Grinders, Vaporisers & Carts: What Device Should I Use?

Alternaleaf Team
Written by
Alternaleaf Team
May 29, 2024
Last updated:
Jun 5, 2024

If your doctor has issued you a prescription for dried cannabis flower or vape carts, there are a number of devices that you may need. These range from vape cart batteries – necessary if you're using vape carts – to dry herb vaporisers, and grinders to ensure you're getting the most out of your flower prescription.

While medical cannabis devices are generally user friendly, to get the most out of your medication it’s important to know the different functions and advantages of these options. Certain devices are more customisable, while others offer a streamlined user experience for people who value simplicity and discretion. Some devices allow you to precisely heat to specific temperatures, while others have predetermined temperature settings.

This article will take you through the ins and outs of flower grinders, dry herb vaporisers and vape cart batteries.

Using Herb Grinders

If you’ve been prescribed dry cannabis flower, a herb grinder can help you prepare it for inhalation. Herb grinders are usually cylindrical in design and consist of up to 4 chambers. Inside a herb grinder you’ll see rows of ‘teeth’. The grinder’s lid will also have teeth that mesh with the ones inside to shred your flower.

To use a herb grinder, remove the lid, break your flower into smaller pieces and place the pieces between the teeth. Put the lid back on and twist the lid in a clockwise direction and continue doing this until your flower is finely ground. Once you’re done, remove the lid and you’ll see the ground flower will have collected in the bottom chamber of the grinder.

Why You Should Use a Herb Grinder

The benefit of a grinder is that it makes the process of preparing your flower for vaporisation easier. When you receive dried flower, there may still be small pieces of stem attached to the buds. We would always recommend removing these before placing the flower in the grinder. 

Using a grinder also results in an evenly sized grind, so that your vaporiser is better able to utilise all the cannabinoids and terpenes in your medication. This makes it easier for patients to precisely measure their dosage.

If you’re having trouble deciding on a grinder, it’s important to remember that it is largely down to personal preference. Some people opt for metal grinders with 4 compartments, while others choose plastic ones with only 2. You might try a few different types and notice advantages for each. There are lots of grinder options available from pricing as cheap as £5. 

How to Vaporise Medical Cannabis Flower

You use dry herb vaporisers with ground cannabis flower. In the United Kingdom, there are multiple brands of vaporisers available, at various price points. 

A good example of a high performing dry herb vaporiser is the Mighty Medic, Mighty+ Medic and the Volcano Medic 2, all from Storz & Bickel.

The Mighty Medic and Mighty+ are portable vaporisers, meaning they're powered by a rechargeable battery and can be taken with you wherever you go, while the Volcano Medic is a desktop vaporiser and needs to be plugged into a 240V powerpoint.

However, all dry herb vaporisers work in essentially the same way: you fill a chamber with ground up dried cannabis flower and then heat it until the therapeutic cannabinoids start evaporating – producing the vapour that you then inhale.

There are lots of different options, at various other price points, for those who do not like the Storz & Bickel range of vaporisers. 

Why You Should Use a Dry Herb Vaporiser

Water-based vapour is considerably smoother on the lungs, reducing respiratory inflammation and damage and making it easier to hold for the medically recommended three seconds.

The adjustable temperature settings on these devices also lets you target specific cannabis compounds, which all have different boiling points. You can speak with your doctor about which terpenes and cannabinoids you might want to target with your vape to get the best results for your condition.

Medical cannabis vapes offers quick relief, as the effects of inhaled cannabis appear much faster than ingested oils or capsules. This fast onset of effects makes vaping an effective method of consumption for people who experience issues that need immediate attention, such as acute pain or anxiety attacks.

Finally, people using dry herb vaporisers often claim that they are using far less cannabis flower compared to when they previously smoked it. This makes them a more cost-efficient way to consume your medication.

Dry Herb Vaporisers: How To Use Them

The first step with a portable dry herb vape, such as the Mighty Medic, is weighing out your prescribed amount of cannabis flower. You can then add your measured dose to one or more dosing capsules, which are small containers that hold the dry flower and are then inserted into the top of the vaporiser. For some vaporisers, you don’t need to use dosing capsules and can insert flower directly into the vaporiser chamber. Always consult your vaporiser’s guide before using.

If you do opt to use dosing capsules, you can make this process easier by using a filling aid, which funnels the ground flower into the capsules without making a mess. There are also plungers for dosing capsules that can help pack down your ground herb into the filling capsules. 

