To say that vaporizing cannabis has become popular in recent years would be a gross understatement – Every day, more and more individuals turn to vaporizing as a healthier, more efficient alternative to smoking marijuana. And there have never been more options with which to do so, from simple e-cigarette liquid vapes to hand-held concentrate vaporizers to big & bulky desktop models designed to fill massive bags with ready-to-puff vape.
And while most of these devices will do a lot of the work for you, there’s something to be said for a more… analog approach. Being able to custom-tailor your vaporizing experience is an appealing option to any serious cannabis connoisseur, and today we’ll be talking about exactly how to do that through controlling your vape’s temperature. There’s a lot to go through so let’s dive in.
What’s the Best Temperature to Vape Weed?
375°F. There, done.
…. right? Well, maybe not quite. 375°F is the fairly common answer on the internet (one even we’ve recommended before (1)) and to be certain it’s a perfectly fine temperature for general purposes – 375°F is what many “automatic” (IE: very little user input) vaporizers and vape pens use as their ideal “best temperature” settings when heating up.
At 375°F, THC, CBD, and a majority of the other cannabinoids and terpenes present in cannabis will vaporize, making 375°F a fairly effective “sledgehammer” when it comes to vaping weed – A good, general purpose temperature that will make sure marijuana or any other cannabis product will be vaporized with adequate efficiency.
But you don’t always need a sledgehammer, particularly when there might be better tools for the job, and that’s where vaping temperature control comes into play – Sometimes a more delicate touch is required, and some times you need to really crank up the heat to get where you want to go.
Does Vaping Weed at Different Temperatures Really Make a Difference?
100% yes. In fact outside of strain choice and method of consumption (IE: smoking vs. vaping vs. eating edibles), temperature is one of the most important alterations you can make to adjust the overall effect and benefit you get from taking cannabis.
Let’s talk a little bit about what vaporizing actually “is”. Vaporizing is the act of taking a molecule and heating it to it’s boiling point, where it becomes atomized and disperses into the air (before subsequently condensing again).
The boiling points of cannabinoids and terpenes are high
Cannabis contains a wide variety of cannabinoids and terpenes, from CBD to beta caryophyllene (a terpene known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties). Most commonly associated with cannabis is Delta 9 THC (or what we usually just call “THC”), is what most people are looking to consume when they want to get high.
Though there can be conflicting information on exactly how specific cannabinoids react to specific temps we can say that, as a general rule, it is unlikely that any terpenes or cannabinoids found in cannabis will vaporize at temperatures lower than 310°F – THC and CBD included.
When marijuana buds are pulled fresh from the growing, green plant, they naturally contain little-to-no CBD and THC. Instead the raw cannabis plant contains THCA, an inert cannabinoid (IE: one with no psychoactive effects) that is the precursor to THC.
Activating THC to THCA
When THCA is exposed to heat it turns into THC, which will then interact with our brain’s CB1 cannabinoid receptors and get us high – The same thing happens to the CBDA found inside cannabis, turning into CBD when exposed to a high enough level of heat.
In a nutshell, this is what happens to the cannabis product you place into your vaporizer – The vaporizer brings it up to the boiling point, and the cannabinoids and terpenes are both activated and carried out into water vapor. From here, inhaling this vapor is how we receive the effects of THC.
Why your vape temperatures matter
However, what can be a good temperature for one cannabinoid can fail to effect others, as different cannabinoids have different boiling points. THC and terpenes like β caryophyllene will reach their boiling points somewhere around the 315°F-320°F mark, while compounds such as p cymene, CBD and CBN don’t begin to vaporize until nearing the 360°F range; THCV is even more demanding, not reaching it’s boiling point until a whopping 428°F. This means if your vaporizer only aims for the mid-range solution of 375°F? You just may not be getting everything out of your cannabis that you could.
We’ve talked a bit about the middle ground of vaporization temperatures and the generic “perfect temperature” for vaping, but to better understand what to expect from adjusting your vape’s temperature regulator, let’s talk about the two extreme ends of the proverbial vaping temperature chart.
