In today’s world of cannabis, the word “smoke” can mean many different things. You might be wondering what smoke actually is, the different types of smokeables, the different methods of smoking, or what will produce the biggest and dankest clouds of smoke.
First, let’s go over what smoke is from a scientific standpoint. Smoke is an airborne collection of particulates and gases. It is both a gas and a solid (solid aerosol). Smoke is made when a material is combusted or goes through a pyrolytic process (like flash heating or a superheated water treatment). When you smoke cannabis, you will usually do so using combustion with dried ground herbs – the better the quality of your weed, the better tasting the smoke will be and the stronger high you will get. If you are using a concentrate like wax or shatter, you’ll want to create vapor using a dab pen (or similar tool). Again, quality of the product matters! Better quality equals a better flavor and experience.
Next, let’s discuss what happens to your body when you inhale smoke (or vapor). When you inhale, you are bringing air into your lungs. The lungs branch off into small tubes called bronchi, which diverge into even smaller tubular branches called bronchioles. These branches get smaller and smaller until they become microscopic air sacs called alveoli. These clusters of alveoli are where the air exchange with your body’s blood is done. When air is moved from the lungs and to the air sacs it is able to cross very thin walls into the smallest blood vessels in your body, capillaries. From there, the oxygen from the air can travel all around the body.
When you smoke, the same thing happens but you are transferring more than just oxygen. You are also taking in the chemicals from cannabis like THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (Cannabidiol), and CBL (Cannabicyclol). These chemicals go from the lungs, to the bloodstream, and into the brain and other organs. Smoking quickly releases chemicals into the bloodstream. It’s the fastest way to get the effects of cannabinoids compared to eating or drinking infused products.
Exhaling has its own chemical composition. Exhaling plain air results in roughly 78% nitrogen, 16% oxygen and 4% carbon dioxide. Exhaling after smoking herb slightly alters the chemical mixture. Exhaled cannabis smoke will also contain compounds found in the herb including THC, CBN and THCCOOH. THC can remain in exhaled breath for up to 4 hours after smoking.
The chemicals in cannabis (especially THC) entering the brain and other organs are what produce the desired physical and psychological effects, such as relaxation, decreased anxiety and pain relief. The brain is the most affected organ when you smoke. The increased release of dopamine in the brain is what makes you feel high. This also helps you to feel less anxious, calmer and happier. Smoking herb can help with pain relief by reducing inflammation in muscles and joints. It helps with glaucoma by relieving pressure in the eyes. THC in the bloodstream has also been shown to help to decrease the risk of tumor growth in the body.
Smoking cannabis also causes some side effects. Red eyes are caused by THC expanding the blood vessels in your eyes. In the brain you get a slowed reaction time under the effects of smoking and you might feel slightly impaired. The stomach can be affected too – THC stimulates your appetite causing you to get the munchies.
Types of Smoke
Not all smoke is created equal. The material you consume will alter the type and strength of the smoke. Dry herbs are the original, tried and true method of smoking. The best smoke comes from the dankest herbs that have been properly cured. This type of smoke can be harsh and hit hard. For the best flavor and effect you’ll want to sample different strains to find your favorite. You’ll also want to try the two different types – sativas, which produce more of a head high, and indicas, which produce more of a body high. There are also hybrids which are a different dank and delicious beast. Popular ways to smoke dry herbs include glass pipes, bongs and bubblers.
In this new age of cannabis vaping usage has become incredibly popular as a safer and more efficient means of smoking. Rather than combusting by fire, the herbs are heated quickly with hot air to create clouds of vapor. There are large vaporizers like the Arizer Extreme Q for group settings and small personal vape pens that come in a wide variety of styles. Many of the vapor pens are completely customizable. Some of the benefits of vaping include thicker clouds, stronger hits and tastier flavor. You’ll also be left with a byproduct that is usable in edibles or beverages rather than ash and tar. When vaping, you’ll want to use the dankest buds that have been dried properly. Make sure to grind them finely before placing in your vape for the best results.
Wax dabs are becoming increasingly popular for being cost effective and super concentrated. They are incredibly flavorful and store for much longer than dried bud. You can smoke or vape wax. To smoke a dab, you’ll want a nail attachment for your smoking rig or a nectar collector. Smoking a dab will be fragrant and a bit harsh due to the high heat requirement. Vaping dabs is recommended for ease and flavor. Using a dab vape is also more efficient than smoking, as you lose more of the desired compounds to combustion. The best way to vape wax is with a vape pen specifically used for concentrates, but a hybrid vape pen will also do the trick.
Oil concentrates are also popular right now. It is tricky smoking straight oil as it is a bit messy, but a nectar collector or rig nailwill work. You can also add a few drops of oil to a bowl of weed or a joint before rolling it up to elevate your smoking experience to a whole new level of dankness. The best way to consume oils is with a vape pen. Many of these pens utilize prefilled oil cartridges which are breeze to use. Some models utilize refillable cartridges for the most eco-friendly option. The quality of your concentrate will determine the strength and flavor of your session. The higher the quality the better!
Vapor vs Smoke
Vapor and smoke are different. The first noticeable difference is the smell. Smoke is very pungent and hangs around for a long while, especially indoors. Vapor is almost odorless and dissipates quickly, even in enclosed areas. Smoke is produced when herbs and concentrates are combusted, which is at about 1500°F. Vapor is much cooler, forming at around 420°F. Smoke leaves behind tar and residue while vaporizers leave behind nothing.
