Vaporizers & Vaping

How to Vape: Step by Step Instructions

Gabi Antunes

Jul 20, 2019

Using a vaporizer may seem like just another way to consume cannabis, but these devices do take some getting used to. There is a lot to learn for those adults who are starting to vape, from how to use the device to learning how temperature settings affect your experience. To help you get started, we put together this comprehensive guide. With a bit of practice, you’ll be getting the most out of your new vape in no time.

What is vaping?

Vaping involves heating cannabis to a temperature at which point it is converted into vapor; that vapor is then inhaled. A wide range of materials can be vaporized, including dry herbs, oils, and concentrates such as waxes. Vapor is created when materials are heated to their boiling point but kept below the temperature required for combustion.

Vaping is a millennia-old practice. Ancient civilizations would throw dry herb on hot stones to fill the air with steam and would immerse themselves in vapor, inhaling it along with the air. Vaping has certainly come a long way, with a wide range of devices designed to customize experience and fine-tune flavor, vapor quality, and desired effect. Electronic vaporizers are available for every preference, whether you want to have the flexibility of  small, handheld devices or the power of at home desktop units.

What is a vape?

Vaporizers come in a few different styles, including desktop vapes and portable vapes. Some of the most popular vapes today are portable, some of which are as small as a pen and others which are more elaborate smartphone-sized devices with advanced wireless connectivity capabilities.

How does a vape work?

Vaping devices are relatively simple in their design. A power source such as a battery provides power to a heating element, which heats the chosen material to its boiling point without burning it.

The majority of portable vapes heat material in one or two ways: with conduction heating or convection heating. Conduction heating involves placing material directly on a heating element, which is warmed electronically. The heat is transferred directly to the material, vaporizing it on contact. Convection heating works by keeping the material and the heating element separate. The heating element warms the air around the material and uses either a fan or the strength of your own inhalation to pass the hot air over the material and vaporize it.

Let’s take a closer look at each component that contributes to the vaporization process.

How to vape

Learning how to vape doesn’t have to be a difficult or intimidating process. To help you get started, we’ve broken it down step by step. With these tips and a bit of practice, you’ll find that vaping is an easy and fun experience.

Step 1: Choose your vape

The first step is to select your vaping device. There are plenty of devices out there and some of them are quite complicated, but many vapes come with everything you need to get started quickly, without a lot of research. Vape pens are also relatively easy to use, requiring only a cartridge of cannabis and a simple screw-in battery.

The key thing is to select a vape device compatible with the type of material you’d like to vaporize. Some vapes only accept dry herb or concentrates. Other vapes, like the PAX 3, are compatible with both types of materials. You’ll also want to become familiar with the device you choose, of course; take a moment to review its features by reviewing the included user manual or reading reviews online. For the most part, though, a vape starter kit is enough for you to get going without much trouble.

Step 2: Load your vape

For most vape devices, dry herb can be loaded into a chamber, while cartridges or pods can be inserted into the device for easy use. Some devices require concentrate pads or inserts for use with oils or waxes, while others require users to load the material directly. Others still, like the PAX Era, employ a pod system that relies on pre-filled containers known as pods. If your chamber accepts material directly, be careful not to overpack it; vaporizers require air flow to properly heat the material, after all. Every vaporizer is slightly different, so be sure to consult the owner’s manual about the proper way to load concentrates.

Step 3: Choose your vape settings

At their most basic, vapes allow you to simply draw on the mouthpiece and inhale your vaporized material. Many, however, have several temperature settings so you can fine-tune your vaporization experience. More advanced vaporizers even have unique profiles and settings, depending on the material you’ve selected or the type of experience you’d like to have.

Generally, lower temperatures preserve material and flavor, as well as produce smaller clouds. It’s not a bad idea to get started on lower temperatures, since it’s easier to handle a smaller amount of vapor. As you increase temperature, vapor production increases as well. You’ll also go through more material more quickly. When you first begin vaping at higher temperatures, keep your draws light and short to control the amount of vapor you take in. Once you’re more familiar with your device, it will become easier to control.

Step 4: Inhale vapor

When you take a draw on your vape, a portion of your material will be vaporized. That vapor travels through the device’s vapor pathway and through the mouthpiece, resulting in the “cloud” that is produced when you exhale.

You might find that inhaling vapor feels strange at first. The reason inhaling vapor often feels strange at first is because vapor molecules are much larger than those found in smoke. Once you’re used to your vape, you’ll be able to change up the temperature and cloud size to find your preferred setting.

Step 5: Clean your vape

When you’re finished with a vaping session, it’s important to clean your vape in accordance with the directions offered in the device owner’s manual. Most vapes come with a tool or other supplies for cleaning out dry herb material. Many recommend the use of a cotton swab for cleaning out concentrate, and some require the use of isopropyl alcohol. Some vaporizers, like the PAX 3, come with a cleaning kit that includes tools that make maintaining your vape easy. Keeping your vape clean is critical to extending the lifespan of the device, so you can enjoy your vaporizer for many more sessions to come.

Is there a wrong way to vape?

A common question many people ask when learning how to vape is “am I doing this wrong?” There isn’t really a “right” or “wrong” way to vape. Whether you inhale your vapor or simply taste it before releasing it, it’s all a matter of personal preference.

With that said, there are common mistakes that people make when loading their material, assembling their vaporizer, or caring for their vapes. Before, during, and after using your vape, you’ll want to double check a few things:

  • Make sure your material is loaded properly into the appropriate location. For example, avoid overpacking the chamber with your material.
  • Ensure that all parts the vape are interconnected snugly and seamlessly. You should never have to force together parts of the vape.
  • Be sure to clean the vape properly, as the manual suggests. This is very important to maintaining a positive vape experience and extending the functional lifetime of your device, so take extra care to maintain it properly.

So long as you follow these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy an effective vaping experience.

Tips to improve your vape experience

If your vaping experience leaves something to be desired, remember that a learning curve is perfectly normal! As you become accustomed to using your vape, keep these tips in mind to improve your vape experience.

  1. Long, slow puffs result in a more controlled vapor production. Controlling vapor production can make for a less harsh experience.
  2. Check your material if your vape isn’t producing enough vapor. You might have vaporized all of it and need to refill your device, or you may have packed too loosely or tightly.
  3. If you’re drawing on your vape but it doesn’t seem to be responding or seems weak, your battery could be low. Check the battery level and place it on the charger if there’s little battery life remaining. Be sure to allow the battery to fully charge before using it for the first time.
  4. Try cleaning your vaporizer if performance seems to be declining but there is no clear reason why.
  5. Try out different temperature settings and see how it impacts your vape experience. Temperature greatly affects your sessions, changing everything from vapor production to taste. Don’t be afraid to vape on different settings until you find which one best suits your preferences.

Vaping is a personal experience and it takes time to understand what methods of vaping are best for you. Be patient and experiment. Soon enough, you’ll have a clear idea of what makes for your optimal vaping session.

Learning how to vape and next steps

Now that you know the basics of vaping and are becoming acquainted with your device, what comes next? Most vape devices offer a wide range of accessories, material types, and even additional features. Try playing around with more advanced functionality. Some devices, like the PAX Era, can even connect to a mobile application that provides improved device control and insights into your typical sessions. Try new materials to see which you like best, and always remember to test out different temperature settings.

Now that you know how to vape, a diverse and exciting world of devices and materials are open to you. Exploring new things is half the fun, so don’t be afraid to experiment and try out new methods of enjoying your vaporizer.