Back in the day, when you talked about “vaporizers,” the only thing that came to mind were the huge New Age-looking pyramid contraptions that squatted on the tabletops of recent college dropouts. Now, you can’t skulk out for a late-night pint of Cherry Garcia anywhere in Brooklyn without passing a few fellow travelers taking drags off sleek handheld vaping wizard wands. What’s in those pipes? Is word getting around about the supposed “health and stealth” benefits of vaping? Or does everyone want to get famous winning prestigious cloud competitions?
Fascinating as this analysis could be — and regardless of what’s inside the pipes — let’s ask the really important question: Does vaping save money?
It turns out there are different schools of thought on this subject, so I pounded the pavement in search of the unbiased truth (or at least a better general idea), starting with the uber-professionals at Beyond Vape on Grand Street. I should mention first that these guys, while friendly and patient with my newness to the subject, emphasize they only sell products intended to vaporize tobacco. Got it.
Mr. Beyond Vape pointed out that, on one hand, a wizard wand only produces vapor when you push a button — unlike a cigarette (or three-foot Graffix bong), which stays lit for at least a moment after you finish inhaling, continuing to burn up the contents. Also, vape vapor stays in the chamber until it gets sucked out, so smokers aren’t losing anything to the four winds (or to greedy second-hand air-breathers).
On the other, a guy at Grand Smoke Shop with hand tattoos said it might actually work the other way: Because vaping is easier on the lungs than smoking, one might actually find oneself consuming more consumables by vaping. And there’s the added risk of developing a predilection for collecting ever-prettier, ever-fancier, ever-more-wallet-draining vaping fixtures (not that that happened to this guy). But what do everyday users have to say?
SMACKDOWN: SMOKING VS. VAPING
I moved on to consulting an Anonymous Smoker (A.S.), a 29-year-old social media strategist who lives in Sunset Park, who says he smokes more and spends less since buying a Pax vaporizer by Ploom, a popular handheld contraption now on sale for $199.99 (usually $250).
“One factor is definitely that less weed goes a much longer way. I’ll pack my vape and use it on low (temperature), then do another session on medium, and, when that stops getting me lifted, I’ll kick it into high and get even more out of it. I’ve got a system!” (One wonders if he is that efficient about everything.)
A self-admitted stoner, a 33-year-old writer in Park Slope, says, “switching to the vape definitely saved me money immediately. It’s like switching to high-efficiency light bulbs or a low-flush toilet: the initial investment is high, but the payoff starts to add up quickly.”
He has a $250 Pax too, and thanks to its alleged efficiency, he halved his budget. He says he went from dropping about $55 every two weeks on a bag of greens to spending that much over a whole month. “Some THC remains stuck to the leaves even when you’ve vaped them all through so you can save the vape remains and use them for baking,” he says. “My ever-frugal mother would be so proud.”
Far be it from us to recommend vaping, so allow us to simply report on the array of ingenious devices on the market:
• The Dragon Lite, ($45) is a box (not pen) style that takes AA batteries and comes with a battery cap, cleaning brush, and mouth stem.
• Cloud V’s line of pen-style vaporizers start at $99 and look easy to operate.
• Magic Flight’s (pictured above) line of small box vapes look like wooden first-gen iPods and start at $119. They come with two rechargeable AAs and a charger, glass draw stem, cleaning brush, and storage tin.
• For those interested in tabletop models, Arizer’s Extreme Q retails for $239 — and comes with a remote control.
• Volcano brand is the apparent leader of this pack; its “ultimate vaporization system” is $599 and will report weed’s vital signs using an LED display.
Most vapes come with a guarantee of some kind—a few are even lifetime. Though I’m not sure that covers accidentally leaving the thing on the bus, or at a cousin’s house, or just plain waking up and having no earthly idea what happened.
Let’s also reiterate a possible downside of vaping, as pointed out by A.S.: smoking more. “I was mostly a social smoker before my vape,” he said. “I wasn’t completely sold on vaping yet when I bought it, but now, I’m committed. I love it. If it broke tomorrow, I would happily buy another full price. Vaporizers are like umbrellas in that one good, pricey one is better than a bunch of cheap, shitty ones.”