Vaporization vs Combustion

Combustion vs Vaporization 

Vaporization and combustion are the main ways that people ingest their herbs. The difference between vaporization and combustion is just a couple hundred degrees, but one yields more carcinogens than the other. Not many people understand the main difference between the two process and some are actually misled. Today we will go over the main distinction between combustion and vaporization.

What is Vaporization and Combustion?

Combustion in its simplest terms, is just a type of chemical reaction. The chemical reaction is of a substance that decays into a water (H2O) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) molecules.

Vaporization is simply a phase change. The process is when a solid or liquid becomes a gas. The best way to think of this is when ice evaporates into water vapor. In this process, there is no chemical reaction - the H2O that was ice is still the same H2O in the water vapor.

Chemical Reactions

Some herbs also undergo a chemical change when vaporized. Medical cannabis is an example of this. When you are vaping medical cannabis, you actually have a pretty important chemical reaction occurring. By adding heat to THC-A, you are turning it into THC, one of the main therapeutic chemicals in the plant. This process is also known as decarboxylation.

The main part of this, in terms of vaporization, is the phase change from herbs to vapor. When you are vaporizing your herbs, you are heating it up until the active ingredients boil off of the herb. The difference between a good vaporizer and a bad one is the precision and accuracy of which it controls the heat.

When it comes to combustion, you are heating up your herbs until the active ingredients are boiled off, but you don't stop until everything within the cell walls are also ash.

The Heat

Heat is the main distinction between vaporization and combustion. Most combustion methods have very little control over the heat. With a Bic lighter, you are typically heating the herb up to 1000 - 3000 F, which results in the process of combustion. You are getting the main ingredients in your herbs, but you are not stopping until everything is ash.
At vaporization temperatures, you leave the cell walls of your herbs intact which is evident by the ABV, already been vaped leftovers. This ABV is basically your herbs with its exterior vaporized away. When you combust your materials, the left over is usually just ash because everything in the cell walls were heated until it combustion.

Difference between Vaporization and Combustion

When it comes to combustion, it is typically considered as more adulterated. The reason of this is due to the lack of temperature control. Furthermore, you have many of the common byproducts of combustion like tar (PAH), carbon monoxide, and many different carcinogens. The main reason for the adulterated smoke is due to combustion of the plant matter. Furthermore, the smoke is also hotter, dryer, and harsher on the lungs.

Vaporization is more unadulterated. By leveraging control over heat, you are able to just evaporate the main essential compounds without messing with the plant matter - which results in a cleaner and tastier experience. The process isn't yet perfected, so you still get by-products like carbon monoxide (CO), tar (PAH), and ammonia; however, you get significantly less of these products.

At the end of the day, combustion and vaporization are trying to achieve the same result - extracting the main ingredients from your herbs.