THCA Flower vs Vapes: Which Should I Choose?
The two most popular types of THCA products are vapes and flower, which are neither polar opposites nor very similar. THCA flower, for instance, is smoked while THCA vapes don’t involve incineration.
Presented with these similar-yet-different THCA product types, how do you choose between THCA flower and THCA vapes? We’ll compare and contrast these two popular types of THCA products over the course of this guide.
What is THCA?
First, the basics: delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is the direct chemical precursor to delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC. Since THCA has a separate chemical structure from THC, however, it is viewed differently for regulatory purposes — usually, THCA is considered industrial hemp, just like CBD or CBG.
Left in its original state, THCA is non-intoxicating but might help with many of the same conditions as CBD. Heated above 232°F, however, THCA converts into THC, providing the same experience you expect from this classic cannabinoid.
What is THCA flower?
THCA flower is the most-natural form of THCA and consists of unaltered cannabis buds that contain high concentrations of THCA but low concentrations of THC. Just as is the case with CBD-rich hemp, it’s possible to breed Cannabis sativa to maximize THCA expression while keeping THC concentrations under 0.3%. THCA flower looks and smells exactly like conventional THC flower, and it is widely sold online.
What are THCA vapes?
THCA vapes are electronic devices designed to heat cannabis concentrate until the point of vaporization, causing the vapor to move through a mouthpiece and into the user’s lungs. The two most common types of THCA vapes are THCA vape cartridges and disposable THCA vapes, which are both designed to easily slip into a pocket or bag whenever you want to take your favorite cannabinoid with you on the go.
THCA vapes vs flower
Now that you have a basic idea of what THCA vapes and flower are, it’s time to do a deep dive into the differences between these product categories. It turns out that THCA flower and THCA vapes are quite different from each other, something we’ll explore in detail in the following section:
By the numbers, THCA vapes are almost always more potent than THCA flower. THCA vapes usually contain at least 60-70% total cannabinoids while the cannabinoid count in THCA flower can never exceed 30%. So, you should consider THCA vapes to be at least twice as potent as THCA flower as far as total cannabinoid concentration goes.
Some users would argue that methods commonly used for inhaling THCA vapes do not provide the fullness of the inhalation provided by a bong or water pipe. Despite containing lower concentrations of cannabinoids, therefore, certain THCA connoisseurs would say that smoking THCA flower provides the more-potent experience.
The texture of the smoke produced by THCA flower is very different from the texture of the vapor produced by a THCA vape. It depends on the temperature at which you vaporize it, but THCA vapes generally produce vapor that has a very mild texture, allowing you to hold THCA vapor in your lungs for a few moments or even take multiple hits at once.
THCA smoke, on the other hand, usually has a harsher texture that will make it hard to hold the smoke in for very long. Your throat may also feel harsh afterwards, making it hard to take multiple hits when using a pipe or bong. The texture of THCA pre-rolls is somewhat smoother, making it possible to take multiple hits in a row in most cases.
Most connoisseurs would contend that vaping allows greater expression of the terpenes and flavonoids present in Cannabis sativa, making the flavor of THCA vapes better than that of THCA flower. It is certainly true that smoking damages the terpenes in THCA flower, potentially resulting in a burnt flavor.
Others would argue back, though, that removing THCA and other desirable components from hemp flower also does away with a fullness of flavor that only THCA flower can provide. If you take small hits from a clean pipe or bong, you may find that the flavor of cannabis truly does come out more strongly in the form of flower.
Most methods of smoking THCA flower are inherently less convenient than hitting a vape. It’s very difficult to pack a bong along with you, for instance, and even dry pipes are very messy and emit a powerful aroma that others around you can smell even when you aren’t smoking.
THCA vapes, on the other hand, hardly emit any aroma at all. Even when you hit them, THCA vapes produce a very light vapor that’s easy to mistake for someone’s perfume or cologne when smelled.
The one type of THCA flower product that’s reasonably convenient to take with you on the go is a THCA pre-roll. Even with pre-rolls, though, you generally have to find a suitable outdoor area to smoke, and it’s necessary to keep the aroma of your THCA pre-rolls from exuding off your person before you even get a chance to smoke them.
The comparative safety of THCA flower and THCA pre-rolls is one of the most fascinating and complex aspects of the relationship between these two types of THCA products. Due to highly successful anti-smoking propaganda, it is now generally believed that smoking anything at all is harmful, which might not exactly be the case.
