What Is an Alternative Vaporizer?

Posted by Gabe Arono on

What Is an Alternative Vaporizer?


The word “vape” has different meanings depending on who you ask, and that’s a source of much confusion among consumers and the media. 

For some, vaping is the act of using an electronic cigarette – a device that vaporizes e-liquid – as an alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes. For those people, vaping is an act of harm reduction. For those unwilling or unable to quit smoking, e-liquid vaping could be a less risky form of nicotine use. Some people call e-cigarettes “personal vaporizers.” 

For others, though, vaping has nothing to do with nicotine at all. The second type of vaping involves using a device to heat dry herbs or herbal concentrates until they reach the point at which their active compounds turn to vapor. It’s still vaping, but for those who vape herbs, vaping isn’t always about harm reduction. Sometimes, it’s just about experiencing a purer flavor or eliminating the irritation of the smoke. The devices used for herbal vaping are also called “vaporizers,” adding to the potential for confusion. 

So, the herbal vaping industry invented the term “alternative vaporizer” to help reduce confusion. An alternative vaporizer is a device for vaping dry herbs or herbal concentrates. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’re in the right place.

The only question that’s left is this: How do you buy the best alternative vaporizer for your needs? This short guide will help you get started.

What Types of Alternative Vaporizers Are There?

Exxus Mini Plus

 Exxus Mini Plus


Alternative vaporizers fall into two categories, and they’re classified according to the herbal products that they’re designed to use. 

Dry Herb Alternative Vaporizers

The most common type of alternative vaporizer is the dry herb vaporizer. You fill the oven of the vaporizer with ground herbs, and the device heats the herbs until their active compounds vaporize. Unless you’re certain that you’re only interested in using wax or liquid concentrates, a dry herb vaporizer is probably the type of device that you should buy first. Some dry herb vaporizers include canisters or other inserts that allow their ovens to accommodate concentrates.

Concentrate Alternative Vaporizers

A concentrate vaporizer is designed to vaporize concentrated herbal extracts in liquid, wax or oil form. Many herbal concentrates are quite potent, so a concentrate vaporizer can put you in a nicely elevated state of mind with a single puff if you’re using a strong extract. Concentrate vaporizers, however, aren’t the most versatile vapes on the market. It’s often possible to get concentrates to work in a dry herb vaporizer, but concentrate vaporizers usually don’t work with dry herbs. When you buy a concentrate vaporizer, it’s important to buy one designed to work with the type of herbal concentrate that you want to use. Oils, waxes and liquids have different consistencies, and a concentrate vaporizer needs to have the correct atomizer, oven or heating element for your chosen medium.


Desktop vs. Portable Alternative Vaporizers

Would you like to have a vaporizer that can travel with you, or do you plan to enjoy all of your vaping sessions at home? These are some of the benefits and drawbacks of desktop vs. portable alternative vaporizers.

 G Pen Roam

 G Pen Roam


Davinci IQ2

Davinci IQ2 



Portable Alternative Vaporizers

A portable vaporizer has the ability to run on battery power, making it possible for you to enjoy your herbs wherever you’re allowed to do so. In the past, portable vaporizers had two serious drawbacks in that their ovens couldn’t hold temperatures reliably and their battery life was poor. Today, though, it’s an entirely different story. A good portable alternative vaporizer can typically give you several sessions before you need to recharge it, and you can also expect excellent heating performance from a modern portable vaporizer.


Volcano Hybrid

Volcano Hybrid


Desktop Alternative Vaporizers

As good as battery-based vaporizers have become in recent years, a portable vaporizer is still no match for a desktop vaporizer in terms of raw performance. Drawing its power from a wall outlet allows a desktop vaporizer to have extremely reliable and stable heating performance. In addition, desktop vaporizers are generally the only vaporizers to offer true fan-based convection heating, which eliminates the possibility of unwanted combustion or charring and ensures that you always extract every ounce of goodness from your herbs. Desktop vaporizers also typically have larger ovens than portable vaporizers, facilitating longer vaping sessions. Desktop vaporizers have no drawbacks in terms of their performance. However, they often cost significantly more than portable vaporizers.


What Are the Best Alternative Vaporizer Brands?

If you’re still not sure which vaporizer is the one for you, it never hurts to go with a trusted brand. These are three of the oldest and most trusted brands in the alternative vaporizer industry, and you can’t go wrong with any of them.

Storz & Bickel is the granddaddy of the alternative vaporizer industry. The company’s Volcano vaporizer is perhaps the world’s oldest dry herb vaporizer, and it’s still in production – and still one of the most expensive vaporizers on the market – after a decade. If you’re on a tighter budget or would rather have a portable vaporizer, devices like the Mighty vaporizer are very deserving of their worldwide fame. If you want rock-solid performance and reliable German engineering, you’ve got to go with a vaporizer from Storz & Bickel.


DaVinci’s claim to fame in the vaporizer industry is the company’s commitment to delivering the purest flavors that a vaporizer can possibly produce. DaVinci’s latest devices – such as the new DaVinci IQ2 – feature ceramic zirconia vapor paths that are chemically inert and totally impervious to heat. The best part about DaVinci’s new devices is that you can completely remove their vapor paths for easy cleaning. Just remove the vapor path with the included tool, soak in alcohol and rinse. You’re not likely to find better flavor anywhere.

Grenco Science

Grenco is a relatively new entrant in the alternative vaporizer industry, having launched around 2013 with an endorsement from Snoop Dogg. You know that the D-o-double-g isn’t going to put his name on a vaporizer that can’t do the job, and Grenco parlayed that early celebrity endorsement into a wide array of affordable vaporizers for beginning and advanced vaping aficionados alike. Devices like the G Pen Pro are perfect if you’d like to spend a little less for your vaporizer but don’t want to compromise on performance or reliability.

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