Changing the temperature of your vaporizer is sort of like the difference between a gentle steam and a roaring boil. Unlike smoking, which sets plant matter a blaze, vaporization warm cannabis bud gently. As you scale temperature up and down, you actually change the quality of your high.
Herb vaporizers heat flower just to the point that trichomes begin to melt, transforming the sticky fats from their solid form to a vapor steam.
Trichomes are the resin glands of the cannabis plant. These glands sit on the surface of the plant material and are most concentrated in the female cannabis flower. Trichomes are where the main medicinal and psychoactive compounds in the herb reside.
Cannabis resin not only contains cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that causes the “high”, but beneficial aroma molecules called terpenes as well. In fact, the cannabis plant contains over 400 different chemical compounds, all with unique properties and boiling points.
There are a couple of ways changing your vaporizer temperature affects your high. At lower temperatures (290 to 330°F), your vaporizer will just begin to gently melt trichomes and release a vapor that may not be visible to the naked eye. This is equivalent to a gentle steam, giving you a small amount of cannabinoid and terpenoid therapy.
At the highest temperatures (up to 445°F), a vaporizer will quickly melt trichomes and release a large amount of THC and other molecules. This will deliver a more impactful and intense high and produce a visible vapor. Anything above 445°F will risk combustion, which means that you’ll get some smoke from burning plant material.
The unique boiling points of different cannabinoids and terpenoids also impact the high. At lower temperatures, some terpenoids and cannabinoids may not be expressed. At higher temperatures, some of these same compounds may burn off.
In general, here are the boiling points of some of the most common cannabis compounds:
You might notice that the boiling points for THC-A (raw cannabis) and THC are different. THC-A begins to boil at a lower temperature, but full decarboxylation can occur at a higher temperature.
This is one reason why high-temperature vaporizers produce a more potent response. If you’re hoping to keep it light, stick to a lower temperature.
Low-temp vaporization is known to cause a more mild, relaxed feeling. At this temperature range, the experience will be less sedative and you’ll likely experience more pine and peppery flavors.
Both THC and CBD will be expressed at this range, but it’s unlikely that you’ll experience a powerful high. This temperature range is great for maintaining focus, improving mood, and relieving mild stresses and anxieties.
This temperature range will provide a distinct psychoactive experience. This is the most recommended range for regular cannabis consumers with an adequate tolerance.
At this range, most terpenes and cannabinoids will be expressed. This is great for those seeking a distinct “high” that won’t leave you entirely glued to the couch or too zippy. This is a great temperature for a social gathering.
This range is where consumers will experience an intense euphoric high, powerful pain relief, and some definite sedation with the right strains. This temperature is recommended for strains high in THCV, which has a much higher boiling point than THC or CBD.
This temperature range will provide the classic cannabis “high” that many recreational consumers prefer.
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