In the following review we take a closer look at the Vaponic; a small glass lighter-powered vaporizer from the Spanish manufacturer of the VapBong, Solwe.
The Vaponic is a small glass vaporizer, about the size of a finger. Apart from the stainless steel screen and the small silicon grommet which holds everything together, it is made from high quality heat-resistant borosilicate glass.
Visually, the Vaponic looks very nice, its simple and beautiful. All the glass is very well formed, smooth and even. The only decoration is a small red circular logo (easy on the eye, not too obvious), and a thin red line around the main tube. The silicone part is dark grey, and doesn't stand out too much.
Overall, the Vaponic looks like it could be a spare part from a large, high-end glass vaporizer, or something from a science lab. The Vaponic comes inside a small plastic clamshell-style package, which is transparent and clearly shows the contents. The instruction manual and the protective "marker" case are colorful, with a large Vaponic logo, website etc.
The unit is small, so its easy to conceal, easily fitting into a pocket. The protective marker case is designed for hiding the unit, although there is a large Vaponic logo and website on the outside (this sticker could be peeled off for extra stealth).
Vapor & Taste
The first thing that I noticed when using the Vaponic is that the flavor of the vapor is extremely clean and pure. It reminded me of using a high end pure glass vaporizer like the Verdamper or the Herborizer. The Vaponic is almost 100% glass, so this explains the purity of flavor. The air does pass over the silicon grommet on the way in, but this is before the air is warmed. So the airpath is not pure glass, but the vapor path is.
The area around the silicon grommet gets slightly warm to touch while in use, but nowhere near warm enough to make any 'cooked' silicon smell/taste.
The potency of the vapor depends on the amount of heat applied. There is a learning curve to reaching the desired temperature (discussed later in the review), so the vapor can be too light or too heavy when the user is still learning. The overall potency of the vapor depends on the temperature applied by the user.
One of the interesting things about the Vaponic is that its not really necessary to grind the herb. It does a surprisingly good job when you just tear off a small chunk of the bud and insert it whole. This is convenient because no grinder is necessary, you can just tear pieces off and insert them as needed. However, after much experimentation I found that the herb is slightly more prone to uneven vaporization when the bud is left whole. When the vaporized bud is broken open, it is generally a shade darker brown on the outside than in the center. I want to reiterate that the Vaponic does do a surprisingly good job with whole pieces of herb, but when the the bud is properly ground, vaporization tends to be more even and efficient. In most cases, the ground herb comes out evenly vaporized all the way through.
Because of the manual, lighter-based heating, it is quite easy to combust the herb with the Vaponic when the lighter is applied too long. This happened to me quite a few times early on, but after a few sessions I got a feeling for how long to heat the unit before inhaling, and combustion became rare. After some practice, combustion isn't an issue.
Ease of use
As mentioned, there is a definite learning curve to using the Vaponic. The unit is physically very simple and easy to assemble, with very few parts. But the method of heating requires the user to learn how long to apply the lighter. How long will depend on a number of variables, such as the type of lighter used (gas torches are the best, and don't leave black soot), as well as the quality of the herb (material that is very dry or low-grade usually needs higher temperatures). This is not a major problem, and the same potential combustion issue exists with some other portables, even electric units such as the Magic Flight Launch Box. But I would say that the Vaponic is not the best choice for users with a short attention span, who just want a quick and easy, foolproof vaporizer.
The other thing to consider is that the far end of the Vaponic gets extremely hot while in use. There is a red line which indicates which side to heat, and which side is safe to hold with your fingers, but its understandable that many people will accidentally touch the hot end, especially while under the influence of strong vapor! Passing the Vaponic around in-between hits needs to be done carefully. I managed not to burn myself, but a couple of my friends did burn their fingers, and are now understandably cautious of this particular vaporizer. The tip of a gas torch lighter also gets extremely hot when used for the length of time required to heat the Vaponic, so should be treated with caution.
Because the Vaponic is made from glass, it cannot be expected to be ultra-durable. However, the makers have used very high quality borosilicate glass, and have made it as thick as is practical. Any thicker, and I believe the unit would take too long to heat up. For a small glass vaporizer, the Vaponic is as durable as one can expect. It would be very unlikely to survive being dropped. But each of the 3 glass pieces of the Vaponic is separately replaceable, so a breakage is not necessarily a complete loss.
When using a freshly filled gas torch lighter, the Vaponic can get a couple of users through a complete session without needing a gas refill. One of the good things about a lighter-based vaporizer is that you potentially will never run out of power, unlike an electronic/battery operated unit. This is ideal for activities like camping/hiking, because full can of butane fuel would last a very long time indeed, and is relatively light to carry.
I also want to mention the Vaponic is very easy to clean. The 3 glass pieces disassemble quickly and can be soaked in alcohol, Grunge Off etc, and come out sparkling. Sometimes a little scrubbing with a pipe cleaner may be necessary, especially when the user has accidentally combusted.
While the Vaponic is not ideal for all users and situations, it does a very good job as long as the user is willing to spend time getting to know the ins and outs. The purity and cleanliness of the vapor is fantastic, on par with high expensive, home-based glass vaporizers. When used correctly, it delivers wonderful flavor. I can't think of another vaporizer as low-priced as the Vaponic which delivers such quality vapor.
The Vaponic is a good choice for a connoisseur who doesn't mind a slightly more involved process, in the pursuit of the best quality vapor possible from a small portable. As mentioned, it is not ideal for users who just want a quick and easy method, or who are on the clumsy side (possibly leading to burning themselves, burning the weed, or worst of all - dropping and breaking the unit). It is also not a good idea for those users wanting stealthy usability - heating up the unit takes at least 5-10 seconds with a gas torch. This would definitely draw attention in a public place, and some observers have also commented this heating process looks like a meth/crack pipe to the untrained eye (but I never made this connection).
Personally, I would highly recommend the Vaponic to an outdoors person, who appreciates good quality vapor while on the trail, in the mountains, camping etc. Including a full can of butane, the entire setup is light, small, and long-lasting. Its also a good choice for taking to private parties, to share with friends who are ok with the learning curve. The Vaponic is a very affordable and well designed product. At this price point, it would be my top choice for a portable vaporizer.