Early 2004 I became very interested in vaporization after visiting a few Vapour Lounges downtown. I experienced shades of flavour I never thought possible. The buzz was different. It was clear and focused and seemed unadulterated. All this made for a novelty type experience, but I was still left thinking I wasn’t quite “there” yet. Initially, I was unconvinced about vaporizing for my primary use. Most people I talked to shared similar experiences, it tasted great, felt different, but didn’t seem to offer the same level of satisfaction that smoking did. You know that feeling, as Snoop coined, ” you need to back up off of it, and sit your ass down”.
At the time, the lounge was stocked with Volcanos and Herbal Aires. The younger crowds encircled the Volcano, you could almost hear them silently praying to it as if it is the mother of all vapes. The older crowd, that would stop in for a quick smoke and a coffee or book seemed to be using the Herbal Aires. I asked the attendant around and he said they personally promote the Herbal Aire as being like a mini-volcano at a third of the price, same effect, but with slower bag fill times. I was interested and tried it out. It worked just as well as the Volcano, in terms of flavour and effectiveness, but yes, it had a slower fill time. However, I was still unsatisfied with vaporization as an equally or superiorly effective method to smoking – something seemed missing.
Around the end of 2005, satisfied or not, I needed a stealth option within a few months. After heavy research and much deliberation, I bought the Herbal Aire. Fast forward to now, still using the exact same unit I bought 8 years ago.
How do I like it?
It took some learning experience, but it now dominates any other vape I have tried, and I have tried many. Anyone that tried mine, after the first hit and with a tear in their eye, said that they had no idea vapes could be so good, even those with vape experience. Everyone that has tried it and had the financial means to purchase one did, within the next week and one even the same day.
I consider it a public service to promote something so phenomenal. Everyone is taken by surprise at the powerful medicated state that can be achieved, and with how little. It can honestly be too intense for some people – but that can easily be adjusted with the way you use the vape – the vapor can be thinned out with a faster bag fill time or temperature adjustment. Vaporizing is a learning experience, but a worthy one.
The unit is incredibly durable and long-lasting – my unit has seen over 14,600 uses so far and still works just like new (factored with an average 5 uses a day over 8 years of ownership). In the same way race engines and chassis are measured – by operation hours, you could measure my vape’s time of use to be 3650 hours or 152 continuous days (factored with the unit in operation between 10-20 mins (Including pre-heating, use and forgetting to shut it off – it has an auto-off timer thankfully).
What did I learn?
Firstly, you have to know how to pack your vape. Once you learn the optimal method for the Herbal Aire (see “How to Use” below), you will be puffing on thick tasty vapors in no time. The manual says to put whole pieces in and not to grind it. This is true. However, I found that on very small amounts, some adjustment was necessary to achieve a thick enough vapor in the first bag to satisfy. Essentially, if you break it down or chop it up it up finely and pack it down very tight like an espresso puck, you get a faster extraction with a thicker more satisfying first bag.
Secondly, If you don’t hold it in for at least 10-15 seconds minimum, it will contribute to an unsatisfactory experience. My first experiences yielded a weird sort of buzz that was present, but more energetic and clear, but not strong enough. I would reach for the bong still. Don’t be dismayed if this was you, read on, it was just a matter of learning. The fact is, the concentration of cannabinoids in a thick vapor are far greater than in smoke, and even when smoking you are supposed to hold it in for maximum absorption. I cry when an inexperienced user tries to show off by clearing a huge bag hit and then coughs out clouds and clouds of unabsorbed vapor.
I STATE AGAIN – YOU MUST HOLD IT IN FOR A MINIMUM OF 10-15 seconds for maximum effect. This is the key. Hold it. You will notice around the 10 second mark, the longer you hold it, the stronger the hold it gets on you. It is a little hard to hold in a very thick cloud of dry vapor at first, but it becomes easy with experience. If you were so inclined, you can attach the bag to a water pipe and it drastically cools down/compresses the vapor. The mouthpieces actually fits inside an 18mm male-to-male fitting from a nail and dome setup-w/o the nail or dome of course. However, they now offer 14mm and 18mm adapters.
The most recent unit comes with a much higher flow pump than the original. The older pump took approximately 4 min 20 sec with their supplied bags whereas the included faster pump takes around a 1 min and 50 sec with the same size bag. You get the unit, the pump, a whip, two extensions, one crucible, and a cleaning tube. The vape’s top-cap piece, crucible and the extensions all come packed in a little tube with a cap that doubles up as a cleaning chamber.
