22 May 2015

Vaporiser Temperatures

Vape Pens
Vaporisers work by heating cannabis to the point where certain cannabinoids 'boil' and literally evaporate, leaving behind fibrous plant matter. When you smoke a cannabis cigarette (joint), the smoke is a mix of cannabinoids and a number of somewhat toxic combustion by-products, including polycyclic aromatic hydro-carbons (PAHs). In fact, analysis has shown that joint smoke only contains about 10% of the available cannabinoids, the rest consists mostly of toxic combustion by-products. In contrast, vaporised cannabis contains up to 95% cannabinoids. Additionally, because low temperatures don‘t destroy any cannabinoids with heat, the mileage you get out of your herb is greater with a vaporiser. One way to get to know your vaporiser well, is to just play around with the temperature settings - after all, it‘s pleasant research. A somewhat more scientific approach is to get to know the boiling points of the different cannabinoids and their properties.

There's a temperature range in which different compounds of cannabis are released, each showing unique qualities in effect. While only experimentation will show you what suits you best, an ideal temperature to extract a wide range of psychoactive compounds is 185°C. The optimal temperature range for cannabis is 180-210°C. Temperatures below 190°C tend to produce a more cerebral effect, while temperatures above that tend to induce a more bodily effect.

The range of temperatures at which all cannabinoids evaporate is 157-220°C. As all cannabinoids have different boiling points, vaporising the same herb at different temperatures will generate different results. 
The following table and information outlines both the effects and temperatures at which some phytocannabinoids (plant cannabinoids) vaporise at. 

NB: Although some cannabinoids require temperatures above 200°C to evaporate, setting a vaporiser to above that temperature does run the risk of causing combustion, which should be avoided. Dry cannabis can begin combustion at around 200°C. The maximum heat before starting to burn is around 230°C, depending on how humid it is. 

Along with terpenoids, flavonoids are little known compared to the famed cannabinoids. Flavonoids are a large class of plant pigments and along with terpenoids are partly responsible for the look, taste and smell of any particular cannabis strain whose smell reveals a lot about the plant. They are also thought to have secondary health benefits. The following information and table outlines both the effects and temperatures at which known flavonoids vaporise at.

Terpenoids are structurally related to terpenes and are naturally occurring in a wide range of plants. In part, they contribute to what gives plants their unique aromatic quality. The scents of cinnamon, cloves and menthol are examples of well known terpenoids. In fact, the strongest known naturally occurring psychedelic compound - Salvinorin A - is a terpenoid. The following information and table outlines both the effects and temperatures at which known terpenoids vaporise at.

Toxins are chemicals that can be harmful to the body. The advantage of vaporisers lies in their unique ability to extract the active ingredients of cannabis without the toxins of combustion, such as tar and carbon monoxide. Vapour can still contain trace amounts of toxins, but compared to the over 100 different PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) found in smoke, there is one single PAH in vapour. On the other hand, toxins that come from pesticides, herbicides and other chemical agents will also concentrate in vapour - that's why choosing organic cannabis is best. The following is a small selection of toxins released through combustion:

Carbon monoxide and tar - released in the form of smoke; carcinogenic; can cause lung related problems

80.1°C - Benzene - carcinogen

110°C - Toluene - not thought a very serious toxin, only appears in small amounts; can cause light-headedness, nausea, sleepiness, loss of appetite but there's no avoiding it
218°C - Naphthalene - possible carcinogen; causes light-headedness, nausea, loss of appetite and pale skin

Vaporising Very Dry Cannabis 
Unlike using a water-pipe (bong) or smoking a cannabis cigarette (joint), very dry cannabis can still be a delight in a vaporiser. However, because it is so dry, it will vaporise much faster – if it is too hot you run the risk of flash boiling the active ingredients, eliminating taste and flavour. As it is largely going to depend on the situation and strain you are using, there is no definitive guide to how to properly vaporise particularly dry cannabis but as a rule of thumb you will want to reduce the temperature from the norm, going lower the drier it is.

Conversely, if your cannabis is fresh, then it well may have a higher moisture content. As a result, it can sometimes be hard to extract the cannabinoids. To deal with this, it is recommended to do what is called a flavonoid run. By setting the vaporiser at a lower temperature (around 138–148°C) it is possible to gain a bag of flavonoid vapour whilst slowly drying out the cannabis. After this run, the cannabis should be dry enough to vaporise efficiently at THC and other cannabinoid temperatures.

The following table, Compounds in Cannabis, Properties and Boiling Points, comes with these caveats; 
  • Each strain and even batch of cannabis can have differing levels of compounds, if some are present at all. The table helps give a general sense of the potential additional compounds released into your body as you increase the temperature. 
  • The source materials were originally published in 2001. However it remains the most comprehensive information available. But, some material is dated, i.e., it says an upper range of 2.89% for CBD but given its medical value strains are bred today with much higher levels such as Cannatonic at 7% CBD (2010). Also, science continues to discover new compounds and medical properties in cannabis. 

with additional information from;
Vaporize Marijuana Guide
Cannabinoid Vaporization Temperature Levels
Guide to Cannabinoids
Vaporizing Temperature Charts Where Do They Come From
Cannabis and Cannabis Extracts: Greater Than the Sum of Their Parts
Compounds in Cannabis, Properties and Boiling Points

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