Vaporizers come in varying sizes and shapes, colors and configurations. They use convection or conduction, electricity or oil, batteries or a cord, forced air or direct draw. The three materials one can use in a vaporizer are waxes, essential oils, and dry herbs. But not all vaporizers are compatible with all three. When it comes time to find dry herb vaporizers, you might need some help locating the right device from a huge selection.
What are Herbs?
Dry herbs are any plant materials that you have to shred or grind before placing them inside a heating chamber. They include tobacco, which is frequently consumed in this format. Many smokers switch to vaporizers to reduce the amount of chemicals they consume. The biggest dangers of smoking come from the smoke, but vaporizers don’t create smoke.
At least, the good ones don’t. You can find low-quality units that accidentally burn herbs, but choose something that has an automatic shut-off feature and you should be safe. Also, watch out for units that are known to produce fumes caused by the proximity of plastic to the heating chamber or a poor seal between the heat and outer body.
What Heats Your Herbs?
Your herbs are heated by an oven which either sits below the herbs, heating them directly, or blows hot air around them. This oven makes your device really hot to the touch if it hasn’t been well built. Well-insulated machines (like those made by Arizer) feature double walls. Others, like the Volcano by S&B, come with cooling coils to dissipate heat up to your mouth so it arrives cool and smooth. Hot vapor is harsh-tasting and less flavorful.
How hot does the oven become? Well, it’s not hot enough to cause a fire (combustion) which would also create smoke and ash, but 200F to 400F is still pretty warm. Certain parts of a vaporizer could burn your fingers.
Dry Herb Vaporizers
Some of the devices in your search will be portable; others are table-bound. Select a company that provides guidance. It will ask you what you want to vaporize: herbs, waxes, or oils. Choose the size of device you want: a tabletop or portable mod. From these criteria, the website will produce a selection for you to peruse. You can also indicate a price range, but don’t set it below $80 or so: this would lead you to cheap stuff that doesn’t work for long.
The Short List
Here is a list of products you might want to consider, but it is not comprehensive. Many more models are out there, waiting to be explored; too many to talk about in a single article. These four form a starting point for personal research. They include the Atmos RX, Vapir Rise, Sonic, and Viva La Vape. I included a pen style device, box mod, tabletop, and a handheld unit.
Atmos has taken off in a big way. Their products sell out quickly so be alert to new shipments and pounce when they come in. Considering they cost just $119, these are excellent pen-style devices small enough to conceal but pleasingly powerful. Choose Green, Silver, or Blue. Although this is an herbal vaporizer, it also works with concentrates.
The glass screen inside can be removed for thorough cleaning, a ritual you will want to perform regularly no matter which item you buy. A clean machine works best.
The package contains a mesh filter, glass screen, and a mouthpiece. It comes with a charging kit for the battery, packing and cleaning tools, a ceramic filter, and a chamber connector plus a few other odds and ends.
Here is one important element of the Atmos RX and any other vaporizer: a ceramic heating chamber. Ceramics are neutral, meaning they do not impart any flavor onto the materials you are vaping.
The same goes for glass, but stainless steel can leave you with a metallic tang. The Atmos RX heats in no more than 5 seconds and shuts off automatically if you leave it heating up for a long time.
A tabletop unit offers constant power and a focus for gatherings. In this case, up to 4 people can vape at the same time with the multi-user adapter. It’s an excellent feature since vaporizing is a social habit.
A big touchpad control base features big, obvious instructions for setting the temperature or fan speed. A large oval screen shows the temperature. Another excellent aspect of the Vapir Rise (a $250 device) is its HEPA filter for purifying vapor.
Use the Vapir Rise with a balloon for assisted delivery or choose the direct-draw method.
Although portable like the Atmos Raw, the Sonic is not as discrete. To make up for its slightly larger size, the Sonic is designed to resemble a small transistor radio with an antenna (mouthpiece) and built-in speaker (vent).
This is a beautiful-looking device with soft edges and a lovely screen. It has a technological look that will appeal to electronics nerds, but also an elegant appearance which non-vapers will be curious about.
The long-life rechargeable battery is built-in and charges on a wall adapter, not a USB, so it has to be charged from a wall plug. The herbal chamber is easy to fill.
Box mods are basic in shape but functional. They also lend themselves to cloning, so beware phonies.
They cost $20 (not $70 like the Viva La Vape Revolt) and fall apart or catch fire fairly quickly. The Viva La Vape Revolt won’t do that if you buy the genuine article from a genuine retailer.
Polymer housing is inexpensive but solid. Use a hands-free whip to vape while reading or filling-in a crossword puzzle. This unit uses glass-on-glass configuration to create clean vapor and also features digital controls.