What’s the Lowest Temperature Setting For Vaping Weed?
If curious about the best temperature to vape on the low end, we recommend setting your vaporizer to somewhere around 315°F to 320°F. At this temperature range your cannabis should avoid a very “toasty” flavor, and produce a THC-filled drag that’s less harsh on the throat and lungs than one cranked up to a higher temperature.
The high produced by a low-temperature vape is usually described as less potent, and good for starting the day with – Vaping at lower temperatures such as this will definitely have effects, but they should be less pronounced than what the same strain or product would produce at higher temperatures. Low temperature vaping can also have anti-inflammatory effects, as terpenes such as beta caryophyllene begin to vaporize.
Many cannabis connoisseurs also swear by the low-temp vape as the best way to truly get to know the specific flavor and scent of a strain. While vaping at low temperatures doesn’t always ensure all the cannabinoids and terpenes in your weed will reach their boiling points it does do a wonderful job of preserving the flavor profile of the included terpenes and assorted compounds, letting the end user get to know the unique aroma & taste of their chosen strain without getting them ridiculously blazed.
What’s the Highest Temperature Setting for Vaping Weed?
Going to the opposite end of the spectrum, the upper limit for vaporizing your cannabis is in the range of 400 – 430°F. Going for vaping temperatures beyond 435°F begins running the risk of your plant matter burning, turning it into smoke and eliminating the entire point of vaporizing in the first place.
Once you start getting into the 400°F+ area the majority of the cannabinoids in your dried herb will begin vaporizing; the higher the heat, the more compounds reach the boiling point and are released.
In this high temperature range the effects of THC and CBD are accompanied by a more robust lineup of terpenes and cannabinoids, which can lead to much stronger and more pronounced effects in the user. Expect this range to be where a true “stoned” feeling begins to seep in, making vaping at high temperatures a good choice for those winding down for the evening.
Medical marijuana patients looking for maximum pain relief from cannabis will also likely want to work within this temperature zone. While lower temperatures are excellent for those that only need a small bit of medication anyone suffering from chronic ailments will likely find vaping at the higher end of the dial to be the best temperature range for effects that target symptoms such as pain and nausea, as well as seeing better results as an anti-inflammatory remedy.
Bear in mind, though, that higher temperatures also lead to harsher smokes and a harder-hitting vapor quality. Expect side effects such as coughing when vaping at high temps, along with the usual sensations of tickling in the lungs and throat. If taking marijuana for medicinal purposes and are trying to avoid bodily stress from things such as coughing, vaping at a lower temperature may be the wisest option.
Can I Burn My Weed By Setting the Vape Temp Too High?
Absolutely. As mentioned above 435°F is usually the point of no return when it comes to moving beyond making vapor and flat-out burning your herb. The odds are against your dry herb vape catching flames but you don’t need fire to have smoke – Just because your cannabis bud isn’t completely alight doesn’t mean it isn’t being oxidized.
If your vaporizer has gotten too hot it should be fairly easy to tell from taking a drag – The taste and lung impact from inhaling burnt herbs is much different from taking a puff of THC vapor. In the case of this happening simply turn off your vape, and wait for it to cool down before extracting your bud. This weed can be used for traditional smoking purposes if you’d like, but we recommend against vaporizing it again, even at a lower temp – At this point carcinogens such as carbon monoxide have already been formed in your herbs, and these harmful compounds will be atomized when placed back in the vaporizer.
How do I Change Temperature Settings on My Vaporizer?
First, make sure your vaporizer has some fashion of temperature controls. Check out this article for more info to get started with a vape. Many older and handheld models have no direct controls beyond the on/off switch, meaning your vape will likely be forever stuck somewhere around 375°F; again, not a bad general-purpose vapor temperature, as as most cannabinoids and terpenes will reach their boiling points at this range.
High-end desktop models are most likely to have fairly detailed temperature controls; exact functions will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but modern desktop vapes will typically include a digital screen accompanied by buttons (occasionally a dial) letting you precisely tune in the temperature you’d like.
