Let’s Start With A Brief History of Vaping. In the last decade vaping has taken the cannabis world by storm. Walk into any licensed dispensary or head shop and it’ll be hard not to find a range of vaporizers, pens and pipes on display catering to all your vaping needs. It’s a genuine industry phenomenon, and one that looks set to dominate the future of cannabis consumption.
So, what is vaporizing? Where did it originate? And why has it become so popular? Join us on a brief walk through the history of vaping and find out.
What is Vaporization?
Key to understanding vaporization’s meteoric rise is in how it differs from traditional smoking methods. Normally, smoking cannabis in a joint or bong relies on burning or “combustion” to activate the THC and create an inhalable smoke. This sadly produces many harmful gases and carcinogens in the process.
Vaporization, on the other hand, creates almost no harmful byproducts. It’s simply a change of state from a liquid to a gas. Just like when water reaches its boiling point it vaporizes into steam, THC crystals and cannabis concentrates do the same at high temperatures. This makes inhaling vaporized cannabis far better for your health than traditional combustion.
That vast reduction in harm is one of the reasons for vaping’s popularity, but the benefits don’t end there. Uncolored by the combustion fumes and burnt materials that smoking produces, the taste of vaporized cannabis is far superior. And finally, hitting a vape has a more immediate effect compared to smoking a joint. This is especially beneficial to medical patients who require instant relief.
These factors may be driving vaping’s popularity today, but they’re also what led a little-known pioneer to start the ball rolling in the first place.
Eagle Bill Amato: The Father of Vapor
Chances are you’ve never heard of Eagle Bill Amato (US, 1942-2005), but the world of vaping wouldn’t be the same without him. An expert cannabis grower and activist who found himself exiled from the US during the 90’s, Eagle Bill and his cultivation prowess found a welcoming home in Amsterdam.
Sure looks like he was the father of vaping.
The self-styled “Reefer Refugee” also bought with him a little-known method of consuming cannabis. Bill himself was introduced to vaping by a Californian grower who used an electric heat gun to vaporize the THC from his plants. Enthralled by the method and how it created a cleaner and more flavorful hit, Bill would go on to develop his own vaporizers. One such device, the Shake ‘N’ Vape was even adopted by Holland’s medical marijuana program.
Eagle Bill became a well-known figure in the Amsterdam cannabis scene, wowing the Cannabis Cup with his inventions and eventually setting up shop as an active exhibit at the Sensi Seed Hash Museum. It was here that Bill spent the rest of his days educating visitors and demonstrating vaping as a safer and more effective alternative to smoking cannabis.
Enter “The Volcano”
While the likes of Eagle Bill popularized vaping amongst European cannabis enthusiasts and medical patients, it would be down to two Germans to take vaping to the masses.
Markus Storz and Jürgen Bickel, two longtime friends with a shared love for vaping, were about to create a game changer. Finding the DIY methods of vaporization championed by Eagle Bill to be too cumbersome, the pair set about perfecting an alternative solution.
Toiling for years, Storz and Bickel would eventually create the very first Volcano vaporizer. A solid base providing electrical heating is attached to a balloon like bag. Cannabis flower is vaporized inside and a small air pump fills the balloon with vaper. The balloon of vapor is then detached and a small valve traps it, ready to be inhaled. It was an elegant solution.
Personal use may have driven Storz and Bickel to create the Volcano, but their success lead them to think bigger. The pair soon set their sights on a production model for the medicinal cannabis market. The first commercial Volcano vaporizer was released in 2000 to the European market and became a massive success. Furthermore, the high build quality that was required of medical devices in Europe meant that the Volcano was the first medical vaporizer to receive FDA approval, opening the door to the American market.
Storz and Bickel’s Volcano would enter the American medical cannabis market with aplomb, finding a home in Colorado and California specifically. Coupled with the health-conscious attitudes of the American West Coast, a new vaping trend took hold. The Volcano went from innovative to iconic in just a few short years, and in the process, turned a whole generation of medical and recreational users onto vaping.
The Concentrate Connection
As the Volcano was practically inventing the market in vaporizers for cannabis flower, new forms of cannabis were slowly emerging from the underground of weed culture: cannabis concentrates.
Concentrates have existed in one form or another since the 1940s. However, for best part of the 20th century, they would remain difficult and expensive to make. This would keep them out of reach of all but the most passionate concentrate enthusiasts. Not to mention consuming them was difficult, very few oil burners existed during this time and most concentrate fans relied on the “hot knife” method. This usually took the form of a stainless-steel dinner knife, heated on a stove top. Concentrate is then dropped on the hot blade, producing an inhalable vapor. Despite their high potency, sublime flavor and clean hit courtesy of vaporization, concentrates would remain a niche in the world of cannabis for decades.
But around the turn of the 21st century, the development of Closed Loop Extraction technology finally allowed for a safe way to mass produce cannabis concentrates, or “dabs” as they were beginning to be known. And for the first time in weed history, concentrates became accessible to the average cannabis user.
However, methods of consuming these new forms of cannabis were still in their infancy. Without readily available commercial vaporizers, this new “dabbing” subculture was left to invent their own solutions. What emerged in the early 2000’s was a modified water pipe, much like a traditional bong, but instead of a down pipe, a custom heating attachment specifically designed for vaporizing concentrates was added. First taking the form of “Vapor Curves,” then later a dome design, and eventually landing on the de-facto solution, a titanium or quartz glass “nail” and “carb cap” combination.
Around 2010, the first commercial mass produced “dab rigs” began to emerge, and a seismic shift was about to take place within the cannabis industry.
The Dabbing Revolution
With practical equipment and sublime concentrates widely available to cannabis users,
it’s no wonder vaporizing dabs has caused a revolution within the cannabis industry.
The modern dab rig consists of a glass water pipe, nail or banger, and a carb cap. While many still use a blowtorch to do the heating, the recent invention of electronic systems, or “e-nails,” like this Disorderly Conduction 1020 E Nail, represents the pinnacle of modern dabbing. Using electricity to heat up your banger instead of a torch is not only much safer, but the accurate temperature control allows for perfect dabbing temperatures.
As technology moves forward, newer methods emerge. All-in-one portable dab vapes are becoming all the rage. Like this Dipstick Vapes Dipper or this Dank Fung THE DOOBLE Vaporizer for example. No need for cumbersome setups; simple place your concentrate inside, close up the vape and hit it. And if you’re looking for a premium option, you can’t go wrong with the Dank Fung EXECUTIVE Vaporizer.
From humble beginnings to world domination, vaping has become the preferential method of consuming cannabis. It’s no coincidence that recent Cannabis Cups and other events have been taken over by dabbing and vaping. It’s been a long time coming, but the future is here, and it’s vaping.