What is Heat-Not-Burn Technology?

Heat-not-burn (HNB) technology has been around for decades, but it's only in recent years that it has gained popularity in the cannabis community as a safer alternative to smoking. HNB devices use heat to vaporize cannabis or cannabis extracts without burning them, producing a flavorful and aromatic vapor for inhalation. 

This method of consumption is becoming increasingly popular among cannabis newbies and connoisseurs alike, as it offers a convenient and discreet way to enjoy the benefits of cannabis without the risks associated with smoking. In this blog, we'll take a closer look at what heat-not-burn technology is, how it works, and why it's quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to consume cannabis.

Up In Smoke

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Before diving head first into heat not burn technology let’s first get an understanding of why traditional smoking methods aren’t so safe. When traditional cigarettes or cannabis are smoked, they are burned at high temperatures. This combustion process creates smoke that contains a mixture of gasses and particulate matter, including tar and carbon monoxide. The high temperature of the combustion process causes the chemicals in the tobacco or cannabis to break down, producing a complex mixture of toxic compounds, many of which are known carcinogens.

In cigarettes, the tobacco contains over 7,000 chemicals, including over 70 known carcinogens such as formaldehyde, benzene, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Cannabis smoke contains many of the same toxic and carcinogenic compounds found in cigarette smoke, although in different concentrations. Additionally, some studies suggest that smoking cannabis may produce more tar and carcinogens than smoking cigarettes due to the way cannabis is typically smoked, with deeper inhalation and longer breath-holding.

The negative and long term effects of smoking tobacco or cannabis pushed innovators to look for a new, safer way to consume the plants.

Feel The Heat, Not The Burn

what is heat not burn?

Heat-not-burn technology (HNB) is a way to consume tobacco or cannabis without burning it like a traditional cigarette or joint. Instead of using extremely high temperatures, an HNB device heats the tobacco or cannabis to a high enough temperature to release an aerosol that can be inhaled, but not high enough to produce smoke. 

This aerosol contains nicotine (in the case of tobacco) or THC and other cannabinoids (in the case of cannabis), which are the compounds that produce the desired effects. Additionally, HNB devices can be designed to heat the plant material evenly, which can result in a more consistent release of terpenes and cannabinoids in cannabis, specifically. HNB technology is considered by some to be a safer alternative to smoking because it doesn't produce the harmful chemicals and tar that can damage the lungs and cause cancer.

While the concept of heating and inhaling a vapor may bring to mind e-cigarettes or vape pens, there is a key difference between these devices and heat not burn technology - the contents. Devices like Juuls use a synthetic fluid called e-juice or e-liquid, which usually contains a base of either propylene glycol (PG) or vegetable glycerin (VG), flavoring agents, and either nicotine or cannabinoids like CBD/THC. In contrast, heat not burn products rely on organic matter, such as tobacco leaves, marijuana, or hemp, which are heated to produce a vapor.

When Was Heat-Not-Burn Technology First Used?

heat not burn for tobacco

Heat-not-burn technology (HNB) has been around for several decades, with the first HNB devices appearing on the market in the 1980s. The first commercially successful HNB device was the R.J. Reynolds Premier, which was introduced in the United States in 1988. However, the device had an intolerable taste, and was eventually discontinued due to poor sales.

The technology was further developed and improved upon in the early 2000s, with the introduction of the iQOS device by Phillip Morris International in 2014. This device has since become one of the most popular HNB devices in the world, with millions of users worldwide.

In the cannabis industry, HNB devices for cannabis consumption have been developed more recently, with E1011 Labs as the first to commercialize this product format for whole flower. These devices have gained popularity among cannabis users who are looking for a safer alternative to traditional smoking methods.

How To Use Heat-No-Burn Devices

Heat not burn devices are designed to be easy to use and are typically similar in design to traditional smoking devices. Here are some examples of how to use heat not burn devices for both tobacco and cannabis:

For Tobacco:

  1. Insert a tobacco stick, made for your specific device, into the device's heating chamber, and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Turn on the device and wait for it to heat up to the optimal temperature.
  3. Once the device is heated, inhale from the mouthpiece to draw in the heated tobacco vapor.
  4. Exhale the vapor and repeat as desired.

Note: Some devices may require regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure optimal performance.

For Cannabis/Hemp:

  1. Pick out your favorite stelo™ or Ari53™.
  2. Insert stelo™  stick into the elon® device
  3. Wait for the device to heat up to the optimal temperature. Heating up is indicated by flashing green lights, the lights will remain solid once temperature is reached. 
  4. Once the device is heated, inhale from the mouthpiece to draw in the heated flower vapor.
  5. Exhale the vapor and repeat as desired.

Note: It's important to use a heat not burn device specifically designed for cannabis, like the elon®, as the heating temperatures and mechanisms may differ from those designed for tobacco. Some devices may also require regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure optimal performance.

Convenient For Cannabis Smokers

heat not burn for cannabis plants

Heat-not-burn (HNB) devices have become popular in the cannabis industry for several reasons. As stated above, one of the main reasons is that HNB technology offers a potentially safer alternative to traditional smoking methods.

Additionally, HNB devices can offer a more discreet and convenient way to consume cannabis, as they do not produce the strong odor and thick clouds associated with traditional smoking methods. This can be particularly appealing to individuals who live in areas where smoking cannabis is not legal or socially acceptable.

Another advantage of HNB technology is that it can potentially provide a more consistent and controlled experience compared to traditional smoking methods. HNB devices can be designed to heat the cannabis evenly, which can result in a more consistent release of cannabinoids and terpenes.

Overall, HNB devices offer an attractive option for cannabis users who are looking for a safer, more discreet, and potentially more controlled way to consume cannabis. As a result, HNB devices are becoming increasingly popular among both new and experienced cannabis users.