What Are the Health Risks Associated with Dry Herb Vaporizers?

Dry herb vaporizers are becoming increasingly popular these days, but they do carry some risks.

It’s important to know what health risks are associated with dry herb vaporizers so you can make an informed decision before you buy one.

But also, important to know is:

A lot of these health risks are avoidable with proper research and using the right vaping techniques.

Today, you’re also getting tips to avoid risking your health when using a dry herb vape.

1. What is a dry herb vaporizer?

A dry herb vaporizer is an electronic device that heats herbs or flower at a lower temperature than 446°F(230°C). By doing this, it releases aromatic compounds.

When it comes to cannabis these aromatic compounds are the cannabinoids and terpenes.

It heats the material at a temperature just below the point of burning, releasing the active ingredients into a vapor that can be inhaled.

With a dry herb vaporizer, you avoid the harmful byproducts of burning, like:

  • Tar, and;
  • Carbon-dioxide.

For people who use dry herb vaporizers, they sometimes have separate functions as well for different types of materials (mostly concentrates like wax and shatter).

The vaporizer itself is usually a combination of:

  • A heating element,
  • A herb chamber, which is where you put your herbs, and;
  • A vapor path, usually some sort of tube that connects the herb chamber to a mouthpiece.

Vaporizing with a dry herb vaporizer has become a popular alternative to smoking cannabis.

A popular misconception is that dry herb vaporizers are the same as e-cig type of vapes.

Dry herb vaporizers are not the same as e-cigs.

Unlike e-cigs, dry herb vaporizers are not intended to deliver nicotine or other substances found in tobacco-containing cigarettes.

Instead, they are used to inhale various substances that are found in a plant called cannabis, which is better known as marijuana.

While it generally is a healthier alternative to smoking, there are some health risks associated with dry herb vaporizers.

2. What are the health risks associated with dry herb vaporizers

Generally speaking:

For those who want to avoid the harmful side effects of smoking, using a dry herb vaporizer is a good alternative.

But that doesn’t mean dry herb vaporizers are without any risk.

The health risks of dry herb vaporizers are often poorly understood. Compared to smoking, the risks are lower, but they are not non-existent, and you should be aware of the associated risks.

After all, vaporization is not necessarily a solution to smoking; it is simply a different way to consume cannabis.

It removes some of the risks associated with smoking, such as your exposure to:

  • Most carcinogens, and;
  • Other toxic by-products.

Also, compared to edibles, the risks related to edibles are not there. Risks such as the delayed effect and overdosing, but vaping weed introduces other risks.

The most common health risks of dry herb vaporizers are related to unregulated or fake devices.

Many of the models that are available in stores are of low quality, and the materials used in their construction can literally be dangerous.

As you may know, there are several types of materials used in vaporizers: metal, ceramic, and plastic are some of the most common ones.

Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Plastic is a common material in dry herb vaporizers, and while it’s useful because it’s lightweight, it can pose health risks if heated.

Dry herb vaporizers heat your dry herbs, not just to the point that they vaporize your herbs, but they continue to heat the herbs as long as your device is on. All this time your vaporizer is radiating heat.

Especially plastic that isn’t heat-resistant can become a problem for long term users.

Here’s why:

There are a number of health risks that come with the use of plastic in a dry herb vaporizer. While many dry herb vaporizers have heating chambers constructed of metal, plastic is also used to cover a chamber’s sidewalls and the area where the herbs sit.

These are areas that get extremely hot.

The problem?

Not all plastic can withstand the heat.

Then there’s another plastic-related danger that users should be aware of:

The plastic mouthpieces that some manufacturers use in their dry herb vaporizers.

As you know, when you use a dry herb vaporizer, the vapors you inhale are from herbs, not the device itself.

However, if the mouthpiece is made of plastic that isn’t heat-resistant, the hot vapor can eventually start to break down the plastic and can have toxic chemicals leached into your vapor. Then you’re literally vaping your device’s materials.

Many plastics release toxic chemicals when heated to a certain point.

