Lighter-based portable vaporizers explained (and our personal top 5!)
Vaporizing with a flame?
Whereas most vaporizers are electric and use a battery to convert energy into the heat that is required to vaporize your favourite herb (generally at temperatures between 170 and 220°C), flame powered devices use the heat of a flame from either a regular lighter or a more powerful torch lighter. However, as the herb directly touching the flame would cause it to scorch and cause combustion, the heating is indirect, using the flame to heat the material and to pull this hot air through your herb (convection heating). Having said that, combustion may still occur when the heat is applied for an extended time, so it is important to always use the right technique.
And while these vaporizers are certainly not for everyone, there are some clear advantages to these ‘basic’ flame-fueled vapes.
1. Use anywhere, anytime
With an exhausted battery but no electrical outlets around, your battery-operated vaporizer has become pretty much useless. If the batteries of your vape are removable this can be prevented by always bringing an extra battery, but with many popular models not offering this feature, a power bank or power outlet is a necessity to keep vaping once you’ve run out of the initial charge. While of course, it is possible to run out of lighter gas, there is usually a good chance someone in your surrounding has a lighter for you – much like in smoker’s culture.
2. Low cost
As the design of these flame vaporizers is often more straightforward than that of an advanced electronic vaporizer (containing a battery, a sophisticated heating system, a heating path etcetera), most flame-based units are priced around or even below 50 euro. Some people even use them as disposable vaporizers, for example when travelling to a foreign country.
Due to the absence of plastics and electronics, flame-based vapes are known for producing excellent tasting, pure vapour. The majority of these models are constructed using mainly natural or inert materials, such as glass, ceramic and wood.
5 popular flame-based portable vaporizers
VapCap (€39 – €159)
The VapCap (by DynaVap) is a relatively new product on the scene. Manufactured in the USA, the VapCap is available in various materials, ranging in price from 39 euro for the VapCap original (glass) piece to 159 euro for a heavy-duty Titanium (OmniVap) edition, with the VapCap M offering the best value (making it our best selling VapCap). What’s unique about the VapCap is that is clicks when the material has reached the desired temperature. The video below demonstrates the heat-up method:
DynaVap has a strong fanbase of dedicated users that praise the VapCap products for their ease of use and outstanding vapour quality.
VaporGenie (€ 49,50)
An all-time classic, the pipe-shaped VaporGenie has been around for almost 10 years. Featuring a clever (patented) filter system, the VaporGenie is heated by applying a flame to the filter (but without touching it!), transporting the hot air through your herb, allowing for sublime convection vaporization. While this requires a bit of a technique at first, many people swear by the elegant and affordable VaporGenie vapes and prefer it over modern-day battery powered portables.
Note that the VaporGenie works best with a regular lighter.
The Vapman is a high quality, handmade Swiss pocket vaporizer that is best used with a torch lighter. The outer shell in an egg-like appearance is hard and does well to protect the Vapman from any damage and shock. The internals is cleverly designed, applying a combination of convection and conduction for optimal vapour output.
Vaponic Plus (€79)
Vaponic Plus is a super small and stealthy, reliable and well thought-out glass portable vaporizer that is constructed using only the highest quality materials (borosilicate glass, stainless steel and medical grade silicone). As a result, the vapour of the Vaponic is extremely flavourful.
While there is a slight learning curve to get the most satisfying clouds of vapour from your Vaponic (mainly getting the right time to heat the glass piece), it is well worth investing the time to become acquainted with its use.
New: Sticky Brick vaporizers
Another recent addition to the range of flame-powered vaporizers are the Sticky Brick vapes. Available in various models and wood types, these handmade wooden vapes are simple by design but incredibly effective and widely touted for the thick and flavourful (convection) vapour. Definitely worth checking out!Vaporizing with a flame? Whereas most vaporizers are electric and use a battery to convert energy into the heat that is required to vaporize your f…
How to Use a Portable Vaporizer
There’s a variety of portable vaporizers on the market, and each one is constructed a little bit differently. When asking how to use a portable vaporizer, the answer really depends on your make and model. However, the basic concept is similar in all portable vaporizers, so let’s start with the basics before we explain how to use one.
Conduction vs Convection
Portable vaporizers don’t actually burn the product you’re smoking, like traditional cigarettes do. Instead, they heat the product enough to extract the oils containing the active ingredient. The user then breathes in the vaporized molecules without having to breathe in all of the extra carcinogenic ingredients that get released when burned. There are two methods to heating the product — conduction (such as the Pax 3 Vaporizer) and convection (such as the Firefly 2 Vaporizer). You can think of conduction like a frying pan on a coiled electric range stovetop. The heating element comes in direct contact with the product (or in direct contact with the plate that holds the product) to heat it. These types of vaporizers are generally less expensive and take less time to heat up. However, some herb not in direct contact with the heating element may not get fully vaporized, leading to wasted product. Convection vaporizers are like an oven. The product doesn’t come in direct contact with the heating element, but it still heats up enough to release the chemicals. These do tend to heat the product more uniformly, but they do take longer to heat up and typically cost more than conduction style vaporizers. However, price between these two can also depend on added features, the material (glass, ceramic, or metal) of the chamber or mouth piece, and temperature settings.
Dry Materials vs Liquids
Most portable vaporizers will either vaporize dry materials (some can do dry materials and extracts) or e-liquids. Some portable vaporizers are multi-functional and can handle all three types of product. Check out our product reviews of the G Slim Vaporizer for Dry Materials and the Yocan Evolve Plus for more information.
Those who will be using their vaporizer for primarily dry materials will want to select a piece that functions with that type of product, and same for e-liquids/oils. Some e-liquid pens will have replaceable liquid chambers, while others will require you to refill yourself. Some kits even allow you to mix your own perfect blend of oil, such as the O.Pen FIY (Fill-it-Yourself) Vaporizer.
How to Use a Portable Vaporizer
Once you know what type of product a portable vaporizer takes, you can load it and start using it. For e-liquids and oils, you will need to load the chamber to the fill point, and not past it, before turning the device on. For dry materials, place the desired amount into the loading chamber and ensure there’s enough airflow to achieve maximum efficiency. Grinding your materials beforehand is essential, as the greater surface area will ensure full use of the product.
Once you turn the device on and heat it to the correct temperature for the type of product you’re using, don’t open the device again until after you’re finished and it has time to cool. The inner parts will be extremely hot, and you don’t want to burn yourself! Depending on your model, you may have to shut the device off manually once you hit the right temperature, which can take some getting used to, or your device will turn off automatically if it includes a preset option. Then, simply inhale and enjoy. To learn how to clean your portable vaporizer, click here.
If you have an e-liquid or oil pen, you may need to replace the wick and/or coils every so often to preserve authentic taste with every use. Even so, vaporizers are a much more cost-friendly option in the long term over traditional smoking methods.There’s a variety of portable vaporizers on the market, and each one is constructed a little bit differently. Let us break down the basics. ]]>