Before legalization, there was debate within the cannabis community about the superior way to partake, with the lead contenders being joints and blunts. Today it seems that that division has evolved to keep up with the times. Rather than ‘rillos versus papers, it’s analog versus digital; in other words, water pipe or vaporizer.?
Comparison One: The Experience
While the result is largely the same, the ritual is vastly different.
Hitting a vaporizer generally involves consuming a smaller amount of flower per hit. This makes it much easier to pace yourself if you have a lower tolerance. On the other hand, no burning sensation makes it very easy to underestimate just how much you’ve consumed until it creeps up on you, especially if you’re more accustomed to a combustion-based method of partaking.
Water pipes, also known as bongs, are less predictable. A rogue bowl deciding to torch up all at once is enough to incapacitate beginning or lower tolerance smokers. A lot of people find a water pipe’s hit more satisfying, however, as inhaling smoke is more sensory compared to vapor. Backsplash can present a problem as well, and there are few tastes as revolting as a mouthful of bong water.
Comparison Two: Health Implications
Unfortunately, there’s just not enough data here to declare a clear winner. There are a few points to consider for each method, though.
While vaporizers are theoretically better for your lungs as they deliver far less tar alongside the cannabinoids, you’re heating metal and plastic components in the process. This introduces a new potential danger. That’s not to say you’re _definitely_ inhaling toxins, but it’s a realistic enough risk to concern some smokers.
Water pipes on the other hand deliver far more tar (though much less than a joint would), but are generally made from borosilicate glass. This means they don’t carry a potential risk of inhaling heavy metals or fumes from overheated plastic and metal components.
Comparison Three: Convenience
While vaporizers at first glance seem like the clear winner here, there’s at least one situation in which the water pipe has an edge.
The small form factor of modern vaporizers makes them portable in a way that water pipes cannot compete with. If a cannabis enthusiast tends to partake away from home, they’re going to feel like the most obvious choice.
For smokers who partake exclusively at home, however, water pipes shine. They’re generally too large to misplace as easily as a vaporizer, and rather than needing to charge often, they only require a flame to function. Buying a few lighters for less than $10 to have backups on hand seems like an attractive alternative to the frustrations of a dead vaporizer if the charger turns up missing.
It seems clear that until more studies are conducted, there won’t be a clear and uncontested winner in the debate over the ultimate piece. For now, the vaporizer and water pipe both fulfill different needs for different kinds of smokers and provide variety for those who want to switch things up occasionally.