For a matter so rooted in technology, there’s always plenty of debate when it comes to wax pen details. The optimum temperature for vaporizing weed concentrates is one such controversial topic. Fortunately, there seems to be a consistent range that a majority of vapers can agree upon though a host of additional factors is throwing their wrenches in the gears, from the consistency of your wax to the quality of your oil pen. That’s why it can really pay to lob a small test portion of wax into your vape pen first so that you don’t waste a lot by accidentally vaping at too high a temperature.
How Does a Wax Pen Work?
So what’s so special about the heating system of a wax vaporizer pen anyway? Unlike smoking dry herb from a pipe in which you’re applying a flame or other heat source directly to the flower, vaping uses its own specialized oven to heat the air around your concentrates (and, yes, in some cases flower) in what’s referred to as “convective heating.” The air is heated to temperatures high enough to adequately pull the THC from the material, allowing you to vape it without the toxicity of combustion. This is why everyone is always singing the praises of vaping as the healthiest means of consuming cannabis. Some vapers struggle to find that sweet spot: the precise temperature, relative to the consistency of their concentrates or herb, that makes the best use of the bounty of terpenes and cannabinoids on offer.
In Search of the Elusive Perfect Temperature
As reported by LeafScience, University of British Columbia in Vancouver emergency physician and clinical assistant professor Dr. Ian Mitchell claims that the range of 347 – 392°F is the best temperature for vaping marijuana. Many vape enthusiasts fix their wax pen settings to a temperature in this range despite the fact that it can take longer to deliver results. The slow heating allows for an evenness to the distribution of the heated air and will ensure that the wax doesn’t evaporate too quickly or show any signs of combustion.
But it quickly becomes apparent that there is no perfect number or even perfect range when determining the best temperature for vaporizing weed concentrates or dry herb. Mitchell himself acknowledged research that indicated 410°F was the optimal heat setting to achieve the most efficient extraction of both cannabinoids and terpenes while maintaining a silky vapor consistency.
How Low Can You Go?
While some vape aficionados swear by a low and slow approach, vaping at lower temperatures can have its downside. Some users even err on the low side when setting their wax pen temperatures to safeguard against accidental combustion or prevent their wax from evaporating too rapidly. Dropping below 356°F results in extracting a flavor blast of terpenes but a very minimal amount of cannabinoids…if any. The release of terpenes creates an impression that the vaporization of the herb or concentrates is at its most efficient when, in reality, the psychoactive effects will be noticeably weaker. This can be great if you’re vaping for purely medicinal reasons. But if you’re recreationally vaping, turning up the heat may result in a better time.
Higher and Higher
In 2004, a research team used a Volcano vaporizer for weed to determine which temperatures were more conducive to the extraction of cannabinoids. The data found that a temperature setting of 338°F only extracted 24% of cannabinoids whereas a heat setting of 446°F resulted in an extraction of a whopping 77% of cannabinoids. In general, lower temperatures deliver healthier hits whereas higher temperatures get you higher. So how high is too high? Meeting or exceeding temperatures of 455°F can begin to char the material, lending to the same hazards as combustion. Those milky thick hits of vapor are hiding carcinogenic benzene, albeit in smaller amounts than tobacco products. But even exceeding the relatively low temperature of 365°F with a wax pen can lead to traces of benzene in your vapor.
Armed with this knowledge, you may think the solution is pretty simple. If you want more THC, crank your wax pen up. If you want more CBD, keep it low and slow. Yet, with the boiling points of THC and CBD a mere 50°F apart, it can be difficult to find a wax vape pen with the precision for this to actually matter. For this reason, the collected research may actually be correct in the assessment that 410°F is the best temperature for a decent balance of both THC and CBD.