When I first heard about the VaporGenie I was immediately intrigued. Here was a small, pipe-like vaporizer for $50 and people were raving about it. Portable vapor without batteries sounded too good to be true. Was it?
I went with the ash model, there’s also an exotic hardwood version available that looks a bit more like something Santa Claus would have. I ordered directly from the manufacturer’s website using a prepaid credit card, the charge on the card was listed as VAPORGENIE LLC.
The confirmation email said thanks, and to send them an email if it didn’t arrive within 10 days, but that most orders take less than 7. Shortly after, I got an email from one of the VaporGenie staff
Please let us know when it reaches you – we are trying to determine
shipping times with the new US Postal Service International Mail system.
No tracking number, but a nice touch none the less. It arrived in my mailbox exactly 10 days later, not too bad, though I was anxious to try it. It might have taken a bit longer due to a holiday and the fact that I was not located in the U.S.
It came in a blank, paper, packing envelope filled with bubble wrap. Along with the VaporGenie pipe itself, there were 2 small informational pamphlets. The contents listed on the customs declaration was “Tobacco Pipe”.
At first glance the VaporGenie may look like a normal combustion pipe, but believe it or not, this thing is a vaporizer.
Handmade in Virginia, the VaporGenie’s body is solid ash (hardwood), sanded down to a smooth finish and sealed with a food grade varnish. According to the manufacturer, there are no glues, adhesives or toxic materials used in the VaporGenie.
There are 2 main parts to the VaporGenie. The bottom piece is basically a normal pipe with a bowl and screen. It’s the spherical top piece that does the magic. Inside the sphere is dowel-shaped, ceramic flame-filter which has hundreds of tiny holes in a sponge-like formation. It keeps some distance between the flame from your lighter and the bowl, heating the air to vaporizing temperatures before it passes over your legal herb. Convection, basically.
The bowl and replaceable screen are stainless steel, as is the threaded sleeve portion on the bottom of the sphere. The threads are sturdy and catch easily. The flame filter itself is an inert ceramic– high purity silicon carbide according to the VaporGenie website. Finally, the thin metal insert which covers any wood exposed to flame is chrome plated brass, and the mouthpiece is glossy black plastic.
Ergonomically, the knurled design feels good in your hand and it has a nice weight (78 grams) to it. The unique grain patterns in the wood are quite attractive, IMO, and with the right kind of eyes, the shape of the pipe does resemble some sort of genie.
Overall, the VaporGenie is sturdy and well constructed, ash is the stuff they make baseball bats out of. The only thing that might fall apart, or out, rather, is the plastic mouthpiece, which is held in by ridges. Mine hasn’t fallen out but I can pull it out. Also, the older models didn’t come with a mouthpiece and it still works without it.
If anything does happen, the VaporGenie is covered by a lifetime warranty against defects, and the folks who make it seem like good people.
Grind up your legal herb or tobacco and load the bowl, leaving some room to screw on the top piece. From there it’s similar to using a normal pipe; apply a flame just above or just below the lip of the intake hole, above the ceramic flame filter, and draw air through the mouthpiece. Sounds easy, but it takes a little practice to get the temperature right.
Temperature is controlled by adjusting the flame and suction. The slower you inhale, the hotter the air gets. This might sound counter intuitive, but the slower the air is moving the more time it has to heat up.
What works for me is to keep the flame in the middle of the intake hole, around 2mm below the lip, while inhaling at a medium-slow rate for about 10 seconds.
With proper technique the VaporGenie will indeed grant you some herbal or tobacco vapor. Let it get too hot and you’ll end up with scorched herb, and, smoke.
My smoking friends tended to want to cook it too long at first, since they’re used to feeling smoke in their lungs. It will probably take some basic coaching to ensure your friends don’t scorch the herb, this is important because combustion will make your VaporGenie taste like nasty burnt popcorn.
After a couple tries, my buddy was hitting it like a champ, better than me, with big vapor clouds and no burnage. Everyone will have their own technique with this thing.
