The Comprehensive Guide to Loose Leaf Vaporizers

TIME: 9 minutes

Learn everything you need to know about loose leaf vaporizers and how to use them with this helpful guide. In this article we discuss:

What is a loose leaf vaporizer?

Loose leaf vaporizers are also called dry herb vaporizers because they are able to vaporize unprocessed plant material including herbs, tobacco, cannabis flower and buds, or combinations thereof. 

Loose leaf vaporizers are simply a type of cannabis vaporizer. Some vaporizers, like e-liquid and vapes, are built to vape nicotine infused oil, cannabis oil, or distillate. Some vapes and vape pens are designed to also work with thicker material such as cannabis wax and concentrates. 

Loose leaf vaporizers can also be versatile. While typically designed for dry use, some vaporizers (like the Firefly 2+) can be used for both dry herb and loose leaf as well as liquid concentrates. 

Pros & cons of loose leaf vaporizers compared to vape pens

When it comes to vaporizing cannabis, what’s the difference between loose leaf vaporizers and vape pens? 

Many prefer vape pens for ease and convenience. However, vape pens can only vaporize cannabis cartridges. Loose leaf vaporizers can vaporize many dry herbs and flowers, not just cannabis. Loose leaf vaporizers can be used to enjoy endless combinations of herbs, tobacco and cannabis. For recipes and a guide on creating your own loose leaf vaporizer blends, check out our blog Best Dry Herb: Vaporizer Tips, Recipes & Blends

Some vaporizers for dry herb and loose leaf are also designed to work with liquid concentrates, such as cannabis wax, budder, and shatter. This versatility makes a combination wet and dry loose leaf vaporizer the best choice for people who enjoy smoking a variety of types of cannabis. 

nicotine free vape

Ultimately, both vape pens and herb vaporizers both have their advantages which is why many vape users own both. 

Types of loose leaf vaporizers

Vaporizers for dry herbs and loose leaf are generally categorized by versatility, portability, and heat method.

Wet vs. Dry Vaporizers

If versatility is important for a loose leaf vaporizer, look for a device that vaporizes both wet and dry cannabis. This lets users enjoy a variety of herbs and blends along with their cannabis flower, as well as any cannabis concentrate...all with the same device!

Not all loose leaf vaporizers offer this versatility, and others can be used both wet and dry if an additional adaptor kit is bought, so be sure to read product information carefully before making a purchase. 

Portable vs. Desktop

When loose leaf vaporizers were first invented, desktop was the only option for a reliable, quality and clean vape. As vape technology has advanced, all the options and advantages of desktop vaporizers are now available in sleek, portable devices such as the Firefly 2+ loose leaf vaporizer. 

Heat Method: Conduction vs. Convection

When considering what type of loose leaf vaporizer to buy, one of the most important factors to consider is the heat method. The most common options are conduction and convection. Conduction is a direct heat method, whereas convection forces superheated air around the material so that it’s vaporized by indirect heat. 

The main advantage of convection is that it does not burn and produces a cleaner vapor with a pure taste. To learn more about the differences between conduction and convection, read our article Convection vs. Conduction - What Makes the Best Vaporizer?

convection vaporizer

Convection is also more efficient for quickly heating and cooling during a session, which means less cannabis is wasted between smoking. For more information on how heat methods can affect vaporizing, read our blog Heat Matters: How Heating Cannabis Determines What You Get Out of It

What can be used in a loose leaf vaporizer?

The term “loose leaf vaporizer” means that the vape device is made to use with dried loose leaf plant material. These vaporizers are also called “dry herb vaporizers.” Any smoking plant or herb can be used in a loose leaf vaporizer, including cannabis, tobacco, and a myriad of herb varieties. 

The best vaporizers for cannabis flower

How to Use Herbs in a Vaporizer

A variety of herbs can be used in a loose leaf vaporizer. Vaporizing herbs allows absorption of herbal compounds through the lungs and can offer certain benefits, such as more complete absorption and faster effects. 

