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How Does Vaping Weed Smell?

Man vaping weed

Vaporizing devices first began their journey as a healthier alternative to smoking for medical users, most notably cancer patients who were using cannabis as an aid to their already-existing therapies.

Sturdy desktop vapes like the Volcano offered a safer way for weakened patients to consume cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis buds, and the rest of the world soon caught on.

Nowadays vaporizers are insanely popular and come in all shapes and sizes, allowing devotees to indulge in weed without the toxic emissions of tar and carbon monoxide, which are closely tied with smoking and combustion.

But how is vaping different from smoking smell-wise?

Why does vaping weed smell different?

Leonardo di Caprio vaping
Image source: mashable.com

The main reason why vaping smells different is because there’s no combustion happening.

When we light a joint on fire, the temperature of the ember is a lot higher than the temperatures that vaporizers produce.

A great way to compare these two methods is that a joint functions as a furnace or an incinerator, while vaporizers are much more like heating ovens.

The combustion of cannabis releases smoke, which drastically worsens the emitted smell.

Unlike with smoking, the heat from vaping doesn’t burn the weed, and instead of smoke, cannabinoid/terpene-infused vapor is produced.

Another crucial aspect why vaping smells so different is because vaping is much more terpene-friendly.

What does vaping weed smell like?

Nose vaping
Image source: denverpost.com

Each strain of weed has a great number of terpenes in it, and the smell of the vapor is a mixture of those terpenes combined.

Typically there’s only one or two dominant terpenes in a particular strain of cannabis, while the other terpenes are found in much smaller quantities.

The most abundant terpenes in most strains of weed are:

  • Myrcene (earthy/musky smell, grape-like aroma)
  • Limonene (citrusy smell and taste) 
  • Linalool (spicy and floral), 
  • Caryophyllene (peppery and spicy)
  • Alpha-pinene and beta-pinene (smells like a pine tree).

Most terpenes are medicinally beneficial, and they work in cohort with cannabinoids to provide maximal medicinal impact. This synergic cooperation is known as the entourage effect.

Terpenes are also very volatile and delicate compounds, meaning they can easily be destroyed by heat.

Each terpene has its own boiling point, which is a temperature that needs to be reached (but not exceeded), in order for that particular terpene to become activated.

Here are the boiling points of the most prominent terpenes:

  • Myrcene – 168 ̊C / 334 ̊F
  • Limonene – 176 ̊C / 349 ̊F
  • Linalool – 198 ̊C / 388 ̊F
  • Caryophyllene -160 ̊C / 320 ̊F
  • Alpha-pinene – 155 ̊C / 311 ̊F
  • Beta-pinene – 155 ̊C / 311 ̊F

Heat that exceeds the boiling point of a given terpene will incinerate that particular terpene, and its fragrance and aroma will be lost.

Because of this vaporizers are much more terpene-friendly, as their temperatures are lower than an open flame.

But even with the use of vaporizer excess heat can damage the terpenes, because each of them has their own unique boiling point.

This is why vaporizers that have a dynamic convection heating system (such as the Firefly 2) offer the best possible vaping experience as far as smell and aroma go.

These vaporizers allow the user to set a “heating path”, where the device gradually goes through a range of several preset temperatures.

This means that each terpene will reach its boiling point without incineration, which allows the user to exploit every aroma and smell of that particular strain.

How much does vaping weed smell?

Compared to smoke, weed vapor smells better fragrance-wise, simply because less terpenes are incinerated by excess heat.

The smell of the vapor greatly depends on what terpenes the strain you’re using has, and how well you vaporize it.

As previously mentioned the boiling point of each terpene is different, so the vaporization temperatures have to be precisely set in order to fully take advantage of your weed.

Since vaporization doesn’t burn the weed, vapor is far less harsh compared to smoke.

Vapor also lingers in the air for a shorter period of time compared to smoke, as it evaporates quicker.


Since the vape-pen market is heavily unregulated and can still be considered somewhat risky, it’s vital to only buy products from well-established brands in order to safely enjoy cannabis oils.

Vaporizing dry cannabis buds is still the number one option if you’re looking to maximize flavor and aroma, since there are so many designer strains available for purchase.

Weed concentrates are also a sound choice, but since most of them require sophisticated and expensive equipment to be made, they come at a much heftier price compared to nugs.

About the author
Marco Medic

A passionate cannabis enthusiast, Marco mainly writes about the latest research on cannabis use in health.

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