You have a lot of choices when it comes to a vaporizer for your dry herbs, oils and waxes. You could go the old-fashioned route with a pipe, choose a pen, go with something portable or you can go with the one electronic vaporizer that started it all – the Volcano Classic. Well, it was the Volcano way back when but the fact that it’s now the Classic tells you something about how long this piece of solid German engineering has been around (18 years is the answer to that question, by the way). Storz & Bickel, the German manufacturer behind this legendary vaporizer, calls it the “pioneer”.
The cost of the Volcano Vaporizer Classic has come down in recent years, especially after the release of its digital version, the Volcano Digit (which as its name suggests is a digital desktop vaporizer). Reduced price notwithstanding, at a price tag of about $480USD, the Volcano is still an investment. But is it worth that amount of money? Let’s take it out for a spin and find out. What follows will be our Volcano Classic Review.
To start off our Volcano Classic Review, let’s take a look into the box (this is the easy valve option box). We have the Volcano Classic hot air generator, 4 Easy Valve balloons with mouthpieces, 1 Easy Valve balloon with an adapter, a filling chamber for dry herbs, 3 filling chamber clips, a filling chamber ring, a normal screen set, a liquid pad, a Volcano air filter set, an herb mill, a cleaning brush and a set of instructions. So far, not bad. You have everything you need with a few extras to start using the Volcano Classic, including a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty on the vaporizer. You will get pretty much the same items in the solid valve box, except you will get balloons, the solid valve and a mouthpiece rather than the easy valve balloons. You will also get a different filling chamber with the solid valve pack.
First, it looks like its name, a metal, cone shaped volcano but still somehow cooler. It is a desktop vaporizer so definitely not that portable with its 20 x 20 x 18 cm size and weighing in at 1.6 kg. It uses standard AC power and though it’s made in Germany, the plug is a 110V plug for use in North America. No adapter required. It has a manual dial on the front with a temperature control range of 1 – 9 on the scale. This represents temperatures between 130C and 230C. It’s a full hot air convection heating system and the heating element is a stainless steel and ceramic element which, aside from the efficiency and even distribution of the heat, will reportedly last for a decade and holding. It comes with a removable easy valve balloon system or a solid valve balloon system for capturing and storing the vapour. The heating chamber will hold 0.75 grams of dried herb for the easy valve or 0.5 g for the solid valve, which is a reasonably large capacity, suitable for sharing.
Specs aside, this is a sturdy, well-engineered machine. The stainless steel outer shell stays cool even when the unit is heating up or used on the highest temperature. The plastic components are heat resistant and seem to be very good quality. It’s not surprising with the outstanding build quality of this unit that some users report owning and using the same Volcano Classic for more than a decade. The machine is hand made using high quality parts and its operation is so simple and efficient that there is no reason that these machines, cleaned and cared for, would not last for decades.
The only real maintenance of the Volcano Classic hot air generator itself is changing the air filter that is located in the bottom of the unit occasionally and cleaning it if something inadvertently gets on the heating element. The valve system does require some maintenance as will be discussed below.
We will cover a “how to” as part of our Volcano Vaporizer Classic review. Using it is easy. Pack the dry herb into the heating chamber. Use a screen or the liquid pad if you haven’t packed it fully and then put the chamber into the top of the volcano. Set the temperature that you want on the manual dial and press the red heat button to turn it on. The control button in the centre of the unit will light up. When it heats up to the desired temperature, the light in the centre goes off. Add your valve with the balloon attached and press the green air button. Let the balloon fill (it takes about 30 seconds), close the valve again and turn the Volcano off. If you overfill the balloon you might get a little vapour leakage but that really isn’t a big problem. You can store the vapour for later, use it immediately for a personal session or pass and share. To use the balloon, you just snap a mouthpiece onto the valve to open it up (solid valve) and starting drawing cooled, smooth, dense vapour.
The fan is a little bit loud, which is a problem for some users, but then again, the powerful fan fills your balloon in 30 seconds, which is really fast.
The time has come in our Volcano Classic Review to discuss vapour quality. That’s why we’re here in the end. Vapour quality is hands down the most important aspect of the vaporizer. The Volcano has vapour quality down. First, it doesn’t burn your material so the tar and other unwanted compounds in your material stays put and not in your lungs. Also, no scorched quality to the vapour! So clean and smooth and a much better alternative to smoking. The heating chamber is stainless steel, which really does not change the flavour or glorious clouds of vapor that you achieve from your Volcano Classic.
