette” patent in Pennsylvania.

“The present invention relates to a smokeless non-tobacco cigarette to provide a safe and harmless means for smoking by replacing burning tobacco with heated, moist, flavored air. Another object is to provide an article of manufacture resembling a cigarette by which air may be drawn through a porous substance of a cartridge which has been moistened with a chemically harmless flavoring preparation, heated by a suitable heating element. A further object is to suitably raise the temperature of the inhalant mixture, so that it may approximate that of cigarette smoke. A further object is to insulate the heat source so that the ‘cigarette’ may be held in the fingers without discomfort to the user’s hand.”

It is said that modern day vaporizers are built based on the design made by Gilbert, who to this day in his 80’s is still working with the Emperor brand.

Between the period of 1990 to 1994, Amsterdam Father of Cannabis Vaporizer Eagle Bill invented the “Shake and vape” based on the ancient Egyptian methods. It is a glass pipe vaporizer with a bowl, which is heated at the bottom instead of lighting the cannabis itself.

Inspired by Bill’s design, BC Vaporizer, Canada claims to have invented the first electrically charged vaporizer in 1994. It is still in business today and creators of solar-power charged vaporizers.

Fast forward in 2000, a Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik, who was a heavy smoker and whose father died of lung cancer for the same smoking habit, vowed to rid himself of the habit. After trying all his available options including nicotine patches but failed, a dream-inspired idea would become the modern day vaporizer.

The idea of the electronic cigarettes came to me in a dream in 2000. Coughing and wheezing, I imagined I was drowning, until suddenly the waters around me lifted into a fog.” – Hon Lik

By 2004, his patent was officially approved by USPTO.

“The present invention relates to an electronic atomization cigarette which contains nicotine without harmful tar. The electronic atomization cigarette includes a shell and a mouthpiece… The advantages of the present invention include smoking without tar, significantly reducing the carcinogenic risk. Furthermore, users still feel as if they are smoking and experiencing the same excitement, and the cigarette is no need to be lit and is no fire risk.”

It was also in the year 2000, that Storz & Bickel company in Germany invented the new era Desktop vaporizers, which was named and still is today “VOLCANO”, which has become the gold standard in the vaporization space.

And that’s a trip back into history with how vaping and vaporizers came to be. At present time, new vaporizer companies have cropped up where innovative techniques and advanced technology are combined together to come up with smaller, lighter devices utilizing convection or conduction heating methods, or both.

While Vaping is becoming so popular in a couple of countries as you can see below, there are still a lot of countries around the world that have banned these devices.

So if you are looking at buying or traveling with your vape, it is better to check out first the legal status of vaporizers in your country or in the place you are traveling to.

Physics Behind Vaporizing

As what we have learned earlier, the logic behind vaporizer is, it helps convert solid or liquid material to gas. To do that, the material needs to be heated up to the appropriate temperature to reach its boiling point to start releasing vapor. Temperature level can vary from one herb to another.

Here’s a table showing the different temperatures by common flowers:

 

Plant Name                      Temperature Setting
Chamomile 190°C (374°F)
Damiana 190°C (374°F)
Lavender 130°C (266°F)
Lemon Balm 142°C (288°F)
Sage 190°C (374°F)

 

Dry herbs start to release their beneficial elements when they are vaporized at a temperature high enough, but not reaching the point of combustion. This is where vaporizers are good at. It will heat up the concentrates or dry herbs according to your set heat level to produce that clean, pure aromatic smokeless vapor.

Herbs are not the only materials that can be vaporized, though.

Here is a quick list of what can be vaporized these days:

  • Liquids: this is the concept that e-cigarettes use. They come with a liquid ‘tank’ for the so-called ‘e-juice’ (with a certain amount of nicotine). Liquids are super easy to heat up and vaporize.
  • Oils: Oil vaporizers work on a similar concept than liquid vaporizers. Oils are still liquids, easy to heat up and vaporize as well. Oil vaporizers are very popular with CBD oil exploding in popularity.
  • Waxes and Concentrates: These materials carry the concentration (essence) of the active ingredients of the plants and gaining popularity quickly. Many herbal vaporizers also capable of vaporizing concentrates. This is due to the similarity of the methods used for dry herbs and waxes.

  • Dry Herbs: These are the trickiest to extract vapor from. Herbal vaporizers are more complicated due to the herbs have to be heated evenly for vapor production.

Most vaporizers utilize two heating methods in the vaporization process:

  • Conduction
  • Convection

Conduction is the transfer of heat between substances, that are in direct contact with each other just like cooking on a stove. Vaporizers that use the conduction method usually heat the walls of the chamber. Dry herbs have to come into direct contact with the heated walls of the chamber to heat up and produce vapor.

Convection, on the other hand, is when thermal energy is transferred from hot places to cold places. It occurs when warmer areas of a liquid or gas rise to cooler areas in the liquid or gas. 

The same concept when you are baking in an oven. In a vaporizer set up, the chamber gets heated and with the use of a built-in fan or air holes, hot air is circulated all over the chamber leaving no room for unvaporized material.

