On the label of any bottle of liquor, you’ll find the phrase “drink responsibly” reminding you to, well, do exactly that. And while you won’t find a similar admonition on a pack of rolling papers or that fancy new bong, you might be surprised to find that there’s a safer way to take “America’s drug of choice.” Vaporizers are gaining popularity among pot users, and with good reason: many say they provide a better smoke all-around.

What’s a vaporizer? It’s a device that, instead of burning buds, heats them to the right temperature–between 356° and 392° F. This causes the cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, to evaporate and collect in a chamber or bag in vapor form rather than as smoke. The cannabis is heated by either conduction or convection, depending on the vaporizer you get. High Times explains each method in the overview of their “Great Vape Debate” page.

Vapor has a few things over smoke. For one, it doesn’t have the harsh heat of smoke, which is part of the reason you have to cough when you take a massive bong rip. Vapor also lacks toxins that damage your respiratory system. Whether you’re smoking cannabis, tobacco, or lettuce, you’re inhaling harmful compounds that can cause a variety of respiratory problems, including bronchitis and respiratory disease.

Vaporizers aren’t just a safer way to get high. Many smokers who made the switch say that vaporizers have benefits like making your weed taste better and making it last longer. The jury’s still out on taste–some stoners don’t notice the difference; others say it tastes worse–but there’s evidence to suggest that vaporizing is a more efficient way of blazing up.

Willie Nelson, Stoner King du jour, endorses the use of vaporizers–he even said so on national television. As more cannabis fans learn about the joy of vaporizing, it’s becoming a popular way to “smoke.” Which model should you go with? Check out High Times’ “The Great Vape Debate” for quick reviews of a few big names, like the well-known and expensive Volcano or the stealthier Vapolution.

Austin Wulf is a freelance writer and cannabis activist. Read more of his thoughts on the pro-cannabis movement here.

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