Designed and manufactured by the German company Storz and Bickel, the Volcano Vaporizer probably doesn’t even need an introduction.
But here we go:
Also called ‘the Bentley of vaporizers’, the Volcano is probably the most famous, well researched and well documented vaporizer of all times.
And not without reason…
Even though its inception dates back to 2000, the technology used in this vaporizer is as reliable as it gets. Instances of Volcano Vaporizers still performing with the same reliability after 8+ years of heavy use are the norm.
Blowing bags like there’s no tomorrow, it’s a purebred balloon-style vaporizer…with all its pros and cons.
But if you’re looking for a balloon-style vaporizer, the Volcano blows bags like no other.
Also it’s the only vaporizer which has official medical certifications in two (2) different countries (Canada and Israel).
There are two (2) versions of the Volcano Vaporizer: Classic and Digital (you can read about the differences at the end of the review).
Even though the Volcano Vaporizer truly is an age-old, masterpiece of engineering…
Considering its hefty price tag and the fact that it only blows balloon bags, it’s definitely not for everyone.
Is it for you though?
Continue to find out.
Or go straight to the pros and cons and conclusion:
Where to buy the Volcano Vaporizer:
The Volcano Vaporizer really is a characteristic Stroz and Bickel vaporizer:
- It’s built and looks like a tank;
- It’s built to stand the inescapable test of time.
The type of materials used aren’t necessarily anything special:
- Aluminium, stainless steel and different types of plastic.
However the quality of these materials and the overall build quality of the Volcano is just insane.
I’m not saying this because Storz and Bickel advertises all of their materials as food-safe and heat resistant (although I do believe that)…
I’m saying this because my 8 years old Volcano still looks and operates almost the same as the day I got it.
It’s not the most sleek or elegant vaporizer…
But it is quite discreet. It could easily blend in with your regular kitchen equipment.
The Volcano Vaporizer is the only vaporizer which is officially qualified as a medical device in two (2) countries (Canada and Israel). It is by no means easy to get such a certification. Any such device is subject to vigorous and extensive testing before it’s given such a certification.
It’s also the vaporizer most used in scientific research. Although this does not necessarily mean the Volcano Vaporizer is safe, it does say something.
Here’s the deal:
Since the Volcano is the ONLY vaporizer that’s certified in 2 countries as a medical device, it also is crowned Vaponaut Desktop King of Safety.
On top of the medical certifications, the Volcano Vaporizer has been “tested and certified with regard to its electrical and mechanical safety and reliability” by the Southern Technical Inspection Association in Germany.
Heating element and air path
The materials used in the ‘Bentley of vaporizers’ should be all food-safe and heat-resistant. Storz and Bickel does like to use plastic in their products and the filling chamber / bowl of the Volcano is made of plastic and is placed directly over the heating element.
Although plastic doesn’t have a great name in terms of safety, I personally do trust Storz and Bickel on this one being heat-resistant and food-safe (medical certifications…enough said).
The heating element is made of steel clad ceramic, while the heat exchanger is made of aluminium alloy.
There have been some concerns about small aluminium particles polluting the vapor coming out of vaporizers which make use of aluminium heating elements or heat exchangers. But it was proved in an independent test that with the Volcano at least, no such thing occurs.
The Volcano balloon bags are made from PET plastic. These bags basically are oven hoses normally used to cook food in the oven at temperatures up to 392°F / 200°C. According to Storz and Bickel the temperature of the hot air /vapor in the balloon bag reaches a maximum 266°F / 130°C, well below the degradation temperature of PET.
What’s the bottom line?
Even though glass really is the preferred material from a safety standpoint in all regards and the Volcano has no single part of glass in it…
It’s the only vaporizer which:
- Is certified as a medical device;
- Has undergone independent technical tests;
- Is used in almost all scientific study about vaporizers and vaporizing.
That’s why it is the Vaponaut Desktop King of Safety and this means it currently is the best choice if safety is a top priority for you.
Vapor Potency (8.5)
Even though the Volcano Vaporizer is a balloon-style vaporizer, the Volcano Vaporizer WILL get you medicated and will do it PROPERLY.
Why am I saying “even though”?
Balloon-style vaporizers are definitely not your best option if you want the most potent, thick and milky clouds of vapor that hit like a boeing 747.
Anytime there’s a step between your bowl and your mouth, your vapor will get mixed up with air. This decreases the density, the cannabinoid-to-air-ratio and therefore the potency of your vapor and brutality of your hit.
