Sat | Oct 19, 2019

Weed Ed | From steamas to vapes

Published:Monday | March 18, 2019 | 12:13 AM

Long before marijuana vaporisers were touted as a healthier way to consume cannabis instead of smoking, the steam chalice has been an indigenous consumption method dating back to the 1960s.

The practice of steaming ganja was established by Rastafarians during ceremonial rituals as an ideal way to prepare the body and the mind for divine communion. A steam chalice employs convection heating, which means the fire doesn’t make contact with the herb. Instead, hot air passes through the plant matter, extracting the active compounds (cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids), which are then inhaled by the user.

Medical marijuana patients are advised against smoking because of potentially harmful by-products when cannabis is burnt. While studies have shown that smoking ganja has no carcinogenic effect on the lungs, it is believed to be more likely to cause respiratory problems because of the combustion.

Cannabinoids begin to vaporise at about 285°F, while the ganja flower begins to combust around 392°F. The sweet spot for vaporisation is around 338°F.

Comparatively, a ganja spliff can burn at about 2,000°F, resulting in the user inhaling potential carcinogens, tar, and butane from the lighter fluid, along with the intended cannabinoids.

Comparable Effects

Battery-powered vaporisers give consumers control over how they consume cannabis with precise heat settings. Lower temperatures offer a more flavourful experience from the terpenes (which have a boiling point of around 132°F), while higher temperatures allow for the inhalation of more cannabinoids with each draw.

A study performed by researchers at Leiden University found that the effects of using a vaporiser are “comparable to the smoking of cannabis, while avoiding the respiratory disadvantages of smoking”, according to the US-based National Center for Biotechnology Information.

This means that vapour will have a much higher percentage of desired cannabinoids and terpenes when compared to smoke.

The coconut charcoal used to create fire in a steam chalice is an ideal, slow-burning medium that requires a steady and gentle sip for optimal use. The extra breath control required to use a steam chalice is believed to bring complementary benefits of relaxation and a settled mind.

Vaporisers, in their current iteration, first appeared on the scene in the mid-1990s. Considered the benchmark of cannabis vaporisers, the Volcano, which was used in the aforementioned study, has been accepted as the ideal consumption method for medical marijuana patients.

While the steam chalice has remained pretty much unchanged over the decades, vaporisers have gone though a series of evolutions with more options available than ever. If the ritual of a steam chalice is too time-consuming and smoking is not your thing, vaporisers, in both desktop and handheld units, are a great option to medicate.