If you haven’t used a dry herb vape, or you have made skinning up into an art form and are resisting the march of technology, then you are about to understand why smokers in their millions have turned to the vape to enjoy their herb.
For the true connoisseur, you won’t get a cleaner more herb-focused experience with anything else. Quick to store and easy to clean it is an essential bit of kit and will deliver you a discrete and efficient cannabis experience.
Don’t be baffled by the convection and conduction but get clued up on what you need to know to revolutionise your cannabis use.
What is a Dry Herb Vaporizer
A dry herb vaporizer is a small battery-powered device used to inhale vapour from cannabis. It heats up your herb without ever reaching the temperature at which it will combust and burn. This lower temperature ensures that you only vaporize the essential oils and none of the plant matter.
It also offers a significantly smoother experience:
Using a vape is a Colombian espresso when all you’ve been drinking is instant coffee. It’s HDTV when you’ve been squinting through the snowstorm on your dad’s old Hitachi. It’s still the same stuff that you’re used to, but it’s in focus- it’s pure and defined.
Dry herb vapes create a tasty vapour that can be inhaled in a discrete and nearly odour-free manner instead of breathing in a lungful of tobacco and smoke. Using a vape is closer to taking a long and enjoyable sniff of your favourite green and less like standing too close to the BBQ when the wind changes.
For both, you use a heat source but when you fry food it is cooking from nearly direct contact with the heat. This means that your pan heats quickly and cooks your food quickly. However, it can result in uneven cooking with some burnt or charred parts.
With a steamer, just like with a convection vape, the heat is not applied directly but by heating air or moisture. This in turn heats the food. It may take a little longer, but your food is evenly cooked with no burnt bits.
The aim of vapes is to deliver the herb in a way that you can inhale without the smoke that comes from combustion. A conduction vape can still create small amounts of smoke because of the direct contact with the heat source. It will reach temperature quickly but give a less consistent experience.
The convection vape, however, offers specific temperature alteration and provides a smoother vapour. Like steaming, these vapes take a little longer to heat your herb to vaping temperature and have slightly more component parts, but they offer a more customisable and user-specific experience.
Dry Herb Vapes- Healthier Than Smoking?
It is well documented that smoking tobacco is a danger to your health. Even without tobacco, the process of burning itself causes the production of toxins in many substances including cannabis.
If you smoke cannabis in a pipe or other tobacco-free method, the combustion of the cannabis still creates damaging substances including carcinogens. When you vape instead of smoking, you are able to inhale the active compounds in the herb without burning it and creating smoke. This immediately lessens the risks associated with cannabis use. There has not been enough research to fully understand any risks that remain but vaping is definitely a safer option than smoking.
In addition to these long-term health benefits, the most obvious difference is that vaping is easier on your throat and lungs. Vapour is not harsh to inhale and the right vape will give you a smooth tasty drag without any bitter smoke.
Why Vaping Herb is More Efficient
If you burn your food you instinctively know that not only has the flavour been affected but if you were to eat it you wouldn’t be getting the same nutrition. Some of the nutrients would be there but many would be lost.
This is very similar to the effect on cannabis when it is burned to be smoked. Some of the cannabinoids and THC will be released and carried with the smoke but much of it will be destroyed. So, your expensive herb is literally going up in smoke.
By releasing these compounds and oils without combustion you are able to utilise nearly all of them without destroying them. This makes vaping a much more efficient process allowing you to get more from the same amount of herb.
To top it off you can also save any herb after it has been vaped. Within it, there will be a few remaining cannabinoids. Save up enough ABV (Already Been Vaped) material and you can then infuse it and make butter. This butter can then be used to make all sorts of delicious treats.
Best Vaporizers Available in the UK
We all have slightly different needs so the best dry herb vape for me won’t necessarily be the best for you. With that in mind, I have not just come up with a list of the best vaporizers, I have divided them into best-in-class categories. This way you can look for a portable or desktop device, find one that suits your budget or go wild and buy one for every occasion.
Best Desktop – Volcano Hybrid by Storz & Bickel
Released in 2020, the new Volcano Hybrid from Storz and Bickel is as good as it gets when it comes to desktop vaping. It’s similar in appearance to previous Volcano models but comes with an advanced touchscreen interface and Bluetooth connectivity.
The hybrid is constructed from aluminium with a stainless steel chamber that can hold 0.5g of herb. It’s fast to reach temperature and can be ready to go within one to two minutes. The dynamic heating system uses both conduction and convection to produce a more complete extraction. The result is a dense vapour that’s also rich in flavour. Another excellent feature of this model is that you can choose to draw from a balloon system or through a tube.
Storz and Bickel’s Volcano has always been a favourite of ours, but the Hybrid model is a successful update that outclasses the competition and makes it an easy win for the best desktop vape.
The Mighty is one of the largest portable vapes I’ve used at 5.5 inches long. The chamber holds about 0.3g of herb, which it heats with the same combination of convection and conduction as the Volcano Hybrid. The result is thick vapour and incredibly thorough, even heating from the first inhalation.
Once you get used to the precise temperature controls, it’s easy to operate and will consistently provide the best flavour of any portable vape available today. Unfortunately, it can take from 90 to 120 seconds to reach temperature, which is slow compared to similar models. You can get up to two and a half hours of use out of one 90-minute charge, which I found was more than sufficient.
