The Three Main Substances That Marijuana Vaporizers Use Wax, Herb, and Oil

May 15, 2018 4 min read

The Three Main Substances That Marijuana Vaporizers Use Wax, Herb, and Oil

The Three Main Substances that Marijuana Vaporizers Use - Wax, Herb and Oil

By Ekaterina Mironova

Marijuana vaporizers use three main substances. One is herb, also referred to as dry herb or herbal blend or dry herbal blend. This is the most traditional material used for vaping. The second substance is oil, also referred to as essential oils. The third is wax, also referred to as concentrates. The specific type of marijuana vaporizer you need will depend on the substance you intend to use. There are some vaporizers that are apparently compatible with herbs, oils and waxes, so the companies claim but the reality is far from it. Most vaporizers will perform best when you use the substance that they are meant for. A marijuana vaporizer with an herb chamber will practically not work with oil or wax as it is designed to heat a dry material, not liquid or concentrated sticky viscous liquid. You can actually damage the electronic components in your dry herb vaporizer if you use oil or wax.

The Three Main Substances That Marijuana Vaporizers Use Wax, Herb, and Oil

Difference between Wax, Herb and Oil

As the names imply, wax is a relatively thicker and viscous substance. It is neither liquid nor solid. Oil is in liquid state but it could also be almost semisolid in some cases. Regardless of the state, oils would be reasonably viscous. Herb is basically dry herb, the leaves or cannabis. They are used in their natural state or they can be blended with other flavorful herbs. To draw the sharp distinctions, herb is solid while oil is liquid and wax is in between.

There can be innumerable differences among the three main substances considering the plethora of ingredients that can be used. Generalizing the variants will be helpful to understand how exactly these substances work inside a marijuana vaporizer. The purpose of a vaporizer is to heat the substance inside to produce enough vapors. This heating has to be facilitated through convection and not combustion. The latter is a process that burns the substance. Convection is a process that heats the air inside the chamber and extracts the properties of the substance into the vapor. 

Herb, dry herb or herbal blends are the first to get heated when compared with wax and oil. This inference is drawn considering the temperature and not the use of any specific type of vaporizer. Oil and wax take much longer to produce vapor when subjected to the same heat. More heat is needed to generate vapor from wax or oil and that will be too much for herbs and effectively the dry herb or herbal blend will start to burn. You would therefore have smoke instead of vapor.

This is why marijuana vaporizers must be chosen on the basis of the substance you wish to use. Of course there is the factor of whether or not the heating chamber is compatible with solid, liquid and semisolid but beyond that you should know if the heating would be sufficient to produce the vapor you want. Dry herb marijuana vaporizers do not provide enough heat to produce vapor using waxes or oils. Likewise, marijuana vaporizers meant for waxes or oils will produce excessive heat for herbs and hence you may end up burning the herbal blend or dry herbs.

Differences in the Vaping Experience

Herb, dry herb or dry herbal blends are the least potent of the three substances used in marijuana vaporizers. This is simply because you are using herbs in their natural state. The herbs contain volatile aromatic compounds but there are many other components. Oils and waxes are concentrated versions. They have much more volatile aromatic compounds than in herbs or dry herbal blends. Oils and waxes are made from dry herbs. The volatile aromatic compounds are extracted, distilled and their concentrations are regulated to attain a predetermined strength. This is why you would see waxes and oils marketed as per their levels of concentration. The concentration influences flavor and potency. Many waxes and oils are distilled three or four times for enhanced potency.

You may or may not have a specific purpose for using a marijuana vaporizer. Regardless of that, you would have a certain preference. Some people like stronger and flavorful vapors. Some people find potent waxes or oils a bit overwhelming. Some people get the kick with herbs while some want the stronger sensations as offered by waxes or oils. If you have a specific purpose, say relief from pain or stress relief, you wish to manage your anxiety or you simply want to relax, then all these substances may work for you or only one type may suit your vaping preference. You will have to try these substances and also some of the variants as there are many to know which one is absolutely perfect for your vaping experience.

Wax vs. Herb vs. Oil

Herb, dry herb or herbal blends are more volatile. They need gentle but consistent heat to effectively vaporize. Wax or oil is usually placed on metal coil or titanium nail and the substances melt away, thereby producing the vapor. It is difficult to burn oil or wax. It is easy to combust herb. There is not much you can do with herbs other than blending a few varieties. You can infuse herbs with waxes or oils but they would only be mildly effective at altering the flavor or potency. Oils and waxes on the other hand can have a myriad of flavors. They can be extremely strong or very weak. There is plenty of room to play with the concoctions and that is why they have become more popular in recent years.

Many people find it easier to deal with oils and waxes as they come in self contained units that can be simply discarded after use. When you use herbs, you have to actually deal with the plant matter and you have to clean the chamber after every use or a few uses. Waxes and oils are hence easier to deal with. You can switch from one concentrate to another or one flavor to another almost instantly without worrying about cleaning any part or component of the vaporizer. There are cartridges that can be easily installed and removed to make way for another.

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