There has never been a better time to own a dry herb vaporizer. The best vapes on the market are more affordable and reliable than ever. They’re user friendly, and they control their temperatures accurately. Owning a dry herb vape is one-way ticket to enjoying your herbs in a more intelligent way. The one thing about vaping, though, is that it’s not quite as simple as sticking your herbs in a pipe and smoking them. Most dry herb vaporizers work on the principle of conduction. That is, the herbs have to touch the edges of the oven – and each other – for the heat to penetrate through to the center of the oven. In effect, you’re cooking the herbs – and just like when you’re cooking food, you need even particles and even spacing between the particles if you want your herbs to cook evenly.
Packing a dry herb vaporizer ultimately comes down to two things.
- You want to maximize the physical contact between the herb particles and the walls of the oven. That’s what allows heat to transfer throughout the oven.
- You want to avoid packing the oven so tightly that you can’t inhale well. If you can’t inhale deeply, the beneficial compounds in your herbs will escape into the air.
Your goal is to load your dry herb vape in such a way that you use your herbs as completely as possible while ensuring that the compounds in the herbs get into your lungs. Maximum benefit and minimum waste – that’s the ideal scenario. If you want big, powerful hits and you want to exhale dense clouds, it all begins with loading your vape properly.
Grinding Your Herbs
If you’re coming from a background of smoking, you might be used to simply breaking your herbs up with your fingers. That works fine for smoking – especially if you use a pipe. It doesn’t matter whether the pieces are evenly sized or not; the fire will take care of everything. When you’re vaping, though, you need an even particle size for even heating – and to get that, you need a grinder. Now, you could use an electric coffee grinder – if you’re willing to own a very smelly grinder that you can’t use for anything else, at least – but for our purposes, we’re going to discuss manual grinders. The purpose of a grinder is to mechanically break down your herbs into small particles that are as uniform in size as possible.
Before you begin, grab a sheet of white paper. Fold the paper in half to make a trench. Unfold the paper and place it on your work surface. The paper makes it easy to recover any powdered herbs that you spill. Just brush the herbs into the trench, pick the paper up and pour the herbs into your open grinder.
2-Piece vs. 3-Piece vs. 4-Piece Grinders
There are three common types of grinders available for dry herbs: two-piece, three-piece and four-piece grinders. They all work in much the same way. You place the herbs in the grinder, close the grinder and give it several turns. When you turn the grinder, blades in the grinder break the herbs down into smaller particles. In general, the more pieces a grinder has, the more it’ll do – and the more it’ll cost. Don’t automatically ignore two-piece grinders, though, just because they’re less expensive. If you don’t care about separating pollen, you’ll like the fact that two-piece grinders are highly reliable and portable.
- Two-piece grinder: The most basic type of dry herb grinder. Simply turn the grinder, open it and tap the herbs out. Since you have to tap or brush to remove the herbs, there may be some spillage.
- Three-piece grinder: In a three-piece grinder, the bottom half of the grinder section has holes leading to a compartment. Since you can remove the herbs directly from the bottom compartment, a three-piece grinder may reduce spillage. Since herbs can only enter the compartment if they fit through the holes, a three-piece grinder may also create a more even-sized grind.
- Four-piece grinder: In a four-piece grinder, the herb compartment has a mesh screen leading to a secondary chamber. Fine pollen travels through the screen for separate containment. Five-piece grinders with two different levels of filtration also exist, but they’re less common.
What Are Finishing Grinders?
Some dry herb vaporizers work best if you can grind your herbs down to a fluffy, powdery consistency. To assist with that, there are a few companies that make “fine grinders” or “finishing grinders.” A finishing grinder is almost like a fine cheese grater for herbs. It pushes the herbs through tiny holes to achieve a very powdery grind. Some people find that an extremely fine grind allows them to get even more out of their material. With some vaporizers, though, fine herb powder might pass through the screen and into your mouth. With experimentation, you’ll find the ideal grind for your device.
Packing Your Dry Herb Vaporizer
Now that you’ve got your herbs ground, open your vaporizer and position it so the oven faces up. Tap the herbs out of the grinder and into the oven. Keep adding more until the herbs rise past the top of the oven. Some vaporizers – the DaVinci IQ is one example – have ledges that make the loading process easy. Simply dump the herbs out onto the ledge and tap the vaporizer on a flat surface to send the herbs from the ledge down into the oven.
Using your finger or a packing tool, gently push down on the herbs until the material is even with the top of the oven. Usually, it’s pretty obvious what the heating surface is. With the DaVinci IQ, for example, it’s the white ceramic material. You want your herbs to be even with the ceramic.
With some vaporizers, you’ll actually want to push the herbs down below the edge of the oven and add more herbs before packing the load down a second time. If you feel some resistance when pushing down on the herbs, you’ve probably got the oven packed correctly. For the densest vapor possible, pack the herbs as tightly as you can without compromising airflow.