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Vaping Makes Me Cough More Than Smoking – Why?


You’ve heard the health benefits cannabis, and also of the benefits of vaping over smoking, so why do so many people find themselves coughing up a lung when they try to vape?

Knowing what and how to vape is essential, part and parcel of knowing this is knowing how vapes work. Vapes heat, either directly or in an ambient way, your dry herb. The heat of the vapor can be hot enough to hurt, vapes can reach 400 Fahrenheit without breaking a sweat. Its hotter than a blunt or a joint.

We have to act as detectives in this case, there are many reasons a cough can emerge from vaping dry herbs. Before we dive in there are some factoids about dry herb vaping to digest.

For starters, vaping is basically 0% humidity. This might come as a shock in the form of your former associations with vapour. That is, water vapour, which is of course water. Dry herbs, if cut and cured properly, will contain very little H20. We have our first piece. There’s no water involved.

Consider the Vape

Bearing this in mind, let’s consider the vape. When it comes to the Juul and pen style vapes, the path from the heating element or space containing your herb to your mouth and lungs is very short. This tells us two things. One, it is going to be hot when it gets into your system. Two, there is no time for any water filtration add-ons. 

Certain types of vapes, known as whip vapes, have a hose which allow you to add-in some accessories. By passing the vapor through water, and along a hose, there is time and substance to cool the vapour, and also bring a little humidity into the equation.

Cooling Down

You might notice a small glass or poly-something based mouthpiece for your vape. Initially this could be thought of as a hygiene piece. And it is that, but it also increases the distance the vapor will have to travel, cooling it down and again maybe bringing some humidity along through the interplay of condensation from your breath and cool glass-y surfaces. 

A top-tip if you don’t have a way to accessorise your vape is to vape with your tongue curled upwards. This obstacle will divert the smoke, let it cool and again, bring along some humidity.

Biology 101

We’ve covered humidity quite a lot. It is an easy-ish fix to make, but if you’re still coughing at this point it is time to consider a more sober thought. You’ve damaged your lungs and throat. Our respiratory system has these little things called cilia, when we smoke we damage and kill them off. And unlike our toenails and our hair, these things don’t grow back. 

Moving further into biology, we have to contend with the fact that our favoured dry herb is oil-based, and our lungs are water-based. Oil and water, as they say, don’t mix. There is an inherent danger to vaping, as with anything that isn’t an ultra-strict-vegan-monkish-peaceful-life-ah. We know that isn’t feasible, we’ve been warned.

Not to send you running with fear from any future enjoyment. Come back. Listen. Our bodies are resilient, and coughing is a cleaning method. Everyone coughs. Listen to your body and respect the cough. Maybe take a break or try a ginger-compress on your chest.

Improve Technique

Novice stoners look down here, indeed, anyone new to vape, you’re going to have to try a few things and see if the problem isn’t with the vape, or your lungs, but your dumb fingers and thumbs. Try a lower heat setting. Try taking less deep puffs. Try putting less herb in your vape.

Though this is a dry-herb site we know the oil and concentrate setup too. In this case the cartridges could be a problem. The allure of cheap, home-brew and de-regulated vape cartridges and fillers come with free risk too. Propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycol (VG) comprise the body of e-liquids. Poorly made ‘juices’ which promise vast clouds of smoke might be loading up too much on these, there’s a reason prefer the dry side.

Convection or conduction?

Finally, there is a growing body of anecdotal evidence that convection vapes produce a smoother sensation than conduction vapes. The jury is still out and no definitive studies have been made, but several dozen Redditors can’t be wrong, can they?

Top tips to take away

  • Slow down – don’t take massive hits
  • Cool down – lower the temperature of your vape and try to give the vapor time to cool, through water filtration or by using a longer mouth piece
  • Take a break – maybe you’ve been going a little hard, listen to your body
Ryan Hamilton

Ryan Hamilton

Im Ryan, a Medical Cannabis Activist & Blog Owner @ I started the blog as a medium to answer questions and grow the awareness of the herb. Along with the medicinal properties, cannabis can help grown the economy with its vast amount of taxable finances. Less violent properties than alcohol, cannabis legalisation is inevitable.

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