A vaporizer is a device used to release the active ingredients of plant material or to release the therapeutic compounds. A healthier alternative to smoking, vaporizers heat the material at a much lower temperature (when compared to smoking) so that the active compounds contained in the plant material produce an aromatic vapor (instead of smoke). Rather than burning the plant material, which can produce numerous harmful by-products, this vapor contains virtually zero particulate matter and significantly reduced noxious gases. By avoiding combustion (smoke), the user is able to achieve the same desired effects without the harmful side-effects of smoking.
While the vaporizer concept has existed for decades, only recently have companies turned their attention toward vaporization technology as a commercial aromatherapy solution. For the last fifteen years, vaporizers have been manufactured and sold worldwide as the benefits of vaporization are permeating the public consciousness. As a consequence, there has been a huge upswing in companies producing vaporizer devices in a variety of forms. While there are several different classifications, the essential elements of any vaporizer are the heat source and the delivery method.
Herbal vaporizers come in an assortment of shapes and sizes, with different options for any lifestyle. Some desktop models feature a box-style design that utilize a ceramic heating element and a "whip" delivery method, with the intensity of hits regulated by the user's inhalation speed. Other plug-in units utilize an internal heating system that send air over the blends using a fan or air pump. Similarly, in the world of portable vaporizers, there are two types of activation. Some portable vapes are powered by an external rechargeable battery which the user has to push in order to create a convection current. Other portables, including all pen-style vaporizers, utilize an internal battery that activates a heating coil adjacent to the herb chamber. Whether you prefer to enjoy your materials at home or vaporize on the go, your ideal vaporizer is out there.
Vape vs. Vaporizer vs. Vaporizor
In the parlance of aromatherapy, there are several different terms to describe the delivery devices users employ to ingest their medicine. Sometimes there are regional or colloquial reasons for this, but for the most part, it's a matter of conversational preference. We get asked a lot "what is the difference between a vape and a vaporizor?" Well, the answer is both simple and nuanced at the same time.
Traditionally "vapes" are synonymous with what is commonly known as an e-cigarette or e-juice device, a small odorless pen-style vaporizer that is comprised of a battery attached to a juice chamber and mouthpiece. An honest-to-goodness "vaporizor" typically implies a device that produces warm steam for aromatherapy purposes or a heating chamber that either runs off AC or rechargeable battery, allowing the user to enjoy their herbal medicine.
Classic vaporizers are designed for sick children or adults with a cold; an example of a classic warm steam vaporizer would be the iconic Vicks Vaporizer. Then there are the loose leaf vaporizers like 7th Floor's Da Buddha and Silver Surfer vaporizers, which activate the therapeutic ingredients in plant material by heating that material to a point below combustion. You can also purchase wax vaporizers and oil vaporizers, which are designed for aromatherapy purposes when you're on the move.
So what is the difference? Really it's one of those po-tay-to/po-tah-to situations. At the end of the day, most people use the term "vape" interchangeably with "vaporizer," as both are considerably healthier than the combustion based alternative.