Volcano Vaporizer Review
A decade or so ago; the vaporizer industry was in complete infancy. Most of the “vaporizers” that were available were crude hot plate models; with soldering iron elements that did as good a job of charring the blends as it did vaporize them. Vaporizing was a niche activity practiced by few; and even though such pioneers of the industry such as Eagle Bill were doing their best to get the word out, hardly anybody was considering vaporizing as an actual alternative to smoking or simple diffusors. If a person was seriously interested in vapor; the only real option available to them was to buy a variable temperature heat gun and jury-rig a system to blow into either an over bag or water pipe. These were the dark ages of vaporizing.
Around this time; 1996 to be exact, a German graphic designer and innovator by the name of Markus Storz became interested in the concept of vaporization and the benefits it provided over alternative methods of intake. Unable to find a vaporizing solution which provided the quality and reliability of the levels he wanted; he set about creating one of his own. Within two years he had patented the valve and bag system which was to become a distinguishing characteristic of his vaporizer; and within another two years and a few more patents, his device was ready for market. One of his first customers was a man named Jurgen Bickel, who became so enthusiastic about the device, that Storz and Bickel teamed up to form their business of the same name.
The Volcano Vaporizer started selling to the public around in 2002, and its popularity exploded around the world. It was unlike anything available at the time; it was sleek, built of high quality components and made to perform. Through a combination of being first to the market and being of such high quality in comparison to the competition, the Volcano Vaporizer remains one of the more popular vaporizers available even to this day. One simply needs to walk into any Amsterdam café to see what the vaporizer of choice is there.
Beneath the striking stainless steel enclosure hides an air pump which flows air through the adjacent heating block. The heat exchanger of the Volcano Vaporizer is made of aluminum with a steel clad ceramic element. All of the tubing on the inside of the unit is made of cured food grade silicone to prevent contamination of the heated air. This heated air is then pumped up and out of the top of the unit. The crucible of the Volcano Vaporizer is set perched on the top of the unit, with no real anchor holding it to the machine. However this does not seem to be a problem as the weight of the crucible and valve are more than enough to keep it stable. However when used on an uneven surface or on a rickety table it is possible for both the bag and crucible to fall right off of the top of the unit while it is running. A saving grace however is that the valve piece locks to the crucible so nothing will spill out and the valve will stop vapor from being lost.
This valve is one of the best features of the vaporizer as it allows you to remove a bag from the unit and then leave it until you are ready for it. There are two different kinds of valves which are available for the unit; the Strong Valve and the Easy Valve. The Strong Valve was the first valve available with the unit. It is a two piece solution with one piece attached to the bag and the other removable from the first. The first piece is the actual valve which is placed on top of the crucible to fill. The second piece is a mouthpiece which is inserted on the valve for inhaling. The Easy Valve is a one piece solution which is permanently attached to the bag it comes with. They are considered disposable; after one Easy Valve dirties to the point of failure one simply uses a new one and disposes of it. 5 Easy Valves come in a set and that should last a year of heavy use. The Easy Valve also has a clip which attaches it to the top of the Volcano Vaporizer so that it can’t fall off. This only works on more recent models of the Volcano Vaporizer however. Both the Solid Valve and Easy Valve set are patented so that no other vaporizer can legally implement a similar solution, which has led to some other vaporizer manufacturers to incorporate the valves into their own vaporizers design.
Two different versions of the Volcano Vaporizer are sold by Storz and Bickel, the Original, which uses dial to set and indicate the temperature, and the Digit which uses 2 rows of 7-Segment displays to display both the set temperature and the current temperature of the element. The only difference between these models is in how you set and read the temperature. Function wise, they are both the same machine and only differ in price.
While there is a lot to love about the Volcano Vaporizer there is still one big issue with it: it’s bloody expensive. Proponents of the device will be quick to retort that it is a non-issue since it will pay for itself over time in saved material. This is true; but it is also true of other, significantly less expensive vaporizers. For a frugal vaporist there are so many less expensive options which provide exactly the same quality of vapor as the Volcano Vaporizer. However, few other vaporizers can match the ease of use that the Volcano Vaporizer offers, especially when paired with the Easy Valve. Whether that is worth the couple hundred dollars is up to you; however.
The Volcano Vaporizer is quite flexible in its vaporizing abilities. It is designed to take plant material normally, but also comes with a disc made of stainless steelwool. Using this disc you can use essential oils, waxes, tinctures and other aromatic mediums to fill your bags. The well written manual describes individual techniques for each preparation of essential oils so you are not left guessing on how to do it. The Volcano Vaporizer has even been adopted by professional chefs as a “flavorizer” due to its wide temperature range and large crucible area. It is used to infuse dishes with the aromatic qualities of various ingredients, such a peppers, lavender and basil. A chef blows a bag full of the vapor of their ingredients and then slices the bag open and pours the vapor over the dish to add new and interesting flavors to it.
When it comes down to it; the Volcano Vaporizer does one thing and does it really well; fill vapor bags. People have come up with modifications to use a whip with it but it is not designed to be used that way. It is also important to consider that while vapor bags may be great for social use; there are certain situations where it may not be ideal to use them. The pump makes a very noticeable noise and the bag also is noisy. Using it at night may disturb people who are relaxing or sleeping. Had the Volcano Vaporizer had standard attachment to use it as a whip vape it would have been perfect for any situation, but this is one flaw which requires a different vaporizer to address; the Volcano Vaporizer was not made to be discreet.
But of course; that is nitpicking, by and large the Volcano Vaporizer does an exceptional job of vaporizing. While its price is expensive, it is difficult to find a more established or user-friendly system and impossible to find a bag vape with valves better than the Strong or Easy valves. Frugal vaporists have several more economical options, but those who can spare the money for a Volcano Vaporizer will no doubt appreciate the more unique features of this vape.
Here are some tips to get the most out of your Volcano Vaporizer:
- Make sure you fill enough herb into the crucible to cover the bottom of the screen. The more even the layer, the more even it will be vaporized.
- The first bag may not look like it has much vapor in it; but don’t waste it. It is the best tasting out of all of them.
- Keep the manual; it has lots of good information on using different types of material in the Volcano Vaporizer. You never know what you might end up wanting to try.
- If you are using a Strong Valve you can replace the Volcano Vaporizer bag with any standard turkey cooking bag which will be sold at grocery stores. These can be gotten for a great price after Thanksgiving, so stock up.
- You can effectively vaporize small amounts by putting the liquid pad in the crucible dry and then putting your blend on top of that.
- Exceptionally strong and rugged design.
- Constructed from high quality parts and well supported by manufacturer.
- The pair of valve systems available work very well and are quite convenient.
- Recognized as a medical device by many institutions.
- Very flexible, can be used with almost any essential oil preparation.
- Good warranty, well supported by manufacturer.
- Proprietary security torx screws prevent easy repair by a user. This made even worse by the fact that the issue is usually just a simple slipped tube.
- Exceptionally expensive, does not provide any tangible increase in vapor quality over solutions half the price.
- Storz and Bickel’s marketing material is misleading at times and their aggressive actions against competitors are dishonorable.
Score: 8 out of 10