Vaping cannabis has exploded in popularity. This modern alternative to smoking has gained traction as a potentially healthier option. The lack of combustion and carcinogenic substances makes vaping easier on the lungs. Plus, lower temperatures help to preserve the complex flavor of each strain.
Temperature control is the key to unlocking whatever effects a strain can offer. A strain that is high in CBD, for example, must be heated to the compound’s boiling point of 356 degrees Fahrenheit if you are to reap its benefits. Likewise, the relaxing terpene linalool is not unleashed until you hit 388 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperature can also determine a strain’s intensity; higher temperatures typically exaggerate effects while lower temperatures offer a more gentle, mellow experience.
Why temperature matters for vaping
The cannabis plant is an organic chemical factory. Its flowers produce small, mushroom-shaped outgrowths called trichomes. These tiny structures pump out resin loaded with psychoactive and medicinal molecules.
Among this repertoire are over 100 cannabinoids, more than 100 terpenes, and numerous flavonoids. By modifying vaporization temperature, cannabis users can optimize the concentration of specific molecules in each hit.
Science is starting to pay more attention to other major and minor cannabinoids. Research has already confirmed that CBG (cannabigerol) offers painkilling and anti-inflammatory effects. THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin) can help to suppress the effects of THC and may combat pain and inflammation. CBC (cannabichromene) appears to reduce swelling and preserve mammalian brain cells. As science progresses, more data will surely begin to surface.
Ideal temperature ranges for cannabis
Cannabis users can expect different psychoactive effects at different temperature ranges. This will vary depending on the strain and the individual. Below is a temperature guideline for the most common compounds in cannabis:
Low: 246–320 degrees Fahrenheit
Vaping within this temperature range will liberate THC. This bracket will also target numerous terpenes that add pleasant tastes and therapeutic effects.
- THC: 314 degrees Fahrenheit: THC is the main psychotropic component in cannabis. The cannabinoid penetrates the blood-brain barrier and activates CB1 receptors in the central nervous system. THC alters the firing pattern of neurons and catalyzes an acute rise in the neurotransmitter dopamine. This results in euphoria, happiness, and increased appetite. High levels of THC can induce a profound altered state of consciousness that causes anxiety in some users.
- Caryophyllene: 246 degrees Fahrenheit: Caryophyllene is a dominant terpene within most cannabis strains. The molecule is also referred to as a dietary cannabinoid due to its presence within food sources such as black pepper, and its action on the CB2 receptor. Caryophyllene may help to manage pain by reducing inflammation.
- beta-Sitosterol: 273 degrees Fahrenheit: beta-Sitosterol is one of several flavonoids found within cannabis. The molecule has demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity.
- alpha-Pinene: 312 degrees Fahrenheit: alpha-Pinene adds delicious tastes of pine and rosemary. The terpene is associated with anti-anxiety effects and may help to prevent the adverse effects of THC, such as short-term memory impairment. Pinene may also synergize with THC to increase airflow to the lungs.
Low-Medium: 320–356 degrees Fahrenheit
Vaping within this temperature range invites some extremely interesting molecules to the mix. If you are vaping high-CBD flower, this is the optimal range to release the molecule alongside key terpenes. If you are vaping high-THC flower, you will unleash a lot more terpenes at this temperature.
- CBD: 356 degrees Fahrenheit: CBD induces a relaxing and calming effect, but it is not psychoactive in the same sense as THC. Instead, CBD is known to counteract some of the effects of THC by temporarily blocking CB1 receptors. CBD is also believed to act via numerous other molecular pathways to decrease inflammation and impart antioxidant and neuroprotective effects.
- Myrcene: 334 degrees Fahrenheit: Myrcene is the most common terpene within cannabis, and it becomes available within this temperature bracket. The molecule provides tastes of earthiness, grapes, and spice. Myrcene exerts a slightly sedating effect and is the chemical behind the relaxing properties of most indica strains.
- Delta-8-THC: 352 degrees Fahrenheit: Delta-8-THC adds a subtle psychoactive kick to this temperature bracket. It is an analog of THC that binds to CB1 receptors to produce anti-nausea, anti-anxiety, appetite-stimulating, painkilling, and neuroprotective effects. However, delta-8-THC only occurs in cannabis in very small amounts. Additionally, it has a lower psychoactive potency than its more common counterpart.
