A device used in the consumption of marijuana. Unlike standard smoking methods which involve burning the marijuana, a vaporizer slowly heats the pot up to the vaporization point of THC, so that the THC can be inhaled without burning the plant matter. This is much more efficient and healthier than traditional smoking.

The adovocacy group, NORML1, has released a comprehensive research study indicating that Vaporization is an effective way to reduce the harmful effects of smoking pot. The study shows that it's possible to significantly reduce the toxins associated with smoking pot by using an effective vaporizer. It seems reasonable to assume that the health benefits described in the NORML study would also apply to pipe tobacco or other smokable substances.

A high quality commercial vaporizer is available from VaporMagic2  This is an excellent device, but it's costly at about $160 (all prices USD). 

For those of a more frugal nature, there are many homespun vaporizer designs available, involving everything from soldering irons to vacuum cleaners. Prior to plowing this alternative however consider that the primary component of most high quality commercial vaporizers is a heat gun that allows fine control over the heat applied to the tobacco. A good head costs over $120 by itself.  The rest of the stuff is lab glassware and tubing that would cost you $20 or so if you could find it anyway.

So, rather than reinventing a perfectly functional wheel, my advice is this: if you smoke, you should probably consider a vaporizer, and if you need one your best bet is probably to buy a decent commercial model.

If you are still determined to roll your own vaporizer here are some pointers: 

  • I've read instructions for a homemade vaporizer that suggest using a soldering iron as a heat source. The problem with this is that you don't want to ingest any lead and most soldering irons have a shiny silver glob of heavy metal on the business end. New irons usually come pre-tinned and, worse yet, the old used soldering iron on your workbench likely has aging gobs of poison gack on it. Lead has always been known to cause problems, but recently doctors have drastically reduced the levels of exposure they consider harmful to the low parts per billion. My wife is a stained glass artist and one doctor told her that he believes that any exposure at all can produce significant developmental problems in children and adolescents. So the idea of lighting your bong with a soldering iron is a really bad thing.

  • Even though vaporizers by definition don't "burn" the material, they still get very hot.  So don't use anything in your construction that either burns or vaporizes at low temperatures.  Glues, plastics, paper, Pringles cans...

  • Running your vapors through water or other liquids serves no purpose at all.  Vapors aren't hot enough to bother cooling, and the water may absorb some of the active ingredients and defeat the purpose.  Skip the plumbing.

  • It's all about the temperature. You need to get the material just hot enough that it vaporizes but doesn't quite ignite.  That's why you need a precisely controlled heat source like a commercial heat gun which is expensive and that brings us back to square one.

1NORML Vaporizor Article: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=4250,
2VaporMagic: http://www.vapormagic.biz

If you insist on using a soldering iron, cover it with a Pyrex test tube, as is the standard design in commercial ones. It strikes me that the wooden housing of the iron seen in commercial peices resembles an electric pencil sharpener with the guts taken out. This would be a good way to mount it. Also, a variable resistor can be used to make a temperature dial. I'm not sure of the exact mechanics of this, but it is useful to be able to control the heat. I suggest low heat for most of the process, but turn it up so the bud burns right at the end (once you think you've used most of the THC; this will ensure you get every last bit). Vaporizing can be fun, but don't let it get in the way of the true pot experience; spliffs are still the ultimate smoke!

A vaporizer is a contemporary tobacco smoking accessory. It produces clean vapors without burning your plant. It doesn't harm your lungs the way smoke would harm your lungs. A cheap vaporizer can be built in about a half hour. You'll need:

The Mouthpiece:
Use the drill to cut a hole in the center of the soda cap. I used a 9/32 size drillbit in order to snugly accomodate a straw from Burger King, but as always, ymmv. Straws from McDonalds or Arby's will be too wide for the size of the bottlecap, so watch out. Drill another, smaller hole in the cap as well - this lets you suck air into the vaporizer and can act as a sort of carb. If you have a grinding tool, use it to smooth out the bottom of the cap. Once you've done this, chew some gum. Since you're an e2 noder, I shouldn't need to remind you to accept no alternatives to Wrigley's Big Red. Once it's nice and soft, wrap a small pinch of it around the center of the straw and slide the straw into the hole in the bottlecap from the bottom. Slowly twist it so that the gum forms a nice firm seal with the bottom of the cap. Then, mold some more to the top of the cap as well. Cut the straw so that about 1 inch protrudes from the bottom of the cap. Now leave it alone.

