A dry herb vaporizer is great because it extracts the beneficial compounds from your herbs using heat alone – and without burning the herbs. Although enjoying your herbs without smoking them is undeniably a wonderful experience, the downside is that vaping also extracts sticky, wet resins that collect in the vaporizer’s oven, vapor path and mouthpiece. Those resins can mask the delicate flavors of your expensive herbs – and if the resin layer becomes thick enough, it can block airflow and make vaping difficult. Cleaning your dry herb vaporizer will therefore need to be a major part of your vaping routine. To maintain the best possible experience, you’ll want to clean your vaporizer about once per week.
Every vaporizer has its own quirks, so you’ll want to review your device’s manual before you clean your vaporizer for the first time. In this article, though, we’ll give you some general vaporizer cleaning tips that apply to most devices.
NOTE: Cleaning a dry herb vaporizer may require several hours of soaking. If you don’t have a backup vaporizer that you can use, begin this process when you’re done vaping for the day.
Cleaning Your Dry Herb Vaporizer: Things You’ll Need
- Rubbing alcohol or strong drinkable alcohol such as Everclear (see note below)
- Paper towels
- Cotton swabs
- Pipe cleaners
Choosing the Best Alcohol for Vaporizer Cleaning
Your dry herb vaporizer most likely has removable components such a stem, a mouthpiece, a screen and silicone gaskets that will collect sticky resins as you vape. Those resins contain active compounds, but you can’t use those compounds until you draw them out with something. That’s where the alcohol comes in. It draws the alcohol-soluble compounds out of the resins. If you use rubbing alcohol, you’ll need to discard the alcohol after using it to clean your vaporizer. If you use a drinkable alcohol, though, you’ll create a tincture that you can consume in small amounts. Making a tincture allows you to clean your vaporizer with no waste. The strength of the resulting tincture may vary, though, so consume only one dropper at a time, waiting for several hours to gauge the effects before you consume more. If your tincture has solid material in it, pour the tincture through a coffee filter before bottling it.
Cleaning Your Vaporizer: Getting Started
Lay out some paper towels to keep your vaporizer’s small components together. Pour some alcohol into a bowl. You only need to use enough alcohol to keep your vaporizer’s components submerged. Gather your cleaning tools. The most useful vaporizer cleaning tools tend to be paper towels, cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and toothpicks. Your vaporizer may also include a cleaning brush. You’ll also need a little extra alcohol for dipping your tools.
Disassemble your vaporizer completely, organizing all of the components on the paper towels. If the vaporizer has a removable battery, set it aside.
NOTE: Do not submerge the body of your vaporizer in water or alcohol. If your vaporizer has a removable battery, don’t get the battery or battery compartment wet.
Cleaning Your Vaporizer’s Removable Components
Clean the removable components of your vaporizer by submerging them in alcohol overnight – but before you do so, check the manufacturer’s recommendations to confirm that the alcohol won’t damage the components’ finish. Silicone, ceramic, zirconia, glass and most metals are generally safe. Alcohol may, however, cause rubbers and some plastics to break down prematurely.
Soaking your vaporizer’s components in alcohol overnight dissolves the sticky resins. After the soak, you can rinse away any remaining material with plain water. Dry the components thoroughly before using them again. If you have components that you can’t soak in alcohol, clean those components with a paper towel or cotton swab dipped in alcohol. Rinse and dry the components immediately.
Cleaning Your Vaporizer’s Oven
Your vaporizer’s oven and vapor path are probably the most difficult parts to clean because, in most cases, you can’t remove them for soaking. If your oven still has material in it, you can scrape away the material with a pick or small brush. Next, clean the sticky resins out of your oven with a brush or cotton swab dipped in alcohol. You can also use an alcohol cleaning wipe wrapped around your finger. Remember that air needs to travel through a vaporizer’s oven, and that means liquid can also travel through the holes. Be careful about how much alcohol you use.
Cleaning your vaporizer’s oven won’t return it to its original pure white color. Some permanent discoloration is normal.
NOTE: Most modern vaporizer ovens are ceramic. They’re safe for cleaning with alcohol. Don’t use liquid to clean your vaporizer’s oven, though, if the oven has exposed wires. Consult the manual for oven cleaning instructions.
Cleaning Your Vaporizer’s Vapor Path
If your vaporizer’s oven is on the bottom, a long, narrow vapor path leads from the oven to the mouthpiece. Some vaporizers have removable vapor paths that you can soak in alcohol for cleaning. If your device’s vapor path isn’t removable, though, you can clean it with a pipe cleaner dipped in alcohol. You may need to use several pipe cleaners; keep running them through the vapor path until they come out clean.
Cleaning Your Vaporizer’s Battery Compartment
If your vaporizer has a removable battery, you may find some dust and debris in the battery compartment. Clean it with a soft, dry cloth. Don’t use liquid when cleaning the battery compartment or any other electronic components of your vaporizer.
Preparing Your Vaporizer for Use
After you’ve cleaned and dried your vaporizer, you’ll want to remove any traces of alcohol and water before using the device again. To do that, reassemble the device and turn it on. Set the device to its highest temperature setting and allow it to run for a few minutes or until it shuts down automatically.
Bonus Tip: Clean Your Herb Grinder at the Same Time
If you’re cleaning your vaporizer anyway, why not clean your sticky, clogged herb grinder at the same time? If you have an all-metal or silicone-and-metal grinder without a non-stick coating, it’s alcohol and heat safe. Use a pick to clean away larger pieces of material. Save that material for later vaping. If you’re using rubbing alcohol for cleaning, you can simply disassemble the grinder and soak it in the alcohol with your vaporizer’s components. Rinse the grinder after soaking it overnight and make sure that the grinder is completely dry before using it again.
If you’re making a tincture, you can add your grinder to the drinkable alcohol to make the resulting tincture stronger. Unlike the material in your vaporizer, though, the material in the grinder has never been exposed to heat. You’ll need to decarboxylate the material in your oven. If you have an all-metal or metal-and-silicone grinder, that’s not a problem. Bake the grinder in a 240-degree oven for about 30-40 minutes. You may want to put the grinder in an oven bag to contain the smell. After the grinder cools fully, you can add it to your tincture.
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