Since its introduction in 2007, The HerbAlaire has managed to attract a solid fan base. I’d say this is mainly because of it’s friendly price tag (around $250), high quality materials and the option to use it with balloons or as direct-draw vape. In this review we take a closer look at this dual-system vape.
Note: The difference with the older 2.1 model is that the HerbalAire 2.2 has different colours LED lights and an upgraded air pump, which reflects in faster filling of balloons.
The design of the HerbalAire is on the minimal side. The shell is matte black, and the mouthpieces/bowls etc are plain white, with transparent tubes. It is surprisingly small, and can easily be picked up in one hand and used in a direct-to-mouth style. There are vertical grooves running up the sides of the unit, which help with grip. The bottom of the unit contains an LED light, which lights up the surface underneath the vaporizer (eg. your table). The LED isn’t over-bright, so it doesn’t interfere with the minimal style. In the newest version of the HerbalAire, the LED light changes color according to the temperature, but my older unit has a static red light.
Visually, I think this vaporizer looks quite nice – the design is subtle and functional, without any unneeded decorations or frills. There are logos or markings whatsoever on the exterior, apart from the standard fine print on the underside. The original packaging is also smaller than expected, around the size of a toaster. The various pieces are neatly packed together into the box, and are well protected for shipping. The box itself is plain brown, there are no logos or descriptions on the outside. Because the unit is matte black, minimal in appearance and quite small, I think it is quite stealthy for a home vaporizer. It can be easily be packed up and put away in a hurry, is small enough to fit in a drawer, and doesn’t look like obvious ‘weed paraphernalia’ to begin with. However, it could draw questions as it doesn’t look like any other household appliance, so you wouldn’t exactly leave it around when your grandma is coming over for lunch (unless your grandma is very cool!)
Vapor & Taste
The mouthpieces, hoses and other bits are made from medical grade plastic/silicon, so there is a slight plastic smell when the vaporizer is brand new, but this disappears quickly. Like most vaporizers, its a good idea to run it on empty for a while, to let any material smells ‘cook off’. Once the HerbalAire has been used a couple of times, there is no detectable plastic taste at all.
The airpath is stainless steel, so any plastic flavors are coming from the mouthpiece/hose, rather than the vaporizer itself, so this is reassuring.
The HerbalAire does a very good job of extracting the flavor from your herb, delivering tasty vapor right from the first inhale, rather than needing a couple of hits to get warmed up and the vapor flowing, as with some vaporizers. I believe this is because of the ‘air jet’ system. Inside the chamber, there are a number of tiny air holes which blast the warm air up through the middle of herb. The unit also has a substantial ‘thermal mass’ and tends to hold heat well.
Because the temperature is adjustable, the potency of the vapor can be tweaked to the users preference. On low temperatures, the vapor is light and fresh. On high temperatures, the vapor can be extremely potent, almost smoky!
The air jet system inside the bowl also means the herb is heated very evenly, as opposed to many other vaporizers which have a hot spot in the centre of the bowl, requiring the user to mix the herb to get even vaporization. With the HerbalAire, there is really no need to stir the herb – it always comes out 100% evenly browned, from the edges right through to the inside centre of the bowl. All users agree the HerbalAire is a very good vaporizer for efficiency. I don’t know of any vaporizer which does a noticeably better job in getting every last possible amount of vapor from the herb. On medium-high temperatures, the herb comes out dark chocolate brown, and turns to fine powder in your fingers – extremely dry and crispy. But it never comes close to combustion, the herb is always an even brown, not black. The heater is electronically controlled by a thermostat, and it seems the makers have set an upper limit on the temperature so its impossible to burn the herb.
Ease of use
I find the HerbalAire an easy to use vape with almost no learning curve. The HerbalAire is different to other bag-filling vaporizers, in that the air pump is external. Its actually a regular fish-tank pump, so can easily be replaced. Because the pump is external, this means there is an extra step of connecting the airhose from the pump to the main unit, but this only takes a few seconds. The benefit of the external pump is that it keeps the main unit small and light. For users like myself who prefer direct-draw hits rather than filling bags, this is a good thing! Plus, I still have the option to connect the pump when I feel like using the bags.
The bowls, mouthpieces and hoses are all simple and obvious in their function and how they work together. The instruction manual is also nice and clear, so there is not much that can go wrong.
The exterior shell of the HerbalAire is made from high quality matte black plastic. The unit feels extremely solid and well built. For its small size, it does have a reassuring weight in your hand (but far from being heavy, as already mentioned). There are no parts that are creaky, loose, or fragile. It is obviously designed with a lot of care and attention to detail.
The only part that might possibly be damaged is the temperature control dial, as it sticks out around 1cm. Still, I think the HerbalAire could survive a medium drop with no issues. On a carpeted floor, it would be almost impossible to damage the unit. Even the matte plastic shell seems resistant to marks and scratches, so I have no problem carrying the HerbalAire loose inside a backpack.
However, The removable bowls (called crucibles) are made from thin stainless steel. If you were to stand on one, it would be flattened. The crucibles do come inside a protective plastic container, which is nice. Most users suggest getting an extra set of crucibles when you buy your HerbalAire.
Apparently the white mouthpieces/connections are made from a type of teflon plastic. Although I have concerns about teflon and would prefer it wasn’t used, my research says that teflon must be heated up considerably (like flame temperatures) for there to be any health risk. I do also trust the Canadian manufacturers have taken care in selecting materials, as the HerbalAire is a high quality, medical-grade device with a good reputation, and has already been on the market for years.