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What is a vaporizer? From desktop to portable, all you need to know

Volcano desktop vaporizer

We’ve all heard of vaping, but what exactly is a vaporizer? We’ve got the answers to the questions you’re too afraid to ask your cool friends who own vapes. 

So, what does a vaporizer do exactly?

The big question – what does a vaporizer do? Whether you go for a vape pen or a desktop vaporizer, they essentially all work by heating your chosen cannabis material (dabs, flower, wax, and oil all work) to a point where it releases a delicious, dank vapor for you to inhale. 

Vaporizers have gained a lot of popularity recently as they are considered healthier than smoking and can get you much higher, much faster. 

Why do I use a vaporizer?

Well, first and foremost, you use it to get a nice, clean hit of THC or CBD. Vaporizers are great for delivering an effective high in record time and with a lot less mess and effort than rolling a joint. 

Desktop vaporizers are also ideal if you’re using medical marijuana or hate tobacco, as they don’t use any. They don’t use any actual combustion to get that lovely THC into your lungs, so it’s cleaner overall.

What can I put in a vaporizer then? So, this depends on what kind of vaporizer you get. 

Dry herb vaporizers are used with (surprise!) dry buds. You can use any flower you like in a dry herb vaporizer, as long as you grind your weed up fine beforehand. The vaporizer then heats it until it releases its vapor, and the high is all yours. 

You can also put THC concentrate in a vaporizer if you go for a model that specifically allows it. You can go for dabs, wax, shatter, butter – whatever your heart desires. 

Interest sparked? Ok, let’s go deeper into the vaporizer world. 


Different types of vapes

So like we said, you can get different types of vapes to other kinds of herb, but that’s not all; vaporizers come in all shapes and sizes, from sturdy desktop vaporizers to slick little pens. 

In many ways, getting a vaporizer is like getting a new pet. Ok, hear us out: it’s essential to pick a vaporizer that will fit with your lifestyle – are you going to be home all the time, or do you spend a lot of time out and about? Factors like this will decide which model will be the best herb vaporizer for you. See, just like a pet. 

Which vaporizer should I buy?

Right, let’s take a look at the different types of vaporizers in detail. 

Desktop vaporizers

The kings of the vaporizer world, desktop vaporizers live up to their name: they sit on your desk or tabletop and provide reliable, consistently good highs full of excellent dank flavor. Desktop vaporizers are usually built to last and come with all sorts of extra tech that smaller vapes don’t tend to have. These powerful vaporizers pack a punch from built-in temperature controls to get your vapor just right to endless modification possibilities. 

Of course, the downside is that desktop vaporizers aren’t portable beyond packing one up for a more extended trip somewhere, and cheaper models tend to burn your flower. 

You can get dry herb desktop vaporizers, as well as concentrate vaporizers. They may cost a little more than their cousins, but the investment is worth it. 

We recommend desktop vaporizers for everyone, whether you’re using cannabis for pain relief, looking for a cleaner option than smoking, or love getting high at home. 

Portable vaporizers

These little guys fit neatly in your pocket for highs on the move, and you can get models that work with either dry herb or concentrate. 

Although portable vaporizers tend to have less functionality than their larger desktop counterparts, their portability is their saving grace, and let’s face it, nothing beats getting high with the sun shining down on your blissed-out head. We love portable vaporizers so much; we gave them their post. 

Find out all about portable vaporizers and vape pens right here. 

Dry herb vaporizers vs. concentrate vaporizers

So, you know what kind of vaporizer you want, but what to put in it? Weighing up the pros and cons of a dry herb vaporizer versus a vaporizer that uses concentrate can help, but it’s down to personal preference. 






  • Usually gives the best flavor thanks to its terpenes 
  • Gives a gentler high so great for smoking all evening or with pals
  • Can cost more as you need to use more flower per hit than concentrate 
  • Slightly messier


  • More potent: gets you really high, really fast
  • Cost effective as you only need a tiny bit of concentrate per hit
  • Not ideal for beginners or those who like a mild high
  • Different types and strengths can be confusing


Cool, but I don’t know how to use a vape?

Parts of a vaporizer laid out


It's easy, we promise, but here's a Vaping 101 class just in case.  

What parts does a vaporizer have?