It gets better:
Because a balloon-bag is filled with LOADS of vapor…you can take very large and deep draws from a balloon bag, many in a row. They just won’t be super brutal.
So if you’re looking for those huge and brutal rips that will completely kick your ass…a balloon-style vaporizer, including the Volcano is not your best choice and you should check out the VapeXhale Cloud EVO.
Vapor Flavor (8)
Flavor-wise the Volcano Vaporizer is not among the finest of the finest. It being a balloon-style vaporizer doesn’t help in this regard either.
There are two (2) reasons for this:
- Condensation: cannabinoids and other compounds easily condense onto the balloon, making the flavor lose its intensity;
- Mixing of air with vapor: because the balloon bag is filled with air already, your vapor will lose on density, making the flavor lose its intensity;
Don’t get discouraged though:
The flavor definitely is above average. Of all the balloon-style vaporizers I tested, the Volcano, together with the Herbalizer, definitely comes out on top.
There is one plus side to balloons in terms of flavor:
- Your vapor will always be cool and smooth.
So unless flavor really is a TOP priority for you, the Volcano will be perfectly fine for you in terms of flavor.
Being a balloon-style vaporizer, the Volcano Vaporizer is definitely not the most efficient vaporizer around. There are two (2) reasons why a balloon-style vaporizer is bad news for efficiency:
- Condensation: cannabinoids and other compounds easily condense onto the balloon;
- Dissipation: anytime there is a step between the bowl / filling chamber and you, vapor is bound to dissipate into the air;
Another less efficient feature is the relatively large bowl of the Volcano. It has a large surface area, which is great for effective extraction of large quantities of herb, but less good for the minimum amount of herb that you’ll need to produce decent vapor.
For decent and visible vapor production, you need to fully cover the screen at the bottom of your herb chamber. If you grind your herb fine, this will amount to 0.15 grams approximately. This is still much more efficient than smoking, but miles apart from an extremely efficient desktop vaporizer like the VapeXhale Cloud EVO.
How can you actually use this?
If you’re a solo user and efficiency is important to you, please don’t get a Volcano. Using a minimum of 0.15 grams each and every vaping session is not very efficient.
For group-vaping you couldn’t make a better choice though:
Its large bowl makes sure you can load up bag after bag (up to 5 /6 bags I find), if you pack your filling chamber up to 80-90%. A
lso the balloon bags with the Valve are:
- Easy to pass around, and;
- The vapor produced is super-consistent in terms of potency and flavor…
…all adding to its group-friendliness.
Ease of Use (9)
You know these vaporizers…
These vaporizers that even a monkey could use…?
The Volcano Vaporizer is one of them.
There is zero risk of combustion. And zero risk to mess up the quality of your vapor (as long as you use the minimum amount of herb that’s needed to cover the screen in the bottom of the bowl and use the right temperature).
These are more so the perks of the Volcano being a balloon-style vaporizer, than the Volcano itself. Balloon-style vaporizers in general, are extremely easy to use.
What gives the Volcano Vaporizer an edge over other balloon-style vaporizers?
Its patented Valve Balloon System really is the most convenient way to inhale vapor from a balloon bag, I’ve ever come across. The clickable mouthpiece makes sure no vapor gets released unless, you guessed it…you click it.
This is unlike most other balloon bags where you have to put your finger on the opening of the mouthpiece to stop vapor from dissipating into the air…
…not very convenient.
The Valve system just really feels like a solid, high quality and durable inhalation system in general.
A balloon-style vaporizer never has any draw resistance. The Volcano Vaporizer is perfect for anyone who has trouble inhalating with power.
Maintenance / cleaning downtime
Cleaning the Volcano is easy as goblin pie:
The only parts that you’ll regularly need to clean are the screens in the herb chamber and the herb chamber itself. Do this every couple of sessions and you’ll keep a nice airflow in your chamber. What this does is keep your vapor potent and tasty.
For a deep cleaning you’ll need to clean the rest of your Valve as well (you will either have the Easy Valve or the Solid Valve). Do this every 20-30 sessions and you will be fine (a full tutorial can be found at the end of this review).
The balloon bags and the rest of the vaporizer don’t need any cleaning! You simply replace the balloon bag.
That’s right…even a monkey could use the Volcano.
Temperature Control (10)
The two different versions of the Volcano (Classic and Digital) slightly differ in the exactness of their temperature control.
