Is vaporizer efficiency oversold?

wildwilliewanker

Active Member
I posted this topic over on r/vaporents as well, but wanted FCs take!

Firstly, I believe vaporizing is the most enjoyable method of cosumption and it definitely is more efficient than smoking. However, I don't often see solid numbers and I think it can be misleading to current smokers that want to transition to vaping only. Videos such as Sneakypete's 'How to Save Money on Weed' make a subjective guess that vaporizing is about 4x (75%) more efficient. Based on that, if you'd normally smoke 0.3g of a particular strain, you should only need to vape 0.075g to get similarly high.

So I sought actual numbers! Studies are few and focus primarily on Delta 9 THC. From the studies I could scrounge up (listed at the end) and this nifty LA Times article/calculator (which sites further studies), it looks like vaporization is somewhere around 25% more efficient than combustion at extracting Delta 9 THC. By that metric, vaporization is only 1 ⅓ times more efficient. Thus, if you'd normally smoke 0.3g of a particular strain, you should need to vape 0.225g.

This is where I believe there is a major disconnect with smokers that are trying to transition. If they are normally smoking 0.3g joints, they need to vaporize 0.225g; but many of the portable vapes on the market have bowl sizes from 0.1g-0.2g and may fall short of their expectations. Desktop models can certainly exceed that bowl size, of course.

What lead me to think about this was the frequent suggestion to smokers trying to switch to vaping to take a tolerance break. But if vaping is so much more efficient, why would that be necessary? I transitioned to vaping while I still had a low tolerance, but a smoker who's maybe pulling 0.5g bong hits would surely be disappointed since most portable vapes aren't going to hold the 0.375g that would be equivalent; so then they need two bowls which will certainly take more time to consume.

So if you are a high tolerance smoker, I think it's almost required to take a tolerance break before transitioning to vaping only, unless you're going to stick to desktops with large bowls. If you come into vaping with a lower tolerance, you will definitely enjoy the efficiency and all can enjoy the improved flavor.

I think this information is invaluable to helping current smokers pick a vaporizer and explains the disappointment I often see. Feel free to agree or disagree, and I'd love to see any sources you can find of the topic!

References:

Cannabinoid receptor 1 binding activity and quantitative analysis of Cannabis sativa L. smoke and vapor

Cannabis smoke condensate III: The cannabinoid content of vaporised Cannabis sativa

LA Times : A simple guide to pot, THC and how much is too much
 
Last edited:

GoldenBud

Well-Known Member
if we really want the answer we need information....
henry's law calculations for vapor vs smoke, how soluble the vapor/smoke in our blood?
the smoke has higher temp and also there's a chemical reaction occuring, which doesn't happen with vaping
How the exothermic reaction of combustion affect the high? the body effects? the effects to last?
if the smoke is more soluble in our blood than vapor, that can help
any other paramets we need to check?
 

invertedisdead

Weapons of VAS Destruction
Consider that in one of the only tests on this topic, vaporizing was not demonstrated to be more efficient than a doobie until they turned the temperature to the highest setting.



3-Figure2-1.png




I basically think people tend to get stuck in the "flavor zone" (which is really where the best quality vapor is, IMHO) but realistically you could easily go through more material. On the contrary there's definitely a goldi locks "just right" temperature zone. I certainly don't advocate the trend for excessive temperatures either, where a load looks like it was just four degrees shy of catching on fire.

Another explanation I have pondered over the years is the premise that if vaporizing actually is more efficient, that would also explain why the effects taper off. More efficient inhalation methods over time could ultimately increase tolerance and appear as less effective. For example I actually used to be a low temp 5-6 setting Volcano Classic user for quite a while, and in hindsight, the effects didn't seem weaker than anything I have access to today, on the contrary it might have even been stronger.

As far as the actual topic of vaporization efficiency - even when comparing combustion consumption methods we see radically different experiences. You've got the "smoke two joints before I smoke two joints" crowd, just as much as you have the guys who only micro dose once a day off dugouts and bats. Even as smokers, the dugout crowd could write articles about how to save money on weed - just by ceasing the rolling of 3 gram blunts, or smoking half gram bong hits at a time. It's really no different with vaporizers - people vaping 1 gram at a time in their Volcano or loading .0001g in their Dynavap.

