The market for vaporizers is becoming heavy with excellent choices. Variety and quality abound, so if you wondered where the choices were five years ago, today you might wish there weren’t so many. In fact, how are you going to choose just one, or will you select just a single machine? There is at least one good reason to own two vaporizers.
One of the top New Year’s Resolutions Americans make annually is to quit smoking. That resolution is becoming easier to manage with the larger number of nicotine replacement products on the market which includes patches and gum. These release a slow and steady amount of nicotine into the blood stream to prevent or lessen withdrawal while a person stops inhaling smoke.
The Trouble with Nicotine
A problem with either of these methods is that the essential movements involved in smoking are taken away. Smokers are addicted to nicotine, to inhaling, to moving their hands in a certain way, and to having a smoke when they do certain things.
That is why vaporizers are a great alternative to patches and gum. They also enjoy the flavor of tobacco without most of its dangers. Nicotine patches don’t supply any of this experience while nicotine gum tastes nothing like a cigarette.
Not Smoking Cessation Devices
The FDA will not permit vaporizers to be advertised as smoking cessation devices. They have not been approved and are currently treated in the way tobacco products are regulated regarding age limits and labeling of products to be vaporized. Unofficially, thousands of ex-smokers credit vaporizers for helping them give up cigarettes.
What is a Vaporizer?
Most consumers have at least heard of e cigarettes by now, but vaporizers are less familiar to them. These are larger devices that do something similar: heating a product until it turns into vapor.
Vaporizers are not supposed to burn materials although some devices have problems in this department because their temperatures become too high and the heating element is too close to herbs inside a thin chamber. The result is smoke where there should be vapor.
The heating component in a handheld, pen-style vaporizer is a coil similar to the one on your stove top which heats a pot of pasta when it glows red hot, and that heat is conducted directly into the water through its metal, ceramic, or glass container.
Spend Some Money
Consumers can avoid purchasing faulty devices which become too hot to hold or burn their herbs by shopping with well-known companies. They sell only brands you can check-up on.
It is also helpful to set a budget of more than $50: $90 or above would be best. That would suffice for a pen, but better rechargeable products for anything containing essential oils, herbs, or wax are going to cost much more. $50 is usually more than enough for a decent e liquid vaporizer or a rechargeable device to last just a few months.
Portable vs. Tabletop
You want a vaporizer to perform, but the highest-performing units are too big to carry in your pocket, so portability is important too. Rather than compromise, own one of each. A lot of people use their box mod or electric candle at home and take a handheld or even pen-style vaporizer to work or carry it when they travel.
Features of Tabletop Vaporizers
There are three types of vapor delivery: whip style, whip style with assisted air, and forced air. A fourth variety works with the whip style: hands-free vaporizing. In this case, you literally don’t have to do anything but puff, but forced air devices will need a hands-on approach.
In particular, a balloon delivery method requires two hands with which to grab the balloon. A balloon is attached to the top of your vaporizer. It fills up with vapor, then you remove it. Take your time inhaling vapor as it escapes or pass it around to friends. This is an enjoyable and easy method of sharing vapor.
Whip delivery requires more puffing which can be hard on the lungs. Consider how many vaporizer consumers were smokers, and also the number of people who use aromatherapy materials to relieve symptoms of lung problems: they need some help. For them, the balloon method is great, but puffing is preferable to others.
Forced air is noisy. A fan inside the unit whirs away constantly to push vapor upward, and it’s not to everyone liking. Puffing on vapor is completely silent.
The best vaporizers on the market are also expensive units. A Volcano by Storz and Bickel costs anywhere from $400 to over $500 depending on whether you select analog or digital controls. A Silver Surfer by 7th Floor costs over $200 before you customize it. Arizer is another popular brand from Canada with multiple sleek options.
Features of Handheld Vaporizers
These travel models might also be just the size of your hand. They aren’t just light: they’re tiny. If you can imagine a fancy pen — the commemorative kind you get when you graduate from high school — that is the size you are looking at. There are few parts to assemble but they cost around $80, give or take $10. Herbal or oil capacity is small. A Micro G and Trippy Stix are two examples.
Personal vaporizers like the PAX are also small but not pen-shaped. Several companies have created discrete vaporizers one might mistake for a cell phone, walkie-talkie, or an inhaler. The Puffit resembles asthma medication in color, size, and shape. The newer Puffit-X is the first portable forced-air vaporizer. A Davinci Ascent could be mistaken for a sleek portable phone. Iolite vaporizers have the look of a handheld radio with an antenna.
They are quiet, fit into a pocket in your bag, and come with rechargeable batteries or replaceable butane tanks in the case of Iolite devices. Their antennae are made of glass or silicone and fold or slide away into the body when a device is not in use.
