Readers of these articles know the advantages of vaping versus smoking, especially for cannabis. Vaping cannabis dramatically increases the availability of psychoactive compounds compared to smoking and there are far fewer toxins generated from combustion. But there is a hidden benefit that can really confuse people at first. Vaping allows for precise control of temperature, and this can have dramatic effects on how a particular strain feels in the body and mind.
The reason for this is that the different compounds in a dose of cannabis become more or less available at different temperatures. The vaping process causes the compounds to sublimate or “boil” off so you can inhale them. Smoking does this too, but the heat is so high that much of the cannabinoids burn off. But when you have control, you get access to a wide range of effects. It’s like splitting white light (smoking) into colors with a prism (vaping).
Thus, a single strain can feel different depending on the temperature. Here’s what you need to know to start exploring this.
Minimums and maximums
First, let’s look at the end points. THC, the cannabinoid with the lowest boiling point, does start to vaporize at 157 C (around 315 degrees Fahrenheit). Thus, this is the minimum that you need to start getting high. It you keep it right around the boiling point, you can get a mild high that’s great for newbies or for people who just need a little hit through the day. For those who also smoke for flavor, this temperature will also start releasing terpenoids and flavonoids, resinous compounds responsible for different flavors and scents from cannabis. Even if you like getting high fast, try this lower setting to get some nice flavor effects.
The other end point is where combustion occurs. This can start happening around 230 Celsius, though it won’t be certain until around 290 Celsius. The cannabinoid with the highest vaporization point, THCV, requires 220 Celsius to begin vaporizing and most see their full expression around 240 Celsius. Thus, we can set an upper limit of testing ranges to 240 Celsius.
Boiling points of other cannabinoids
CBD evaporates at anywhere between 160 and 180 Celsius depending on strain and the amount of water in the plant. Thus, it can be difficult to separate out THC highs vs CBD highs by temperature alone. You’re better off choosing a strain with one or more of the other. That said, if you are looking for CBD for health purposes, you will need to turn up your vape mod high enough to release it.
Anti-nausea users should go to at least 180 to maximize release of Delta-8-THC, the cannabinoid most responsible for the anti-nausea properties of cannabis. Temperatures above 185 begin to release cannabinoids associated with relaxation like CBN. CGB requires temperatures above 200 to get released, with maximum release at around 230. 220 is needed to get THCV and CBC going.
Terpenoids and Flavonoids
These are compounds found in essential oils. Aromatherapy lovers take note, you can get some of the same effects by finding a cannabis strain that matches the contents of your favorite essential oil. While it won’t be as potent (at least until we start seeing a lot of cannabis EO on the market!), there may be some beneficial effects.
From a vaping perspective, they enhance the aesthetic experience, but at higher temperatures, they start to burn off to change to smell and taste of the cannabis.
We can thus define some ranges that you can use to start experimenting with strains.
Below 160: Too weak to get high, might get some flavor.
160-175: Flavor-oriented. Core psychoactives present but in mild amounts. Light high from THC and CBD with strength increasing with temperature. Good for beginners or testing a new strain out. Lower temperatures will also stretch out your product.
175-200: Deeper high. Different flavors come out, subtler flavors lost. Most variation in strains happens within this range. Likely the “best” range to vape most strains. The majority of vapers will find a comfortable cannabis vaping temperature in this range.
200-240: Sedative high and the release of more exotic cannabinoids. Those who love to explore the deeper levels of getting a big high can play around in this range, though temps above 230 may make the vape become harsh. Not too much more CBD or THC release at this range beyond THCA conversion, which needs heat. Other cannabinoids like CBN and CBG start to kick in.
Above 240: Too high. You’re burning your cannabis and losing the benefits of vaping.
The water content of your strain will also affect these temperature ranges. Water has to be boiled out of the plant material before the cannabinoids can reach their full expression. Thus when comparing strains or temperatures you’ll need to control for water as best as you can. Age and any drying of the strain can also affect THC content due to the conversion of THCA to THC with time and heat (Google THC decarboxylation for the science behind this. It’s important if you ever decide to make edibles!)
Michael is a marketing and creative content specialist at GotVape.com with primary focus on customer satisfaction. Technology and fitness combined healthy lifestyle obsession are his main talking points