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Purple Haze Herbal Vaporizer Retail price: $159.00 www.purplehazevaporizer.com
The Denver-based Purple Haze Vaporizer company dropped off its flagship model last week at the Westword office for yours truly to review. I must preface this by saying I am all about local companies making their mark in the smoking world: Companies like Silver Surfer, Incredibowl and numerous talented glass blowers have thrived in Colorado, selling top-notch products across the world. That said, I was a bit confused when I unboxed the pipe at home and it looked like it was still in the product-testing phase. The premise behind the device -- as with all vaporizers -- is to pass hot air over the herb to vaporize the active chemicals without burning the plant material. The Purple Haze does this through a light saber-looking wand that contains an aluminum heating element surrounded by a narrow glass tube. The tube is docked with a glass bowl, not unlike lighting a regular bowl with a lighter. The LED lights inside the wand change from red to purple to blue as you draw on the pipe, indicating it is cooling down. In theory, this is a great idea. But the execution clearly needs to be reworked. The device is touted as being "much like the old classic steamroller of the '70s," which is dead-on considering every steamroller that I can remember was a MacGyver-stoner creation constructed of flimsy household materials, and didn't last longer than a week. The thin acrylic tubing that made up the actual pipe of the vaporizer wasn't even sanded down and left my chin and lip raw after only a few hits. I like how it uses a glass bowl, but the heat of the material against the plastic is worrisome to me. I realize that glass might be harder to work with, but in this case it would be preferable -- especially for the price tag. I got a few decent rips, though, and liked how the piece was a bit more like smoking a bowl than other vaporizers on the market. I really liked how it burned hash, too, with the little bowl being the perfect size for a few tenths of a gram to sit on a bed of herb. Still, finding the appropriate temperature required adjusting a dial inside the wand that is impossible to reach without a special tool provided. If you are like me and burn concentrates as well as raw plant material, having easy access to a temperature control would be more functional.
My suggestions: I think the company is on to a great idea with just the wand itself, and could see a broader application to be used on any bowl if it tinkered around. Still, to justify the price, I think the plastic casing needs to be substituted with glass and the aluminum heating element with a ceramic one. Otherwise, ditching the acrylic for an all-glass piece wouldn't be a bad move.