The easy valve system makes filling the balloon a snap. You can select and use the older solid valves if you’re a traditionalist though – they are still available and they do offer a choice of balloon sizes (you can even make an insane 10-foot-long balloon if you want to), where the easy valve system offers only the one size. The single sized balloon though is more than enough for most purposes.
An awesome amount of vapour begins to be produced at around 177C. The vapour in the balloon is really dense and opaque. The flavour of the vapour is excellent but the terpenes (flavour and odour molecules found in all plants) will begin to condense inside the balloon after a while. The vapour is really smooth and never harsh even with the crazy amount of vapour that the machine produces. It may begin to get some harshness at the high end of the temperature range but most people are going to stay below that for a session.
During our Volcano Classic review, we found that the vapour is not as dense with using waxes and oils. It is still really potent but less dense. The flavour also seems a little stronger than with dry herbs. It is still smooth, easy on the throat, vapour. To use a wax or oil, you simply load the liquid pad with whatever concentrate you’re using and turn it on.
The balloon cools the vapour before it gets to you, leaving a rich, dense vapour that is full of flavour. The vapour can be stored in the balloon for several hours (8 hours or more) without losing its quality and as far as we could tell, neither the easy valve nor the solid valve leaks the product.
There is one downside here and that is the wait time for the Volcano Classic to heat up. Depending on the temperature setting, the wait is roughly 3 minutes. We recommend starting the unit up before you start grinding your dry herb or preparing your concentrate, to make the wait seem a little shorter.
To continue with our Volcano Classic review, we’ll have a closer look at the two valve systems that are available. The easy valve is a simpler valve system that requires no cleaning of the valve or attaching balloons to valves. It uses one size of balloon only and will require replacement balloon/valves more frequently than the solid valve system. When the balloons become dirty, you simply discard it and replace it with a new one (new valve included). Depending on use, you will likely get a few months life out of each easy valve balloon.
The solid valve system is built of sturdier material and can take multiple sizes of balloons. It requires cleaning the solid valve, mouthpiece and attaching new balloons as needed, so it does need a little more maintenance. You will not have to replace the balloons with this system as often unless you want to simply change the size of the balloon. The mouthpiece for this system is also built from heavier material than the disposable easy valve system mouthpiece.
For both valve systems, the balloon material is the same. The balloons are very high quality, they won’t tear or puncture easily and do not add any strange flavours or odours to the vapour. Using these balloons offer an almost resistance free draw. This is great for people who need to use this electronic desktop vaporizer for medical purposes. (Medical cannabis fact: The Government of Canada has approved the Volcano vaporizers for medical cannabis use).
The filling chambers for both valve systems are very similar. The easy valve system’s filling chamber is made of a less substantial material and does not include a stainless-steel heating chamber insert. For the solid valve, there is a stainless-steel insert for the chamber. This holds down the dried herbs or the liquid pad while the air pushes through, keeping it nicely in place. You don’t have to fill the solid valve filling chamber to capacity, you can use smaller amounts of materials for shorter sessions.
The filling chamber is the only part of the easy valve system that needs to be cleaned. You can just replace the screen and then soak the chamber in alcohol, or warm, soapy water to clean it. We don’t recommend any other cleaner because it may leave a residue that is not food safe and may change the flavour and smell of your vapour. On the solid valve, both the filling chamber and the mouthpiece are taken completely apart to be cleaned. Soak all the pieces in alcohol or warm, soapy water, let them dry or manually dry them off and you can then put it back together again.
This is our Volcano Classic review of the vaporizer and its options so which do we prefer? Both valve systems have their benefits and disadvantages and the choice between the two really will come down to personal preference. Your vapour quality is not going to change and, unfortunately, neither will that wait time for the vaporizer to come up to temperature so choosing which valve to use will be up to you. Easy but a little more expensive in terms of replacing the balloons or a little more maintenance but a lower cost for replacing the balloons is really what it comes down to.
No Volcano Classic review could be complete without talking about the ease of use of the vaporizer. You really can’t get a desktop vaporizer that is much easier to use than the Volcano. It was the first and there is more reason that excellent vapour that this is considered to be the best vaporizer on the market. Here we will cover difficulties with using the Volcano as we covered the “how to” above.