The Bowl:
We're using one of the clear bulbs, because the frosting inside of those soft white bulbs could harm your health. We're using a 100-watt bulb because I'm told they have greater heat resistance. We don't want to risk cracking this. If it breaks, you could hurt yourself and/or lose some of your legal tobacco product. Now, smash the ceramic bottom part of a lightbulb out using a spoon or cut the bottom threads off of the metal part of the bulb using a utility knife. Very carefully remove the insides of the bulb. Rinse out the bulb well in order to make sure there's no tiny glass particles inside. Remove jagged edges by pinching them inwards or, if they're glass, cutting them off. Once you're done, you should have a nice, clean lightbulb, minus the insides. The metal threading is still attached to it, with a nice big hole in the bottom.

The Vaporizer:
Grind up your tobacco product, and put the desired amount of herbal smoking product into the lightbulb and screw the cap onto the threading. It should fit perfectly. Congratulations, you have just built a vaporizer. And something that is essentially a crackpipe. Oh well. Lightly heat the bottom of the bulb for several seconds and begin inhaling through the straw. Once you start tasting the vapors, it's working. When the taste goes away and your stuff turns dark brown, you need to reload your vaporizer. Have fun, and be careful.

The Disclaimer:
As always, YMMV. This w/u is for educational purposes only. Like all homemade smoking devices, things can go wrong. Don't hurt yourself.

Outside of cartoons and science fiction, a vaporizer is an electronic device that converts the "essential oils" from cannabis into a gas. The machine heats an element and the ground up marijuana placed on a screen next to the heating source turns the oil to vapor through convection.

There are two types of vaporizers on the market I endorse, they work either like the brands Volcano or Digi-Vapor. Brands like the Volcano use a fan to push the air over the heating source and then across the herb. While brands like the Digi-vapor do not, relying on the person's lungs to pull the air. One type is not better than the other is, but one will fit the users’ needs better. The Volcano type has a tray that slides in over a vent blowing hot air and the vapors collect in a bag. These types are good for people with weakened lungs, and are short of breath; they are consistent on how much they fry the weed. From my experiences, these types leave more oil behind though. Now, the Digi-Vapor kind will have a glass on glass structure known as whip or a hands free kit. It is an 18mm wide female bong stem looking piece with a polyurethane tube attached at the other end. The whip slides on the heating source after adding the desired substance on to the screen and that is it. Just suck it. The downside is bowls can combust half way through because of the different speeds at which people inhale, once it combusts it renders it worthless due to taste.

The temperature range to vaporize the cannabinoids is around 110C/230F to 200C/390F or the boiling point of THC. I never turn the device up to 390F myself, I prefer to stop around 330-350F. This is because I prefer my bud cured to the point they are completely dry and they will ignite quickly if I do. I have found, if the heating source is set at a high temperature it works best to pull the air in a little faster, not too fast as to cool it off too much, but when it's set at a lower temperature it's better to draw more slowly allowing the temperature to build through circulation. This idea will also work well when setting the fan speed on the volcano types.

In my personal opinion, the vaporizer is the best thing invented since the joint, and is bud's new best friend. Whoever rolled and smoked weed first was a genius, but the first person to figure out it was possible to get high without combustion was the smartest person ever. However, the people who first thought they could duplicate the role of a vaporizer by using a light bulb or heat gun have smoked themselves retarded, and are not the best people to receive information.

Heat guns are for other applications and the factory settings will be too hot, the weed instantaneously ignites causing smoke and rendering any attempt at vaporization futile. In addition, when it ignites by spontaneous combustion it tastes like straight asshole. Therefore, I do not know why people keep doing it. Stop it! Just buy a dedicated device already. Now days, a portable vaporizer sells for less than $200 retail. They cost about the same price as a heat gun. Anyway, there is not a homemade vaporizer that can stand up to hot knifing or any kind of oil rig.

