Although the history of vaping marijuana possibly goes back at least 2,500 years (we’re not talking electronic vaping, obviously), the modern-day vaporizer wasn’t available until the year 2000 when the Volcano Classic entered the marketplace. While ‘Eagle’ Bill Amato seemingly invented the marijuana vaporizer in the 1990s, it was the German firm, Storz & Bickel, that became the first to make money from this new device.
For almost the first decade of the 21st century, your only option was a desktop vaporizer such as the Volcano Classic or the Digit. These devices enabled you to vape cannabis in the comfort of your own home, but the lack of portability was a problem. By now, e-cigarettes had begun to make a dent in the tobacco industry as consumers were able to vape nicotine e-liquid. It was only a matter of time before the cannabis industry got in on the action.
2008 – 2010: The Embryonic Years of Portable Devices
After the success of the NJOY e-cigarette range, which was first released in 2006, manufacturers took turns to create a portable vaporizer for dry herb. In 2008, the LOLITE was released by Oglesby and Butler, and was arguably the first ever portable marijuana vaporizing device. The LOLITE used butane to power the portable unit.
Overall, it was a good first effort as the device helped vaporize your marijuana rapidly and it was easy to refill the tank with butane. It had an automatic temperature regulation mode, which ensured the device didn’t work once the temperature went over 370 degrees Fahrenheit. However, there were health concerns over the use of butane and manufacturers soon turned their attention to cleaner heating sources.
The Magic Flight Launch Box was released in 2009 and is probably the first portable weed vaporizer to resemble what we use today. It is a beautifully designed product made from wood, and it almost looks like an old-fashioned miniature radio! At around $119, it offered a competitive price, andit heated your weed into vapor within 10 seconds. Alas, it used NiMH rechargeable batteries which meant you didn’t get much use from a single charge.
2011 – 2014: Lithium-Ion Batteries, Customized Temperatures & Discretion
Advances in lithium-ion batteries meant that an increasing number of companies were developing vaping devices for marijuana users. The Arizer Solo was released in 2011 and is still enjoyed by tens of thousands of vapers today. It broke new ground by including a heating chamber made from a ceramic material.
The 2220 mAh Li-ion battery was extremely powerful by the standards of the time, and you could get at least 2.5 hours of use from a single charge. Its design made it look more like a household appliance which meant you could use it in public without anyone knowing what you were doing, as long as you kept the level of vapor production down.
This was possible thanks to the seven heat settings which ranged from 122 to 410 degrees Fahrenheit. As it was a convection heating model, the Arizer Solo’s vapor production was impressive, but for the sake of a clandestine smoke, it was best to use one of the lower temperature settings. You still get the buzz from weed and also enjoy superior flavor.
The Firefly vaporizer quickly became one of the biggest selling models of all time upon its release in 2012. It allowed you to heat your weed into vapor within 5-7 seconds and it was praised for being so easy to clean. However, the Firefly was extremely expensive at over $300, and it offered no temperature settings. Once you switched on the device, it heated your dry herb to approximately 400 degrees.
2015 – 2017: A Brave New World, Having Weed Your Way
Various companies produced marijuana vaporizers of differing quality during this time. The Firefly 2 was well received upon its release in 2015; it included an extra temperature setting specifically for concentrates. As you know, waxes, shatters, etc. work better at higher temperatures, which is why the Firefly team included a 510-degree Fahrenheit setting.
Once again, it heated in seconds, and it was one of the first vaporizers to include a Smartphone app. The trouble was that you needed to download the app to get the most from the device.
In 2016, the Pax 3 was released and changed the game once again. It allowed you to cycle through five heat settings, but once you downloaded the app, it became possible to set the temperature to the specific degree between 360 and 420 degrees.
By now, marijuana lovers were absolutely spoiled because they could choose a temperature, enjoy dry herb or concentrate, vape in peace because of discreet designs, and enjoy multiple bowls without having to recharge. In less than a decade, we had gone from waiting for balloons to fill up in desktop vaporizers to storing the equivalent of electronic, customizable joints in our shirt pocket!
2018 & Beyond: What Does the Future Hold?
It is difficult to see how portable vaporizers can improve barring minor details. They are already capable of vaporizing weed in seconds and offer more customization than you need. The DaVinci IQ is widely regarded as the best marijuana vaporizer in the world right now. It has a sleek yet understated design, weighs 155 grams (the Pax 3 weighs only 95 grams!) and has various app features under the guise ‘Smart Paths.’
There is even a stealth mode which dims the device’s LED lights. You can choose a temperature range, the chamber allows up to 0.3 grams, and it uses a replaceable battery system. These are all awesome features, but again, it begs the question: What can companies do to make portable marijuana vaporizers even better?
The recently released Dr. Dabber Switch was heralded as ‘the future of cannabis’ by Forbes magazine. It uses induction technology and maximizes the effects of vaporization by allowing total control of heating profiles to get the best vaporization and activation of marijuana compounds. In other words, the main improvements we can expect involve technological advances that offer the best taste, aroma, and potency fromour marijuana. We wait with bated breath.