The Volcano Digital has really precise temperature control: you can control your temperature in 2.7 °F / 1.5 °C increments. And you can easily choose your exact temperature with the plus and minus buttons on your unit.
The Volcano Classic has a little less precise temperature control. You can control your temperature in 7.2 °F / 4 °C increments. And you have to do it with a dial, this in and of itself is less precise than buttons.
Even though the Classic version has less precise temperature control than the Digital. It still is exact enough for 99% of users.
Also the temperature of the Volcano will stay consistent all throughout your session. Again, this is more so the perk of it being a balloon-style vaporizer.
Let me explain:
Balloon-style vaporizers can easily keep a constant and consistent temperature in your bowl / herb chamber. They can do this because they provide a constant and consistent air-flow in the herb chamber. This is unlike direct-draw or whip-style vaporizers, where the airflow is directly correlated to the speed and strength you draw with.
There’s also a difference in the range of temperatures both the Classic and Digital can reach:
- Volcano Classic: 226 °F – 446 °F / 108 °C – 230 °C
- Volcano Digital: 104 °F – 446 °F / 40 °C – 230 °C
If you’re only vaping marijuana, this difference really doesn’t matter. However if you’re vaping other herbs then it could matter (depending on the optimal vaping temperature of your specific herb).
Reputation and Reliability (10)
I dare to say the Volcano Vaporizer is the most reliable vaporizer ever made.
It has been around since 2000 and I have one friend who bought it late 2003 and his still works close to the same as the day when he got it (and he even dropped it two times…).
It truly is a tank of mighty proportions. The build quality of this thing is just insane. German engineering at its finest.
Because the Volcano is so reliable and it’s Storz and Bickel’s first vaporizer, they do have a great reputation.
Only more recently did their reputation take a hit because of a high defect rate with one of their portable flagship vaporizers: the CRAFTY. There’s no denying this is a serious issue. But they do offer a 3 year warranty and have proper customer service.
And even though the reputation of Storz and Bickel did take a hit…the Volcano didn’t.
Here’s the deal:
In terms of reputation and especially reliability, you couldn’t make a better choice than the Volcano.
If you’re looking for the easiest to use, most reliable vaporizer of all times, the only vaporizer with official medical certifications, the most potent and best flavor producing balloon-style vaporizer… the Volcano is your vaporizer.
But even the Volcano cannot carry the title of ‘best’ vaporizer in the world, yes…
Even the Volcano has downsides…
It wouldn’t score so high in all these categories if it wasn’t a high-end vaporizer. And its price does reflect that. The Volcano definitely is no budget vape (gross understatement). The ‘Bentley of Vaporizers’ also has a Bentley price tag.
So you decided spending $500 dollars on a vaporizer seems alright, as long as it fulfills all of your needs…
Will the Volcano Vaporizer fulfill all of your needs?
If you’re looking for the hardest hitting and tastiest vaporizer, the Volcano won’t cut it. If potency and flavor are an absolute TOP priority for you just avoid balloon-style vaporizers in general and go for a direct-draw beast like the VapeXhale Cloud EVO.
Also if you you’re a solo vaper and find efficiency important, the Volcano with its large bowl, will not be your best friend. It being a balloon-style vaporizer also doesn’t help in this regard either.
What’s the bottom line?
The Volcano Vaporizer IS expensive, it’s an old design and not the best in terms of potency, flavor and efficiency.
It IS the safest, most reliable, easiest to use, best group- /party-vaporizer and just BEST balloon-style vaporizer overall.
Where to buy the Volcano Vaporizer:
Volcano Vaporizer Tips and Tricks
How to grind your herb:
- Use a fine grind. Go as fine as you can WITHOUT letting the herb fall through your screen (this is very hard and you would need something like an electric coffee grinder to do this).
How to pack your bowl:
- The minimum amount you need is so much that the bottom screen is fully covered with herb.
How to draw:
- Your draw patterns won’t have any effect on the quality of your vapor.
How long to store vapor in your balloon bag:
- 15-30 mins MAX: recent study found that after 5 mins only 2% of the THC condensed onto the balloon bag. After 180 mins no THC could be found in the vapor extracts. Basically the longer you wait, the more your vapor will lose its potency and taste. I find after 30 mins the vapor really looses too much of its potency and taste, so I’d rather fill up a new balloon then. So don’t believe any stories talking about storing vapor up in balloons for hours on end.
