Aromatherapy products have been popular for centuries, even eons. Early people recognized the healing power certain aromas could have on the mind and body and soon categorized materials according to their properties.
Some were good for colds or allergies. Certain plants enhanced mental acuity while others raised a low spirit. Still other aromas calmed a chaotic mind.
All of these scents had to be released from either the plant or its essential oil, and heating was the means of doing this. It still is. Incense is one way consumers continue to enjoy exotic and enjoyable smells but scented candles are also popular.
Another way to enjoy beautiful smells is to inhale vapor from plants and oils using a vaporizer. Vaporizers convert materials into clouds of water vapor. They release the moisture found in a material by heating it to an ideal temperature. This temperature stops short of combustion, which would turn a vaporizer into a smoking device, yet it must be hot enough to effectively release water, enough to really enjoy an intensely aromatic experience.
Brands of Vaporizers
Some of the most popular brands of vaporizers today are Storz & Bickel, Arizer, and Vapir. Magic Flight, Pax by Ploom, Iolite, and Davinci are a few more. Some of these names represent portable devices. Others are makers of desktop products. They are companies from the United States, Canada, and Germany, with expertise in both technical design and attractive finishing.
In the old days, hookah lounges were popular places to find big, exotic, elegant vessels filled with aromatic herbs and liquids. Several people could puff at one time on the same solution, or many individuals would sit in front of their own beautiful hookahs. You still find hookah bars around North Africa and they continue their influence in North America with hookah lounges.
A modern version of aromatherapy puffing has been to smoke a roll of herbs, but that requires combustion and health problems could result. Inhaling smoke is very different from inhaling vapor. It makes you cough for a reason.
Desktop vaporizers remove much of the risk and also bring this habit to personal living rooms. You do not have to vape in public or take a trip to Morocco. No one will be silently (or loudly) judging you, assuming the materials inside your machine are hallucinatory or illegal (if you even care what people think).
Many current models are operated using digital controls and even a remote control in some cases. Buttons or a dial are used to set a temperature of up to about 400F or as high as you think your herbs or oils require. Auto shut-off prevents consumers from heating a device, walking away for too long and returning to find a smoke-filled room or a ruined vaporizer.
Vapor is delivered via a whip or it fills a balloon. If you use the balloon method, the balloon has to be securely clipped to the vaporizer and inflated. When it is full, the user detaches it and draws vapor straight from the balloon. Because of the forced air method, vapers do not have any puffing to do: it’s great if you find this strenuous or difficult or you’re just lazy.
The whip method requires some effort, though there are forced air-assisted whips as well. Generally, you have to puff and also hold the whip with your hands. A hands-free method allows you to use a whip delivery method while reading a novel or knitting.
Smaller devices called portable or handheld vaporizers fit into your pocket, handbag, briefcase, etc. They are discrete and frequently look like something most people would carry around: a cell phone perhaps. One company even makes vaporizers disguised as puffers for asthma sufferers.
These items are not corded so a rechargeable battery or butane tank is required. Most of the time, they last for two or more hours on one charge/tank, and they require roughly the same amount of time to charge up again.
Occasionally, a corded vaporizer is small enough to carry around. It runs like a desktop model but is easy to take on holiday to be plugged into a hotel wall socket. Another option is to add an adapter and turn your corded device into a vaporizer for the car.
The Best Tabletop and Portable Devices
Arizer, Storz and Bickel, and Karma Classics; Volcano, Davinci, Firefly, and Ascent: it’s a swirling melee of names even to someone who has tried vaporizers before. More choice and better prices make for an interesting and complicated industry. Many consumers own two vaporizers: a desktop model and a portable one. When searching through these categories, which model is best? The answer is partly determined by what you want from a vaporizer.
You simply cannot buy every vaporizer on the market and try it out before settling on a favorite. Even as prices come down, there are no “disposable” herbal or oil vaporizers as there are with e cigs. Find several friends who already own vaporizers. Go to a brick-and-mortar store where they demonstrate models. Learn as much as you can.
If your budget is $100 or less, the item you settle on will be a cheap handheld device, pen style vaporizer, or a box mod. Very few handheld devices other than pen mods are good value for under $100, though. Box mods are straightforward: they don’t’ have any features to get excited about, but they do the job.
For between $100 and $200, several devices come to mind. We’ll delve into specifics in a minute, but if you can manage to scrape a few more dollars together there is much more choice. A better price range for more exceptional quality and technology is the $200 to $300 range. Few devices top $300, but when they do, those are amazing vaporizers designed to last a lifetime.
Portable vs. Desktop
Your wife tells you there is room in the budget for a vaporizer but you have to choose one. She doesn’t mind if you spend $300, but that’s your limit. Which would you pick: a handheld item worth $250 or one that plugs into an outlet to provide constant power with a big herb chamber? Is this a vaporizer for taking on the road when you work or do you plan to use it at home?