Through technology and the right materials, the above heating processes are installed in vaporizers. Some have conduction heating only, while others have convection and there are also devices that come with both.

Vaporizers with conduction heating warm up faster, which means less waiting time. However, it may cause uneven vaporization of your dry herbs, due to how it works, where only the material that touches the heated wall of the chamber gets vaporized. 

Therefore, you will need to shake the material inside the chamber to vaporize your herbs evenly. This type of vape is also cheaper, as it requires less complicated design. Employing this heating technique is the PUFFiT 2 and Iolite portable vaporizers.

Convection heated vaporizers, on the other hand, can be a bit more expensive, due to the technology they come with. Their warming up takes a little longer and with an internal fan or air holes, the hot air generated circulates within the materials inside the chamber, which allows for even vaporization of the ground up herbs. 

This method is more favored by most vapers. CloudV vape pens, as well as the Arizer Extreme Q and Volcano desktop vaporizers, are some, that use this heating style.

But there are also high quality devices that utilizes both methods. One is the Haze dual chamber portable vaporizer. It is equipped with two (2) chambers, that allows you to vaporize different materials either by conduction or convection. Storz&Bickel is also a frontrunner in this area with the Mighty and Crafty portable vaporizers.

Next to the heating method, vaporizers use different materials for the chamber. Some have ceramic or stainless steel and others have glass.

All of these materials are high quality and food/medical grade, that do not emit any harmful by-products when heated to high temperatures. Standards are high in the manufacturing of vaporizers to ensure safety and top vaporizing performance.

The methods of inhalation is through a mouthpiece, which can be made of glass, high quality food grade plastic or a long silicone whip tube. All having the same high standard to ensure consumer protection and safety.

herbal-vaporizers

So whether you are after the medicinal value or just for relaxation, vaporizers have the right technology without combustion (that can cause harmful toxins not fit for inhalation) to vaporize your ground up herbs and even tobacco.

And from the medical point of view, inhaling vapor from any dry herb has much more therapeutic effects, than taking a pill. Inhalation offers targeted delivery, which means less medication to achieve the desired results.

Smoke vs. Vapor

Without proper information and investigation, anyone you ask would say no difference at all. From an external point of view, when one smokes, it produces that white clouds. Big clouds of vapor can look like smoke. But in reality, there is a huge difference between smoke and vapor.  

In smoking in order to ‘extract’ the ingredients of your herbs, the process involved is combustion. As we have learned earlier, combustion is burning something which causes to produce harmful byproducts like carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), tar and other carcinogens.

Now, if we move on to talk about cigarette smoking, aside from those, there are over 5,300 different chemicals in tobacco smoke identified by scientists. And we cannot emphasize more the effects of these chemicals in the body.

Combustion happens at very high temperatures. As we discussed above, when smoking a cigarette, the burning tip of the cigarette gets up to 900 Celsius (1650 Fahrenheit) while drawing a puff on it, and at around 400 Celsius (750 Fahrenheit) or so between puffs.

Meanwhile, the vapor produced from vaporizers is through the process of heating your herbal materials to no more than 260 Celsius (500 Fahrenheit).


In Physics, heat is seen as the energy created from a random motion of molecules and can be transferred through conduction, convection or radiation.
There are no chemical byproducts resulting from this process. Hence it is the safest way so far to bring a material or substance to its boiling point for vaporization to occure.

Vaporization of dry herbs or essential oils at the recommended temperature is an effective and healthier way to bring out their healing properties for quick inhalation and faster effects. With direct inhalation of aromatic vapor from herbs, it goes directly into the lungs and into the bloodstream, that makes it more effective for medication than taking a pill.

Another differentiation of smoke to vapor is the smell. Smoking releases a sticky smoke and unpleasant smell, that adheres to clothes. Whereas vapor from vaporizers is pure and clean and no sticky odour at all. And most of all, no second hand smoke to worry about.

While there are questions on the safety and possible side effects of vaping, these have mostly been debunked or need to be studied further. Whereas the negative effects of smoking had long been identified, proven and all supported by studies, wouldn’t you want to try and take the chance of enjoying a habit the cleaner and healthier way?

Summary

Buying a vaporizer is an investment, especially with desktop vaporizers. But knowing the benefit your lungs and your whole body can get from it, the price is nothing for the price you pay regaining your health if you continue doing your old habit.

The Royal College of Physicians concluded in their report titled Nicotine without smoke: tobacco harm reduction:

“E-cigarettes are likely to be beneficial to public health. Smokers can therefore be reassured and encouraged to use them, and the public can be reassured that these are much safer than smoking.”

But it’s sad to note that as vaporizers grow in popularity, authorities are subjecting it to regulation.

You Are Being Lied To – A Billion Lives

Above all the hype and the wrong notions, the choice is yours. You know you’ve got a problem, a solution is within reach. All you’ve got to do is decide and take that first step…

Buy your personal vaporizers now and start a new phase of your life with your loved ones.