An immensely popular, healthier alternative to smoking, vaping technology has grown and changed the cannabis industry forever. But there’s still plenty of confusion around vaping, dabbing, and concentrated cannabis in general. If you’re considering a switch to vapor over smoke, you’ve come to the right place.

Photo: Dopen cannabis oil cartridge

What to Look for in a Vape

Flowers or Concentrates?

Unfortunately for vape enthusiasts, the most interesting market in legalized areas is in the form of flowers, not concentrates. While that’s certainly primed to change in the future, the variety and selection found in loose leaf flowers far exceeds that of concentrates.

Some flower vapes exist and allow users who like to split time between rolling papers and vaping the flexibility to purchase only one form of cannabis rather than investing in both flowers and concentrates. While concentrate cartridges offer more economic bang for your buck, providing 100-200 pulls for a $40 cartridge, flower vape chambers hold about as much as the average bowl.

Convention or Conduction?

Two different methods of heat transfer in vaping pens and vaporizers: conduction and convection. Conduction is motionless, using electricity to heat metal. Convection requires a liquid or gas propellant to generate heat.

Convection vaporizers are thought to be more efficient, as conductive heating can burn unevenly and require adjustment after a few pulls – especially with loose leaf chambers. However, if you use concentrates, you’ll have already eliminated the need to active the cannabinoids and can choose whichever heating method you prefer.

Energy and Functionality

Concentrates tend to lend themselves well to quick puffs or small dosages. Because vape pens require no heating time, they can be small and easily concealable. If you’re planning to vape at home or with a group, using a loose leaf flower vape makes more sense.

Loose leaf vapes will need to be cleaned more regularly than concentrate chambers due to the nature of the medium, but refillable cartridges can get messy. However, concentrates rarely need to be replaced and have a long lifespan.

Battery life varies between each individual vaporizer and manufacturer, but most have an on-off switch and a battery life of about 6 hours.

Vaping Experience

Depending on your preferences, you may find different methods of vaping to your liking. If you’ve been a longtime smoker and enjoy the taste and aroma of the plant, using a loose leaf flower vape may be your best option. Concentrates have an unavoidable taste and scent, which some people may not find enjoyable.

Loose leaf vapes should be emptied and cleaned after each use to ensure a clean, consistent experience. Concentrates don’t typically need to be cleaned on a regular basis and will require less maintenance over time.