It varies from vape to vape, but some of the bits you'll find in a desktop vape are:

  • The vaporizer (duh)
  • Power cord
  • Whip
  • Valve balloon
  • Mouthpiece
  • Filling chamber 
  • Herb mill
  • Screen
  • Drip pad 
  • O-ring

Some vaporizers also come with dab pens, carb caps, and all those delicious dab rig pieces if you've chosen one for concentrate specifically. 

And how do I use a vaporizer exactly?

Grab your grinder; here we go. 

Step 1: Fill it up

If you've gone for flower, grind your herb until it's super fine and powdery and pack it into the chamber. If you have concentrate, either load your dab onto the liquid pad that comes with your vaporizer using a dabber or pop some shatter or wax into the chamber.  

Step 2: Heat it. 

Turn on your vaporizer. If it has different temperature settings, play around to see what you like best, but remember that the hotter the vaporizer, the more potent the vapor. 

Step 3: Inhale it

When it's ready (most herb vaporizers have a light that'll switch on to show you), inhale that dank, delicious vapor. It might need reheating after a few pulls. 

That's it! 

How do I clean a vaporizer?

The not-fun part. Sorry, but someone has to do it. 

Cleaning your vaporizer isn't all that bad, and it's necessary to ensure you're getting the best flavor and cleanest high. Here we go. 

Step 1: Brush it out.

We recommend brushing out your chamber after each use. It'll make cleaning easier overall. 

Step 2: Soak it 

Take all the pieces of your vaporizer apart and give them a good soak in a diluted cleaning solution – we don't recommend soaking the whip or the balloon, though, as they could dissolve in the solution. 

Step 3: Clean any debris

Using pipe cleaners, clean any leftover dirt or debris from the parts. Rinse them in clean water and allow them to dry. 

Step 4: Replace balloons and whips. 

We recommend replacing parts like balloons and whips once they get discolored and feel brittle. It's easier than attempting to clean them and will guarantee the best flavor from your vapor. 

What are the benefits of a vaporizer?

So now we know how they work and how to maintain them. Wanna know why we truly love them? Here's why we think vaporizers are the best. 

Is a vaporizer better than smoking?

We're no doctors, but typically vaporizers are seen as less harmful than smoking. Vaporizers don't rely on combustion to release THC from the cannabis flower, so no actual smoke is being produced, and therefore none of the toxins that smoke contains. Vaporizers also don't require the use of tobacco, like joints do, which immediately lessens toxins and avoids nicotine entirely. 

When it comes to the battle of vape vs. smoke, it's down to personal preference, but the benefits of vaping are undeniable. If you're looking for a cleaner high, choosing to vape marijuana is the best way to go. 

Do vaporizers leave a smell?

Most vaporizers give off a smell, but it tends to be a lot more subtle than smoking. The weed smell's strength will depend on the vaporizer and how stinky your flower is – concentrate tends to smell a little less, too.

If you ask us, that pleasing kushy aroma is one of the best parts of the experience, and getting blazed wouldn't be the same without it. 

FAQS about vaporizers 

Vape vs. smoke – which is better?

It's down to the individual, and some people love the tradition of rolling, but we think vaporizers win hands down. It's cleaner, you get a fantastic flavor, and they last a long time if you take care of them.

What types of vapes are there?

There are a few different models to choose from, but typically they fall into the categories of desk vapes, portable vapes, and vape pens. You can get herb vaporizers or concentrate vaporizers, although some allow you to use both. 

What is a dry herb vaporizer?

Herb vaporizers use cannabis flower rather than THC concentrate. Flower gives a great flavor and a gentler high. We recommend always getting a good grinder when you buy a dry herb vaporizer, as your flower needs to be ground to a fine powder.  

What kind of vape products do I need to buy?

Your vaporizer will probably come with everything you need to get started, but stocking up on a few different vape products is a good idea. You'll need cleaning solutions and tools like pipe cleaners, plus extra balloons and whips for your desktop vape. You might want to get an excellent storage solution for your vape, too. 

Where can I buy vapes online?

Online head shops have made buying vaporizers online more accessible than ever, thanks to the wide range and wealth of information out there. We've got all our favorite vaporizers for sale right here at Weedipedia, plus a team of vaping enthusiasts who are happy to help if you have any more questions.