Using a loose leaf vaporizer for herbs and herb blends also offers an enjoyable aromatic experience. Some even use herbs in a loose leaf vaporizer primarily for aromatherapy. 

Herbal blends can be crafted to combine specific effects, from an energizing buzz to a relaxing calm,  with preferred flavors and aromas. For a list of 75 of the most popular herbs for loose leaf vaporizers, the best recipes for vaporizers, and how to create your own herb blends, read our article Best Dry Herb: Vaporizer Tips, Recipes & Blends.

How to Use Tobacco In A Loose Leaf Vaporizer

Tobacco is a popular choice for loose leaf vaporizers because vaporizing allows users to enjoy tobacco without the dangerous effects of smoking. To use tobacco in a loose leaf vaporizer, simply add to the bowl the same as any dried herb or cannabis, set the temperature, and vape. 

Different compounds in plants, for herbs, tobacco, and marijuana, vaporize at different temperatures. (For more details about finding the perfect vaping temperature, read our blog Intro to Vaping) For tobacco, the best temperature for smoking in a loose leaf vaporizer is between 257°F to 392°F. This is why an adjustable temperature is a key feature for enjoying a variety of products in a loose leaf vaporizer. 

how to vape

How to Use Cannabis In A Loose Leaf Vaporizer

Of all the dry herbs, cannabis is the most commonly used in a loose leaf vaporizer. Using a vape to smoke marijuana allows users to enjoy all the benefits of whole cannabis without the negative effects of smoking. 

Loose leaf vaporizers are the easiest way to enjoy cannabis in a healthy way. Vaporizers are less expensive and easier to use than intricate (and expensive) bongs and rigs. Portable versions are even more convenient and offer discreet consumption even on the go.  

Here’s an easy step-by-step guide to using a loose leaf vaporizer with cannabis:

    1. Pack. To use cannabis in a loose leaf vaporizer, simply pack the bowl with finely ground cannabis flower or buds. Make sure the bowl isn’t packed too tightly; it’s important to leave enough space for proper airflow in a loose leaf vaporizer. 
    2. Set. Pick the right temp or temp range for your session. Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds in cannabis that interact with the body and create the “high” feeling. Terpenes are essential oils in cannabis that enhance effects of cannabinoids and give flavor and aromas. Vape temps influence which cannabinoids and terpenes are felt the most, so choose a temperature that maximizes your strain and session. See image above.
    3. Enjoy. Now take a deep inhale and enjoy.

What’s the difference between loose leaf vaporizer brands?

Are there any real differences between vaporizer brands? The answer is yes! While vaporizers may share similar features, not all vaporizers are the same and simply a different design look, or a different price. 

Heating methods are a major point of difference between portable vaporizers. The best loose leaf vaporizers use convection only heating, while others use conduction or a combination of both. Vaporizers that use a combination often use the direct heat of combustion to more quickly heat up, then convection takes over for the duration of the session. 

For a detailed discussion of why convection is considered the superior heating method for vaping, check out our blog Convection vs. Conduction - What Makes the Best Vaporizer?

vaporizer comparison

Where are loose leaf vaporizers available?

In many countries, tobacco and marijuana devices are highly regulated. In North America, regulations can even vary from state to state. However, since loose leaf vaporizers are not strictly used for regulated substances but are also often used for herbs and aromatherapy, loose leaf vaporizers can be purchased online with shipping to nearly all corners of the globe. 

Get a loose leaf vaporizer in North America, Latin America, the UK, Asia...anywhere...by searching for an online shop that ships to your country. Check out Firefly’s online shop to get a loose leaf vaporizer sent anywhere!

buy firefly vape

How to buy a loose leaf vaporizer

Here’s answers to the most common questions and tips for making sure you buy the best loose leaf vaporizer. 

