The Cannabist: How do marijuana vape pens work?

Illustration by Michelle Doe, The Denver Post

What is a vape pen, exactly, and how does it work? Here’s essential info (and cool trivia, too):

When cannabis is heated to temperatures between 300-450 degrees Fahrenheit, cannabinoids like psychoactive THC (and myriad other compounds) take flight, volatilizing into tiny airborne droplets that form an aerosol we call smoke or “vapor.” Vape pens accomplish this basic marijuana math using a battery-powered heating element to cook cannabis oil that is typically mixed with a substance like propylene glycol to decrease viscosity.

The first modern vape pen — crafted by Chinese pharmacist and inventor Hon Lik, whose patents are now owned and litigation-backed by Imperial Tobacco — actually vaporizes liquid into a gaseous state using high-frequency ultrasonic vibration. If that seems hard to wrap your head around, it totally is, which is one reason other vape pens just use a simple heater to approximate that patented vaporization idea.

Read the full story here.

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