There are benefits to either method and overall it’s a matter of preference. Smoking, especially with a glass pipe or batty, is extremely easy to do. You don’t need any special smoking tools to do it and it is easy to travel with. There are thousands of beautiful pieces out there to choose from, so you’re sure to find something that speaks to you! Some people also prefer the flavor of smoked herbs over vaporizing them. Vaping is considered to be safer and more efficient than smoking. It is usually more discreet. Some folks prefer the flavor and smoothness that comes with vaping. There are also lots of options when it comes to the tools of vaping so you can find the perfect fit for your needs.
Dabbing vs Smoking
The big question on most smoker’s minds is which is better, smoking dry herb or dabbing concentrates? That all comes down to personal preferences. Both are great and tasty! There are some similarities and differences that might help you make up your mind.
Let’s check out some similarities first. Both dry herbs and dab concentrates come in a wide variety of strains and types from light on the THC content to super dank. There are straight sativas, which produce a stronger head high, are usually great for achieving a state of focus, getting rid of anxiety and getting the creative juices flowing. Indica heavy strains are great for relaxing, pain relief and getting a good night’s sleep. There are also hybrids with a range of everything in between. You can vape or smoke either version of cannabis.
Next we’ll cover the differences. Dry herb is straight plant matter that has been cured. It must be ground up before using for the best results. Dabs are highly concentrated doses of cannabis. It is made by an extraction process that pulls THC from plant matter, usually through a carbon or butane solvent process. While you can smoke or vape either, it is usually easier to vape dabs while smoking weed is easier, especially for a beginner.
Smoking with Water
Smoking can be hot and harsh out of a plain pipe. Most people make this process smoother on themselves by adding water. To do this you will need a bong, bubbler or similar device. You add a bit of cool water to the water pipe and it will bubble when you inhale, pulling the smoke through the water and cooling it down. For an even cooler and smoother experience you can add ice too (this generally only works in a bong). Having cooler smoke makes for a gentler and more enjoyable experience. It also helps bring out the vibrant flavors of your smoke. Some water pipes can even be used with dabs and oils.
What Is A Smoke Shop?
Historically speaking, smoke shops (also called head shops) were places where one can purchase tools and pipes for smoking. Shops used to be small and somewhat shady places with only a few options. Today they are a booming business with tons of choices! You can get basic pipes all the way up to fancy pieces that are truly works of art. We now live in a digital era with excellent stores operating online. These online smoke shops offer the most options with discreet and fast shipping. These online stores have just about everything – pieces, vapes, rigs, tools, even branded merchandise like tees and hats – all just a click away!
What Is A Smoking Pipe?
The classic way to smoke is using a pipe. They come in a wide range of styles, materials and colors. You can buy glass, metal, acrylic, ceramic, wood or silicone. You have basic spoons, chillums and sherlocks that range in size from one hitters all the way up to party bowls. Bubblers and bongs are your classic water pipes that range from tiny to huge. Bongs can have a single chamber and be fairly inexpensive or many different chambers for an even smoother smoking experience but at a higher cost. There are bongs with percolators that add cooling filtration and recyclers that are the smoothest hitting. Bubblers are smaller and more portable. They are like a hybrid between bowls and bongs. They can be a bit tricky to fill and empty but are pretty and offer a better experience compared to basic bowls. There are also dab rig bongs on the market for dabbers that want the ultimate smoothness.
What Is A Smokebuddy?
If you are concerned about odors when smoking, consider getting a Smokebuddy. They’re handy and way better than the doob tube you may have used in your dorm room. It is an incredibly effective air filter. Smokebuddy will fit in your pocket and is environmentally friendly. It’ll keep the smell and the secondhand smoke away from everyone. It’ll allow you to smoke whenever and wherever you want! Plus it is extremely affordable on any budget and lasts for around 300 uses.
What Is A Vape Pen?
Vape pens are the way of the future. More people are switching every day to these healthier and smoother devices. Vape pens are personal portable vaporizers. Most are extremely easy to use and come with different settings to achieve the perfect experience. The basic parts of a vape pen include the battery, which powers the device and is almost always rechargeable; the atomizer, which is where the vaporizing magic happens; and the tank or chamber, where the goodies get loaded in.
There are a few types of vape pens to choose from. Fixed voltage pens are great for beginners, especially if they want to travel with it. Sub-ohm tanks are more powerful than the basic models and don’t need a giant battery to create thick and delicious clouds of vapor. There are also variable voltage and variable temperature vapes that allow the user the most customization during smoking. Some vapes are dry herb only, some are for concentrates only, and some are hybrid devices that are capable of handling both types of materials.
The price range of these devices vary greatly depending on function and quality. Shop around and do some research before buying. You can also find plenty of tutorials and helpful hints online when you’re ready to use your device.
What Is A Dry Herb Vaporizer?
Many people are switching to concentrates like wax and oils, but you don’t have to if you prefer dry herbs. For the smoothest and tastiest experience with your dry herbs, seriously consider getting a dry herb vaporizer. A vaporizer specifically for dry herbs is the optimal device for getting the most out of your buds. Its settings will be perfect for plant matter and it will produce thick and rich vapor with ease and without the stink and tar of a traditional pipe. It will require less cleaning than a pipe too.
Combusting herbs is fine but vaping them is much healthier. Vapor is easier on your mouth, throat and lungs. Because the buds are not being combusted they will never denature, which equals less carcinogens. You’ll also be getting stronger vapor which is more efficient and cost effective.
Dry herb vaporizers come in different sizes from personal and portable pens to larger tabletop devices that are great for sharing with friends. The prices vary from simple inexpensive devices to upscale models with many features. Quality usually scales with price – you get what you pay for.
No matter how you choose to consume cannabis, you’ve got plenty of options to fit your needs, budget and preferences! Shop around and never settle. The right tools are out there and there are plenty of places to look. One of the easiest places to search is online. Happy Smoking!
Written By: Katy Stanton