Debate has raged back and forth over what vaping is, and the risks associated with it. The short summary is vaping can actually be safer than smoking, but there are a few inherent risks. Here are the myths, rumors, and facts regarding vaping.
1. Is Vaping Just for Liquid?
No – Vaping is simply a slang term for inhaling evaporated substances. The term covers a wide variety of methods used to vape and inhale substances.
Herbal matter is normally vaped in a large desktop vaporizer. These units often have wooden boxes and digital screens that somewhat resemble a pencil sharpener. These units heat a chamber, similar to a small oven to the low temperature necessary to evaporate the THC, CBD, and various crystals from the plant matter. When done with a medical-grade cannabis, the plant matter can still be extracted or smoked for the remaining chemicals.
THC is commonly found in concentrates, which are vaped in manners similar to meth or crack cocaine, although the tools used are much more refined than any crackhead or methhead ever devised. The art of vaping THC concentrates, whether in wax, shatter, honey, etc., involves the use of a bowl the size of a bolt head, made of either titanium or ceramic, that’s called a nail. This attachment can be found for bongs, pipes, and eCigarettes. An open flame never touches the concentrate, so it is evaporated by preheating the nail.
Liquid vaping is accomplished by dissolving drugs in vegetable glycerin, then mixing them with an optional propylene glycol concentrate for the smoke effect. Many prefer to skip the PG, as it can cause issues with your respiratory system. Do not trust any vendor saying they have organic or natural eLiquid unless it’s PG-free. If they don’t label ingredients, don’t buy it.
2. Are Dabbing and Vaping the Same Thing?
Yes and No. Dabbing is a form of vaping, but not all vaping is considered dabbing.
Dabbing was named within the last few years, after cannabis producers around the country started experimenting with ways to extract and inhale pure concentrate from their strains. The term came about as a way to say “just a dab will do ya,” to warn habitual potheads that they needn’t try a spoonful of the concentrate.
3. Is Vaping Harmful?
There are inherent dangers associated with vaping, and they’re much more difficult to list out than for smoking.
Titanium, for example, is used in most vape kits because the metal can be heated to high degrees without burning. However, many cheaper alternatives exist as manufacturers compete for market share. Many metal nails are simply titanium-coated. Ceramic nails are recommended to avoid any issues, although for eCig dab attachments, the heating element is still metal, so the full risk isn’t alleviated.
As stated before, the PG mixed with all commercially produced eLiquid and eJuice may be harmful in large doses, which you will ingest over time. PG is mixed even into the THC liquids sold in Washington, Colorado, and other medicinal marijuana states.
In addition, many vapers use a high-heat torch, some even attached to propane tanks. These have their own risk associated with them. Imagine a smoke circle with a gaggle of idiots breaking everything are now using a torch that can cut their arm off or explode if not used right. Be sure to have adult or professional supervision operating the torch. Don’t pass it like a Bic.
Always remember you are vaping a drug. The act of vaping in itself is safer than smoking, but there are risks attached to your choice of drug to vape.
4. What Drugs Can Be Vaped?
Any chemical substance has a burning point, melting point, evaporation point, etc. Figure out what chemical compound you’re trying to vape and what happens to it when heated. MDMA, MDA, meth, cocaine, opium, etc., will all have a different effect. This is chemistry. That’s why it’s called experimenting with drugs.
Learn about dosages and effects. Study the chemical compounds of your drugs. It’s all out there on the Internet. Use science to keep you safe and experiment away. Personally I prefer natural drugs, but do what you do.
5. Can Alcohol Be Vaped?
Actually yes it can, although the process is a bit different, since alcohol isn’t a pure extract, and a thimble of heated beer won’t do much for you. There is, however, a great video on YouTube detailing how you can pressurize and depressurize alcohol to initiate a chemical reaction in which you can inhale vaporized alcohol of any (and I mean any…watch the video) kind of alcohol.
Keep in mind you’re inhaling liquid alcohol directly into your lungs, and much less is needed to get you drunk. Also much less is needed to get you poisoned.
Got anymore questions about vaping? Leave them in the comments below…
Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower, freelance consultant, and troll. He’s a frequent contributor to The Street, Huffington Post, Cannabis Now, and Fast Company.