The Volcano or The Plenty by Storz and Bickel, a Davinci Ascent, or the Firefly would also be good investments for the discerning vaper. All of these are quality products widely reviewed by experts in the field of vaping. The Volcano uses balloon delivery, but the others are direct draw items.
The Best Portable Dry Herb Vaporizers
Portable dry herb vaporizers have been a revelation to consumers who felt tied to the desktop format for many years. If they could find a portable device, it either burned herbs or required too much work to set up. Many were indiscrete owing to their size or shape.
Today’s portable vaporizers are compact and deceptive, appearing to be much like other items that no one pays attention to anymore. Rechargeable batteries ensure you don’t have to light them up or change butane tanks. They are convenient and easy to use.
Some Names for the List
The Alfa, Summit, Firefly, Pax2, and Mighty are all excellent products. You could add the V2 Pro and Vapir N02 to the list; perhaps a Solo. The following article, however, is going to focus on just a few really good ones: the Alfa, Pax 2, and Vapium Summit.
For about $200, you can own a device provided in dark, stealthy colors without digital features but with a knurled, manual dial and flip-open herb chamber.
The dial allows you to change temperatures or set the device to automatic in one of two settings. In “automatic” mode, your temperature rises gradually during a vaping session (either as you puff or during a certain space of time).
Otherwise, pick 190, 210, or 230 degrees as your desired temperature and wait just 30 seconds to start vaping. If you imagined only digital temperature settings would be sufficient for excellent performance, the Alfa might prove you wrong.
The Alfa is a compact and ergonomic unit designed to be user-friendly and durable. With a large anodized, sturdy oven, you will discover that it’s easy to clean and refills won’t be constant. Herbs go in the bottom where a central heating pin is responsible for that quick heating time. The lid is attached so you won’t lose it.
Smaller than the original Pax, this latest version is also more expensive: $280.
Still, you get one of the finest devices on the market producing loads of vapor.
It takes less than a minute to heat up and shuts off automatically if left unattended for 15 minutes.
Again, fill from the bottom and the lid attaches using strong magnets.
The vapor pathway is made up of medical-grade materials. Flavor is excellent. In spite of its smaller size, performance from the newer Pax is bigger than what you get using the earlier version.
This third entry resembles a two-toned BBQ lighter but does something much better: it heats your herbs to a pleasantly warm but not burnt flavor.
Choose from 8 temperature settings. Grip is sturdy and the shape is ergonomic. When the temperature is ready for you to vape, it will vibrate so there are no colored lights to catch anyone’s attention and make them ask why your BBQ lighter is glowing.
The lid is magnetic and tethered so it will never get lost. All parts snap together magnetically as well, so you can clean it thoroughly on a regular basis.
The outer part is made from polycarbonate for a sturdy exterior build and excellent thermal properties. The people who made the Summit had vaping in the outdoors on their minds, so they built it to resist the weather.
They highlight cold temperatures in particular, promising the Summit will resist cold and snow to perform just the way you like it when you go hiking at lofty elevations (hence the name “Summit”).
Medical and food-grade materials were employed to create the heating chamber and vapor pathway. You get up to 2 hours of battery time with your vaporizer, but the great thing is you can continue vaping while you’re having it charged.
This is a pass-through product, a relatively rare commodity in this industry. Expect to pay around $190 for an item that will impress you or anyone who receives it as a gift.
The V2 Pro Series 7 is a high-powered vaporizer that operates as an e liquid, herbal, or wax vaporizer.
Cartridges attach magnetically to the base which reads the code on each one and selects an appropriate temperature automatically. For a compact pen, it produces amazing vapor and you shouldn’t expect to burn your herbs.
Owners of the Firefly always feel warm when they see their oven glowing red through grilles and a round window on the face.
Combustion is virtually unheard of with this classy device. All you do to load herbs is to lift off the top: it’s a magnetic lid that exposes the chamber and pathway for easy cleaning too.
Vapers love the Davinci Ascent: its vapor pathway which is crafted entirely from glass, pivoting chamber, and digital display.
Use it with herbs or concentrates and enjoy a smooth, rich flavor.
The Arizer Solo provides many temperature settings so you can achieve a precise level of heat or cool things down a little as you please.
The Crafty and Mighty are both excellent products which don’t make it to my best-of list because they cost too much.
Most people can’t afford $400+ for a portable vaporizer even if it does vibrate when hot enough to vape and supplies multiple settings. The screen on a Mighty displays your temperature in big, bright figures.
These are also a little heavy and large to fit into one’s pocket, but a regular handbag should be large enough. Your investment will certainly provide hours of flavor and lots of vapor.