When people talk about using cannabis, “smoking” is usually the default verb. But, as legalization has taken root and cannabis technology has advanced, there are now countless ways to consume weed. There might not be a single best way to consume weed, but we can all agree that cannabis users are willing to try new methods of consuming cannabis.
Why? For one, you breathe in far less questionable substances. Burning marijuana and then inhaling it pulls over 111 different compounds into your lungs, including some known to be toxic. And while the jury is still out on whether marijuana can cause lung diseases, there is no doubt that less smoke in your lungs is always better.
Additionally, the different ways of consuming cannabis can bring their own benefits. Oil-based vape pens with pre-made cartridges are discreet and always ready to use. Edibles last for far longer and can bring their own unique high experience.
So while we can’t single out the best way to consume weed without smoking, we can discuss the pros and cons to find the best method for you. Consider all the ways to consume weed below to settle on which ones suit your lifestyle and offer you a healthy alternative to smoking.
Vaporizing: What Many People Consider to Be the Best Way to Consume Weed Without Smoking
While they may sound similar on paper, vaporizing is completely different than smoking weed. The easiest way to explain that difference is through numbers. Your typical lighter ignites at 400 °C and can burn your cannabis flower at 780 °C (or 1,436 °F).
Because the temperature gets so hot, the flame ends up burning a lot more than THC and the other psychoactive drugs you aim to consume. In fact, your smoking device may be completely burning off around a third of the THC before it can ever reach your lungs!
By comparison, most vaporizers burn in a temperature range of 150 °C to 220 °C. A temperature not only prevents you from burning unwanted chemicals found in the plant, but they also perfectly vaporize your THC and active compounds. As a result, you get a more intense high.
Most decent vaporizers also have a temperature function so that you can customize your experience. Lower temperatures around 155 °C tend to give a more mellow, focused and productive high. Medium temperatures amp up the buzz, while temperatures above 190 °C burn off compounds that intensify your high and can even make you sleepy or meditative.
Vaporizers also tend to work one of two ways. Conductive vapes burn a heating element that directly contacts the weed. This tends to create uneven burning and a higher chance of scalding the plant, making it the domain of cheaper devices. Convective vapes use a heating element to create hot air. This hot air is then either blown over or inhaled across the cannabis material.
Lots of variations can be found within the types of vapes available. Take a look at all the ways to consume weed through vaping below.
Tabletop vapes are compact and portable, but they can’t fit in your pocket. Many include a hose connected to the heating device that can be passed around. Others use forced air to fill a bag with vape smoke, popularized by the Volcano brand of devices.
Pros: Higher quality devices can produce lots of vape smoke quickly and are packed with features.
Cons: Hoses are a pain, so try to opt for bag-style devices. Unfortunately, these are quite pricey. Avoid knock-offs, too, since they can often break unexpectedly or introduce toxins by heating up device components.
Portable Flower Vaporizers
Portable flower vapes make the tabletop concept compact. You simply fill the device with freshly ground flower, set your desired temperature, let it heat for a moment and then begin toking.
Pros: Lightweight, pocket-ready devices can be highly portable and good for traveling. Prices also tend to be more reasonable for high-quality devices compared to tabletop setups.
Cons: You need to charge the device. Some devices use rechargeable batteries that can’t be replaced. Power-up and power-down cycles are not as efficient, burning some weed. Smell is still noticeable compared to many oil-based vape pens.
Cartridge-Based Vaporizer Pen
Cartridge-based vaporizer pens consist of a rechargeable battery, cartridge, and a vaporizer. Activating them is as simple as pushing a button. Your vapor is available instantly, so there’s no waste. The devices also have little to no odour, making them handy and discrete.
The cheapest versions are extremely affordable and work by screwing on a pre-made and pre-loaded cartridge. This arrangement is convenient, but you must buy the cartridges retail. Some models allow you to fill your own cartridge, but you must be careful about the viscosity for the device to work as intended.