Comparing Tabletop and Portable Vaporizers
Now it’s crunch time. Do you pick a funky little portable thing that is as novel as it is ingenious and convenient, or do you go for a desktop monster that does everything? That’s not the right question. You choose both: one for home, one for the road.
Instead, ask yourself what your priorities are. A few portable units vaporize dry and wet ingredients. Many only vaporize one or the other. Numerous tabletop units handle both.
Several vaporizers are made with glass pathways and ceramic heating elements, but some are made from heat-resistant plastic and stainless steel. They contain ceramic and/or glass elements, but there is the risk of vapor flavor being tinged with metal or plastic. Read reviews of products and you can tell which ones seal off a neutral vapor pathway from materials that interfere.
Check for features like the cooling coil. The Plenty by S&B is made with a coil that cools vapor between the chamber and the mouthpiece. Select a device that provides plenty of tubing so you aren’t crammed in close to the mod (which can happen with box mods).
Think about noise: is the fan notoriously loud or have engineers devised a quiet system, or perhaps multiple fan speeds? Is there a pass-through feature, meaning one can vaporize and charge a battery at the same time? Can the battery be removed from the unit or is it built in?
Is temperature adjustable? If so, how is it adjusted (digitally or using a dial) and what is the temperature range? Usually the top temperature is 400 to 420F. The lowest is slightly above 200F.
Find out how long it takes a device to heat up. Many portable units require just a few seconds to reach vaporizing temperature.
A common refrain among reviewers refers to the ease of filling the chamber. Several models make this difficult. The chamber is too narrow or angled wrong. Access is tough. On the Ascent, the bottom part swings out to reveal the chamber and makes access easy for emptying, refilling, and cleaning.
When you buy a vaporizer new from the manufacturer or an authorized dealer, it comes as part of a package. Other pieces inside the box usually include cleaning items and screens. If you buy a vaporizer and it doesn’t come with these things, it’s probably not being sold by an authorized dealer. It might be used. Be careful about your supplier. Unauthorized dealers cannot provide warranties which you might need for replacing expensive hardware that arrives in bad shape, or DOA batteries. Starter kits are also good value. Buying just the vaporizer and adding cleaning supplies later is always costlier.
Brands of Vaporizers
In the e liquid department are Kanger, SmokTech, Innokin, JoyeTech, Aspire, VaporFi, and Volcano. Several other companies have made excellent, high-tech devices such as Cloupor, VaporShark, Pioneer4You, and Sigelei. All of them are rechargeable with either removable batteries or built-in batteries. Some let you charge while using them.
If you want to vaporize herbs, look for names like Atmos, Storz & Bickel, DaVinci, and Firefly. Magic Flight and V2 also put out products you might want to research. The VaporFi Orbit falls into your budget-conscious list at around $100. A V2 Pro Series 3 is also low-budget but is a 3-in-1 device vaporizing e liquid, herbs, and essential oils with the use of three separate cartridges.
Where to Buy these Brands
Most of the products above are available from independent retailers selling goods online or in street-level shops all over the country. A few shops carry both types of vaporizers but many consider the two styles (e liquid and herb/wax/oil) to be completely different.
For one thing, many consumers in the latter group are using medical marijuana or illegal drugs while e liquid does not produce any drug-related effects (except nicotine buzz). Secondly, the latter group is available in portable and desktop varieties with wide variations in style. Thirdly, e liquid is heated by conduction. Some vaporizers use convection-method heating.
Some Great Machines for Handheld Use
Many of the best vaporizers on the market right now cost between $250 and $300, which is more than many table top devices used in living rooms. The reason for this price is the complexity and care that goes into making a device that reaches precise temperatures, creates excellent vapor, but can be carried in one’s hand.
Examples in this price range are the DaVinci Ascent with its dual-purpose swivel-opening bottom chamber allowing the user to fill it easily and clean it out without fuss or mess. You can use this unit with oil or herbs. It is one of the few handheld vaporizers featuring a digital display.
The Firefly is also beautiful and comes with a convenient magnetic cover. When you remove this piece, it reveals the entire length of the vapor pathway for a full clean, but only half: the other half is in the cover. Grates on each side of the heating chamber glow red when the vaporizer is hot.
The Puffit is a first because it looks like a traditional inhaler which you see many smokers and ex-smokers using. To pull one of these out and take a puff wouldn’t cause much curiosity, but the user could actually be puffing on herbal vapor.
The Puffit-X is also unique because a fan is built in for semi-assisted vaping. One must usually take a puff directly to inhale any vapor, especially owing to the palm-sized dimensions of these things. But if you graduate to desktop vaporizers by Arizer and Storz & Bickel, there is an assisted-inhalation function involving a balloon.