Ever since the great vape pen scare of 2019, I’ve been leaning more towards vaping exclusively flower.
Now I’m not going to get all fire and brimstone on you and tell you that if you use vape cartridges you will surely die.
But I will say that because of the concerns that have come to light over the past few months, I’ve decided to take my own advice to heart and have more transparency and control over what’s going into my body.
You feel like I’m trying to steal your vape pen and you’re going to troll it up in the comments section saying “it was just the VITAMIN E OIL!”
Hold your horses.
There’s more to the story.
Note: This post has been updated in 2020 – see updates at the bottom of the post.
Why I’m still just saying no to vape pens
Yes. There is some evidence that the Vitamin E oil found in many of the cartridges that were studied caused a condition called lipoid pneumonitis. And vitamin E likely caused many of the vape injuries that were reported en masse last month.
This condition is rare and only happens when you inhale fat particles. So we learned that fat + lungs = not a good idea. I’ve recently seen MCT oil used as a carrier in vape pens in dispensaries, which could potentially cause the same issues.
Plus, many cartridges contain flavoring and coloring additives that have not been tested for safety when it comes to inhalation at high temps
To make things more confusing, some of the biopsy samples from people who had vaping related injuries didn’t have lipoid pneumonitis.
Instead, their injuries were caused by “direct toxicity or tissue damage from noxious chemical fumes.”
“While we can't discount the potential role of lipids, we have not seen anything to suggest this is a problem caused by lipid accumulation in the lungs. Instead, it seems to be some kind of direct chemical injury, similar to what one might see with exposures to toxic chemical fumes, poisonous gases and toxic agents.” –Brandon Larsen, M.D., Ph.D., a surgical pathologist at Mayo Clinic Arizona, and a national expert in lung pathology [full paper here]
Some say that the process of winterization and buying a pen that doesn’t get too hot is the answer. Others say that if your oil is clean (solventless and without extreme concentrates of pesticides and fungicides), you're good to go. But trying to figure out whether or not oil is grown and processed without chemicals (depending on if you live in a place with regulations) or has been winterized (a process that most budtenders don’t even know about and one that I have to look up every time I hear about it) is nearly impossible. If your cartridge was purchased on the black market, you're way out of luck.
I don’t know about you, but I think lungs are a pretty important organ.
If there’s no way to know what to avoid and what to look for, it’s not worth guessing and hoping everything is okay.
Until we know more about the long term effects of vaping concentrates and have data on whether or not certain processes impact the health of the lungs, I’m opting for vaping good ole flower.
What’s the difference between a portable vaporizer and a vape pen?
When I first talked about the DaVinci on Instagram, one of the first questions I got was “Is this one of those vapes that can make you sick?”
Like most things cannabis, the names of some of these devices can be confusing. One thing I want to make clear is that a dry herb vaporizer like the DaVinci is not the same as a vape pen.
Vape pens are devices that use pre-loaded cartridges that contain cannabis oil (sometimes called hash oil, cannabis extract, distillate or concentrate).
Cannabis oil (not to be confused with cannabis-infused oil) is a viscus concentration of cannabinoids like THC and CBD that sometimes has terpenes and cutting agents added in to make sure the product is smooth and that it doesn’t gunk up in the vape pen.
This is why there was Vitamin E oil found in cartridges in the first place. Vitamin E might be nasty for your lungs, but it improved the vape pen experience. So it caught on.
But portable dry herb vaporizers like the ones I’m talking about using regular, everyday cannabis flower. The same bud, nug, herb, ganja or weed that you would load up into a bowl, bong or one-hitter.
This technology merges the old with the new. You get the benefits of vaporizing (portability, better flavor, no smoke, efficiency, and convenience) without any of the guesswork and safety concerns.
The Benefits of Portable Flower Vaporizers
When you vape flower in a portable vaporizer, you get all of the benefits of using a vape pen. The technology has come a long way and flower vaporizers are smaller and more convenient than ever.
With a flower vaporizer, you don’t have to worry about any lipids or harmful additives and you can control the temperature. If you’re experiencing discomfort, you can just kick the vaporizer down a notch or two to keep your lungs happy.
