The Evolution Of Electronic Vaporizers

By Kirk Freeman

Vaporizing substances for their aroma, psychedelic properties, or for social purposes has been a part of human civilization since people first used fire. Vapor and combusted herbs have brought people together. Vaporized aromatherapy machines have been brought into domestic sick rooms to alleviate chest congestion and colds as a way to avoid over-the-counter drugs.

The biggest changes have happened rapidly and apply to the electronic vaporizer market. Consumers are learning that vapor can replace smoke; that battery-powered devices can remove most of the toxins associated with smoking and the diseases caused by smoke.

Electronic Evolution

While heating materials to create vapor once relied on fire and some combustion or butane devices are still offered, vaporization using a battery or mains power dominates the industry. Electricity has facilitated plenty of innovation, giving rise to ideas and developments. The industry got its start in western Canada and Europe. Americans have caught on, with numerous devices developed and sometimes manufactured in the United States.

Big and Bulky

Once electricity was channeled to these purposes, the first big vaporizers came into being. They had to sit on a table and relied on power from a wall socket. Storz & Bickel of Volcano fame was among the first to create a reliable and efficient balloon vaporizer for individuals needing or wanting the benefit of assisted vapor delivery. Their unit was quickly followed by cheaper versions like the Silver Surfer, Da Buddha, Arizer Extreme Q, and more. Engineers have tweaked their products, changing analog (dial) controls to more precise digital methods of altering temperature.


Consumers are learning to ask questions about materials used to heat and conduct vapor. They know that ceramics and glass are neutral, clean, and efficient, so high-end machines utilize these materials in the vapor pathway and heating chamber.

Box Mods

Even faster was the birth and development of box mods. These are literally boxes with a heating chamber in the middle and which plug into the wall. The box seems superfluous at first, but it permits proper ventilation and gives designers somewhere to put their analog dial or digital controls, a screen, logo, and cord.

Many of the cheap clones being created today and sold for $20 or used by the consumers who made them are box mods. They are easy to fabricate from wood and it is also common for such products to cause injury and damage owing to the imperfect application of wiring principles demonstrated by amateurs.

Portable Vaporizers

Computers were once the size of an entire room. They were too large for the general public to own or afford and too technical for lay people to understand. Vaporizers are like that: they began as heavy tabletop devices that cost $400 or more and have since shrunk to become portable, battery-operated products.

Top-class technology is still expensive and you find that putting small parts into an excellent product isn’t cheap for the consumer. There is also the issue of mark-up which plagues this industry. Take a vaporizer apart and you see how much a company must be making when they sell it to you for $250. Plenty of handheld, battery-operated devices are priced $150 to $250.

After shrinking vaporizers to palm-size, companies also developed novel presentation methods so their machines resembled everyday items: lipsticks, inhalers, inhaler extension chambers, and cell phones. One would have to get fairly close to recognize one of these products for what it is.

Some of the best mods in this category have been the Firefly, DaVinci, and Pax, but Puffit is responsible for a decent inhaler-vape costing around $100. Customers are able to adjust the temperature of a handheld device in this class.

The Pen Vape

This is as small as vaping can really get and smaller than perhaps it should. While pen vapes are inexpensive, light, and stealthy, they are also inefficient, prone to burning herbs, and herbs require constant refilling. Herbs are more efficiently vaporized in larger handheld models or plug-in devices.

Atomizer coils made from sub-standard metals and alloys wear out quickly and require replacement at regular intervals. New atomizers made from titanium alloys last longer and heat more efficiently.

Waxes and e liquids can be efficiently turned to vapor in a pen mod without burning or constant refilling. The only way to adjust the temperature is by holding and pressing a single button. To avoid overheating, one must release the button at the right time, yet hold it long enough to produce thick and tasty vapor. They are tricky to use in this sense, but also simple for new vapers to operate.



Large vaping devices take up to 2 minutes to heat up. They become faster at the mid-level. Pen vapes heat up almost instantly: in 5 to 15 seconds. Their vapor thickness is variable and battery life is also variable.

Engineers continue to adjust fan mechanisms owing to complaints about noise. A fan facilitates assisted inhalation and convection heating. New fan-assisted mods are quiet at low speed and bearable at high speed.

Conduction, Convection, and Delivery

Another advantage of plug-in products is that they usually heat herbs, concentrates, or oil using convection. Materials are properly and fully heated. There are also more delivery options, sometimes using a single device. These are the balloon method, direct draw, and ground glass for hands-free delivery. A balloon attaches to the vaporizer, fills with vapor, and users put their mouths to the hole to inhale vapor without drawing.

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