- Cineole: 348 degrees Fahrenheit: Cineole is a fascinating terpene. It is one of the main components of eucalyptus, yet is quite rare in modern-day cannabis strains. The terpene has demonstrated anti-viral, painkilling, anti-fungal, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory effects. Cineole also increases cerebral blood flow.
- Limonene: 350 degrees Fahrenheit: Limonene infuses cannabis vapor with hints of citrus. The molecule makes the effects of THC more cerebral and euphoric. In animal research, limonene reduced anxiety and boosted serotonin levels in the prefrontal cortex, as well as dopamine levels in the hippocampus.
- p-Cymene: 350 degrees Fahrenheit: p-Cymene is found in cumin and thyme. It contributes a sweet and citrusy aroma and has been shown in animal studies to display a sedating effect.
- Apigenin: 352 degrees Fahrenheit: Apigenin is another flavonoid found in the cannabis plant. This molecule exerts anti-anxiety effects and is the key anxiolytic agent found in chamomile flowers. Impressively, it acts on the same receptors as benzodiazepines yet does not cause the side effects of amnesia or sedation. Human clinical trials examining the effect of apigenin on disease prevention have not been conducted although there is considerable potential for apigenin to be developed as a cancer chemopreventive agent.
Medium-High: 356-390 degrees Fahrenheit
This temperature range adds further therapeutic properties to cannabis vapor. The addition of a particular cannabinoid also adds a sedating and relaxing edge.
- CBN: 365 degrees Fahrenheit: CBN (cannabinol) was the first cannabinoid isolated from cannabis. Unlike other cannabinoids, it is not made in the plant via enzymatic reactions. Instead, CBN results from the degradation of THC. CBN will add an element of sedation to the high, alongside anti-inflammatory effects. CBN also shows promise as an anticonvulsant and may reduce the symptoms of psoriasis.
- Cannflavin A: 356 degrees Fahrenheit: Cannflavin A is a flavonoid found in larger quantities within cannabis leaves. The molecule possesses impressive anti-inflammatory properties.
- Linalool: 388 degrees Fahrenheit: Linalool adds a potent floral aroma to many cannabis cultivars, with hints of lavender and citrus. The terpene is responsible for several of the potential therapeutic properties of cannabis. The molecule possesses antidepressant, anti-anxiety, and immunopotentiation properties; directly enhancing several immune functions.
High: 390 degrees Fahrenheit and above
This is the high end of the temperature spectrum. Here, further beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes are unlocked. However, things are starting to get hot. This is where vaping becomes more like smoking and some detrimental molecules turn into gases. Although this temperature range is thought to release all of the beneficial compounds within cannabis flowers, it is a fine balance between optimal vaporization and releasing harmful chemicals.
- Benzene: 392–689 degrees Fahrenheit: While most of the aforementioned molecules are seen as beneficial, benzene is not one of those. This carcinogen is one reason many cannabis users are abandoning smoking. The carcinogenic properties of benzene have long been recognized; an increased risk of leukemia has been shown in people exposed to high levels of benzene. Although benzene has a boiling point of 176 degrees Fahrenheit, some vape models have been proven to eliminate the chemical up to temperatures of 392 degrees Fahrenheit. So far, there is no confirmed figure of the vaporization point of benzene in cannabis consumption. Some reports suggest the number could be as high as 689 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Terpineol: 424 degrees Fahrenheit: Terpineol provides a subtle scent of lilac and commonly appears in perfumes and cosmetics. The terpene has demonstrated multiple therapeutic effects, including anti-malarial, antibiotic, antioxidant, and sedative properties.
- THCV: 428 degrees Fahrenheit: THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin) evaporates at higher temperatures. This cannabinoid is an analog of THC and occurs in minor concentrations. However, cultivars high in the cannabinoid do exist. THCV works to activate and block CB1 receptors. The cannabinoid is associated with anticonvulsant properties and has shown the ability to combat pain and inflammation. THCV may also assist with weight loss and fat metabolism.
- Pulegone: 435 degrees Fahrenheit: Pulegone generates a pleasant odor of peppermint and camphor. Heating your vape to these temperatures might be worth it to access this terpene. The molecule exerts memory-boosting and sedating effects. Some evidence also suggests that pulegone can combat fevers.
- Quercetin: 482 degrees Fahrenheit: Quercetin is a cannabis flavonoid with an antioxidant potency that rivals that of vitamin C. The molecule also possesses antiviral and antineoplastic effects.