Another added benefit is that you can use the leftover ABV material (Already Been Vaped) to make simple ABV oils, capsules and edibles. Flower vaping and using ABV is one of the most economical ways to use cannabis.
Why I Chose a DaVinci Vaporizer
If you’ve ever read a review of mine, you know it’s going to be a good one. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t tried things I don’t like, it’s just that I don’t want to waste my time or your time writing about stuff that I don’t use and love. Ain't nobody got time for bad reviews.
When I started looking for a new portable flower vaporizer this year, it was insane how many options there were. I tried 3 popular portable vaporizers before getting to the DaVinci line of flower vapes.
Trust me, I wanted to love the other ones. But they were either too complicated, too delicate, too large, or they required a carrying case and way too many accessories to fit an active lifestyle.
I wanted a vaporizer that was simple, small, rugged and good for spontaneous hikes and movie theater parking lots (I mean… I would never, but just in case the end of the world or the end of prohibition happens, I want to be prepared).
This is what I was looking for in a vaporizer:
- Small or adjustable reservoir (I microdose and don’t want plant material sitting in the chamber forever, going to waste)
- Adjustable temperature (so I could take advantage of both high terpene and high cannabinoid concentrations at different levels)
- Very very very simple to use (if it’s too complicated, I’ll just end up using a one-hitter)
- Rechargeable with good battery life (because I will forget to charge it)
- As small as possible without sacrificing quality
When I came across the DaVinci Miqro and the DaVinci IQ, I wanted to narrow it down to which one would work best for me, so I got them both and was going to gift the one I didn’t like to a family member. It’s the trickle-down economics of vape testing.
I know. I’m generous AF.
The DaVinci Miqro vs. The DaVinci IQ
While I wish I could say that the Miqro is just a smaller version of the IQ, but it’s not that simple. It really depends on who you are and what you’re looking for.
I’ll sum it up in a few nutshells:
- If you don’t vape very often and if you microdose, the Miqro is more affordable and is the smallest (and most discreet) flower vape I’ve ever owned. It is not nearly as powerful as the IQ (think: smaller clouds) and the battery doesn’t last as long. The Miqro fits snuggly in your hand and doesn’t look absurd in your pocket. If you really want to save the cash, I'd say this is one of the best vaporizers in that price range. But I can't stress enough that it's not nearly as good as it's larger sibling.
- If you vape regularly, want a solid battery life and the smoothest most convenient way to consume cannabis on the market, the IQ is a good investment and is the best portable flower vape I’ve ever owned.
Both vaporizers are incredibly rugged and simple to use. I rarely use the billions of features that new gadgets have, so I can’t speak to some of the more tech-y aspects of the DaVinci’s. But I will say that I gave the (very small) manual a once over and have been vaping successfully ever since.
Here’s how easy these are to use:
If you are one of the tech-blessed, let us know your tips and tricks in the comments below, but if you fumble at the mention of an accompanying app, just know that you don't have to fear. Both of these can be as simple or as complex as you'd like. Player's choice.
Hey guys, Corinne's assistant, Fiona here. In Wake + Bake we have a tendency to test products, test them again, send them to team members to test some more, and when everything seems great, we keep testing anyway.
I got my hands on a DaVinci IQ in January 2020, after hearing Corinne rave about them and I found that my DaVinci heats up so hot that it burns to the touch (after only 10 minutes of being turned on, at both high and low settings) and the battery dies after only 1 hour of use, even with a full charge to start. I'm also struggling to get the vapors, needing to completely remove the parts and thoroughly scrub every bit of it in between uses. It feels like I'm sucking a marble through a straw to get any vapors.
Overall, my experience was completely different from Corinne's and I'm a little frustrated with the DaVinci IQ. That being said, Corinne has had NO issues – no heating issues, easy vapors. She also hasn't had to clean her DaVinci between uses and overall, she and her father both love the vaporizer.
We've had very mixed reviews so far. Lots of Wake + Bake readers have told us how much they love the vaporizer while others have felt that they didn't care for it. I'm not sure if the vaporizers are just not consistent when being produced or if some of us got a bad batch.
Anyway, we just wanted to be transparent here. Corinne loves the DaVinci, Fiona is frustrated with it. As with anything in the cannabis world, use what works for you ?