Many have used a Volcano vaporizer at some point. It's arguable the company that makes them, Storz and Bickel, set the platinum standard for precise vaporization. Markus Storz, a German graphic designer, used a heat gun to develop the first Volcano in his basement in 1996. In 1998, he received a patent for his soon-to-be iconic detachable vapor "balloon" bag and brought the first Volcanos to market in 2000. Jürgen Bickel became a partner in 2002, and the first American models became available in 2003.
Their attention to detail was legendary. As Leafly writes, "The medical-grade materials and quality management systems... that Storz & Bickel built into their manufacturing process certified their company and their products as the first medical-use vaporizers, ever."
This shiny gadget is indeed shaped like a volcano. The original analog version used a dial to change the temperature, using markers between 1 and 9. The subsequent digital version provided a touchpad to program a precise temperature for vaporization. Heated air passes over a chamber holding ground-up cannabis (or concentrate on a pad), slowly filling up a self-selected-sized balloon, made of a turkey bag-like material, using a very powerful fan.
Oh yes...the fan.
I own both analog and digital versions of the Volcano, used with both medical patients, and when producing recreational vaporizer stations. For medical users, the balloon allows ease of use, and desired effects can be maximized with the temperature controls. For social use, it's a fun consumption experience, whether sharing the balloon or finishing it yourself. In those settings, the noise of the fan is secondary to the benefits, and pleasure afforded watching the balloon fill.
But for daily home use, I found the fan noise to be a hindrance when watching a movie or listening to music. I pull it out when the noise isn't a consideration, but it had fallen from my daily rotation collection of vaporizers.
Then the new Volcano Hybrid review model arrived and has been my daily go-to consumption device for the past 30 days. The impetus for that choice is the "Hybrid" addition, which provides a swiveling silicone tube, aka whip, which allows you to sip your vapor— silently.
It sits atop a newly modified chamber, which you still fill with ground flower or concentrates, using the aforementioned pad. The digital keypad allows a changing of temperature in 1-degree increments.
The Hybrid reaches the programmed temperature much faster than previous models. Because it still fills balloons, users can attach the whip and turn the fan on.
This provides a unique sensation of having one's face inflated like the balloon itself, while feeling as though you are taking the cannabis vapor from a firehose. This turbo charge feature was a delightful new way to modify my experience, but that's just me.
The Hybrid is Bluetooth-enabled, and the app is a must-have. It wouldn't work with my Android phone but did fine with an iPad.
It offers two new options: "Iterations," which allowed me to set up a repeating pattern of temperature changes within a predetermined amount of time. I can pop on the whip and not have to change the temperature during a session, taking the temperature low to high and so on over 30 or more minutes.
The "Workflows" option works best with a balloon and allows the extraction of specific combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes by varying the temperature while filling the balloon. You can become your own marijuana mixologist to obtain super specific tastes and effects.
I took it to the NW Cannabis Club, and over three hours, people approached me and began sharing similar stories and memories of the balloon, and the effects ("It used to get me so high" was a common shared statement.) A dozen people tried their own flowers and concentrates, all enjoying the whip option while discovering new flavor notes.
At $700, this isn't an investment to be taken lightly, and is beyond the budgets of many. But it's a legitimate medical grade vaporizer, and if in your budget, highly recommended.
Editor's note: Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's temporary ban, in effect as of Oct. 15, includes only flavored vaporizer products, and does not include marijuana- or terpene-flavored products. See an update on this week's News page.