Vaporizing cannabis is like cannabis extraction – both processes can target different cannabis compounds. Just like the ideal conditions for cannabis extraction depend on the extractor’s goals, the best temperature for vaporizing cannabis depends on the compounds and respective effects that the consumer wants to derive.
General Rule of Thumb
With higher vaporization temperatures, more cannabinoids and terpenes will be volatized, which could mean greater entourage effects. This is because cannabinoids and terpenes have different boiling points, and so naturally, the surest way to catch them all is by turning the temperature above all their boiling points. Wildly ramping up the temperature, however, can be hazardous to your health.
Anything above 235oC (455°F)becomes combustion, meaning that’s when vaporizing stops and smoking begins, and all the health risks that come with it. “When that happens, you are creating the same toxic compounds as during smoking,” explains Dr. Hazekamp who studies medical cannabis as the head of research at Bedrocan BV in the Netherlands.
If you had to choose one temperature, the most universally beneficial choice would probably be 210oC (410°F), according to Dr. Hazekamp:
“In general, I would say 210°C is the best balance between efficient evaporation of terpenes and cannabinoids and smoothness of the vapor”
Anything above makes the vapor harsh; anything below and you risk missing out on the product’s properties.
CBD, one of the most coveted cannabinoid by medical users, has a boiling point between 160oC and 180oC (320 and 356°F). Even though the natural thought for medical users would then be to vaporize at 180oC, a study found that the highest yield of CBD in cannabis vapor is found at 230oC.1
As mentioned above though, getting carried away in the pursuit of the most cannabinoids can often do more harm than good.
The boiling point of THC is 157oC (315°F). So clearly, this could usually serve as a good benchmark.However, recreational use varies immensely from person-to-person and occasion-to-occasion.
Light to Medium/StrongBuzz (Mid-day)
If you want a buzz, but also don’t want to get knocked out, the range between 150oC and 190/200oC might work best, (302 and 392°F, respectively). You’ll get THC, but also any CBD to balance things out. Terpenes like myrcene – a pain reliever and a mild sedative, and limonene – an excellent mood-booster and stress-reducer, are also activated. (myrcene at 167oC, and limonene at 176oC)
Super High (End of Day)
Anything above 200oC and especially 210oC is where you are pushing the limit, although not to an unhealthy extent, especially for an experienced consumer.
Temperatures above 220oC (428°F),usually unlock THCV, a compound which dampens psychoactive effects.
For the connoisseurs that want to make sure they trigger all the flavor-packed terpenes, 180oC is the benchmark.
Vaporizers make controlling your high, both in terms of strength and type, easier than ever.
1Salowij et al, “A protocol for the delivery of cannabidiol (CBD) and combined CBD and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC) by vaporization”, BMC Pharmacology and Toxicology, 2014, 15:58.