The heating element for a vaporizer is in large part the most important part of any vaporizer. One big difference you will notice among all heating elements is the heat up time. It can range from as little as no time at all to as much as 10 to 15 minutes. The heating element can even be responsible for the taste of the vapor in a lot of cases. This makes picking the right heating element an integral part of shopping for a vaporizer so I’ve compiled some strengths and weaknesses for the different types of heating elements that are used out there today.
Aluminum Heating Element
Might as well start with the best heating element out there, which is an aluminum heating element. Really all I have to say is the Volcano Vaporizer utilizes an aluminum heating element. It is widely regarded as the best. The reason it is said to be best is it is the most accurate heating element. It adjusts to temperature changes almost immediately, resulting in your vaporizing experience staying consistent throughout. Many say that the most important part of vaporizing is having complete control over the temperature and flow of the hot air and keeping it consistent, so this is why the aluminum heating element shines above the rest. With an aluminum heating element you will get a nice, clean vapor with no alteration to the taste of the vapor.
Good Example of an Aluminum Heating Element Vaporizer: Volcano Vaporizer
Ceramic Heating Element
The ceramic heating element is by far the most common heating element used in vaporizers. This can be for production price or because it is easier to manufacture perhaps but none the less it is in most vaporizers. A lot of people say it is the cleanest and healthiest heating element a vaporizer can have but I find that to not be true. The reason being is that just because it is called “ceramic” that rarely means it is made of nothing but ceramic. In most cases ceramic actually makes up a lesser percentage of the heating element than say wire, copper, or solder. But this isn’t to say they are bad. A ceramic heating element’s performance pretty much scales with the price of the vaporizer. The better quality, or more expensive, vaporizer usually has a better ceramic heating element than a cheaper vape. Really with a ceramic heating element it can end up being hit or miss. If the heating element is good you are going to have a really great vaporizing experience, but if you have a lesser quality ceramic heating element you are going to be left with a sub-par session.
Good Example of a Ceramic Heating Element Vaporizer: Hotbox Vaporizer
Glass Heating Element
Glass heating elements are very similar to ceramic heating elements in most ways. They are, however, a bit less hit or miss. A glass heating element are actually pretty hard to come by because they aren’t utilized by a lot of vaporizers. The glass heating element can’t withstand as high a temperature as a ceramic one can but it really doesn’t come into play since you won’t ever being setting your vaporizer that high, or at least you shouldn’t be. In my experience with glass heating elements I actually found them to be more enjoyable and leave less of a distinct taste than a lot of other ceramic heating elements.
Good Example of a Glass Heating Element Vaporizer: Vapolution Vaporizer
Generally you are going to want to stay away from heating plates used as a heating element in vaporizers. Far away. Combustion of your herb while using a hot plate is very very easy to achieve and that is obviously the last thing you want. Basically a heating plate is just that, a small plate surface that heats up and vaporizes any herb placed on top of that. They are a cheap alternative found in most cheap vaporizers, so it is no surprise that they don’t deliver the best results. I took the prices of all the hot plate vaporizers and averaged them out to find what the average price for a vaporizer using this heating element would be and it came out to $58.35 so you can see they are used mostly in cheap vaporizers. When you can get them to work without burning your herb they deliver a decent vapor but still it is really hard to use it without burning the herb and is just a pain.
Good Example of a Heating Plate Vaporizer: BC Vaporizer
Another heating element that isn’t used too often is the heating gun. It really is just that, a gun/blow dryer shaped tool that is put over the herb, usually in a water pipe, to pass hot air through the herb and vaporize it. I found that heating guns generally did work pretty well and gave you a good vapor, but on the other hand they are rather cumbersome to hold, usually because of their size. Heating guns are usually pretty big and having to hold it with one hand over the herb can be just a little annoying and awkward. One strength of the heat gun though is it has pretty much no heat up time so you can get vaporizing pretty much instantly. One thing you want to keep in mind though is since it is made usually of rubber and metal these elements can find their way into your vapor a bit but really not enough to do any harm, but it can alter the taste a little bit.
Good Example of a Heating Gun Vaporizer: VripTech VripMaster
Butane Heating Element
A butane heating element is essentially any vaporizer, in most cases a portable one, that you use a lighter or torch to heat. These don’t really qualify as a heating element technically but I wanted to cover them anyway. Butane heating can be a little tricky, because finding the proper length to heat them is definitely a feel type of thing and can take a couple attempts before you get it right. The butane definitely comes through in the vapor taste. Pretty much every vape I’ve used that requires butane I have tasted the butane coming through in the vapor. But on the strong side there is zero heat up time since you’re really just flicking on a lighter. Any vape that uses a butane lighter is great for portability as well since you never have to plug it in.