Vaporization is often praised due to how it releases the active ingredients of dry herbs/tobacco without some of the less desirable elements created through combustion. Commercial vaporizers have two methods of accomplishing this: conduction or convection.
Most vaporizers utilize both to some degree, but each vaporizer has a primary method. Convection and conduction both involve a heating element, but they differ on how that heat is applied to plant materials, concentrates and E-liquids. Let’s take a look at how these methods differ.
Conduction involves a heating element (coil, wick, plate, chamber) coming into direct contact with dry herb/tobacco, similar to food in a frying pan. Conduction heating elements tend to be simpler (fewer parts) and less costly to make, so it’s the most common.
For instance, most vape pens have a cotton wick surrounded by a metal coil that concentrates and e-liquids can be dripped on. Modified vape pens can literally just be that section of the vape pen, which are called Rebuildable Dripping Atomizers or RDAs for short.
Conduction vaporizers are primarily meant for liquid materials, but there are some dry material conduction ovens as well. Conduction allows for the more efficient use of energy and these units tend to last longer before the battery needs to be charged.
Conduction generally allows for more precise temperature control (including a quick heat-up time). The intensity of the heat waves can be increased or decreased with a touch of a button, and the resulting change is nearly instantaneous.
Popular vaporizers like the Magic Flight Launch Box, Arizer Air and the Da Vinci use the conduction method.
Convection ovens are the heating element most familiar to consumers. Convection involves the heating of air around an object in order to bake it. This is how commercial ovens work: you put in your pot roast or cookie dough and the oven’s hot air bakes them.
Convection vaporizers give you a greater degree of control over the temperature than most conduction vaporizers. As a result, you can make subtle adjustments to improve your results.
For example, you can turn the heat up as you vape to ensure full vaporization or vape at different temperatures depending on what type of material you’re using.
Because air permeates everything, convection offers the most even vaporization. This lowers the possibility of combustion, as every portion of dry material heats simultaneously. Given the circulation of air within the heating chamber, convection vaporizers tend to create thicker vapor.
So which method is better?
The verdict: it depends. The heating method has more to do with the size and purpose of the vaporizer than the merits of either method. If you choose to shop for vaporizers with one method over the other, make sure to carefully read the description of your next vape purchase.