We’ve covered the fact that if you use the solid valve system you will need to clean the filling chamber, the mouthpiece and the valve. It’s really not a lot of work but if you don’t do it, resins can build up and make it more difficult to use. Build up will also change the quality of your vapour over time. In exchange for the small amount of maintenance and cleaning, you have a sturdier mouthpiece and valve and fewer balloons to replace over time.
The temperature control on the Volcano Classic is no more difficult to use than the digital version, simply turn the dial to the desired temperature and go. Because vaporizing material with small differences in temperature does not significantly change the vapour quality, you can be off by a degree or two without ruining your session. You have excellent temperature control with the Volcano Classic without the digital temperature readout.
This part of our Volcano Classic review will cover efficiency and capacity. Using fully loaded chambers in either the easy valve or the solid valve system allows you to fill multiple bags of vapour. Both systems seem to fully extract compounds from dried herb, oil or wax.
The easy valve chamber capacity is larger at 0.75 g, which is suitable for groups. It works best when it’s full. You can half fill it and then use the liquid pad to take up the rest of the space but this doesn’t produce the same density of vapour as a full chamber. A reducer and dosing capsules can be purchased separately for this filling chamber. Using the reducer without the capsule though produces a lower quality vapour and the dried herbs aren’t as secure, so they get everywhere.
The solid valve filling chamber allows you to change the amount of product you load into the Volcano Classic easily. The metal screen just moves to accommodate more material. The chamber holds a maximum of about 0.5 g, which is suitable for single use or smaller groups.
We are going to review the reviews in our Volcano Classic review. Say that three times fast. The Volcano Classic has been on the market for the last 18 years and is by far the most rated and highest rated of the desktop vaporizers. We have given you a lot of information in our Volcano Classic review but what more can user reviews tell us about our investment?
The Volcano Classic is overwhelmingly rated at or near the highest rating system a particular page might use (stars, x.x out of 10, etc). Almost without exception users talk about the excellent quality vapour and solid build of the Volcano Classic.
As part of our Volcano Classic review we are going to talk a little bit about the extras that you can get for your vaporizer.
There are a number of extras you can purchase for your Volcano Classic – including extra air filters (they need to be changed every year or so) and an air filter cap if you happen to lose yours somehow. More importantly easy valve replacement sets and wear and tear sets are available to make it easy when you run out of balloons, liquid pads, or screens. If you prefer a really fine grind, fine screen sets are also available. You can also get extra lip piece sets for sharing your balloons and you will want to share to show off that fantastic vapour you are generating.
You can purchase extra mouthpieces and lip piece sets for the solid valve as well, and even replace the solid valve (you won’t need to). Fine screens and wear and tear sets are also available to get the most life out of your investment and to suit your personal grind preferences.
With a few extra pieces, the Volcano classic becomes customizable to allow you to personalize your experience.
To conclude our Volcano Classic review, we believe that the Classic is worth the money you pay for this legend. It’s practically the Porsche of desktop vaporizers.
First, it is going to last for a very, very long time which, if you look at the cost on a cost per year basis, begins to look very inexpensive very quickly. Its solid construction and lack of parts that move or shift, mean that you are much less likely to have to replace this vaporizer with something else.
The easy valve system option is low to no maintenance and as its name suggests, is very simple to use. You will end up paying a little more for replacement balloons over time but you will not have to clean valves and mouthpieces.
The solid valve system option is a little more maintenance. You need to take apart and clean the cleaning chamber, mouthpiece and valve. You will end up replacing the balloons less often though and you do get more variety in the size of balloons that you can use.
Whether you choose the easy valve or the solid valve, the vapour quality from the Volcano Classic is unmatched. You will be pleased with the rich, flavourful, dense vapour that this machine produces time and again.
Although this desktop vaporizer is designed for use with dried herbs, it easily handles waxes and oils as well. No need for a separate vaporizer for your concentrates.
The Volcano Classic is less expensive than its digital counterpart but the analog version will get the job done just as easily. The only thing you are really missing is the digital display, digital temperature control and the automatic shut off feature.
Because of the exceptional vapour quality and how easy the Volcano Classic is to use, it will quickly become your favourite way to draw vapour at home or for sharing with friends. The sheer amount you use this vaporizer will make it worth the cost.