Many medical cannabis patients choose vaporisation, and it’s actually the only recommended way to consume cannabis flower in Australia. It’s healthier and safer than smoking while still offering the benefits of full-spectrum cannabis medicines.
To get the most out of vaporising cannabis, it helps to understand what happens to terpenes and cannabinoids during the vaporisation process. After all, cannabis is a very nuanced medicine.
Each strain contains a unique set of cannabinoids and terpenes, which react to specific temperatures. Understanding the effect of vaping temperature will also help you dial in terpene benefits.
How Vaporisation Works
Vaping cannabis differs from smoking (or combusting) cannabis. When cannabis is vaporised, the cannabinoids and terpenes begin to liquify. Then as the temperature increases these compounds eventually turn into gases (or vapours).
When you smoke cannabis, it burns (combusts). The combustion process produces new by-products (aka the smoke), which aren’t always safe.
This is the reason why Australia’s medical cannabis program advises against smoking. Lots of the byproducts of combustion may be toxic, so doctors in Australia never recommend smoking cannabis flower. Instead of burning away all those valuable medicines, the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) recommends vaporising (and so do alternaleaf’s doctors).
Vaporisation helps preserve the unique properties of each strain including terpenes and cannabinoids. Each compound evaporates at a different temperature, and that’s why the temperature of your vaporiser matters.
At lower temperatures, some compounds may not vaporise. And at higher temperatures, other compounds may begin to burn. Playing around with the vape temperature can highlight different terpene benefits, and subtly alter the experiential effects.
Targeted Effects: Terpene Temperature Guide Chart
Understanding what happens to different terpenes during vaporisation can help you personalise your treatment. If you want to maximise the benefits of particular effects and flavours, you can experiment with vape temperatures until you find the sweet spot.
To help you out, we’ve created this handy table, including some of the most common terpenes:
Boiling point (°C)
Found in herbs and spices including black pepper
The most common terpene in the natural world, also found in pine needles
The most common terpene in cannabis, with a spicy aroma
Also known as “eucalyptol,” from the eucalyptus plant
Citrus aroma, found in citrus fruits
Found in the oils of cumin and thyme
Floral scent, also found in lavender
An important component of tea tree oil
A natural insect repellent, with a balsamic odour
Fragrant scent, similar to lilac
Similar scent to peppermint and camphor
Gives hops their distinctive smell and taste
How To Target Terpenes With the Mighty Medic
In Australia, the TGA has only approved two vaporisers, the Mighty Medic and the Volcano Medic 2, for use with medical cannabis.
They can both be used with dried cannabis flower. The Mighty Medic is smaller, more portable, and battery-operated — and it’s the one we prescribe for patients. It’s a great tool to dial in terpene benefits through temperature control.
Using the Mighty Medic is simple. Once you have your prescription cannabis flower:
Use the herb mill included to grind your flower.
Weigh out your prescription amount of cannabis flower and add it to the dosing capsules.
Remove the cooling unit by twisting it 90 degrees. Then insert the dosing capsules into the magazine with the cap facing up. Replace the cooling unit.
Switch the Mighty Medic on by holding the power button for at least half a second.
The Mighty Medic will start to heat up. The display will show both the current temperature and the desired temperature.
Use the Plus and Minus buttons to set your preferred temperature. Mighty Medic recommends starting at 180°C.
The temperature can be set between 40°C and 210°C. Remember that at 210°C, some terpenes and cannabinoids may begin to burn.
You can switch between Celcius and Fahrenheit by simultaneously pressing the Plus and Minus buttons.
That’s it! With the guidance of your doctor and the alternaleaf team, you can experiment with different temperatures and strains until you find the effects that work for you.
Maximise Terpene Benefits with Vaporisation
Vaporising medical cannabis is a great way to explore the various products, strains, methods, and benefits available. As you become more experienced with vaporisation, you can explore different terpene benefits and take control over your symptoms and treatment plan.