Turn on your device by pressing the power button. The vaporiser will start to heat up, and will display both the current temperature and/or your desired temperature, which you can change with the plus and minus buttons. This will largely depend on your vaporiser. Once finished, turn off the vaporiser and allow for it to cool down before opening and cleaning. 

Remember to consult your vaporiser’s guide before using, it may differ slightly from the instructions here. 

What Is a Desktop Dry Herb Vaporiser?

Desktop vaporisers are fairly similar to portable ones in how they work, but there are a few differences. The Volcano Medic is a good example of a desktop vaporiser. You fill the Volcano Medic by placing your ground flower into a filling chamber which you then attach to the top of the device. There are two inhalation methods with the Volcano Medic: you can either use a specialised balloon that you fill with vapour from the device, or you can draw directly from the Volcano Medic 2 with a tube.

Both inhalation methods allow the vapour to cool down before it enters your system, making the Volcano a great option if you find the inhalation of cannabis flower harsh on your throat. Desktop vaporisers aren’t portable, so a device such as the Mighty Medic will suit you better if you need your medication with you away from home.

Note that for both portable and desktop vaporisers it’s important to clean your vape regularly. Dirty devices don’t vaporise well and can lead to uneven dosage.

There are cleaning kits that can help you do this, or else simply remove the mouthpiece and give it a quick wash in water and then brush out any leftover flower from the chamber. Always wait until the vaporiser is no longer hot before cleaning. 

What is a Vape Cartridge? 

Instead of dry flower, vape cartridges or ‘carts,’ come prefilled with a liquid cannabis concentrate. You use vape carts with a vape battery, which are portable and easy-to-use devices that heat the concentrate to a temperature at which the plant’s active compounds begin to vaporise.

Manufactures typically use a single strain to produce vape cart concentrates so that the effects and flavours closely resemble the dry flower equivalent. Some vape carts contain a distillate that is dominant in a specific cannabinoid. If you are unsure as to which kind of vape cart you have been prescribed, you should ask your Alternaleaf doctor.

Exploring the Advantages of Vape Cartridges

For some people, vape carts can be a more affordable and compact way of vaping compared to dry herb vapes. For patients with fine motor impairment, vape carts are likely a better option as carts and batteries require less input from the user.

Most vape carts and batteries will fit in your pocket, whereas dry herb vapes are larger and a little less discrete. Vape carts also require less cleaning, produce less odour and let you start vaping almost immediately, which is ideal if you need fast relief. Dry herb vapes typically require a short time to heat up to the desired temperature.

Vape cart batteries are also more affordable than dry herb vaporisers, which often cost hundreds of pounds. By contrast a vape cart battery typically only costs between £10-20, although it may only last you 6-12 months, depending on how frequently you use it.

Vape Cartridge Batteries and How To Use Them

There are a wide variety of vape batteries available, but most are straightforward and easy to use. Although it will vary depending on what you’re prescribed, most vape carts and batteries are operated in a similar fashion: you heat the oil in the vape cart through a button on the battery.

Your vape cart will likely come with a 510 screw thread, which is compatible with most cannabis vape batteries. Simply screw the cart and battery together and your device will be ready to use. 

It’s often good practice to press and hold the button for half a second before inhaling. This will allow the cart to heat the oil to the correct temperature before you draw from the vape. We also recommend releasing the button just before you finish inhaling as this will ensure that any remaining vapour doesn’t linger in the cart. But again, these are general guidelines – whichever vape battery and cart you’re prescribed will come with their own instructions.

Vape carts let you administer precise doses of your medical cannabis as you can measure dosage by length of inhalation. For example, a 3 second inhalation might be equal to 5mg, but this will vary depending on the strength of your prescribed medication. It is always worth checking with your doctor if you are unsure on dosage. 

Keep in mind that vape batteries don’t have the longest shelf life – most will need to be replaced after 6-12 months of regular charging. However their low cost means they’re still likely to be more affordable than dry herb vaporisers over time.

What Device Should I Get?

The medical cannabis products and devices you end up using will depend on your condition, discussions with your Alternaleaf doctor and personal preferences. Certain medical cannabis devices are more portable and discreet, while others are less portable but offer more customisation options. Your budget is another factor – prices vary significantly between medical cannabis devices.

No matter which device you choose, your doctor and our wider clinical team are here to help advise and guide you through your medical cannabis treatment journey.