Dirty, ugly and harmful, is the joint becoming has been? This is the bet made by the manufacturers of vaporizers, who promise us cannabic volutes as healthy as tasty. Our verdict
If you have already smoked weed, there is a good chance that it has been previously mixed with tobacco. There’s no need to go all Snoop Dogg on you, pure pot smokers are rare on this side of the Atlantic. And even so: in either case, the effects of the smoke produced during combustion are devastating. Cancers, vascular accidents, impotence, ashtray breath… It’s written on every cigarette pack.
Fortunately, technology is there to relegate smoking to oblivion. With the return of weed – medical as well as recreational – in some countries, companies that have bet on a relaxation of the legislation are selling cannabis vaporizers.
They produce not smoke but cannabis vapor. The difference? Vaporization transforms the taste and psychoactive substances of cannabis from a solid to a gas (a process actually called sublimation) without burning the plant material. We tested several models. These tests were conducted with legal cannabis available in Canada.
A High Tech Device
The vaporizers look like electronic cigarettes, although a little larger. They fit in your pocket and are powered by a rechargeable battery, usually via USB. The herb, which must be finely chopped, is poured into a small cavity and exposed to a flow of hot air that vaporizes the molecules of cannabis. Its temperature varies from 150 to 200 degrees (adjustable with buttons or via a mobile app on some models equipped with Bluetooth), never beyond because the cellulose, the main component of plants, enters in combustion around 230 degrees. Most models have an LCD screen and buttons to choose the temperature.
All that’s left is to taste it. How to describe the sensation? It’s the smell of fresh cannabis that you find in your mouth. Citrus, strawberry, hops, mango … the aromas dictated by terpenes, aromatic molecules present in all plants, have nothing to do with the charred taste of a firecracker. These substances are mainly vaporized between 150 and 180 degrees.
From 180 to 200 degrees are vaporized cannabinoids, active substances of the plant. The aromas are then more discreet, and the vapor denser, which generally pleases the smokers. The vaporizers such as Mighty of Storz & Bickel or Air of Arizer, produce thick vaporous volutes. A few seconds after inhalation, the relaxing effect of cannabidiol (CBD), the main cannabinoid present in legal cannabis, is felt.
In use, these two top-of-the-range devices have proven to be efficient. Their battery allows a dozen uses and recharges in less than two hours. Special mention for the Air, whose battery is replaceable. Another popular device, the Pax 3 (229 francs), rather disappointed us. It heats up too much and burns the lips after a few minutes. It’s a pity, because it was undoubtedly the most discreet device of our panel. Curious instrument made of wood and metal, it requires heating the bowl of grass with a lighter, which can sometimes burn it and discourage beginners. Nevertheless, it has the advantage of not needing a battery.
Vapor in balloons
The most demanding users will turn to indoor vaporizers. We tested the famous Volcano from Storz & Bickel. Initially conceived for medical use, the truncated cone-shaped device expels the vapor in a plastic bag equipped with a valve. We vapote so funny little balloons. Surprising, the method can leave skeptical at first, but the quality of the steam of this best-seller sold for almost twenty years is exceptional.
After a few weeks spent with these devices, the combustion is no longer a memory. Between buying cigarettes, leaves, the smell of burning, clothes that smell of tobacco or the ashtray to empty, we quickly prefer the vaporizer, which offers an incomparable taste and whose steam dissipates in a few minutes indoors without leaving any trace.