After trying to convince skeptics for a decade I honestly don't even care anymore if vaporizing is less efficient. I realized there is so much more reasons to vape besides whether it's "stronger" than smoking or not. Not having a stinky black bong is more convincing to me anyways. My observation is that one can have a tolerance so low that almost nothing matters, or so high that almost nothing seems to makes a difference.

:2c:
 

Shit Snacks

Milaana. Lana. LANA. LAANAAAAAAA
Consider that in one of the only tests on this topic, vaporizing was not demonstrated to be more efficient than a doobie until they turned the temperature to the highest setting.



3-Figure2-1.png




I basically think people tend to get stuck in the "flavor zone" (which is really where the best quality vapor is, IMHO) but realistically you could easily go through more material. On the contrary there's definitely a goldi locks "just right" temperature zone. I certainly don't advocate the trend for excessive temperatures either, where a load looks like it was just four degrees shy of catching on fire.

Another explanation I have pondered over the years is the premise that if vaporizing actually is more efficient, that would also explain why the effects taper off. More efficient inhalation methods over time could ultimately increase tolerance and appear as less effective. For example I actually used to be a low temp 5-6 setting Volcano Classic user for quite a while, and in hindsight, the effects didn't seem weaker than anything I have access to today, on the contrary it might have even been stronger.

As far as the actual topic of vaporization efficiency - even when comparing combustion consumption methods we see radically different experiences. You've got the "smoke two joints before I smoke two joints" crowd, just as much as you have the guys who only micro dose once a day off dugouts and bats. Even as smokers, the dugout crowd could write articles about how to save money on weed - just by ceasing the rolling of 3 gram blunts, or smoking half gram bong hits at a time. It's really no different with vaporizers - people vaping 1 gram at a time in their Volcano or loading .0001g in their Dynavap.

After trying to convince skeptics for a decade I honestly don't even care anymore if vaporizing is less efficient. I realized there is so much more reasons to vape besides whether it's "stronger" than smoking or not. Not having a stinky black bong is more convincing to me anyways. My observation is that one can have a tolerance so low that almost nothing matters, or so high that almost nothing seems to makes a difference.

:2c:

Yeah and really it is more efficient, because smoking is destroying so much instead, and a lot of the effects that people, who flail trying to convert, are chasing after, actually come from the toxins anyway!

Really everyone is different, Sticky Bricks can be a good transition for a true pipe smoker, because of the similar ritual but also because of the full-bodied vapor, I agree temp control can be pretty misleading for someone trying to convert to vaping from smoking... Best to get something that can get you as close to combustion as possible, but also the simplicity and mindless convenience is a huge factor for many making the change.
 
Last edited:

wildwilliewanker

Active Member
Great input so far! There are certainly factors that complicate, but THC levels are the easiest to compare quantatively given what's already known.

I wasn't surprised that the one study (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20118579/) showed the preservation of terpenes in vapor. However, it was surprising that combustion converted some of the THC into a slew of unidentified cannabinoid compounds; I wonder if these have a significant impact on the smoking high.
 

Cannabiker

Well-Known Member
I think there are too many variables, especially in individual response, to quantify efficiency. I don't believe it's as simple as "How much weed am I putting in, and how much THC am I getting out."

A bigger factor for me has been how much I enjoy the experience, and how accessible it is. In both cases, vaping wins. Vaporizers are more of a hobby for me than smoking was, and I can enjoy my hobby in more situations. So even if vaping is a little more efficient, I do it more often.