But those are not the only risks.

While dry herb vaporizers release significantly fewer toxic byproducts, when the temperature is high enough even a dry herb vaporizer starts releasing some toxic by-products.

Studies have shown that when you go above 392°F/200°C with your dry herb vaporizer, you risk inhaling benzene, which is a known carcinogen.

The bottom line:

Vaporizers for dry herbs are growing in popularity as a healthier alternative to combustion. But there are several reasons why you should always research a vaporizer before you buy it. Especially if your vaporizer has any plastic parts, make sure they’re of the heat-resistant type.

3. How to avoid these risks

This goes without saying, but always get your vaporizer from reputable brand and make sure to buy from one of their authorized dealers.

There are a lot of fake vaporizers on websites like Alibaba and Ebay. Some of these are manufactured with plastic that isn’t heat-resistant or low-quality metals around the heating element.

Avoiding health risks with dry herb vaping starts with getting a quality vaporizer.

While dry herb vaporizers are generally safe and effective, there are a few things you can do to avoid health risks while using them.

The second step to avoid health risks is to make sure you are using your vaporizer properly. While you may be tempted to jump straight into using your vaporizer, you should make sure you read the instructions first and understand how to use your vaporizer correctly.

With some vaporizers you can easily combust if you use the wrong techniques. Not every vaporizer has a precise or accurate temperature control system. With some vaporizers it’s easy to go above 446°F(230°C) and accidentally combust.

When you combust, it will be as if you’re smoking and you’ll lose all the health benefits associated with using a dry herb vaporizer.

Another important factor is to keep your vaporizer clean. Cannabis is a resinous plant.

This resin sticks to various parts of your vaporizer. But resin is acidic. When you don’t clean this acidic resin, it starts corroding your vaporizer’s materials.

If you enjoy nicotine rather than dry herb, choosing a safer method like juice head pouches would be great.

4. Vaporizers are healthier than smoking

When you smoke weed, the cannabinoids, including THC (the active ingredient responsible for getting you high) are released from the plant and inhaled.

However, burning plant matter has been shown to release a variety of toxic chemicals like:

  • Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs);
  • Tar, and;
  • Carbon-dioxide.

These chemicals have been found to cause cancer in animal and human cells, as well as damage DNA. Since vaping does not involve burning, there is significantly less risk of inhaling PAHs, tar or carbon-dioxide.

Even studies have shown that vaping cannabis allows users to experience the effects of cannabinoids more quickly and with significantly fewer toxic by-products.


If you’re still smoking your cannabis, know that dry herb vaping is a less harmful alternative.

But also:

Know that dry herb vaporizers come with their own risks.

Fortunately, today you’ve learned how to avoid most of these risks.

Sarah Jansen

Researcher & Editor. Herbonaut.com. DISCLAIMER
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1 year ago

A correction: neither cannabinoids nor terpenes are aromatic compounds. A better term for terpenes are fragrant compounds, while cannabinoids have no fragrance or aroma.

2 years ago

Would be great if you could recommend vaporizers for dry flower vaping that eliminate the risks you mentioned.

2 years ago
Reply to  Tom

Arizer Solo 1 and 2 Are both Stainless steel Ceramic Heated no plastic parts or any material that would get hot enough to release harmful stuff. Your cheapest best bet is the Solo 1 and 2, both use Glass draw pipes witch is wonderful. Storz & Bickel is another option and as far as i know storz & Bickel is Medical grade and recognized as probably the safest method to Inhale cannabis, just be prepared to spend some cash there not cheap.

8 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Completely agree with your choices. Arizer and the Volcano are the only ones I’d trust. I’ve owned both and they definitely use the best materials. People out there putting price before their health are just stupid.

2 years ago
Reply to  Tom

The Dynavap is excellent and good value – it’s manual so requires a lighter and careful use to avoid combustion, but the flavour is great and I like that it recreates the ritual of holding a joint and taking a toke, because that plays a big part in the addiction to smoking for me.

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