This to me speaks about how well thought out this product was. Even the packaging it comes in can be used to clean it. Simply Intelligent. You fill it 1/4 of the way with some Isopropyl, which is an economical amount and just shake it until it’s clean. If it is really dirty, you can fill it a little more and let it soak, but usually just shaking it, if you are using 99% Isopropyl is sufficient.
Yes, it does use an aquarium-style air pump (The famous Volcano, when stripped of it’s shell, has one too), but the mechanism of their operation is actually what gives this vaporizer it’s strength. They create a pulsating action as a result of the diaphragm driven (included pump) or rotary system (High Output Kit) which is exactly why they have been chosen.
Like the Volcano, the pump’s pulsations cause the chamber contents to agitate slightly, increasing kinetic energy. In combination with the heat(which is also providing energy), it can generate enough energy to cause vaporization to happen, but at much lower temperatures than required with heat alone.
You are never turning the temperature beyond 365 and you always get a complete and satisfying extraction. Many people just leave it at 360 start to finish. I start at 350-360 (in the included pictures, you can see the density of a bag at 356 degrees) and for the last bag turn it up to 365, never higher than 370 and I always get a complete extraction.
The Arizer Extreme, to achieve a similar density of bag, must be used around 400-420 degrees to achieve a bag even somewhat close to as dense as the Herbal Aire at just 350 degrees when used with my methods.
The difference you might ask if they both achieve a thick bag of vapor? At 400 degrees and higher you are exposed to benzene and other carcinogens that have been proven to be present at temperatures above 392 degrees F.
Additionally, The lower temperatures help with preserving the many medically valuable terpenoids and flavonoids. They have lower boiling points compared to the more active cannabinoids and are often destroyed at higher temperatures. With the Herbal Aire, you are getting a complete and satisfying extraction with far less exposure to harmful chemicals through lower vaporization temperatures. Try your first bag at 300-320 degrees and you almost feel a spiritual connection to the plant the flavour profiles are so heavenly.
Please Read for more information on flavonoids and terpenoids:
Cannabis and Cannabis Extracts: Greater Than the Sum of Their Parts?
The Pump I Use:
My setup consists of the main Herbal Aire Unit with the ultra High Output Pump kit, which is not the same as you get with the unit. The ultra High Output pump is really is what gives this thing is legs. It is exactly the same pump, sourced from the same manufacturer, as the one inside the Volcano’s base.
It is industrial grade and can fill a standard bag, at full flow, in 20 seconds. However, you don’t use it in this way for standard operation. It is only used at full flow with the 3-bag or 5-bag simultaneous fill attachment-which works well I may add. For single bag operation, it comes with a regulator, which is just a little plastic adjustable valve that goes on the inlet of the pump that throttles down the pump for efficient single bag extraction.
It allows to you to alter the flow to your liking. Faster passes of air will produce more bags of less dense vapor, but with a fairly consistent taste throughout. Longer passes will produce very thick bags, with the flavour being most prominent in the first bag, less so but still very tasty in the second and pretty weakened by the third.
If you break your herb down or chop it up at all, the flavour will also be spent much faster. I use about the same time as the included pump, around 1 min 45 seconds which I find works best across the board for most samples. However, for some very potent specimens, I can run a 1 min 20 sec bag fill and get very thick and tasty bags.
Why don’t I just use the included pump if I am setting it at the same speed? Firstly, when I bought my unit, it came with a much slower pump so my only upgrade option was the ultra High Output Pump. All units now come with a much faster pump, which all my friend’s have. Secondly, having tried the new pump many times, I still prefer to bring my pump with me when visiting a fellow Herbal Aire owner.
It might just boil down to my belief that it is superior, as I am superbly satisfied with it’s operation. The adjustable flow really makes this thing kick. The only logic I can put to why this might work better may be due to the fact it is rotary style pump that can push much larger volumes of air at far higher rates. I suspect that this rotary action and subsequent greater volumes of air may create a greater “disturbance” and produce a more effective form of kinetic energy allowing more efficient vaporization.
Lastly, with the new included pump, some people complain that little particulate bits make it past the screen into the bag, while at the same and higher speeds of my pump, I get no residue, which is odd. You would think a higher flow would force even more particles though. My method for using the ultra high output pump as described below can also be adopted for the included pump to effectively limit the bits getting though, so read further.
How to USE:
Essentially, what you do is pack the crucible, which is a machined hollow cylinder of stainless steel open on one end and with a screen enclosing the other. You are not supposed to grind it at all (however, on smaller amounts, it helps to chop it up a little for even distribution over the screen in the crucible), just break it down small enough to pack the bottom surface area of the crucible(see pictures).
You want to create almost an airtight seal, which when the hot air is forced through will cause it to be forced though the mass evenly, rather than through the paths of least resistance (being if bottom was not entirely covered). The newer literature for the product coined the term espresso mode when describing how to pack it and those familiar with making espresso, will instantly understand the concept of an even distribution for an even extraction.