The best temperature fully depends on what exactly you’re trying to achieve with vaping. What are the main effects you want out of your herb. I dedicated a full article on this subject, click here to check it out.
With that said, I will give you my personal modus operandi.
- If you will vape only 1 bag start with the dial at 6. If you will vape more than 1 bag start with the dial at 5 ½ and increase it ½ points per successive bag up until YOU find the taste deteriorates too much (for me this is at 7).
- If you will vape only 1 bag start with the temperature at 365°F / 185°C. If you will vape more than 1 bag start with the temperature at 365°F / 185°C and increase it 9°F / 5°C points per successive bag up until YOU find the taste deteriorates too much (for me this is at 392°F / 200°C).
Stir your herbs
- Stir your herbs between each balloon bag fill. This makes sure you will get maximum extraction of all the compounds in your herb.
Volcano Easy Valve and Volcano Solid Valve
Besides having to choose between the Classic and the Digital version of the Volcano, you will have to make a choice between the Easy Valve and the Solid Valve.
The Valve of your Volcano basically is the balloon system.
You might be wondering:
How can you have different systems for simply filling a balloon bag with vapor and then drawing the vapor out of it?
Well, the Easy and the Solid Valve do slightly differ in their application and use.
Here are the differences:
You simply replace the balloon bag.Requires cleaning every 20-30 sessions.
Has more parts which require cleaning.
|Easy Valve||Solid Valve|
|You replace the whole Valve everytime you need a new balloon bag.||You only replace the balloon bags, not the Valve itself.|
|Will cost you around $10 per balloon bag.||Will cost you max $0.50 per balloon bag (20 times cheaper).|
|Besides the filling chamber, requires no cleaning.|
|Fixed size balloon bags: (2 ft/60cm) and “XL” (3 ft/90cm).||Custom size balloon bags.|
Keep in mind there are ways to tinker a new balloon on the Easy Valve. The questions why would you get the Easy Valve if you’re going to replace balloon bags anyway? Just get the Solid Valve.
If you want my recommendation: just get the Solid Valve. Yes it is a little less ‘easy’ but it will be much cheaper and it’s just more robust and durable overall.
Differences Volcano Classic and Digital
So should you go for the Classic or Digital version of the Volcano?
Check out the differences below and decide if the Digital is worth its extra price. For me personally it isn’t!
Automatic switch-off after 30 minutes.
Autoomatic shut-off (30 minutes)
|Volcano Classic||Volcano Digit|
|$479 / 379€||$599 / 479€|
|Temperature to be set and adjusted with a dial.||Digital LED display with set and actual temperature (°Fahrenheit or °Celsius).|
|Temperature accurate within 4°C.||Precise electronic temperature control, with temperature accuracy within 1.5°C.|
|Vaporizes at temperatures between 108 – 230°C.||Vaporizes at temperatures between 40 – 230°C.|
|Device stays on until you switch it off.|
Deep Cleaning Tutorial
What you’ll need for the big clean-up:
- Isopropyl Alcohol;
- A sharp metal object like a stir tool or screw driver;
- A jar with a lid, big enough so it can store the Volcano filling chamber and the Valve parts;
- A bowl or large cup with soapy water;
- Some paper towels.
The cleaning process of the filling chamber:
- Carefully but fully disassemble your filling chamber;
- Put the metal pieces in your jar;
- Put the plastic pieces, including the O-Rings into the soapy water.
The cleaning process of the Solid Valve:
- Take the mouthpiece off of the balloon attachment;
- Carefully but fully disassemble the mouthpiece;
- Put the metal pieces in your jar;
- Put the plastic pieces in the soapy water;
- Fully disassemble the Valve itself (this is the part on which you attach the balloon and the mouthpiece);
- Put the metal pieces in the jar;
- Put the plastic pieces, including the O-Ring into the bowl (or cup) with soapy water;
- Now fill your jar with the Isopropyl Alcohol until all parts submerge under the alcohol
- Put some salt in the jar;
- Put the jar away for 5 minutes;
- In the meantime clean the plastic pieces in the soapy water, once their clean rinse with warm water and dry them up with your paper towels;
- Get your jar with metal pieces and shake it for 2 minutes;
- If there’s any resin left on any of the pieces, scrape them off with your sharp metal object;
- Rinse your metal pieces with warm water and dry them up with clean paper towels;
- Carefully assemble back all the pieces.