Q: What really is ‘vapor’? Vapor, as used in the context of a tobacco or nicotine vaporizer, is more properly described as a “condensation aerosol,” since what a user breathes is a mist (similar to steam) in which the active ingredients and flavor compounds which were present in the tobacco as OILS, have been evaporated (vaporized) into gasses, and then have re-condensed into small droplets generating a mist, fog, or vapor.
Q: Does this device generate any ‘second-hand smoke’? Smoke, NO, second-hand VAPOR, yes.
Vaporizers generate much less of the strong and bad smells usually associated with smoking, but do not eliminate 100% of them. When a vaporizer user exhales, some amount of the vapor has usually not been absorbed by the lungs and can be seen in the exhaled breath. This is second-hand vapor.
While vaporizers generate DRASTICALLY less offensive odors compared to smoking, they do however still generate odors. By not burning the tobacco, a dramatically fewer number of compounds are released.
To explain further, non-smokers are often able to tell when a smoker has returned from a smoke break by the smell of that person. The reason for this is that nicotine and other oils originally present in tobacco, as well as chemicals created in the combustion reaction, are released into the air, and land on anything in the near vicinity. These compounds are absorbed by the smoker’s skin and clothing and take hours to evaporate from these places, causing that characteristic “smoker’s” smell.
It can also be thought of in this fashion: anything in the vicinity of a tobacco smoker or vaporizer user is getting spray painted (just like spray on perfume) with a very thin coat of the oils either in the tobacco or generated in the combustion reaction, so anything in the near vicinity will smell somewhat like tobacco.
This is still the case with vaporized tobacco, only the smell is less pungent and sweeter, more like fresh, unburnt tobacco, similar to the smell of an unburnt cigarette, cigar, or loose tobacco leaves.
Q: Is this really a convection vaporizer? Yes, it is. A small air pump forces air first through a heating element and then through your tobacco. A temperature sensor senses the temperature of the AIR and regulates the power applied to the heating element to keep the air temperature at optimum vaporizing temperature.
Q: What is the heating element made of? Nichrome wire. This is the same electrical resistance heating wire that is used in toasters, toaster ovens, hair dryers, heat guns, and electric room heaters. If it gave off any toxins at all it would not be used for all these common everyday INDOOR uses.
Q: Is there any plastic in the heated air path? No. The nichrome wire is enclosed in a Pyrex tube (Pyrex, like the Pyrex baking trays you can bake or cook with) to contain the airflow and heat. The mouthpiece tube is brass, like other vaporizer heating chambers, and the block which connects the Pyrex tube and the brass mouthpiece tube is made from high-fired clay. (This has been fired at over 1000° F and so will not give off any gasses or flavors at the temperatures we vaporize at.) Clay is similar to porcelain; which we all know is used for dinnerware.
Q: What temperature does this vaporizer heat tobacco to? This vaporizer is designed to heat tobacco to an optimum vaporizing temperature. Optimum vaporizing temperature is a balance or trade-off. Low temperatures (300-350° F) produce lighter, less dense vapor, with sweeter tastes, but less active ingredients (less nicotine). High temperatures (above 400° F) produce a very dense vapor, with lots of active ingredients, but also tend to generate some tars and other undesirable chemicals associated with smoking. A medium temperature (slightly below 400° F) seems to be the optimum vaporization temperature to yield a balance of pleasurable flavors and a satisfying amount of active ingredients with a minimum amount of tars and other unwanted compounds.
Q: Does this vaporizer have an adjustable temperature control, and if not, why not? No, the temperature is NOT adjustable by the user. This vaporizer is designed for portability and ease-of-use. After testing and using many other vaporizers, we have come to the conclusion that many novice vaporizer users often have difficulty finding the correct temperature to set their device at, and/or the correct rate of inhalation. Even veteran users still often have to discover what heat setting (which is often not displayed in degrees) to use when switching between different brands of vaporizer. Our goal is to make a quality vaporizer which is as simple to use as possible, so that anyone can buy one and enjoy “the smoothness of the vaporizer experience” without requiring a lengthy learning curve.
Q: Do I need to inhale at a certain rate? No, you can inhale from the mouthpiece tube at any rate you like, and it will NOT affect the temperature of vaporization, since the mouthpiece tube has a small cooling air inlet hole which allows air to be mixed in with the vaporized airstream, and prevents the user from changing the rate of airflow through the vaporization chamber (which is controlled by the airflow from the pump). If you prefer thinner vapor, you can inhale faster, and more air will be mixed into the vapor stream. If you prefer slightly stronger vapor with more taste, you can inhale more slowly, at the same rate as vapor is produced. It is also possible to connect a clear nylon tube to the end of the mouthpiece tube to collect vapor, (making it easier to see the production rate) and then inhale from this when desired. With a tube attached the vapor travels down the length of the tube, with minimal (and generally unnoticeable) leakage out the cooling air hole. So although it is easy to do, it is not necessary to plug this hole when using this vaporizer with a tube.
