Getting the correct temperature is important when using a marijuana vaporizer.
These days, it’s become common knowledge that vaporizing is the healthiest way to consume marijuana. What’s lesser known is the role that temperature plays in determining the effects a user will experience.
The ideal temperature for vaporizing cannabis is around 175 – 200°C (347 – 392°F), says Dr. Ian Mitchell, an emergency physician and clinical assistant professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
However, he notes that a recent study that examined the cannabinoid extraction of different vaporizers used 210°C (410°F) as a set point.
“In general, I would say 210°C is the best balance between efficient evaporation of terpenes and cannabinoids and smoothness of the vapor,” says Dr. Arno Hazekamp, who studies medical cannabis as the head of research at Bedrocan BV in the Netherlands.
High vs. Low Temperatures
If a user vaporizes cannabis below 180°C (356°F), they will mainly inhale terpenes because cannabinoids won’t evaporate at low temperatures, according to Dr. Hazekamp. But lower temperatures can be ideal for those who want a less intense and more awake high.
Higher temperatures tend to yield more cannabinoids, as studies by researchers in the Netherlands have shown.
In one experiment, the Volcano vaporizer only yielded 24% of cannabinoids when set at a temperature of 170°C (338°F). However, the yield jumped to 77% when the vaporizer was set to 230°C (446°F).
According to Dr. Mitchell, the best extraction of THC occurs around this temperature, although lower temperatures are likely healthier for users.
Users should take caution not to vaporize at or above 235°C (455°F) since the vapor will become harsh and could start to burn. “When that happens, you are creating the same toxic compounds as during smoking,” explains Dr. Hazekamp.
Vaporizing CBD and THC
Although some users may try to adjust the vaporizing temperature according to whether they want to feel the effects of CBD or THC more, it’s unlikely to make a significant difference.
The boiling points of these two cannabinoids are only 10°C (18°F) apart and most vaporizers do not offer that level of accuracy.
“If you are seeking to separate out THC and CBD, you are much better off controlling those in your cannabis sample rather than try to do it by differential volatility,” says Dr. Mitchell.
Dr. Hazekamp agrees and maintains that users should vaporize around 210°C (410°F) to feel the effects of both cannabinoids. “It is easy to remember and why bother with two temperatures?”
Other Things To Consider
Although specific temperature ranges are commonly recommended to those just starting out, other factors could affect the ideal temperature to vaporize. For instance, Dr. Hazekamp points out that the moisture content of the cannabis is something to consider.
“After all, when you heat cannabis in a vaporizer, the first thing to boil off is the remaining water in the plant,” he says.
Another factor is the type of vaporizer used, according to Dr. Hazekamp. For example, convection-style vaporizers (such as the Volcano and other desktop models) can be more efficient because heat is transferred more directly. However, they can also evaporate cannabis even when a user is not inhaling.
Dr. Mitchell adds that cheaply made vaporizers (such as vape pens and other conduction-style vaporizers) tend to have hotspots, which can make it difficult to keep a consistent temperature.