The cartridges seem like a more streamlined method and with no mess afterwards.
Answer - let there be songs to fill the air.
This is a great question and one that is definitely worth asking based on the wide availability/popularity and relative cost efficiency of using vape cartridges. The cartridges are mess-free like you mentioned and super discreet, but there are a few downsides to consider, the largest of which is the potential impact to your health. These devices really aren't technically even vaporizers. They are more like smolder-izers. Lets look at all sides of the equation.
First is the build quality of the cartridge and battery. These can vary based on the brand, but most 510 thread batteries that are industry standard are typically mass produced in China and are potentially/ probably made with cheap, sub-par metals and plastics. These batteries get broken easily and need to be replaced often. I dabbled in the cartridges for a while and had to get new ones occasionally because they would stop charging, got crushed, or just scuffed up and started to not look good anymore. The cartridges themselves are mostly made of plastic, although some are metal and glass, however, the manufacturing quality is generally questionable. The companies that make these want to maximize their profit and will most likely opt for the cheapest materials to package their product since these are disposable. If you try to find info about whether consumer safe materials are used in the vapor path, it doesn't exist. If you use cartridges, I would take a serious look at what they are made out of. If you see lots of plastic, it isn't outside of the realm of possibility that they are off-gassing plastic as they heat up, which isn't what you want to be toking on my brothers and sisters.
Another issue with these cartridge "vaporizers" is that they aren't temperature controlled. When vaping you generally want to try to stay under 200C, which is where the least amount of byproducts are formed in relation to cannabinoids. We should be worried mainly about benzene, a known carcinogen among others. I've searched all over, and still have yet to find any exact specs of how hot these wick/ coil systems heat the material. I know when I've used them, I’m definitely blowing out clouds that hang in the air and are more similar to smoke than the vapor I normally get from a vaporizer, which is whispy and dissipates within seconds. With smoking you get temperatures between 1000 and 1500 degrees f, whereas a good vape will heat your material at much lower temps. According to project CBD:
“Vape pen manufacturers don’t like to admit it, but when the heating element gets red hot in a vape pen, the solution inside the prefilled cartridges undergoes a process called “smoldering,” a technical term for what is tantamount to “burning.” While much of the vape oil liquid is vaporized and atomized, a portion of the vape oil blend undergoes pyrolysis or combustion. In that sense, most of the vape pens that have flooded the commercial market may not be true vaporizers.” (https://www.projectcbd.org/article/how-safe-your-vape-pen)
Adulterants are also common in cartridges, the most abundant of which is propylene glycol, who's health effects are not completely know, but what is known isn’t very good. Considered safe in your food. Lungs….not so much… This is a hot topic nowadays since this is a key ingredient in e-cigs as well.
The other thing to consider is that it has been found that CO2 oil, the main ingredient in cartridges can be very high in pesticide content if the starting material is not good quality. Check this article out if interested: (http://marijuanapolitics.com/some-oregon-marijuana-co2-extracts-contain-high-levels-of-possible-carcinogen/) Independent testing was done on multiple CO2 extracts in Oregon and found pesticide levels to be incredibly high. Very concerning for all, and particularly for those with compromised systems. They mention:
“Also, because CO2 has high selectivity for many contaminants and low selectivity for cannabinoids & terpenes, and because butane is the opposite, it’s more likely for it to be residual in CO2 extracts, while BHO extracts of the same contaminated material may contain little or none.”
To top it all off, these vape cartridges vary widely in THC content, and are often not what they say in terms of potency. Check this article out: http://www.beyondthc.com/all-vape-pens-are-not-created-equal/ Some of these guys had ~ 10%-20% THC. Thats some crappy extract ya’ll! Plus, there is wide variability in taste. I’ve had some that taste clean, and some that taste like moldy trim.
All these factors add up to: BUYER BEWARE WHEN IT COMES TO VAPE PENS! A lot is unknown about their health effects, there is wide variability in the market in terms of quality, and you might not just be getting pure extract. Nasty.
On a brighter note…Firefly and good quality vaporizers in general allow you to select whatever material you want, be it herbs or concentrate. You can choose home grown organic or clean green certified from the dispensary. Hand pick your concentrate and get the full terpene experience from the highest lab tested material you can find.
From what I understand, Firefly also uses only the highest quality consumer safe materials you can get, which are know to be stable at the temperatures utilized by the vaporizer. Temperature control is also carefully calibrated in the firefly, allowing the user to customize their vaporizer experience and know they are getting true vapor rather than a combusted or smoldered product. There are no plastics in this device to off-gas into your delicate lungs, and the path is all glass from end to end. In addition, this is a convection style vape, with hot air heating your material, so you are assured no combustion takes place from your product sitting on a hot surface.
With the FF2 you also still get on demand heating, which is great for a short session on the go, and the taste from what I hear is superb. Good quality vapor tastes 1000 times better than from any cartridge I’ve ever tried, terpenes added or not. With the heating profile of the FF2, you also get the full spectrum of the plant and thus get an accurate representation of the strain of herb you are ingesting. The FF2 is still discreet enough to be taken on the go and put in your pocket, and for a vape it just looks f’in awesome.
Moral of the story, if you are hoping to vaporize to save your lungs, might as well use a real vaporizer like the FF2. Period.
Answer - buddhaness
I love using the Firefly because I have control over the quality of what I'm consuming. While vape cartridges are convenient and less hassle (good for traveling), I'm concerned about how pure the oil is and if there are any harmful solvents I'm not aware of.
I personally love trying different organically sun grown flowers from Flow Kana and vaping with the Firefly is a perfect match. It's easy to use, healthier for my lungs instead of smoking, and doesn't compromise my values of supporting small farmers/businesses and organic practices.
Answer - Co-founder & CEO
The flavor is the real difference. Although cartridges are very convenient in that you don't need to fill them, grind them pack then etc. When you try the Firefly with some quality bud, it really does provide a taste and experience which is quite different from a vape pen or cartridge.
I personally use both of these. When I want a discrete device to carry with me, or I don't have time to pack and grind I will use the vape pen, and when I want the full flavor, or have time to prepare I will use the Firefly.
If you are someone that likes to vape often, and is willing to invest in quality, fresh bud, you will want a device that provides the full flavor and effect of the bud - and there is no better option that the Firefly in my opinion.
Answer - Doctor Mark Edmunds
It's a different delivery method and a matter of personal preference. The Firefly is a convection vaporizer that works with shredded flower or concentrates. Vaporizer pens can be used with user-fillable tanks that accommodate concentrates or pre-filled oil concentrate cartridges.
Some patients prefer using unadulterated loose leaf and it's associated smell, flavor, and more predictable (strain-associated) effects. Others prefer vaporizer pen discreteness, lack of smell, and higher number of draws before medicine changes are necessary. If you do decide to go with a pen that vaporizes oil concentrates, be sure to go with CO2-extracted oil. Some manufacturers are still using butane extraction, which may be toxic to tissue.
Answer - caleighlynn
Because there is a much greater variety of flowers available than there are cartridge "flavors," so you can personalize your vape experience and more reliably get the effects you want. Also, you don't get the chemicals that some vape cartridges have, so it's a much cleaner experience.
Answer - ryanrosenblum
Using a dry-herb vaporizer like the Firefly is a great way to get more mileage out of your bud in the form of "AVB," or "Already Vaped Bud!" When I finish a session on my vape, I can choose to do all sorts of things with the herb left over. You can smoke it, cook with it, or even use it to make tinctures. This basically doubles the value of your cannabis.