For starters, light bulbs filled with a powder first need cleaning, which is next to impossible to remove all of that fine crap. Inhale this matter and it is kind of is defeating the purpose of vaporizing for a healthier life style. Not to mention the inability to keep the heat at a constant makes things harder than they need to be, and the list goes on why you should not use a light bulb, like people might think you are smoking methamphetamines. The next type of vaporizer is a heat gun, which I discussed previously, and is not any better than the light bulb. There are no substitutions for a device dedicated to marijuana, no matter the price range. Real heat guns for decals and such will run too hot to vaporize marijuana, even a hair dryer on high might even work better at vaporization, but I do not think it will reach a hot enough temperature for complete vaporization. Nevertheless, the heat gun devices designed and sold for weed is designed to work with a bong, and the vapors are filtered through water, which is bad because the vapor molecule is much cooler than that of smoke, so the water does not do anything but trap the stuff that will get you high.

A vaporizer can save upwards to 70% of the THC from the intense heat flame and embers produce, and will generally vaporize around 90-95% of the Trichomes. A vaporizer will also decrease the amount of inhaled carcinogens over smoking. If used correctly the carcinogens produced are practically zero due to fact little or none of the plant matter ignites. Another positive outcome from vaporization rather than combustion is the reduction of odor, therefore; it is less of a nuisance to people nearby. Since the vapor is cooler and filled with less particulate, it makes it easier for the lungs to accept larger dosages. Yet, since the consumption is through inhalation, the high that will result is not necessarily going to last longer than normal smoke, it can be slightly stronger and more clear-minded. None of that foggy retardation feeling associated with carbon monoxide. Yet it is still not as easy to over-dose as when consuming edibles, it does happen though. Being able to see and feel how much is inhaled gives the users an over-all sense of dosage taken in, in contrast edibles provide a method far more suited for over dose. First off, digestion causes the THC molecule to become more potent in the majority of users; and secondly, it takes precise calculations based on potency to achieve an estimated dosage for edibles. That dosage is than usually larger than the typical dose when inhaled.

By over dose, since THC is practically a harmless substance, the symptoms a person experiences during an over dose build from anxiety to light-headedness followed by nausea and shallow breathing. In extreme cases, some people vomit. No Human being has ever died from the effects of marijuana. However, typically people will only pass out when they get too high. The “I really need a nap after I stuff my face” kind of pass out. No person has ever stopped breathing or slipped into a coma. Reaching these points of over dosage all depends on a person’s personal tolerance, current emotional and physical state, the environment and immediate company in which they are in all play a role.

Vaporizers allow so much more play in inhaling marijuana over smoking by changing the temperature at which the heat source is set, in doing so, this is allowing medical patients to achieve their desired effects. Making the vaporizers in which the user can set the temperature manually better. They allow the user to tailor the vapors to their desire. Some of the compounds in marijuana, the lighter molecules turn to gas faster and might be better suited in treating nausea. Increasing the temperature to get at the more dense cannabinoids provides access to the molecules that tend to interact more with pain receptors and in my opinion causes the drowsiness.

I think it is possible to get high several more times on the same amount through vaporization than traditional combustion. I call this re-vaping, and it increases the effectiveness of the machine at converting all the potential oils by allowing them to condense whilst giving the plant matter time to cool reducing the likely hood of combustion. This charred substance than can be refined even more using solvents, however nearly all the THC is already gone or nearly destroyed, and typically only the plants’ heavier cannabinoids are left. The cookies I made from this oil could have probably knocked out a baby rhino, somehow I managed to make it through Christmas dinner listening to a distant cousin jabber about mining uranium without anything but boredom showing. I hope that is true, who knows what my aunt was actually thinking about my appearances.

Purchasing a vaporizer and using it correctly will save greens, plus the whole being annihilated without the unhealthy smoking part.

Vap"o*ri`zer (?), n.

One who, or that which, vaporizes, or converts into vapor.


© Webster 1913.

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