The larger size and appearance make it hard to be stealthy with the Mighty, but if you can get past that, it really delivers in terms of performance and flavour. It comes with a two-year warranty, but the sturdy plastic construction feels like it’s built to last much longer.
If you want a portable vape that’s stealthier than the Mighty and can easily slip into your pocket, then it’s got to be the PAX 3. It’s a small device at only 4 inches long and 1 inch wide. It can reach temperature in only 20 seconds, but you’ll not get a good hit of vapour for another 20 or 30. The first few draws showcase the full character of the herb, but after that, the flavour gets slowly more muted.
The chamber is stainless steel, heats by conduction and can hold 0.3g. In the pack, you get a concentrate converter to vape extracts and a half-pack lid that can reduce the capacity to about 0.15g. One 90-minute charge will give you about eight to ten sessions of about ten minutes each. The PAX 3 is Bluetooth compatible and you can download an app that gives you timing controls, tutorials and a range of different setting modes. This is a stunning vape that’s ideal for having a sneaky vape sesh wherever you go. If that wasn’t enough, you also get an outstanding ten-year warranty.
The HydroBrick Maxx is a hefty wooden convection vape designed to be used with a butane torch lighter. It’s a self-contained brick that holds nearly everything you need, including a storage tube, intake tube and poking tool. The outlet has an 18mm male joint that can be attached to your favourite water tool. You also get an adapter that will reduce the size to 14mm if necessary.
If you prefer a hard hitter that can take things back to basics, then the HydroMaxx is ideal. It’s covered for a lifetime with a warranty that covers any manufacturer’s defects. The glass pieces also come with a 15-day warranty that only covers manufacturer’s defects.
This is an impressively simple vape that offers outstanding flexibility. You can customise it with your own water tools and tailor it specifically to your tastes.
Heating type: conduction torch vape
Comes with a butane torch lighter
Size: 3.6 inches/4 inches/2.25 inches
Vapour: Easily customisable to your taste
Build quality: Self-contained
Controls: Temperature and intensity can be adjusted by lighter position
Warranty: Lifetime for the vape and 15 days for glassware
Version 3 of the XMAX Starry range is a pocket-sized vape only slightly larger than the PAX 3. It’s similar in looks to the PAX but doesn’t have the same high-quality finish. However, it makes up for that in its low price and incredible functionality.
The ceramic conduction oven can reach temperature in 25 seconds and produces vapour with clarity of flavour that would be impressive on a vape at any price. The batteries last for 80 minutes, but if that’s not long enough, you can buy a second one and easily swap them when necessary. The anodised aluminium construction feels well made and you inhale the vapour through a magnetic, zirconia mouthpiece.
This is not as jaw-droppingly impressive as the items further up this list, but it performs to a good level at a fraction of the price.
Heating type: Ceramic conduction oven
Temperature range: 100-240°C
Heating time: 25 seconds
Size: 4 inches long
Battery: 80 minutes from one charge
Vapour: Good depth of flavour
Build quality: Solid anodised aluminium construction
Controls: 3 buttons to give you full digital control
The DynaVap M is a tiny, pen-sized manual vape made of medical-grade stainless steel. It’s virtually indestructible and features a small 0.1g chamber which is covered by the incredible vapcap. When the oven is full, you simply reattach the vapcap and apply your lighter to it. In as little as five seconds you’ll get your first intense hit.
If the DynaVap M is slowly rotated while you heat it, it creates a combination of both conduction and convection. Usefully, it emits a click when it reaches temperature and a second one when you need to apply the heat again.
There’s no need for batteries with this budget option, it’s super portable and you can even fit it with 10mm glass pieces. However, this style of vape does take a little getting used to and although it’s portable, it’s not something you’ll likely feel comfortable using in public.
Heating type: conduction and convection
Heating time: With most lighters
5 to 10 seconds
Capacity: 0.1 – 0.5g
Size: 3.6 inches long
Vapour: The flavour and intensity can be altered by adjusting where you apply the heat.
Build quality: Medical grade stainless steel construction
Controls: The vapcap clicks when it reaches temperature
Warranty: DynaVap will replace any defective products
The V Tower is a simple desktop vape from Arizer. It uses conduction to heat the 0.25g chamber and channels the vapour through a whip. This model has very few features, but it has an incredibly low price and delivers surprisingly high-quality, flavour-rich vapour.
It’s constructed in aluminium and has a stainless steel finish which makes it look like it costs considerably more than it does. This is a mains appliance and comes with a wall adapter, so it doesn’t need to be charged.
At such a low price this is an incredibly well-built vape with excellent reliability. You also get a useful three-year warranty to protect you in case of any defects. The only major disappointment is that it can take up to 5 minutes to reach the top temperature which is significantly longer than most other vapes. However, on the whole, the V Tower gets the job done to a high standard.
Heating type: convection
Temperature range: 50-260°C
Heating time: Up to 5 minutes
Battery: Mains powered
Vapour: The flavour doesn’t match that of the volcano
but it’s exceptional for a budget appliance.
Build quality: Double-layer aluminium construction with a stainless steel finish