Go-go Gadget vaporize! The VaporGenie Volta. (Photo by Ben Livingston)

VaporGenie Volta: If MacGyver needed a vaporizer (review)

I once dreamed of a game show where stoners would compete to build the best pot pipe with only convenience store items purchased with $4.20. Contestants would piece together small parts to fashion inventive new pot paraphernalia like marijuana MacGyvers.

I imagine the VaporGenie Volta has a similar genesis story. The handheld vaporizer is little more than a hollow block of wood, a few bits of metal, a battery and some magnets. And while it’s an ingenious little device, it is neither easy nor entertaining to use.

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VaporGenie is best known for its line of pipe vaporizers that are heated with a standard lighter. These pipes place a ceramic filter above the cannabis material, blocking the flame and reducing its heat output to somewhere near the vaporization point. The Volta is the company’s first battery-powered vaporizer.

It’s powered by one rechargeable lithium iron phosphate battery — two are provided, along with a charger — which heats up a small strip of thin, corrugated metal that lines a small chamber in the wooden body. This heats up the pot. Fill the chamber one-quarter to one-half full with ground herb, place the cover on, press the copper switch and let the vaporizer heat for 5-15 seconds, then alternate between inhaling and heating every few seconds, remembering to shake the unit every few seconds to more evenly distribute the marijuana along the metal heating element.

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The Volta is awkward to hold. The battery, held in place by pressure from a metal clip, needs occasional adjustment. The corrugated metal heats beyond the vaporization point, and shaking the unit constantly makes for more work. The manual says to alternate between heating and inhalation every few seconds, but doing so produces minimal vapor as the heating element cools quickly. Sometimes a bit of weed sucks through the mouthpiece, and the unit is neither discrete nor sexy.

At a retail price of $110, the Volta is far too costly for its questionable functionality. All but the most curious marijuana MacGyver will want a better-designed vaporizer.

Updated Feb. 4 at 4:18 p.m. The following corrected information has been added to this article: Because of a reporter’s error, an incorrect battery type was listed. The required battery for the device is lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO).
Updated Feb. 5 at 6:15 p.m. Clarifications have been made regarding the device’s battery containment and the instructions provided in the user manual. The manual directs users to alternate between heating and inhalation every few seconds when operating the device.