With the increase of recently released portable vaporizers containing high tech features such as Bluetooth connectivity (hello Davinci IQ and PAX 3!), powerful lithium batteries and the use of aerospace materials, it’s easy to forget about a specific niche in the world of vaporizing: flame-powered portable vaporizers. As the name implies, these vaporizers rely on an actual flame as heat source instead of a battery and electronic heater.
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 a 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 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 electricity 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 traveling 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 a 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 are 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.
The classic version of the Vaponic (minus the wooden shell) is available for only €39.50.
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!