I've never really tracked how much weed I use, but I've estimated that it's about two grams a day, and I don't think that's changed for decades, smoking or vaping.
 

tokenknifeguy

Well-Known Member
I think it is. Yes going from smoking blunts to vaping in the dynavap is going to save you a lot of herb. However going from smoking blunts to smoking bowls will save you a lot of herb as well. When I smoked, 99% of the time it was with a pipe. And for me, I could get baked off just a few hits from the pipe. When I switched to vaping, I really didn't see much of a difference in efficiency, as I would still get baked from just a few hits off the vape. The main difference to me was the vaping high vs smoking high. It took me like a week of just not smoking and sticking with vaping to make the change. Vaping seemed 'weaker' to me to start with, which is why it was hard for me to make the switch. I mainly made the switch to vaping to give my lungs more of a break. However, I find now that my throat gets more dry from vaping than it ever did from smoking.

I really wish weed was legal in my state so I can buy in bulk (cheaper and no felonies) or grow so I can just make edibles and only occasionally vape to top it all off. But I imagine that will happen soon enough.
 

darbarikanada

Well-Known Member
we've all seen posts here by smokers expressing frustration at their first attempts at vaporizing, not getting the high they're used to. I think that @inverteddisabled is right that a lot of this is due to people not getting to the highest temperatures before stopping, which I see as being about the 'slope' of vaping vs. combusting: you get high more gradually (1 bong rip = ~4 hits off a vaporizer) with most vaping devices, so you're more likely to get to 'I'm as high as I want to be' before you actually finish the bowl, and stop. with combusting (i.e. a bong rips), you still get higher after you stop smoking because it takes a bit for the full high to manifest, so you might even get higher than you set out to do, and you rarely undershoot.

the bottom line is that people who want that steep 'slope' - really high, really fast - aren't going to find vaping (bangers excepted...) satisfying. the reasons to vape aren't really about efficiency so much as flavor and going easy on the lungs (although the absence of potential carcinogens is nice); people looking for that steep 'slope'might be happier with a banger than a vaporizer.

I think vaping is more efficient, but that argument won't persuade a smoker looking for that 'get really high, really fast' experience - I think people like that are more likely to be 'converted' by concentrate in a banger: done properly (there's the rub), you get really high, really fast - and it tastes good, even if it might not be as easy on your lungs as a vaporizer.

and if you're really concerned about efficiency, get your consumption way down so your tolerance goes down, so you can join the 'one and you're done' club.
 

Abysmal Vapor

Saturnine in my mind
I dont know about vaporizer efficiency ,but vaporization happens when you smoke too. Hot air/smoke passing trough your material . This is speculation,but IMO smoking only has strong effects because vaporization also occurs.Smoke is more irritable and lungs try to purge it ,so you get less absorbtion.
 

arb

Semi shaved ape
I know after 37 years of smoking I did not get hardly any effect after the first bowl of the day.
After vaping that single bag out of the Cano I hadda sit down for a bit.
😂
I still feel the full effects 4 years later and can knock myself out if I don't pay attention........ nap time.
😍
Awesome sauce for someone who has had trouble sleeping their whole life.
 

Seek

Apprentice Daydreamer
Consider that in one of the only tests on this topic, vaporizing was not demonstrated to be more efficient than a doobie until they turned the temperature to the highest setting. ... I basically think people tend to get stuck in the "flavor zone" (which is really where the best quality vapor is, IMHO) but realistically you could easily go through more material.
Low temps don't really seem much less efficient to me, mostly just slower, a bowl extraction spread over more hits, unless the temp is too low to vape much of it at all. Perhaps the only literally filled one bag and then measuerd how much THC is there and dumped the bowl and when it was not finished yet? I imagine that would explain those results perfectly.

Anyway I think it might be basically impossible to answer this question precisely, because neither is really ever precise. The smoking efficiency can vary with different apparatuses and techniques and lighters and so on. And vaping efficiency might have even couple more variables, like temp, stirring, how many hits you take from that one bowl, how you pack it...

I think if you get all the variables right, and basically keep vaping and stirring the bowl with a good vape until you can't get anything more from it at all - you should get at least 2x efficiency.
Also everything that doesn't get released by the vape also doesn't get destroyed, so you can still try to vape it further or eat it. That cannot be done with ash.
 
