Vaping is both trendy and here to stay in the United States, and not just as a replacement for traditional tobacco cigarettes. Many fans of vaping try other leafy herbs in their vape pens or tanks, depending on what kind of tools and products they have access to.
Kratom is another emerging natural product originating in Southeast Asia, and eating or drinking it is the most popular way to consume it. But kratom is also a leafy plant like cannabis—something that’s extremely popular to vape right now.
However, just because kratom is a leafy plant, does that mean vaping it is good or safe? It’s possible that vaping kratom extract is less harmful than vaping some other things, but the real question should be not so much whether you can vape kratom, but whether you should.
Can You Vape Herbal Products?
Vaping is heating a substance and inhaling the vapor that process creates using an electronic cigarette or an herbal vaporizer. Unlike traditional smoking, which relies on rolling plant matter in paper and burning it so the smoke can be inhaled, a vaporizer heats the plant matter at lower temperature so it doesn’t burn. As a result, it produces vapor rather than smoke.
Some vaporizers use liquids or oils, others favor waxier substances, and still others can vaporize dry herbs. The liquids typically contain propylene or glycerin to assist in vaporization; although, the “active” ingredient is usually something like tobacco or cannabis.
Vape pens and other vaporizers are well-understood as less harmful alternatives to combustible cigarettes with fewer side effects, but they too have their risks. This is particularly true for a substance such as kratom, which is not well-regulated and poorly researched.
In any event, to vape anything you need a device that can manage the substance and heat it to the right temperature—something hot enough to activate the substance and its compounds but not so hot that it burns or destroys it. The care required for this process is part of the issue with vaping kratom.
Can You Smoke or Vape Kratom?
Another problem with smoking or vaping kratom is heat and alkaloids. Kratom, also known as Mitragyna speciosa, is rich in the alkaloids Mitragynine and 7 OH Mitragynine. Along with other alkaloids, these powerhouse compounds start taking action once they are in the bloodstream. At that point, the alkaloids interact with receptor sites in the brain, producing relaxing and sometimes energizing effects depending on the dose.
Think of it like smoking a cigarette: nicotine is a stimulant, but, in the case of kratom, there are alkaloids in place of nicotine. Therefore, the alkaloids attach to opiate receptors instead of nicotine receptors.
The advantage is a quick onset time for effects. However, alkaloids are sensitive to heat, so you may miss out on maximum effects or experience none at all. More on this below.
What Is In a Kratom Vape?
The typical ingredients of a kratom vape or kratom vape juice, if you can find it, will be:
- Propylene glycol (PG), as in other vape oils and e-cigarettes like JUUL
- Vegetable Glycerol (VG), as in other vape juices
- Acetaldehyde, nitrosamines
The main thing to remember is that kratom vaporizes at 175°C to 200°C or 347°F to 392°F. Any higher temperature will destroy the efficacy of the alkaloids.
However, it’s practically impossible to actually find kratom vapes commercially. Instead, most people who want to try vaping kratom have to find a way to vape kratom with an herbal vaporizer or add kratom to some sort of e-juice.
Vaping Kratom with Herbal Vaporizers
Especially if you live in a medical marijuana state, you’ve probably seen an herbal vaporizer. This kind of device is designed to vaporize dried plant matter as an alternative to either a pipe or bong.
Herbal vaporizers work by heating kratom to 175°C to 200°C or 347°F to 392°F, creating vapor or steam. You inhale that vapor, and that’s how the kratom and its active components get into your system.
To use this kind of vaporizer, choose a large herb chamber if possible and fill it with dried, ground kratom. Unlike cannabis, which can be sticky with THC and other cannabinoids and terpenes, kratom is a bit less dense and moist, so you’ll want to make use of a bigger chamber and more plant matter if you can.
Vaping Kratom with E-Cigarettes or Liquid Vaporizers
You can also use a liquid vaporizer with e-liquid and add whatever safe flavorings and extracts you like. These work by heating e-fluid until it vaporizes so the user can inhale it. You should never randomly add something to an e-liquid, however, unless you’re certain it’s safe for vaping. Look for products specifically marketed for this purpose.