You will see in the pictures, 3 different sized little spent “pucks” that I emptied from the crucible. This should give you can idea of how tight to pack the screen as you can see how tightly it is help together. It is compressed to the screen.
The manual says not to grind it, and if you are putting a 0.3 or more, then just break it down by hand and squish it evenly in the bottom, but when using a 0.10-0.25, it gets harder to evenly cover the bottom. I deconstruct it with scissors and then evenly pack it down. With this method, your first bag is the thickest, second less so and it is usually finished after the second bag (0.10-0.15) or by the third bag for 0.2-0.25s. If you are putting more than a 0.3 and breaking it down by hand, your first bag will become dense right near the end of the first fill cycle and you will get fairly consistently dense and flavourful bags, 3-4 until it begins to noticeably drop in density. Again, this is all done in the temperature range of 355-365.
Either way, whether it is a whole nug which works as long as its big enough to fit securely in the crucible, or a small bit, you still want it secure. You don’t want it bouncing around in the chamber as it doesn’t extract as quickly. (In fact, the manual tells you to first put a single pea sized piece in whole and try it – you get tasty vapor, but it isn’t thick enough to achieve a satisfying plasma concentration).
I wouldn’t ever worry about packing it too hard, because I have pushed down with all my strength and literally made little discs that fall out as such(again, see pics of spent cannabis discs) post vape and they always extract entirely.
KEY STEP: you then flip it upside down and actually push down the screen from the bottom until it sits securely in the middle(Once it is in the middle, it will always stay there unless you are too brute-ish when scraping it clean and knock it loose from it’s middle position). In the included pictures, you can see the screen positioned roughly in the middle of my crucibles. You then preheat, place the packed crucible in upside down with the screen facing up, place the top on and attach your bag.
This “upside down” placement of the crucible adds a second screen in a sense, while still keeping the herbs close to the heat source. To elaborate, if you simply turn it upside down (without moving the screen mid-way, securely in the crucible)and put it in the vape, the herb will be at the highest point from the heat source and doesn’t seem to extract as effectively. Start the pump. You will start to see a marvelous display, almost like a volcanic eruption of vapor being spewed into the bag.
Take off the bag, careful to keep the opening covered or the vapor will spew all over. The valve system of the volcano’s bags, which cost $100 roughly for a new mouthpiece helps in this way, but with practice, you can take the bag off and cover it with your thumb in one motion which is hardly a nuisance and far cheaper.
Take it in and hold. Even when you want to let it out, hold it. Keep going because it will be worth it. 10-15 seconds is your target. Let it out, and welcome to the world of vaping.
I would recommend it to anyone who wants to buy a vape. I have never tried a thicker, more potent vapor than I have been able to get from the bag system of the Herbal Aire. A friend of mine asked to trade his volcano for my herbal aire and high output pump, even just so he could try it out for a few days and I happily declined. I would never trade this. I will buy another if this ever stops working, but with the simplicity in design, I don’t think that time is coming soon.
Lastly, I don’t have nearly the experience with the direct draw/whip function as I have only tried it a few handfuls of times. The direct draw allows you to pull directly from the unit with an extension piece fitted to the top. The whip is essentially the same thing, but you attach a food-grade tube that helps to cool the vapour by the time it reaches your throat.
The whip gave my lungs a workout as you had to pull extra hard to get it through the whip tubing and it didn’t seem to give a thick enough vapor to satisfy me, possibly as it condensed considerably by the time it reached the end. The direct draw requires less lung effort, and provides a thicker more satisfying vapor, but the drawback is the vapor temperature is increased as there is very little space between the heating chamber and your throat.
Nonetheless, if you can handle it I found I typically would use more than with the bag system to get a similarly thick and tasty vapor. I have read reports from fellow users in forums saying their best experience with the whip is had around 385 which is a little hot for my liking. I also know the pump’s function is an integral part of why the Herbal Aire is extroardinarily efficient, so without it, it makes complete sense that you would be using a little more. I found the bag system to be most efficient, letting you sit back while the bag fills and leaving you with ample amounts of thick tasty vapour.
While some people complain that it’s two pieces and doesn’t have the aesthetic appeal of others or it doesn’t have the same refinements as the volcano bag’s valve system and etc are all comments from people that have never tried it. Scientific devices don’t have to be visually appealing, they have the function.
It outperforms any commerical vaporizer on the market and goes for less than half the price. I would recommend it with the High Output as you get the ultimate in flexibility. If you made it this far, I thank you for your time to read this and hope some find this helpful. It is a great vape for a great price.