Let’s just put it out there: You can’t go wrong with a Volcano.
The iconic Volcano is pretty basic. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but that’s kind of the point. This is a rock-solid product that will still be producing smooth, tasty vapour long after newer, trendier models have bit the dust. It better be reliable; this iconic piece of German engineering is one of the most expensive vaporizers on the market today.
It’s popular too. This is THE vaporizer for medical studies and cannabis festivals. If you walk into a Dutch coffee shop, what will you see sitting table-side? A Volcano! A quick Google search will find many loyal Volcano users who get 10 years or more out of their units. Those who don’t have one, wish they did. So, if your budget allows, you won’t be sorry you went with this dry-herb vape.
I was one of those people who put off buying a Volcano for years because of the price. During that time, I tried other more affordable vapes, but I was never really happy with any of them. Then, a family member was diagnosed with COPD and high-quality vapour became a necessity instead of a nice-to-have. My only regret was we didn’t buy one sooner.
Let’s take a closer look at the Volcano to see if it’s the right desktop vape for you.
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Ease of Use
The Volcano is really easy to use. There aren’t a bunch of optional attachments to figure out and the controls are very straightforward. This thing does exactly what it needs to do, nothing more. It comes with a detailed book of instructions, but just follow the quick-start guide and you’ll be vaping about 10 minutes after you unpack the box.
Here’s how it works in a nutshell. Place the main unit on a stable surface, plug it in, set the temperature to the desired level (more about that later) and flip the heat switch to on. Fill the herb chamber (this is completely separate from the main unit) with ground herb. Open up one of the balloons and unravel it.
When the yellow light turns off to indicate the Volcano has reached the set temperature, place the herb chamber on top. Give it about 5 seconds to warm up then attach a balloon to the top of the chamber. Here comes the fun part; turn on the fan using the green rocker switch and watch the vapour fill the balloon. Switch off the air pump, remove the balloon and attach the mouthpiece. Relax and enjoy the vapour; it’ll be good for the next 10 to 15 minutes.
That sounds like a lot of steps, but some won’t need to be repeated each time. You can leave the unit in heat mode as long as you’re in the same room, and a single pack of the herb chamber will fill your balloon 3 to 4 times.
I wasn’t so sure about the whole balloon thing to start. It just seemed kind of weird and awkward. But, after trying so many cheaper vapes that didn’t live up to their promises, it was pleasantly reassuring to watch the vapour pour out of the Volcano.
I have a Volcano Classic with a mechanical dial, so let’s talk about that one first. Actual markings on the temperature control dial would have been better than a cryptic 1-9 scale, but they do include a nice diagram in the instruction manual that tells you what the single digits equate to in both Celsius and Fahrenheit. Most people set the dial somewhere between 5 and 7. Stay low for flavour and go high for potency. I keep mine around 6.
The Volcano Digital costs a little more than the Volcano Classic, but it lets you control the temperature with more precision. Otherwise, everything else is exactly the same. It’s still simple. Use the plus and minus signs to set the desired temperature. The dual temperature display features big, easy-to-read digits – actual is on the top in red, set is on the bottom in green.
Personally, I prefer the Classic model. Mechanical controls rarely fail, it’s cheaper and I’m not enough of a vape snob that I need to know the exact temperatures. If the vapour does what I need it to do, I’m happy.
Storz and Bickel is not your typical vape company. They’ve been around since 1998 and they’re ISO 9001 and 13485 certified to produce medical devices. Today, they build their vapes in a state-of-the-art facility in Tuttlingen, Germany, a town known for its medical technology and innovation. They also make The Mighty, Crafty and Plenty.
These German engineers did everything right when they first created the Volcano and they haven’t changed much over the years. Everything about this vape is solid. The unit is made of sturdy, medical-grade metal and plastic. With no wiggles or rattles, it both looks and feels like a quality product.
Most people get years of dependable use from a Volcano, but Storz and Bickel also back up this vape with a 3-year warranty. I haven’t had any problems with my Volcano in the two years I’ve owned it, but I did break the plastic housing on an S&B Plenty. I sent it back with the receipt and they shipped me a brand-new one within a week.
Due to the popularity of this unit, Chinese knockoffs have flooded eBay and some other eCommerce sites. They may work OK for a while, but the real danger is from sub-standard materials that could leach into the vapour. Only buy from trusted vendors.
The vapour quality is excellent!
As more of an edible user than a smoker, I was pleasantly surprised. I could inhale fully without any coughing or discomfort. The vapour was nice and cool. Apparently, I never knew what cannabis tasted like before I tried the Volcano. The burnt ashtray flavour was gone and I could taste the terpenes for the first time.
If you’ve never smoked before, or you can no longer smoke due to health concerns, you’re going to love the Volcano.
Cleaning And Maintenance
There’s not much to do here. Wipe off the exterior with a damp cloth as needed. Check the air filter on the bottom of the unit once a month and clean or replace it if it’s dirty. My original filter is still going strong.
Storz and Bickel give you a generous supply of replacement screens for the herb chamber. I haven’t needed to use any yet. If anything gets clogged by specks of herb, just give it a swipe or two with the supplied brush.
Balloons need to be replaced now and then if they spring a leak. They’re not very expensive, and they last a long time, but you can also buy a roll of replacement bags that you can cut to size. Some people use oven bags instead. If you’re going to replace the bags, purchase either solid valves or easy valves with an adaptor ring. Otherwise, it’s nearly impossible to get a nice, tight seal that doesn’t leak.
Value for Money
The Volcano is expensive, but this is a case of you getting what you pay for. It’s more like an investment. If you divide the initial price by the 10+ years of trouble-free use most people get from one, it’ll probably save you money in the long run. That’s a lot of cheap vapes, rolling papers, pipes and bongs you won’t need to buy. You can also find Storz & Bickel vouchers that reduce the cost of the Volcano by up to 20%.
Storz and Bickel stand behind their products, you can rely on them to honour the Volcano’s 3-year warranty and be there to repair your unit if it needs to be serviced at any point after the warranty expires. They’re a mature company with a stable product so out-of-stock parts shouldn’t be a problem.
The Volcano also adds a lot of value by making your cannabis go further. All vaporizers are supposed to do this, but you can really see it happen when you empty the Volcano’s herb chamber. As the terpenes and cannabinoids are fully vaporized, the ground buds change from dense, sticky and green to fluffy, dry and brown. They’re not burnt, just completely stripped of all their active ingredients.
Volcano Final Scores
The Volcano is a simple vape that's both reliable and effective. Its high cost to start is more than offset by the many years of use delivered by most units. The vapour itself is clean, smooth and tasty without any hint of combustion. As long as you can afford the steep price, it's a great choice for anyone either non-smokers or those ready to make the switch.