Hey guys, Sneaky Pete here, today I want to talk about the efficiency and economics of choosing vaporization over combustion. Combustion has been around since the dawn of time and I don’t think it’s going anywhere, and I don’t necessarily think that it should. If you’d like to combust then power to you, I’m not here to try and persuade you to stop.
Rather, I want to talk about the extreme efficiency advantage that vaporizers can offer when compared to combustion, and the bottom-line effect than can have on your wallet.
How does a vaporizer work?
Let’s start with the very basics: how does a vaporizer work? In theory, a vaporizer is very simple: you heat up your flower to a temperature high enough to start to boil or vaporize the active compounds that we are after, but not high enough so that you are going to burn your material.
You can achieve this by either warming up the material itself like with the conduction vaporizer, or you can do it by passing preheated air through your material like with a convection vaporizer.
There are a ton of different styles, sizes, looks, and price points for vaporizers, but they all operate under the same guiding principle.
This is contrary to combustion, where you apply a flame to your material to cause it to start on fire or to combust, and rather than being left with darkened plant material after it has been vaporized, you fully consume the material by the smoking process and are left only with ash.
Why are vaporizers more efficient than combustion?
Vaporizers are more efficient because you are operating the device within the ranges of when the active ingredients will start to boil and vaporize, and not going above those limits to cause combustion.
With vaporizers, most people are using temperatures between 350F-410F and this is well within the boundaries of when the active ingredients start to boil and vaporize, which we then directly inhale. This direct air path is going to give us the best utilization of all of the active material available in our plant matter, and also eliminate the active material going off into the atmosphere like the smoke that comes off of a lit joint.
Also, the red cherry of a lit joint or a bowl is incredibly hot, and at these extreme temperatures much of our active ingredient can be wasted before we get a chance to consume it, or it can be destroyed by the extreme heat itself.
By using a process that stays within the vaporization temperatures and doesn’t move well past them, we will be able to harvest the vast majority of our active ingredient and not destroy it, which is going to lead into an extreme increase in the efficiency of our intake method.
Vaporizer efficiency and herb consumption
Once you decide to switch to vaporization, you are going to notice a massive difference in your herb consumption, not only because of the increased efficiency, but you are also using less material during every session.
If you are rolling joints, the most common size for a standard joint is 0.5g, and I would say in the very largest vaporizer bowl you might load 0.25. Most vaporizers use a load that is much smaller than that, as low as 0.05 g, but commonly around .15 g, so you were going to get many loads of a vaporizer out of that one 0.5 g joint. Also, you have to factor in that you often get more than one session per load of a vaporizer.
For example, in my Arizer Solo 2, I get two sessions per load, and I definitely could get three if I wanted to turn the temperature up higher. From a 0.12 g load in the stem, we are going to get four vaporizer loads per joint, and two sessions per load, meaning eight cerebral experiences per joint rather than one. Now that joint of course could be shared by a couple people, but so could your vaporizer, there’s enough to go around.
So, once you factor in both the increased efficiency of a vaporizer, and then the smaller amount of flower you use per experience, you are going to see a stark reduction in your herb consumption if you want to achieve the same number of sessions you were having when you combusted.
For example, if you only smoked one at night and you just switch that to vaporizing, you are barely ever going to have to purchase flower. However, if you find you enjoy vaping and then you start puffing in the evening as well and on the weekends, things are going to equal out, but it sure will be a lot more fun.
Paying for your vaporizer through efficiency
Even though I personally feel the percentage is higher, I want to use a hard figure so that we can do some numerical calculations for this increased efficiency. The number I’m going to use is 25%. I think that vaporizing is at least four times as efficient as smoking, and probably higher than that, but I am comfortable with that 25% figure.
If you are currently somebody who combusts their flower and are spending $100 a month on herb, with a vaporizer you should be spending about $25 on flower to have that exact same number of sessions or even more.
So, if we take that one step further and let’s say we purchased a DynaVap M or a Vleaf Go for $70, then that vaporizer should pay for itself in roughly a month’s time, and after that point you are saving significant amounts on flower every single month.
If you spend $50 on flower a month then it’ll pay for itself in 2 months and so on. Even the more expensive vaporizers are going to end up paying for themselves rather quickly if you make the switch from combustion, so if you truly want to save money on flower, this is the way to do it.
How to maximize efficiency
I’m preaching efficiency as somebody who doesn’t go out of their way to practice it, and that’s because I’m such a big flavour lover. I’m already getting great efficiency even changing out my herb when the flavour is gone. But, your flower still has lots of active material in it at that point, so if you want to increase your efficiency further, here’s a few tips.
The first and easiest thing is to increase your temperature as you have subsequent sessions. If you are using a good vaporizer with an accurate temperature, at some point all of the material that is going to be vaporized at 370° will be fully utilized.
However, for your next session, if you turn it up to 390°, you’re going to further vaporize the active material that wasn’t vaping at those lower temperatures. Then you can do a third session and turn it up to 410° for example to get even better efficiency.
Next, you want to make sure to inhale in a sustained and slow manner. When people inhale on their vaporizers too hard, the air passes by too quickly and the vaporization process doesn’t happen as it should. Slow and steady wins the race and it will give you the most bang for your buck as well.
Finally, make sure you use a medium to fine grind, and then give it a stir in between sessions. The more surface area that has a chance to get properly heated will mean that more active material will be thoroughly vaporized. Almost any vaporizer out there will benefit from a mid-session stir so don’t be afraid to give it one.
ABV - the Final Frontier
Things are already sounding pretty good and we are saving a lot of flower, but we haven’t even discussed the Holy Grail of efficiency, and that is ABV.
After you decide to change out the load of your vaporizer, do not throw away that material. This is called ABV, which stands for already been vaporized, and this still contains active material in there that can be utilized by consuming it.
If you push your flower to the absolute maximum and it is really dark brown or almost black, there isn’t going to be as much active material as if it still looks lighter green. Regardless, the active ingredient that is left in this can be exceptionally strong, so do be careful when you are experimenting with ABV.
Many people consume it in a very simple manner, such as adding it into some pudding or yogurt, but do be aware there will be some taste in this so I would advise getting it in you as quickly as possible, and start with extremely small amounts to not overdo it.
There are so many good reasons to switch to vaporizing as your consumption method, but efficiency ranks very high on that list. Nobody likes spending more money than they have to for something, so regardless of what your budget is for your preferences for vaporizer type or shape, if you want to start consuming less flower while you still consume the same amount of flower, vaporizing is a wise choice and one I would recommend wholeheartedly.
Check out vapenorth.ca and sneakypetestore.com to find the vapes and accessories you see me go over in my videos, and be sure to visit our review section where you can find all of our video & written reviews.
Thanks so much for reading and watching guys I really appreciate it,
Keep it green, keep it sneaky.