Last edited:

cvs8floz

Well-Known Member
I believe vaping is more efficient if you use the right vaporizer and can somehow control yourself not to overload your bowls. If you grow your own and can afford to be wasteful, you probably end up using similar amounts, but if you are paying big bucks for weed you can stretch it longer by vaping. I would recommend the eNano or similar vapes, you load a tiny amount, just enough for 1 hit, then take a 10-15 second draw for full extraction, then dump and reload. 4 to 5 of these bowls should take most people where they need to be, and that's probably less than half of what you would need to roll a small joint. My problem is that I have little self control and always end up jamming the eNano stem full of weed, then still only take 1 hit and end up dumping a lot of material that is still greenish. The hits are richer that way but there is also more waste.
 

Farid

Well-Known Member
I think much of the "take a t break before switching" and "vapes got me higher once I got used to them" phenomena comes from how vaporizers limit your serving size. If a vape has a small bowl it makes sense that you wouldn't get as high coming from having smoked more. But people underestimate how much even a short t break can reset your receptors.

To make an analogy it's much like using a small plate to limit your food serving when trying to lose weight.

So if you were a heavy smoker, take a few days off, then break your t break with a small bowl in a vape and get wrecked, you'll attribute your increased high to the vaping. I think in reality most of these increased effects come from the t break, not the switch to vapor.

When it comes to comparing the numbers it can be a bit difficult because everyone smokes differently. Smoking slowly and cornering the bowl is very different from roasting the entire bowl, and the vapor to smoke ratio is likely higher with cornering. While it's true that the cherry is destroying some of the actives, vapes leave some of the actives in the abv in many cases.

My guess is that if anything makes vapor more efficient it is the bioavailability that makes the difference. Vapor is less irritating and has smaller particles, so I would guess it is easier to absorb through the lungs.
 

blackstone

Well-Known Member
Good research guys.
Coming from very regular but low dose tobacco mix joints for 20 years, I ended up using the same amounts of green.
But I'm so glad and impressed that I could use this (efficiency?) to drop that pack-a-day tobacco habit too though! And all the addictive behaviour that seemed to coexist with it, like, "I can't survive an hour without smoking something again", and, "I dont want to, and probably couldn't, give anything up ever".

I think it's more efficient because a common statement for me since I started vaping was "I have never been so high in all my life", and I had to state that numerous times throughout the journey!
As I got better at using vapes, and got better ones, then fooling around with reclaim, rosin and then a dab setup!

I'd say, due to all the techniques and tricks I learned around here that I use, I'm way more high with the same amounts!
And I dont have to add fistfuls of ridiculously priced tobacco death crop anymore or smoke cigs in between.
Just hope I don't do a moonshine job on my brain with too much reclaim sometime!:science::freak::ko:
 

wildwilliewanker

Active Member
Consider that in one of the only tests on this topic, vaporizing was not demonstrated to be more efficient than a doobie until they turned the temperature to the highest setting.



3-Figure2-1.png




I basically think people tend to get stuck in the "flavor zone" (which is really where the best quality vapor is, IMHO) but realistically you could easily go through more material. On the contrary there's definitely a goldi locks "just right" temperature zone. I certainly don't advocate the trend for excessive temperatures either, where a load looks like it was just four degrees shy of catching on fire.

Another explanation I have pondered over the years is the premise that if vaporizing actually is more efficient, that would also explain why the effects taper off. More efficient inhalation methods over time could ultimately increase tolerance and appear as less effective. For example I actually used to be a low temp 5-6 setting Volcano Classic user for quite a while, and in hindsight, the effects didn't seem weaker than anything I have access to today, on the contrary it might have even been stronger.

As far as the actual topic of vaporization efficiency - even when comparing combustion consumption methods we see radically different experiences. You've got the "smoke two joints before I smoke two joints" crowd, just as much as you have the guys who only micro dose once a day off dugouts and bats. Even as smokers, the dugout crowd could write articles about how to save money on weed - just by ceasing the rolling of 3 gram blunts, or smoking half gram bong hits at a time. It's really no different with vaporizers - people vaping 1 gram at a time in their Volcano or loading .0001g in their Dynavap.