Q: What kind of battery does this vaporizer use? It uses an INTERNAL NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride) battery pack, which, though slightly heavier than Li-Ion (Lithium-Ion) batteries, are significantly SAFER than Li-Ion batteries. Li-Ion batteries require a special chip in the battery pack to regulate both the rate of charge and the rate of discharge, and have occasionally been in the news when they explode or catch fire. Wikipedia notes: (https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Lithium-ion_battery#Disadvantages) “Li-ion batteries are not as durable as nickel metal hydride or nickel-cadmium designs and can be extremely dangerous if mistreated. They are usually more expensive. Li-ion chemistry is not as safe as nickel metal hydride or nickel-cadmium, and a Li-ion cell requires several mandatory safety devices to be built in before it can be considered safe for use outside of a laboratory.” It should be noted that hybrid cars such as the Toyota Prius use NiMH batteries for their battery packs, since this battery chemistry is much safer in the event of a collision.
Q: How long does the unit take to charge? Approximately 6 - 8 hours, when fully discharged, less when only partially discharged, with the INCLUDED battery charger. The included battery charger is a “smart charger” which will display a red light while the battery is charging and a green light once the battery is charged. It IS safe to leave the unit plugged into the battery charger for extended periods of time, since this charger will not overcharge the battery.
Q: How long does it take to vaporize all the tobacco in the heating chamber? About 3 minutes. When starting the unit from cold, the first run produces slightly less dense vapor for a slightly longer time (about 4-6 minutes.) Subsequent runs yield dense vapor within 10 seconds from starting, and take slightly less than 3 minutes to extract all the vaporizables from the tobacco.
Q: Is it necessary to grind my tobacco before vaporizing? No, it is not required, but you’ll get denser vapor and extract more tastes and active ingredients if you do.
Q: Does this vaporizer completely extract ALL of the active ingredients in my tobacco? No, no vaporizer can do that.
In the process of smoking, approximately 2/3 (66%) of the active ingredients are destroyed (incinerated), while only about 1/3 (33%) are inhaled by the smoker. Vaporization generally delivers more than 1/2 (50%) of the active ingredients to the user, so the vaporizer user is getting slightly more from their tobacco, and in a much healthier way than from smoking it.
A little more information…
Tobacco that is “normally” vaporized will appear brown and brittle after extraction. If your vaporized tobacco appears black, that is a sign that the vaporization temperature is too high and that the tobacco is starting to burn (char).
Higher vaporization temperatures can yield more active ingredients, but also tend to begin to char the tobacco (turn it black; into charcoal). So as explained above in the question about vaporizing temperatures, the ideal vaporizing temperature is a trade-off because as you get nearer to the combustion temperature, you get more active ingredients as well as more tars and other unhealthy combustion products.
As a scientific side-note, the reason that you can’t heat to 449°F, (one degree below the temperature of spontaneous combustion, 450°F), to vaporize ALL of your active ingredients and not produce ANY combustion has to do with what “temperature” really is, as physicists and chemists view it. Temperature is the AVERAGE energy of molecules in a system, and the distribution of energies at any given temperature is given by the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution. What this means is that even at temperatures of 430°F, while most tobacco molecules will not have enough energy to begin combustion, some will, and this is what causes the increasing blackening of your tobacco as you get closer to 450°F. The farther you are away from that temperature, the fewer molecules will have enough energy to combust, and the less combustion products you will inhale.
Most vaporizer users report only using about half as much tobacco as they would normally smoke. (The same amount of tobacco lasts twice as long.)
First of all, if you are buying the same brand of cigarettes that you were previously smoking in order to use that flavor of tobacco in your vaporizer, you will not need to buy as many packs, and if you switch to using loose tobacco (which is taxed at a lower rate) you can save even more money, in addition to saving your lungs.
Q: How does this portable unit compare to some of the more popular wall or AC powered units? The size of the tobacco chamber is smaller, and therefore needs to be refilled more often. The Volcano, for example, uses about 200 Watts of energy. This much energy is simply not available in a battery powered unit, therefore the heating chamber needs to be smaller. The wall-powered bag-filling units are designed for aromatherapy for large groups of people, while this vaporizer is designed more as an individual vaporizer, for one person to use at a time.
More Questions and Answers to come…..
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