For pen vapes (including things like dab or wax pens) temperature control functions can vary widely between different models. Common are temperature dials located toward the side or bottom of the pen vape, though some models offer temperature control through manipulation of the main power button. If in any doubt, it’s best to look at the instruction manual for your specific brand of vaporizer.
Should I Vape My Concentrates at a Different Temperature than Herb?
This is a fairly common question, as the physical differences between concentrates and dried cannabis flower can make them appear like vastly different products. And while there are significant distinctions between the two their interactions with a vapor-making device are (mostly) the same.
As mentioned above, vaping is the act of heating a substance to the point that cannabis molecules, essential oils, and other different compounds trapped within said substance begin leaving in the form of water vapor. Regardless of whether you’re vaping wax, oil, or dried bud, you’re still trying to vaporize the cannabinoids held within, meaning the temperature ranges for cannabinoid extraction remain the same between plant matter and concentrates.
What does often differ between concentrates and dried herbs is time, not temp. Vaporizing is all about ensuring your cannabinoids reach a specific temperature, and the more material your heat has to penetrate the longer it’ll take for the substance to reach the optimum temp/boiling point.
For concentrate products such as wax or shatter, where the substance being vaporized is primarily cannabinoids & terpenes, once the heating chamber reaches the proper temperature vaporization can begin. When using dry herb vaporizers, though, the plant matter itself has to heat up before it’s cannabinoids will reach the boiling point, meaning vaping cannabis flower can take a bit longer than vaping a concentrate, particularly if aiming for a high temperature.
Keeping Your Vaporizer Temperature Reliable
When in use, your vaporizer keeps track of its internal temperature with some fashion of heat-sensitive element (such as a thermometer). Typically this measures the temperature at a specific location inside the heating chamber, often close to the heating element. Unfortunately, with use and time, this temperature reading can become inaccurate, often leading to your vape shutting down before the desired heat level has been reached.
Keep it Clean
Barring a larger mechanical issue with your vaporizer one easy way to get your vaporizer back in tip-top shape is by giving it a quick clean. One of the side effects of cannabis vaporization is in the form of residue, plant pigments, and other organic gunk that can be left behind in the heating chamber/elements of your vaporizer.
When this residue begins to build up it can insulate your heating chamber from receiving all of the heat your heating element has to offer, which may fool your temperature regulator into thinking the chamber is warmer than it is by creating localized “hot spots” within the gunk.
Exact details on cleaning will depend on your style of vapor unit and specific model, but in general a cotton swab (IE: q-tip) soaked in rubbing alcohol will go a long way toward getting any mess out of your heating chamber. If you have an older model that runs off of a gas such as butane, make sure the vaporizer is dried and thoroughly clean before turning it on again, as rubbing alcohol is highly flammable and could interact poorly (read: explosively) with your vaporizer’s flame source.
Replace the Coils
If your vape utilizes a coil-based heating system replacing your coils every few weeks is a wise suggestion. Though some coils can be cleaned with a soak in isopropyl alcohol coils are ultimately designed to be replaced, and a new heating coil can go a long way toward making sure your vaporizer reaches the proper temp.
When replacing your coils, we recommend giving your vape a once-over with the aforementioned alcohol-soaked swab, making sure to get into the small cracks & crevices (as well as any screw threads that might have been exposed to cannabis) – This may not always be strictly needed, but it never hurts to get into the habit of giving your vape a quick clean while it’s already disassembled.
Finding the perfect temperature to vape weed may not be possible, that’s ok – There’s a wide range of options, and those playing around with those different temperatures opens up a world of opportunity when customizing your vaping experience. You may want to have a quick puff of a low-temp/low-THC strain early in the morning, then crank the heat up to high with a cannabinoid-laden strain for your late night, pre-bedtime smoke. Maybe you’re a medical marijuana patient, looking to get the maximum medicinal value from their THC & CBD. Or maybe you’re the kind of person who just wants an all-day blaze with a minimum of effort involved. Whichever way you lean, looking into altering the temperature of your vaporizer may just be the best way to achieve your smoking goals. Enjoy!