The basics of open-flame vaporizers and how to select the best storm lighter.
By Herbert M. Green
The cool thing about open-flame vaporizers is that your actions directly influence the characteristics of the vapour and not some chip on a motherboard. They offer a battery-free, more tactile and personal vaping experience.
The only tool you need, besides the vape itself, is a good lighter. But, which lighter should you use to produce the best result, or better yet, the result YOU want? Can it be any old lighter? Or are you better off with a specialised butane powered jet-flame torch (a.k.a. storm lighter)? What’s the difference and why does it matter?
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the different kinds of lighters you can use with an open-flame vaporizer like the DynaVap VapCap and the flame-to-intake vaporizers by Dreamwood as well as their pros & cons.
On the left, you see the ‘M’; a Thermal Extraction Device (TED) by DynaVap. The one on the right is the Punch Mini, a flame-to-intake (FTI) vaporizer by Dreamwood.
What types of lighters can I use to heat my flame-operated vaporizers?
‘Flame-operated vaporizers’, as we like to call them, can be divided into two categories: The ‘flame-to-intake vaporizers’ (FTI) like the Punch Mini by Dreamwood and the ‘Thermal Extraction Devices’ (TEDs) such as the VapCap ‘M’ by DynaVap. Either of these kinds of vaporizers has their own needs as to which lighter works best, so let’s run down the list of types of lighters and see which go best with which vape:
A flame that is generated by your run-of-the-mill Bic or Clipper lighter, a burning candle or even the kitchen stove (gas or electric). None of these will work with an FTI vaporizer, but for DynaVap’s TEDs, they do the job. Not very fast or efficient mind you, as these heating methods are slow and cumbersome, but in a pinch, they work.
Single jet-flame lighters:
These single-flame butane fueled jet-flame lighters, like the Cobra are ideal for both FTI-vapes and TEDs. They offer precision and control but are also trickier to use for beginners due to the steeper learning curve. Even when you feel you’ve mastered the basics you still need to pay attention when using them. Beware of the potential for hotspots or total combustion!
Double jet-flame lighters:
Still not ideal for FTI vaporizers, but for TEDs, dual-flame lighters like the Legend are the perfect middle-ground for beginners and intermediate vapers, they offer a bit more heat surface as well as adequate precision. If you’re a beginner who’s just picked up their first VapCap and planning on learning the advanced heating techniques, this type of storm lighter is your best bet.
Triple and Quadruple jet-flame lighters:
What they lacking precision, they make up for in user-friendliness. These types of storm lighters are the best for beginners. When you’re choosing between a triple, like the Cyclone II or quadruple flame version, like the ICON, the difference isn’t all that big, yet one extra flame does up the heat output a bit. The hotter you run, the faster you’ll be vaping. Yes, you can, if you were so inclined, use multi-flame jet lighters with FTI vapes as well, but at the risk of overheating and burning your weed.
Professional or industrial power/blow torches, like you see dabbers use sometimes are best to be avoided at all cost! I purposely excluded those huge, powerful torches out because these bigger versions of the jet-flame lighters are just too powerful to use with FTI vape and TEDs.
Why is choosing the right lighter important and how do I pick the right one for me?
Now that you know what your choices are, we can focus on how to make a choice. Choosing the right lighter depends on multiple factors. So, to select the right tool for the job you’re going to have to ask yourself the following questions:
1. What vaporizer am I going to use?
The pen vaporizers in the DynaVap product range or TEDs, like the ‘M’, work with more than one kind of heat source. You can get one of those bad boys to click with pretty much any (safe, clean and practical) heat source you can think of. Heck, you can even heat up your VapCap with the sun! It’s not the most effective method, as demonstrated here, but you can.
That’s why Dynavap prefers to use the term Thermal Extraction Devices or TEDs, instead of (open-flame) vaporizers.
Things are a bit different with FTI vaporizers, like the Sticky Brick or the Punch Mini and Dobby V2 by Dreamwood. These vapes only work with butane powered jet-flame torch lighters because the flame’s energy has to travel further to reach the heating chamber, thus needing a stronger and more concentrated flame, preferably a single-flame jet-lighter.
2. What kind of vapour do I want to create? Flavourful hits, or full and dense clouds?
The discerning factor here is firepower. And with firepower, I mean more than one flame. The more firepower, the faster your heat-up process goes, while spreading the heat across a large surface area.
This produces denser clouds more easily. The drawback, however, is that you’re running your vape a lot hotter, increasing the risk of combustion if the flame is too close to the surface you’re trying to heat up.
Applying more heat across a larger surface also affect the terpenes which evaporate off your material too quickly, giving you fewer flavour nuances.
So, if you want thick vaporous clouds within the least amount of time and effort, a jet-flame lighter with more than one flame is the way to go. Full disclosure, this affects DynaVap’s TEDs a bit more than Dreamwood’s FTI vaporizers, but still rings true for both.
On the other hand, if you want to get the most out of the terpene profile and taste all the subtle notes your material has to offer, you need to apply the exact right amount of heat to a more specific area, especially with DynaVaps. So, for flavour hits, you want a lighter with slightly less power and a more concentrated - preferably single jet-flame.
3. Are you a beginner or do you have experience with butane powered vaporizers?
Effectively, it comes down to your level of experience, how much control you want over the heating process and how much you’re willing to surrender on heat-up time and the learning curve. Single flame torch lighters may offer more precision but take longer to heat up the material. And it’s very easy to partly or completely burn your weed if you’re not careful.
Multiple flames, however, heat up your weed a lot faster and are more forgiving when it comes to heat distribution. It’s safe to say that these kinds of multi-flame jet lighters are better suited for beginners who are still getting the hang of the finer points of battery-free vaping.
Some final words on lighters
If you’re new to flame-powered vaping, I can understand that all that I’ve written above may seem a bit daunting but rest assured; ultimately, as long as you understand the basic principles of heating (what to do and what not to) for both FTI vapes or the TEDs, it all comes down to preference.
Personally, I noticed that, even though I learned how to use my first VapCap with a single-flame jet lighter, I usually go for a multi-flame jet lighter nowadays, just because it is easier that way. When I’m using an FTI vape, on the other hand, I always go for a single flame storm lighter. It just works better for me, even though I could just as easily use a triple or quadruple flame lighter.
Now I would like to hear your thoughts on finding the ideal lighter for your needs. Have you figured out your preference yet? Did you run into any issues? What kind of lighter do you use with what kind of vape? Let us know in the comments or through one of Dispensr’s social media channels.
For now, peace out & vape on!
Herbert M. Green