As a long time daily smoker I have often wondered about the negative effects of smoking marijuana on the lungs. I understand that marijuana does not contain many of the harmful ingredients that cigarettes do, however I only have to look to my resinated pipe to know that inhaling burning plant material just can’t be too good for you. I’ve known about various ways of ingesting marijuana from smoking to eating and more recently I’ve been reading about the benefits vaporizing marijuana. Smoking marijuana often produces a cough from the more inexperienced to the very experienced smokers for a pretty good reason. Hot marijuana smoke can be quite harsh on the throat and lungs producing the coughing reaction and the red eyes from popping little blood vessels during that coughing reflex. Burning marijuana also produces a very distinct odor that few would mistake for anything else so, it’s difficult to conceal use if in a confined space. The lack of cancer causing agents in the smoke does not detract from the amount of tars that are created by burning the plant material and ultimately inhaling these tars. Eating marijuana, when correctly prepared can be quite an experience. It’s said to produce more of a body high that seems to roll more – that is have highs and lows during the intoxicating period. Eating marijuana also produces a very tiring effect in those I know. The lack of motivation and the desire to sleep aren’t always acceptable. Cooking with marijuana is also very time consuming and resource intensive. You will find that growers of marijuana cook with marijuana much more often than purchasers of marijuana. In comes the vaporizer. Some quick information on vaporization is in order. Vaporization is the process of passing heated air through organic material heating the material enough to release its flavor and active ingredients into a vapor or steam. In vaporization the organic material is never ignited nor is a flame present. The air is heated to temperatures between 130 and 230 degrees(c). As the vapors escape from the organic material they are inhaled or captured for inhalation. I’ll be covering the Volcano Vaporizer by Storz & Bickel in this review. The Volcano has earned a reputation as being the best vaporizer on the market today. Never having used a vaporizer before, I thought it would be appropriate for this review to give vaporization its best possible chance. When I received my Volcano I was immediately impressed by the professional packaging and manufacturing of the product itself. As you remove the Volcano from the box it quickly becomes clear that this is no simple bong or cheap toy or novelty. The unit includes several high grade, molded plastic, metals and fittings. We can separate the Volcano into three pieces; the base heating unit, the filling chamber and the mouthpiece. The product looks and feels good. Not cheap or poorly built, rather something you would expect to purchase from an appliance store along with Blenders and Toasters. On the base heating unit there is a dial temperature control. I was impressed by the consistency of the heating element and its ability to maintain a constant temperature. The base unit also provides the heat very quickly. Within just a minute the heating element is ready to accept the filling chamber. The optimum temperature for which you should use to vaporize your organic material depends on many factors including, type of organic material, moisture of the material and the density of vapors which you would like to achieve, among other factors such as humidty and barometric pressures, etc. The filling chamber is capable of holding approximately 4-5 grams of finely ground marijuana. The grinding is important as you do not want to just throw a bud in the filling chamber and expect results. The finer the substance is ground the more surface area available to the heated air passing through the filling chamber. If you want to achieve a more dense vapor, thus getting more goodness, you should completely fill the filling chamber, but do not overfill or pack tightly at all. The loose pack is important to allow the heated air to pass more easily through the fill chamber. To vaporize the material simply heat up the base unit to your desired temperature and set the filling chamber on the screened heating element. I recommend you turn on the heated air flow by pressing the green button on the base unit prior to applying the mouthpiece. This will allow the heated air to pass through the material for a few seconds to “preheat” the material so that your mouthpiece and capture balloon will get more vapor than air, 3-5 seconds should be sufficient. Once the material is pre-heated the mouthpiece is firmly snapped into place by quality finger grip construction. As the balloon on the mouthpiece fills it will go from a laying down position to an upright position. The heated air is not blown out at a rate that would pop the capture balloon so it is possible to “overfill” the capture balloon to allow for more vapors to fill the space. Once you are satisfied by the density of the vapors in the capture balloon simply turn the green air flow button on the base unit to off and press in the finger clasp to release the mouthpiece from the filling chamber and base unit. The mouthpiece is outfitted with a pressure release mouth-tip so that your capture balloon does not immediately start to deflate. To inhale the vapors simply press your mouth against the mouthpiece and inhale. It will feel very different to you. It’s not smoke, it’s vapor. There is no charred organic material or carcenagens found in this vapor, only pure organic material heated into a vapor that quickly cools to room temperature. While the air passed through the material is heated to 130 – 230 degrees(c) the vapors quickly cool the air in the capture balloon. When the vapors are inhaled they are at room temperature, not super heated from in excess of 500 degree direct flame as you would get from a hand pipe. This greatly improves the inhalation of the vapor and produces almost NO coughing sensation! The process of using the vaporizer is quick and efficient. In testing for this write-up I’ve found that 3 grams of marijuana ground finely lasted throughout the entire day and into the evening with frequent smoking by two people. It appears that the vapors allow marijuana to go a little further, however I also found that taking several balloon hits felt normal for me so it’s possible that it takes more vapor to accomplish the same effect as inhaled smoke. If prolonging your resources is the goal, the jury is still out on this one. I have found it very accommodating to not have to deal with smell, ashes and lighters that accompany smoking. The smell from vaporizing marijuana is more of a “roasted plant” smell. Definitely different from the smoked smell, however you can still notice the smell of marijuana in the room. The taste of the vapors was not over potent but had a “roasted plant” taste. It is very comparable to the taste of marijuana when used in cooking with cannabutter or similar. I don’t like the flavor of marijuana by itself when eaten, that’s why I typically mix with brownies to make it more palatable. The vaporizer worked beautifully in the same way. I first mixed a little high grade marijuana with some fresh mint. With a loosely filled filling chamber and the heat applied, it was quickly obvious that I had found a new favorite way to smoke and that I needed a fresh supply of some herbal blends. The mint flavor and smell quickly filled the room, far over powering the roasty smell of the marijuana. My mouth literally watered as the vapors filled the capture balloon. At the proper vapor density the mixture of marijuana and mint produced a taste unlike anything I’ve tasted to date. It was wonderful. Vaporizing marijuana with herbs and various herbal blends continues to amaze. It seems there is no end to combinations when it comes to vaporizing herbs with your, herb. So "how is the high", you ask? I was very impressed by the quality of high. I must admit, I was very skeptical and my preconceived perception was that I would not like the vaporizer in the same fashion that I didn’t like eating marijuana. I have to believe that vaporization is NOT going to make your marijuana better. The better grade turned to vapor, the more intoxicating effect you will realize. For testing purposes we used high grade, seedless – rather fresh and moist marijuana. While vaporization does not make your marijuana better, it does make you smarter for avoiding the harmful effects of burnt organic material! The high itself is somewhat reminiscent of the effect of eating marijuana but the difference is great enough not to consider them the same. The effects from inhaling the vapors are immediate and noticeable. It felt as if it was more of a head high and somewhat more relaxing than the smoked comparison. After smoking there was no throat burn or extended coughing, I was able to continue on with what I was doing with a very enjoyable high. The effects lasted no longer or no less than the high that comes from smoking that I was able to notice. Do yourself and your lungs a favor, especially if you are a heavy or regular smoker, and get yourself a high quality vaporizer like The Volcano Vaporizer. You will be giving up absolutely nothing and gaining all the health advantages that are associated with vaporization versus smoking. Inhaling the vapors is like inhaling from a humidifier – add a touch of herb and instant add flavor and depth to your experience. The vaporizer has changed my ways. Marijuana.Com – The Volcano Vaporizer by Storz & Bickel. Best rated product.