Vaporization vs. Combustion
Today's modern world has ushered in a new era of choice for cannabis consumption, what was once limited to flower has expanded to vaping, eating, and even drinking THC. With so many choices, how does one decide how to get high?
A common misconception about cannabis, is the difference between THC and THCA. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive cannabinoid that's responsible for the high associated with marijuana. Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA) is the non-psychoactive form of THC and the most produced cannabinoid on a cannabis plant. If THCA is consumed in any form you won't feel the high because it's not in the active form (THC) that our body needs for absorption. This is why you can't get high simply from eating flower or mixing raw flower into your edibles. In order to activate, THCA needs to lose the acidic component that's attached to the THC molecule through a process called decarboxylation, which is a fancy term for a heating process, generally either combustion or vaporization.
When someone puts a lighter to a joint or a bowl of flower, they are burning the THCA molecule making it bioavailable to us as THC via combustion. Combustion is defined as the "rapid chemical combination of a substance with oxygen, involving the production of heat and light". This process is highly efficient in converting THCA to THC, however, this process does not come without fault or risk. Smoking a bowl or a joint requires a lighter that burns at an average of about 3500F, this far exceeds the temperature needed to activate the molecule (350-475 F). When any chemical is exposed to extreme temperatures it tends to denature or destroy the product, creating something new in its place called a degradant. Unfortunately for us, cannabinoids and terpenes are relatively sensitive molecules, in the process of smoking (via a lighter), some cannabinoids are converted to degradation products that tend to be carcinogens or harmful/potentially harmful constituents (HPHCs).
Vaporizing is one of the newest forms of consumption with the first electronic vape pen hitting US soil in 2006. It's unclear when vaporizers were utilized with THC, but it's apparent the impact it's had on the industry. The practical appeal of cartridges is evident, it's easy, convenient, clean, tasty, and cost effective making it the second most sought after product in dispensaries (3). Vaporizing weed is different because it heats cannabis instead of burning it. In today's modern world, people can vape flower or concentrate through the use of an electric rig or cannabis cartridge. Instead of being exposed to an open flame, THCA is converted to THC on a heating element like a glass surface or oven like chamber. New research suggests that vaporizing cannabis "can reduce the emission of carbon monoxide, chronic respiratory symptoms, and exposure to several toxins" (2).
Vuber Technologies has a mantra that is indicative of the business as a whole and that is "venture higher". Ever since the company was established in 2014, Vuber has been a leading innovator in new vaping technology. By 2017 they developed a one of a kind smart battery called The Pulse that revolutionized the vaping community by patenting a set of unique "never burn" technologies. Instead of a battery providing constant voltage, The Pulse reads the resistance of the cartridge and adjusts the settings for optimal use. Generally, cartridges will start at a universally loved 3.2V-3.4V (depending on resistance), as the user inhales, the voltage is reduced by .2V, this is known as draw down technology. These technologies used in conjunction have created the best battery on the market.
While the battery ensures the perfect delivery system, Vuber's patented quartz core technology is responsible for the clean distinct taste of cannabis that's associated with our unique cartridges. In the cannabis community, quartz is a highly coveted material that is strongly preferred over any other medium. Consumers report that quartz cartridges have a cleaner taste and smoother hit throughout the cartridges life. It is believed that the burnt taste and respiratory symptoms associated with vaping stems from the degradant products created in the vaporization process. When battery temperatures aren't controlled, the cartridge exceeds the heating needed to vaporize and instead, the cannabinoids combust into unwanted products. One study conducted by the Royal Society of Chemistry found various HPHCs that were created from terpenes/cannabinoids during the vaping process(4). Amongst these degradants was isoprene, a volatile hydrocarbon that has been labeled as a cancer and reproductive hazard by OSHA (5). Quartz (SiO2) forms a more stable crystalline structure as opposed to various ceramic compositions. This stability could significantly decrease the amount of degradant products created, therefore reducing the reported burnt taste that ceramic cartridges are known to produce.
Smoking will never be good for you, however, vaporizing shows promise as a safer alternative to combustion like joints or a bong. To better understand the risks and benefits of cannabis vapor, Vuber has funded a research program that aims to create the safest vaporizer available. Ongoing research and development will shape the design and functionality of our products to give our consumers the best on the market.
Authored by Jenna Cardenas
(2) Chaiton, Michael, et al. “Are Vaporizers a Lower-Risk Alternative to Smoking Cannabis?” Canadian Journal of Public Health = Revue Canadienne de Sante Publique, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 2022, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8975973/.
(3) “Top Selling Cannabis Products: Is Flower Still King?” Flowhub, flowhub.com/learn/top-selling-cannabis-products. Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.
(4) Meehan-Atrash, Jiries, et al. “The Influence of Terpenes on the Release of Volatile Organic Compounds and Active Ingredients to Cannabis Vaping Aerosols.” RSC Advances, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 23 Mar. 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8695911/.
(5) Right to Know Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet - the Official Web Site ..., nj.gov/health/eoh/rtkweb/documents/fs/1069.pdf. Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.