This stoner is extremely excited about the weed inventors of the post-prohibition future. I mean, we’ve all been there, sitting in the circle passing around the pipe, when one of the crew shares an indica-inspired epiphany on how to craft a better bubbler or trim tray or hash maker, right? Not to suggest we don’t roll with a smart crew, but imagine that same scene playing out in a circle of neurosurgeons or theologians or theoretical physicists. Add a bevy of industrial engineers to your smoking circle and you’ll have one heck of a trim tray, guaranteed.
But such Sour Diesel daydreaming doesn’t fully explain why I’ve decided we need more space engineers designing our pot paraphernalia. This new and strongly-held opinion stems almost entirely from an amazing device that arrived at my door recently: the Herbalizer.
The Herbalizer is a vaporizer like no other. It was designed by a pair of former NASA engineers which, beyond being great marketing fodder, helps explain the deliberate creation process behind the device. My stoner friends and I tend to dream up improvements on existing ideas: the water-filtered joint holder, the motor insert for Fiskars-brand scissors, or the ultimate weed cookie recipe. But these math-and-materials nerds didn’t seek to improve an existing vaporizer, rather they set out a few basic, deceptively simple design goals.
“It had to be instantaneous and precise, and it had to be beautiful,” says inventor Josh Young, CEO and president of Herbalizer.
Few vaporizers can come close to the Herbalizer’s five-second (or less) startup time, and that’s because the machine uses a heat source rarely seen in the vape world: a light bulb. Personally, as one of a hopefully-small number of people who have vaped using the heat from an incandescent light bulb in a table lamp (mediocre idea I got from the Internet, 2003 edition), the light-based heat source certainly isn’t foreign to me. But very few other vapes on the market, such as the AroMed, attempt such a vaporization engine.
But this is no everyday light bulb, it’s a tiny 300-watt halogen lamp. That’s like packing a small grow light into your vaporizer. “The outside surface of that glass reaches 800 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Young. That’s twice the temperature required for effective vaporization, so it’s crucial that the lamp turns on only when needed and for no longer than absolutely necessary.
To accurately control that powerful heat source, the Herbalizer relies on a heat sensor situated between the lamp and the safety screen to get a precise temperature reading just before the hot air flows into the magnetically-attached bowl. And to make sure the machine, which operates between 290 and 445 degrees Fahrenheit, is holding steady at your chosen temperature, it uses custom software to rapidly toggle the lamp on and off the split second more heat is required.
I’ve said before that vaporization isn’t rocket science, just heat plus some plant material. It doesn’t have to be exact — throw some herb in a frying pan on medium temperature and it will vape. But those who achieve exacting standards will be rewarded by the cannabis consumer markets. Anyone who’s waited 30 seconds or more for a vaporizer to start up, or waited between draws for a vaporizer to reheat, can understand the absolute awesomeness of constantly-maintained, near-instantaneous high heat. Turn on the fan and draw as hard as you like, and the Herbalizer will hold temperature within a 5-degree tolerance.
With such precision, the Herbalizer can be used to more effectively target specific ranges of cannabinoids present in one’s pot, which opens up a world of potential granularity in the everyday toking experience. Start the unit at low temperature in the morning for what could be a clearer high, then increase temperature later to unlock different cannabinoids that maybe produce a heavier high for your afternoon lifestyle.
In theory, you can run the device at the boiling point of delta-9-THC for a while, boil off that psychoactive compound (and anything that volatizes below that temperature), then run it at a slightly higher temperature to target mainly cannabidiol, a compound many patients believe has great medical value in the treatment of epilepsy and other conditions.