Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on January 12, 2023

So, you decided to switch your marijuana consumption method and try vaping. Welcome, we’re thrilled to have you here. You probably know all the benefits – more flavorful smoke, no throat irritation, better portion control, and practicality – what’s not to like?

Vaporizers have been winning the hearts of many cannabis enthusiasts precisely because of the better cannabinoid extraction. There is no THC or CBD loss since there’s no combustion, plus the terpenes are all there, while the same can’t be said about smoking cannabis. 

In this article, we’ll introduce you to the different types of vaporizers and include a basic guide on how to use them, so let’s get started.

There Are Too Many Types of Cannabis Vaporizers! How Do I Differentiate Among Them?

If it’s your first time buying a cannabis vaporizer and you’re a bit confused, we get it. The term “vaporizer” can refer to many different types of vaporizers, all of which offer their own unique vaping experience. Even though they all work on the same principle, more or less, you should be well-informed about it before you make your choice, so let’s clear up the confusion. 

Concentrate and Dry Herb Vaporizers

Based on what form of weed they were designed to vaporize, vaporizers can work with concentrates and/or dry herbs.

Dry Herb Vapes

Old school vaporizers were primarily used as a literal alternative to smoking and they vaporized dry cannabis flowers only. It was simple – you just put the dry plant material in the cartridge and you start heating it up until it starts vaporizing. These types of vapes are still used today, only the mechanism has become much more sophisticated, and many models include temperature settings so that you can vape at your ideal temperature. 

Concentrate Vapes

Apart from dry herb vapes, there are many vape models that can vaporize cannabis concentrates, too. Of course, they can’t replace dab rigs completely since the experience is entirely different, but vaping cannabis concentrates with vaporizers is much less complicated and more controlled than with dab rigs. Vapes that vaporize cannabis concentrates heat them at higher temperatures than dry herb vaporizers.

Finally, there are vaporizer models that work with both dry herbs and cannabis concentrates – the ideal combo for true vapers.

Stationary and Portable Vaporizers

Based on portability, there are stationary and portable vaporizers. 

Stationary vaporizers are large devices for vaping that basically work like special ovens that heat up weed to the point of vaporization. They’re commonly referred to as tabletop vaporizers or desktop vaporizers because they’re designed to be stationed on a flat and sturdy surface (like a desk) in order to use them. Desktop vapes can vaporize both dry cannabis flowers and cannabis concentrates.

Portable vapes, on the other hand, are just what the name implies – they’re portable and small enough to fit in your hand. Portable vapes are what most people mean when they refer to vaporizers because of their practicality. There are two types of portable vapes: 

  • Regular portable vapes have a refillable cartridge and can vaporize both dry herbs and concentrates;
  • Vape pens are sleeker than regular portable vapes (similar to e-cigarettes), and they can be disposable or reusable. Disposable vape pens come as a one-piece consisting of a battery and a pre-filled cartridge with cannabis oil. You should throw the entire thing away once you’ve used it up. Reusable vape pens come with a battery and a prefilled cartridge, but the cart is replaceable (and the battery is rechargeable). Once you’ve used up the old cart, you just buy a new one and use it with the same battery. Both types of vape pens only vaporize concentrates.

Conduction and Convection Heating

Based on the heating method, there are conduction vaporizers and convection vaporizers, and these only apply to dry herb vapes.

Conduction vaporizers use direct heat to vaporize the plant matter or concentrate, meaning that the weed directly touches the heated walls of the chamber resulting in vapor.

With convection vaporizers, the weed doesn’t come in direct contact with the heat but is instead vaporized by the hot air that is forced through the chamber.

How to Use a Weed Vaporizer

No matter the model, vaporizers consist of the same basic elements: a mouthpiece, a chamber with a heating element inside, and a battery. To vape, you only need to press the power button and adjust the desired temperature (if your vape model allows), and start vaping.

Let’s get into the specifics.

Vape Pens

Vape pens (both disposable and reusable) are easy to use because the only element you need to maneuver is the battery. If using a reusable vape pen, make sure the battery is charged. Just turn it on and inhale through the mouthpiece, and that’s it! 

Cannabis Concentrate Vapes

Cannabis concentrate vapes, also conveniently called dab pens, are also easy to use, but you have to know that some types of concentrates work better than others. For example, more viscous, oily concentrates, such as wax or budder, are better for dab pens than, say, shatter, which is better suited for dab rigs.

Simply use a dabber tool to scoop out your concentrate of choice and drop it carefully near the coil in the heating chamber, but be careful not to touch it as it can break. Also, avoid using your fingers to touch the concentrate because that can deteriorate its quality. It’s recommended that you fill up the chamber at about three quarters.

The heating chamber of dab pens houses an atomizer which consists of a heating element (heating coil) and a wick that draws in the concentrate onto the coil for it to be vaporized. To get thick vapors, it’s best to press the power button and hold it for a few seconds so that the wick can melt the concentrate a little before you start inhaling. If you want a lighter vapor, there’s no need to wait, and you can start inhaling right away.

Dry Herb Vapes

Dry herb vapes have a herb chamber where you’re supposed to put the dry herbs. Before doing that, it’s best to use a grinder to grind the weed finely so that it’s vaporized evenly. Then, put the ground cannabis in the herb chamber, but don’t pack it too tight or you’ll restrict the airflow.

Press the power button and let the vaporizer heat it. Dry herb vapes need more time to heat up, from 10 seconds to a minute, depending on their heating method. In the meantime, adjust the temperature control settings to your liking and wait for it to reach the desired temperature – then you can start inhaling and enjoy the flavorful smoke!

Last but not least, clean the herb chamber regularly to keep your vape running efficiently for a long time. Clear out every speck of vaped weed and maybe use it to make edibles.

The Takeaway 

Weed vaporizers are great devices that produce light and flavorful vapor that’s easy on the throat. They can be portable or stationary, though the portable ones seem to be more popular due to their practicality. Vapes can work with either dry herbs or concentrates, but there are models that can vaporize both. 

The anatomy of a typical vaporizer is more or less the same for all types, with some slight variations. They’re easy to work with and if you take proper care of them, their performance will stay top-notch for a long time.

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


The information presented on this page is provided as a public service to aid in education and is derived from sources believed to be reliable. Readers are responsible for making their own assessment of the topics discussed here. In no event shall Leaf Nation be held reliable for any injury, loss or damage that could happen if using or abusing drugs.