THCA vapes are viewed as the safer solution since vaping does not involve actually burning anything. It’s true that many of the dangerous chemicals in tobacco cigarettes don’t appear until the cigarette is lit, making it seem like the very act of smoking creates new toxins.
Cannabis is very different from tobacco, though. Even when tobacco is smoked in a completely natural state, it contains compounds — including nicotine — that are inherently dangerous. Cannabis is not treated with chemicals like tobacco cigarettes, and it does not appear to contain any chemicals that become more dangerous when smoked.
THCA vapes may pose their own inherent safety concerns. The THCA extraction process can involve a variety of chemicals that, if not properly removed afterward, can negatively impact your health.
There’s also the safety of the specific vape device your THCA concentrate is contained within. Many vapes are made cheaply in China or elsewhere in the developing world and may contain dangerous contaminants.
The best way to determine the safety of a THCA vape or THCA flower product is to consult with the batch-specific lab reports that were issued for that particular product. A THCA flower or vape producer’s lab reports should be thorough, independent, and easy to find.
The bottom line: Is it better to smoke or vape THCA?
Despite what anyone may have told you, there is no “better” or “worse” when it comes to smoking or vaping THCA. Each option has its own benefits and detractors, leading many THCA lovers to end up using both methods at different times.
When you want to sit back, relax, and get truly ripped off some top-shelf THCA, for instance, a bong (maybe even with an ash catcher) is the only way to go. Try to take that same bong with you on the train to work, however, and see how that goes for you.
Vaping THCA has its time and place, and so does smoking it. In the end, there’s something undefinably different about the experience of smoking THCA and the experience of vaping it. Without trying both methods for yourself, you might find it hard to determine whether vaping or smoking THCA is the best for your current purposes.
THCA flower vs vapes FAQ
Learn more about the differences between THCA vapes and flower in the FAQ section below:
Is smoking THCA flower stronger than vaping?
Because the overall cannabinoid content in THCA vapes is higher than in THCA flower, most users would consider the effects of vaping THCA to be stronger than the effects you experience when smoking THCA weed. Smoking and vaping THCA cannot be directly compared, however, since each approach to inhaling THCA provides such different results. Some users might consider the effects of smoking THCA to be stronger than vaping it simply due to the inherent differences between these two use methods.
Is the high from smoking THCA flower better than a vape high?
Some users consider the high provided by smoking THCA flower to be fuller or more complete than the high provided by vapes. It’s a common complaint that vapes only make you feel “half-high” or only high in your head with the powerful, full-body experience of smoking THCA becoming diminished. It all comes down to your personal preference, but it certainly wouldn’t be unusual to like the high provided by smoking THCA better than the high provided by vaping it.
Are THCA vapes better than flower for your lungs?
There’s a general perception that smoking THCA is worse for your lungs than vaping it, but this perception is based on the assumption that there’s something about smoking THCA that harms your lungs. It’s undeniable that smoking tobacco cigarettes causes emphysema and other serious diseases, but there’s no evidence that the same is the case for cannabis. As a result, any lung health benefits vapes may usually offer may not be relevant in the context of THCA flower.
Can you vape THCA flower?
Yes, it’s certainly possible to vape THCA flower with a portable or tabletop dry herb vaporizer. Vaping as opposed to smoking THCA flower provides fuller terpene expression, resulting in a better flavor. Some users consider vaping THCA flower to be the middle ground between smoking weed and vaping it: All the fullness of the cannabis experience is there alongside a delicious, completely expressed flavor profile.
What are the risks of vaping THCA flower?
Vaping THCA flower does not pose any more risks than using THCA in any other way. As far as the overall risks of THCA go, all the side effects of THC can apply, including dry mouth, paranoia, increased heart rate, and sensory distortions.
What are the benefits of orally ingesting THCA?
When orally ingested, THCA does not convert into THC. Instead, it remains in its original form, in which it won’t get you high but might impact epilepsy and other neurological conditions.
What is the best way to consume THCA?
If you want to experience the full effects of cannabis, you’ll need to use THCA with a method that invokes the application of heat, such as smoking or vaping. Orally ingesting THCA won’t provide psychoactive effects unless the THCA extract is heated during the process. Choose your ideal method based on the goals you have for your THCA experience as well as the tools you happen to have on hand.