(This is one of the reasons, as we explain below, that we recommend consuming kratom as tea or in food. It’s simply safer.)
Is It Safe To Vape Kratom?
There is no way to answer this for certain because no data, research, or statistics on vaping kratom exist yet.
What we do know is that consuming kratom tea made with kratom powder is much safer, especially when you buy it from a reputable source.
Furthermore, there is not much about smoking or vaping kratom in the historical record. In fact, almost all historical use refers to chewing the leaves of the tree or consuming the ground leaves in powder.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Vaping Kratom
Vaping kratom has its advantages:
The effects hit faster. Like anything else, it takes about half an hour or so for capsules, tea, or powder to hit your system. Any edible takes time to affect the body and mind.
Vaping kratom is its own experience. When you vape kratom, the alkaloids hit your brain receptors faster, and you bypass the digestive system. The vapor mixes with oxygen and is absorbed into the bloodstream directly in the lungs. Effects can hit the user in as little as 10 seconds—and for someone hoping for pain relief, for example, you can see why this would be a bonus.
Vaping is appealing to some smokers. If you’re trying to stop smoking, vaping kratom can be psychologically satisfying in addition to being physically helpful.
However, the disadvantages of vaping kratom outweigh the benefits:
It is not very effective. Compared to capsules, kratom tea, and toss n wash, vaping kratom is far less effective and subject to less quality control. Large amounts of kratom go to waste when vaping, unlike with kratom tea or capsules—and this may be part of the reason users need to vape much larger doses.
It is not cost-efficient. Obviously, if you have to use a lot more to get the same effects, you’re also spending a lot more.
Vaping kratom can destroy the alkaloids. You will see in our post on kratom tea that you should never boil kratom and should, instead, simmer it. Anytime you vaporize plant matter, you risk destroying it with heat, even on a low setting. Some vapes get hotter than 1652°F or 900°C, which destroys alkaloids.
High-quality vaping liquid is expensive. If you want to mix kratom into e-liquid, you may have issues finding high-quality products, and some are even dangerous.
Smoking and vaping can be harmful. Kratom may offer health benefits, but smoking and vaping have the potential to be dangerous. This is especially risky for people who hope to use kratom for something like chronic pain or weight loss—any kind of long term use.
Where To Purchase Kratom
Not all kratom vendors are trustworthy. Some sellers mix their product with fillers to increase volume and profits. You could even end up buying stale or adulterated kratom that may be harmful. Few vendors reliably deliver potent, fresh kratom due to lack of regulation, and many fail to provide lab test results and other idicators of quality.
Unlike cannabis or CBD products, kratom products, including vapes and e-juices, have yet to reach commercial scale. This coupled with increased public and legal scrutiny means it can be difficult to find good products.
It is essential to select a kratom vendor carefully. Numerous kratom suppliers sell low-quality, cheap, and even contaminated kratom products. Infested, adulterated, and stale kratom powder just can’t help your body like fresh, high-quality kratom leaves.
Reliable vendors always provide label batch numbers and lab test results on their products, allowing consumers to track when the kratom was packed, whether it is fresh, and if any fillers replace actual kratom.
We have our own recommendations about where to buy kratom products online here.
Also, remember that the legal status of kratom varies from place to place. Make sure you understand kratom’s legal status where you are before you shop.
It’s easy to see why you’d want to explore the many benefits of kratom as an organic supplement. However, vaping kratom is just not safe. To avoid the many risks of this delivery method and maximize the benefits of kratom itself, which is a potent substance, stick to teas and powders.
The disadvantages of vaping kratom simply outweigh the advantages. Yes, there may be a quicker onset time—if you get effects at all, that is—but you can’t be sure you’re protecting your health and may even be wasting your product.
Vaping kratom is less effective, potentially dangerous, and expensive—especially for regular users. Find out more about better ways to make use of kratom here.