Another thing you want to avoid is actually touching the flame to the ceramic flame filter itself. Doing so will leave soot deposits which clog the tiny holes in the filter. There are cleaning instructions on the VaporGenie website should this occur.
As with all vaporizers, stirring the herb between hits aids even cooking and allows visual inspection to determine doneness. Reload and repeat as desired.
Here’s a little trick I’ve been using: Put an ice cube (or two) in your mouth so the air stream from the pipe passes over it. It cools the vapor down and also helps catch any small particles. You can even hold a little water in your mouth for some pseudo bong action.
One of the VaporGenie’s big selling points is its compact size. This thing is infinitely more portable than a plug in vaporizer and a lot easier to conceal for those who’d prefer to keep their business private.
The VaporGenie makes it really easy to hit some vees in the bathroom or even at your desk at work, if you’re brave enough. The fact that it doesn’t require electricity should make it very attractive to those who want to vaporize in a car, tent or just about anywhere but a windstorm (works best with zero wind; no flame fluctuations).
I also like how the top piece keeps any herb from falling out should you need to put it in your pocket. Just make sure no herb is stuck to the flame filter before you heat it up.
We used one VaporGenie between 3 people with pleasing results, any more might be a hassle, especially if they’re new. Of course, you could use more than one.
The VaporGenie is what it is– a compact vaporizer-pipe that uses a flame for heat. It should be made clear (and it is on the VaporGenie website) that it doesn’t produce vapor as clean as that from a high end vaporizer with an all ceramic heating element. While the flame-heated vapor certainly tastes a lot better than smoke, it’s not as tasty or clean as the vapor from my Silver Surfer Vaporizer. That said, when used properly, the VaporGenie can produce big clouds of vapor.
There have been some questions raised about the health implications of inhaling butane and even whether you do at all… You could probably minimize the risk by using high quality, multi-refined butane in a refillable lighter with piezoelectric ignition (eliminates flint dust, which is likely worse to inhale than butane). Some people have reported good results using torch/blue flame style butane lighters which burn a lot cleaner than bics.
In any case, I think it’s logical to assume that vapor from the VaporGenie is much safer than inhaling smoke. While I’ll continue use my Silver Surfer when possible, The VG is really is portable vapor– anytime, anywhere.
* I found a message board post accusing the flame filter of being dangerous (2nd post). It looks a bit like someone trying to hurt business, as no solid proof is provided. I’ll try to get some more info on this.
The VaporGenie is a compact vaporizer pipe that uses a ceramic flame filter to keep your lighter’s flame from touching the herb below. It takes some practice to use properly, and isn’t as clean as a high end vaporizer, but, it’s super portable, stealthy and only $50.
If you’re interested in vaporizing but aren’t ready to shell out the big bucks, this might be the ticket. Even if you already own a high end vaporizer, the VaporGenie is handy to have when you’re away from home or without access to electricity.
For the money, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better vaporizer. My friends that have used it all want their own.
- compact / portable
- looks cool
- solid, non-toxic construction
- lifetime guarantee
- top piece keeps herb from falling out
- inexpensive entry into vaporization
- good value for money
- uses flame as heat source
- butane can taint taste of vapor (debated)
- not as clean as ceramic element heaters
- can dry your throat
- burns through lighters quickly
- flame/inhalation based temperature control is fairly inaccurate (especially for inexperienced users)
- accidental combustion possible
- somewhat steep learning curve
- not ideal for large groups
- not as efficient as some high end vaporizers
- mouthpiece can come loose
Looks like a lot of negatives, but don’t get me wrong. I’m comparing this to vaporizers costing 10 times as much, and they don’t fit in your pocket! I like my VaporGenie and would buy it again, even if they upped the price.
: I’ve been made aware of a VaporGenie knockoff called the VaporBuddy, pretty much your (sub)standard knockoff imported from China. Aside from the fact that it’s a ripoff and likely constructed with little concern for health, it actually costs more than the VaporGenie.
Do yourself a favor and get the real thing.