Portable devices provide the benefit of discretion: you can hide them or even convince people that the item in your bag is something other than a vaporizer. When they find out you’re still addicted to nicotine, that bothers some people, but at least you aren’t smoking.
How strong are your lungs? After 20 years of smoking, they might be nearly shot and breathing isn’t your strong suit anymore. Perhaps you need a forced-air device with a fan and balloon delivery.
That’s noisy, though. If you have the lungs for it, consider partially-assisted draws or the direct draw system where you just suck back the vapor.
What Are You Vaping?
Do you like to vape essential oils, herbs, or waxes? There are several products one can vaporize: even e liquids, which work with certain three-in-one pen-style mods. Just be sure to pick a device that accepts the materials you like. As you search data bases, several come up that accept multiple materials.
Digital vs. Analog
It’s not a big deal, but digital vaporizers provide precision temperature settings and allow one to evaluate temperature. If a machine uses a dial and has no screen, that’s the analog type. Notice also that some items do not provide a means of setting the temperature. They just get hot.
Devices by Name
Best vaporizers on various lists vary according to personal preference and exposure, but several names reappear year after year. They include Storz and Bickel machines The Plenty and Volcano, Arizer, Magic Flight, Palm 2.0, the Pax, and Firefly. Each brings merits and disadvantages to the table.
Like I said above, lots of vaporizers resemble something, in this case a pipe. The Palm 2.0 is made in the United States and provides a glass air path. Among merits of using glass to distribute vapor is its clean taste.
The Palm 2.0 is battery-operated, compact, and uses herbs, wax, or oils. You pay $107.99 for this one but expect a short battery life: a couple of hours per charge.
For $223.99, you have a pocket-sized device with more battery life but for a lot more money. It also features a glass airway, but also provides adjustable temperature control.
It’s beautiful with a zipper-line of bulbs along the front showing when you reach each temperature point. This is an herbal vaporizer.
Here is another tiny device that looks like a wood box you might use to hold keepsakes. Every element of the Magic Flight Launch Box is beautifully hand-crafted in the United States.
Draw herbal vapor from a glass straw and pay $120: a small amount of money for very little battery power.
With the Volcano, you see vaporizers at their peak. German engineering provides clean vapor, lots of space for your herbs, and a clean machine available as a digital or analog vaporizer.
Attach a balloon to the top and pass it from person to person, enjoying tasty flavors without effort. Unfortunately, you pay $500 and more for the privilege, but it’s going to last you until you turn grey.
The Solo was small, but this is a desktop mod. It comes with its own console to hold the remote control provided, so you can multi-task (stir soup, talk on the phone, etc.) while also setting a temperature for your heating element.
Like the Volcano, the Arizer Extreme Q plugs into the wall. Power is supplied on a continuous basis so long as you don’t trip on the cord, blow a fuse, or experience a lighting storm that cuts off power.
A tech-savvy individual designed the Firefly to look great but remain functional. Its good looks include a shiny cover in black, grey, or red with a viewing window. The Firefly’s heating grate acts as a vent and a tantalizing glow on dark, cold nights.
One especially innovative feature is its replaceable magnetic cover. Take it straight off to access the herb chamber and clean it. An airway is formed when the cover is returned. This operates using a rechargeable battery.
Pros and Cons
Usually, handheld vaporizers are quiet and easy to use. They operate with a button or a dial and they light up when the heating element is ready for herbs or oils. In certain cases, a digital display shows the temperature, but the PAX, for instance, lights up a certain color to indicate the temperature.
Materials are sometimes easy to insert if, like the Firefly, the heating chamber is designed to be user-friendly. Certain chambers are small and fiddly. There isn’t much to clean, though you have to maintain a device regularly if you expect it to create clean vapor and to run smoothly.
Portable vaporizers are sometimes cheaper than desktop mods, especially a Puffit or Puffit-X, but some box mods are very reasonable.
Handheld vaporizers can go anywhere with you as long as there is a replacement power source or charging outlet in your luggage. The butane-powered Iolite is great for people getting away from all technology. But the longer you are away, the more of those tanks you’ve got to carry unless you really limit vaping.
Desktop vaporizers might be heavy and hard to disguise as anything but what they are, but some are sleek and beautiful. Mostly, though, you gain the advantages of:
• Constant power supply via an electrical outlet
• A large chamber for oils or herbs
• Thick vapor
• Possible multi-functional technology (balloon or whip)
• Sometimes hands-free vaping
The fact is that a lot of consumers own one portable and one desktop vaporizer. This could mean spending $400 at one time on technology, or even more, but consumers who vape a lot would say it is worth the investment. They can go anywhere and vape, have people over and vape as a group or a couple, and vape discretely when they don’t want to attract attention.