Innovators of Vaping: Storz and Bickel
In 1997, all German graphic designer Markus Storz wanted was a vaporizer that was to his standards. Storz knew that:
“whenever [he] bought a cheap, low quality device, tool, car or whatever, it didn’t work as well as the better quality ones and broke after a while. The result always was, [he] had hassles with the cheap ones, and finally bought the better one, so ended up paying for both...it’s just a waste of time and money to buy and use inadequate products”.
When Storz realized that vaporizers on the market were insufficient, he made his own: The Volcano Classic.
Before the Volcano, vaporizers were obscure; with only diehard smokers owning them. All of these vaporizers used conduction, which vaporizes herbs through direct contact with heated materials. Conduction vapes are less expensive but also tend to unevenly vaporize and even burn the herbs put into them. They also have high learning curves: users have to figure out what’s the best temperature to vaporize herbs and inhaling from them can be difficult. The Volcano was unique for being a convection vaporizer, which means that it vaporizes herbs by heating the air around them. This allows for even vaporization. It was also much easier to use: since the Volcano pretty much acts as an automated oven, users can “set it and forget it”. The Volcano’s built in fan pushes the created vapor into a bag that is then inhaled. Storz later patented the standard Volcano bag in 2008, which is heatproof, tasteless and lasts 50-100 uses.
Storz patented his new vaporizer and was ready to distribute in 2000 under the company name “Vapormed Inhalatoren”. One of his first customers was Jurgen Bickel, who later partnered with Storz to form Storz & Bickel. Based in Tuttlingen, Germany, Storz & Bickel expanded into America in 2005. The Volcano has gone on to be an icon of the American vaporizer industry, with appearances in films such as Seth Rogen’s This Is The End and Snoop Dogg’s Mac and Devin Go To High School. For many people, the Volcano IS the go-to vaporizer.
With the success of the Volcano, Storz & Bickel has expanded into the portable vaporizer industry as well. Their three entries are The Crafty, The Mighty, and The Plenty. The Crafty is designed with the quality demands of Markus Storz in mind: it uses a miniature convection oven and has several features to increase ease of use such as automatic shutoff to conserve power and a simple-to-load swiveling chamber. Like many modern vaporizers, The Crafty includes USB connectivity so users can control the temperature through a smartphone app. The Mighty is a larger version of The Crafty that offers a more powerful oven and longer battery life. The Mighty is noteworthy for being able to match the performance of many desktop vaporizers. The Plenty is definitely Storz & Bickel’s most unique design; with its long metal coil, orange and black body and large angled handle, The Plenty looks more like a power tool than a vaporizer. Appropriately, The Plenty is another portable vape said to rival desktop vaporizers. Not only does it get the most of dry herbs and tobacco due to it’s large chamber, it also cools down smoke through its coil, leading to a tastier inhale.
Storz & Bickel’s innovations in the vaporizer industry isn’t limited to it’s new products: their classic Volcano has also been improved over time. The Volcano now has a digital model - The Volcano Digital - that offers a digital display instead of the classic’s dial. This allows for more specific temperature regulation, which means that users can be even more confident that their vaporizer will achieve the ideal temperature for vaporization. Given how much The Volcano has done for Storz & Bickel, it’s good to see the company give their original creation some love.