After trying to convince skeptics for a decade I honestly don't even care anymore if vaporizing is less efficient. I realized there is so much more reasons to vape besides whether it's "stronger" than smoking or not. Not having a stinky black bong is more convincing to me anyways. My observation is that one can have a tolerance so low that almost nothing matters, or so high that almost nothing seems to makes a difference.

:2c:
Since most of these studies use the Volcano, there's obviously only so long you can run the vape until the bag is full. However, I suspect that there's a duration factor to vaping as well.

In my Volcano Hybrid, I had a session I finished at 390F until I saw no more visible vapor. Then out of curiosity, I turned the Hybrid to the max of 446F, but there was just barely any visible vapor left. Most of the compounds we're after boil below 400F, so it would make sense that 375F for a long time might extract as much or more than (due to destruction of compounds) 446F for a brief period.

If only they had us in the lab :science:
 

hoptimum

Well-Known Member
I posted this topic over on r/vaporents as well, but wanted FCs take!

Firstly, I believe vaporizing is the most enjoyable method of cosumption and it definitely is more efficient than smoking. However, I don't often see solid numbers and I think it can be misleading to current smokers that want to transition to vaping only. Videos such as Sneakypete's 'How to Save Money on Weed' make a subjective guess that vaporizing is about 4x (75%) more efficient. Based on that, if you'd normally smoke 0.3g of a particular strain, you should only need to vape 0.075g to get similarly high.

So I sought actual numbers! Studies are few and focus primarily on Delta 9 THC. From the studies I could scrounge up (listed at the end) and this nifty LA Times article/calculator (which sites further studies), it looks like vaporization is somewhere around 25% more efficient than combustion at extracting Delta 9 THC. By that metric, vaporization is only 1 ⅓ times more efficient. Thus, if you'd normally smoke 0.3g of a particular strain, you should need to vape 0.225g.

This is where I believe there is a major disconnect with smokers that are trying to transition. If they are normally smoking 0.3g joints, they need to vaporize 0.225g; but many of the portable vapes on the market have bowl sizes from 0.1g-0.2g and may fall short of their expectations. Desktop models can certainly exceed that bowl size, of course.

What lead me to think about this was the frequent suggestion to smokers trying to switch to vaping to take a tolerance break. But if vaping is so much more efficient, why would that be necessary? I transitioned to vaping while I still had a low tolerance, but a smoker who's maybe pulling 0.5g bong hits would surely be disappointed since most portable vapes aren't going to hold the 0.375g that would be equivalent; so then they need two bowls which will certainly take more time to consume.

So if you are a high tolerance smoker, I think it's almost required to take a tolerance break before transitioning to vaping only, unless you're going to stick to desktops with large bowls. If you come into vaping with a lower tolerance, you will definitely enjoy the efficiency and all can enjoy the improved flavor.

I think this information is invaluable to helping current smokers pick a vaporizer and explains the disappointment I often see. Feel free to agree or disagree, and I'd love to see any sources you can find of the topic!

References:

Cannabinoid receptor 1 binding activity and quantitative analysis of Cannabis sativa L. smoke and vapor

Cannabis smoke condensate III: The cannabinoid content of vaporised Cannabis sativa

LA Times : A simple guide to pot, THC and how much is too much
IMO, the main attraction of vaping isn‘t that it’s more efficient, but that the experience is more enjoyable.
For someone who just wants to get high, smoking will always be the course of least resistance. Vaping is for people who want a deeper experience and a more elaborate ritual. I don’t see efficiency as much of a factor in the decision.
 

Cheebsy

Organicly elev8ed
Good research guys.
Coming from very regular but low dose tobacco mix joints for 20 years, I ended up using the same amounts of green.
But I'm so glad and impressed that I could use this (efficiency?) to drop that pack-a-day tobacco habit too though! And all the addictive behaviour that seemed to coexist with it, like, "I can't survive an hour without smoking something again", and, "I dont want to, and probably couldn't, give anything up ever".

I think it's more efficient because a common statement for me since I started vaping was "I have never been so high in all my life", and I had to state that numerous times throughout the journey!
As I got better at using vapes, and got better ones, then fooling around with reclaim, rosin and then a dab setup!