Beware of Counterfeit Vaporizers

When shopping for a loose leaf vaporizer, it’s important to beware of counterfeits. Some companies have shadily copied well known name brands in their packaging, branding, and social media in the hopes of selling an inferior device at a higher price. Counterfeit vaporizers are not made with the same technology or quality materials as the original. Inferior materials, such as poor grade ceramic elements or cheap metal components not only affect the vape experience and longevity of the device, but they can also be dangerous. Low grade metals and materials in vape devices can easily degrade with heat and add metal particles to the vapor. Besides taking away from the tasty cannabis buds being vaporized, polluted vapor is harsh on the lungs. Counterfeit loose herb vaporizers are also not subject to the same testing required by legitimate vape manufacturers. To avoid these problems and ensure a safe and enjoyable vape session, only purchase a loose leaf vaporizer from authorized retailers. 

Should I Buy a Used Vaporizer?

Similar issues arise when considering whether or not to buy a used vaporizer. While it may be tempting to save on an expensive vaporizer, it can be difficult to verify that a used vaporizer is not a counterfeit or defective. If after research a loose leaf vaporizer is determined to be authentic and in good working order, another point to consider is whether the vaporizer is warrantied by the manufacturer, and if buying it used nullifies the warranty.

Is It Okay to Buy a Clearance Vaporizer?

What about clearance loose leaf vaporizers? If the sale is through an authorized and reputable retailer, then there’s no reason to be wary of a clearance vaporizer. However, be sure to check out the return policy and if any guarantee is offered in case the vape device happens to be faulty. A cheap vaporizer isn’t a good deal if it doesn’t work. 

What About Off-Brand Vapes?

Caution is also needed when considering unknown brands. Similar to the dangers of buying counterfeit vape devices, “off brand” vaporizers may be made with low quality materials that are not able to withstand the heat and use of vaporizing. The resulting product may quickly break down and stop working, or pollute the vapor with particles from metal components. Some companies have built a business on selling a new brand of vape device and then quickly disappearing, only to resurface again to sell the same low quality vape device under a new name. To avoid the hassles of a dysfunctional device that cannot be returned, research brands and only purchase a loose leaf vaporizer from authorized stores with a reputation for quality products and service. 

Real User Reviews of Firefly 2+ Vaporizer

“Amazing experience. This vape really brings out an incredible flavor. It’s so easy to use, easy to clean, and easy to store. I got the Oak color and it looks and feels really high quality.”

“Best of the portable vapes. Love the firefly 2+. I had started with a Pax 3 and Davinci IQ. The firefly gives much better vapor. It is cooler than a water pipe. Often times you can’t even tell you are breathing in vapor until the end of the draw. You can truly taste the flower. Much easier to clean than the other two. I would definitely recommend it.”

How to Find Loose Leaf Vaporizer for Product Reviews

An important part of research when shopping for a loose leaf vaporizer is reading consumer reviews. Look for honest reviews from real users. While it’s a common practice for a company to pay or sponsor a vape influencer or review to try their product, make sure that the review is only paid to take the time to try the product and not to give a pitch; otherwise, the review is essentially the same as a paid commercial. 

Cannabis and loose leaf vaporizer reviews can be found on YouTube and other social media, most notably Reddit with its long-standing vape community. One may also find helpful advice on which vaporizer to choose from budtenders at their local dispensary or vape shop. Budtenders can help compare and contrast various vaporizer features and help match one to the vape device that best suits their needs. 

Marijuana magazines and lifestyle journals also publish vaporizer reviews and recommendations. High Times, Vaping Daily, and Esquire have included the Firefly 2+ as one the best loose leaf vaporizers, including ranking the Firefly among the 14 best vaporizers to buy in 2021. 

“The Firefly 2+ offers superb flavor.” - Vaping Daily

“The Firefly 2+ has a powerful oven that produces clean and tasty vapor...Rank[s] high on any list of the best dry herb vaporizers. ” - High Times Magazine

“The Firefly is the ‘coolest’ cool kid of vapes.” Esquire