Cartridges contain a concentrate prepared from a cannabis extract, usually with an added thinning agent. Distillate-based cartridges contain almost pure cannabinoids, but they may be prepared using plant trim and lack the flavor and entourage effect that comes from complete terpene profiles.
Some cartridges contain more complete extracts, bringing in terpenes that enhance flavor and high. For instance, they may have a specific flavor of a sativa strain like lemon G. Or, they may have a fruity marijuana strain flavor, like pineapple express. These complete terpenes also act as natural thinning agents, reducing the need for additives. But they tend to be much more costly.
Pros: Extremely portable and discrete, usually with no obvious odour. Batteries are inexpensive and easily replaced. Wide variety of pre-loaded cartridges generally available.
Cons: Some cheap cartridges may contain unhealthy additives, so do your research. Best-tasting cannabis cartridges with terpenes are also the most expensive.
“Dab” Rigs AKA Concentrate Vaping
As the technology for processing marijuana evolved, many laboratories were able to devise ways to extract THC and other cannabinoids while leaving plant materials behind.
The result is that you are not burning plant materials at all, creating a “cleaner” high and allowing you to more efficiently consume. For instance, a one-gram ball of wax could potentially offer the same amount of uses compared to four grams of flower.
Most methods for dabbing involve creating a superheated quartz or titanium element (a “nail”) that is then pressed upon a small bit of the extract, instantly vaporizing it. The smoke can then be pulled into the lungs like you would a regular bong. A super hot blowtorch is needed for this method, creating a potential fire hazard. You must also take care with ventilation not to breathe in the combusted gases from the torch.
Note that there are portable pens available that allow you to dab on the go. They may be substantially pricier than pre-loaded cartridge-based pens, but they eliminate the need to heat the oil rig before consuming cannabis.
Pros: Cheap and chemically pure way to consume weed. Lots of varieties of concentrates and extracts to sample.
Cons: Huge fire hazard and burn risks if the device is handled improperly.
Edibles, Tinctures and Sprays
Edibles are a tried-and-true method of consuming marijuana, and for good reason. For one, the process is absolutely discrete. No one needs to know if that candy bar you’re munching on contains anything out of the ordinary. For another, ingesting THC creates a time-release effect. While smoking can last an hour or two, max, with full effects, edibles can easily have you stoned out of your gourd for six hours or more.
On top of that, the digestive action of breaking down THC through your normal metabolism changes the drug’s effects. You may notice a more intense high with distorted visuals. You may also feel more disoriented or sleepy, almost akin to being drunk. This experience may make it difficult to engage in physical activities, but it also makes edibles one of the best ways to manage chronic pain through cannabis.
Over-consuming edibles can easily lead to an unpleasant experience, in fact. Since many preparations do not accurately measure the dosage, each time you consume edibles you are taking a gamble in terms of potency. Also, the effects take 30 to 60 minutes to onset, and some people will become overzealous and consume far too much, thinking their preparation was “weak.” Adding alcohol to the mix tends to make things worse.
Sublingual tinctures and sprays could be considered a “middle ground” between edibles and smoked/vaped cannabis. They don’t take as long to take effect, and they tend to fade more quickly as well. They can be quickly applied under the tongue and may take just 15 to 40 minutes compared to edibles. They are also typically easier to control the dosage, as well.
Many lozenges and candies also have effects closer to sprays and tinctures since they are mostly absorbed through the mouth capillaries rather than digestion.
Pros: Long-lasting, intense high. Most discrete method for consuming cannabis. Unique effects compared to smoking/vaping.
Cons: Delayed onset. Duration of being high sometimes lasts too long for comfort. Dosage can be tricky, especially with non-commercial preparations. Food can potentially spoil. Edibles are easily mistaken for regular food, so there is the chance that they could be accidentally eaten.
So, what’s the best to consume weed without smoking? That’s up to you! At the end of the day, not inhaling smoke is a great decision, but how you go about that is up to you. Many regular smokers prefer to have multiple methods at their disposal based on the situation at hand and their needs. They may, for instance, keep a cartridge pen on them during the day but enjoy edibles at night.