Vaporizer vapor vs smoke
Vapor is a steam of active herbal ingredients, produced by heating i.e. thc in herb to the point of its vaporization. During vaporization combustion and burning doesn't happen and there is no smoke. Thus vapor contains only warm air and vaporized plant active ingredients.
Smoke is an effect of combustion and burning of plant material i.e. buds and besides the desired active ingredients contains harmfull, toxic tars and gases.
Straight and simple when it comes to modern, efficient vaporizers the difference between vapor and smoke is huge.
Since the invention of electric vaporizer in 1924 by Kaz, vaporizers got better every year. A 1996 study of vaporizers vs bongs showed that even the simplest vaporizers show 30% improvement in reducing tars in smoke than any other filtering method including water bongs, pipes and joints. However there were still at least ten times more tars in vapor than active ingredients in those old vaporizer models.
The latest 2006 research by scientists at Leiden University, tested a high end Volcano vaporizer with herbal buds. The results are very encouraging: "Our results show that with the Volcano a safe and effective herbal delivery system seems to be available to patients. The final pulmonal uptake of active ingredients is comparable to the smoking of them, while avoiding the respiratory disadvantages of smoking." It simply means that higher amount of active ingredients of crude flower tops was transferred to vapor, with very little tars and toxins.
Volcano vaporizer balloon filled with marijuana vapor.
Analysis of the vapor from the Volcano found that it delivered 36% - 61% of the active ingredients in the sample - a more recent study using pure herbal preparations achieved a maximum of 54% . For comparison, studies of herb cigarettes smoked via a smoking machine under varying conditions of puff duration and air speed found very similar efficiencies of 34% to 61%. Consequently, users can achieve the desired effect with a similar amount of material as when smoking.
These positive results are in contrast to previous studies into vaporizers which found less encouraging results, leading one to the conclusion that the effectiveness of vaporization varies greatly from vaporizer to vaporizer. See vaporizer performance factors for possible causes of variation.
Although vaporizers produce cleaner vapors than smoking, it does not completely eliminate respiratory irritation. A puff of strong vaporized herb will occasionally cause coughing. This however, could be due to active ingredients themselves, which are known to irritate the bronchial tract.