I'd say, due to all the techniques and tricks I learned around here that I use, I'm way more high with the same amounts!
And I dont have to add fistfuls of ridiculously priced tobacco death crop anymore or smoke cigs in between.
Just hope I don't do a moonshine job on my brain with too much reclaim sometime!:science::freak::ko:
My experience is pretty much this. I, like @arb also had problems getting beyond an unsatisfactory plateau. When I smoked it used to help me sleep. Now it can put me to sleep when I need it to.

I certainly don't use less, but I do get better effects. That certainly is more efficient but it definitely doesn't save me money which is how I always interpreted the efficiency thing.
 

WelshBrok

Well-Known Member
The only reason I’ve suggested taking a t break before switching to vaping in the past is many smokers find vapour alone makes them cough until they’ve got used to it and having that break in between seems to minimise that issue (same as combustion makes me cough and feel ill now until I’ve done it a few days in a row)

I don’t think the portables I’ve owned are much more efficient but desktops are definitely far more efficient IME. So much so that I’ve barely used a portable in the last two years (only when I’m forced to by being away from a plug socket :lol: and even then I’ve switched to wax pens or carts). I went from 3.5g every two days (~52g a month) to less than a gram every two days (14g a month) and I don’t feel at any point I was getting less high.
 

C No Ego

Well-Known Member
Being high is a subjective experience, so calling vaping over or underrated is also subjective, IMO. However, I am in a subjective state of mind.
Except we can observe with science or whatever how efficient the delivery of plant parts and pieces are to the person via differing methods ... whether the person feels or not is irrelevant LOL
it's just Feeels
 

Farid

Well-Known Member
Except we can observe with science or whatever how efficient the delivery of plant parts and pieces are to the person via differing methods ... whether the person feels or not is irrelevant LOL
it's just Feeels


That is true if we are talking about which is more efficient at delivering cannabinoids to the person.

But if we are talking about what is more efficient at getting a user "high" (which is IMO more important since that's the metric we as users will make our judgements on) then the subjective is certainly relevant.

I don't know anyone who is testing their blood for THC to determine if they're sufficiently medicated, they're going by how they feel.
 

JBone65

Well-Known Member
Everyone uses weed a little differently. Have been vaping 12 years and using a grasshopper 5 1/2. It provides 10-11 good hits per 1/4 teaspoon of 22-27% thc. The first few taste the best but the later hits are also plenty strong. I also hit the 1-hitter out in the garage a few time a day (I'm retired and mainly just goof off), so probably only 75% converted to vapor. Even doing that, down to an oz every ~3 months. To me, the stealthiness of vaping is equally important. Also, I don't consider vaping 100% healthy but it's a lot better than smoking. Not everyone has a positive experience with vaping, especially not at first, but the combination of a excellent hits, increased efficiency, amazing stealthiness, and reduced lung damage is ideal for me.
 

GoldenBud

Well-Known Member
Everyone uses weed a little differently. Have been vaping 12 years and using a grasshopper 5 1/2. It provides 10-11 good hits per 1/4 teaspoon of 22-27% thc. The first few taste the best but the later hits are also plenty strong. I also hit the 1-hitter out in the garage a few time a day (I'm retired and mainly just goof off), so probably only 75% converted to vapor. Even doing that, down to an oz every ~3 months. To me, the stealthiness of vaping is equally important. Also, I don't consider vaping 100% healthy but it's a lot better than smoking. Not everyone has a positive experience with vaping, especially not at first, but the combination of a excellent hits, increased efficiency, amazing stealthiness, and reduced lung damage is ideal for me.
and maybe the terpenes are the key too? i mean... take GH for example vs Dynavap or so. you feel the first hits of the bowl , the tastey ones, bring you higher? other than smoking which the terps are gone too fast
 

JBone65

Well-Known Member
I agree, the terps are gone too fast. Prolly getting terp hits at low temps but the GH goes to 460°F so you keep getting thc awhile. I know of no way to measure the actual efficiency of the delivery system. Staying mostly saturated and using less per month is a practical measure.
 
Top Bottom