The Sublimator Vaporizer Review: A steel stallion, with power to spare.
The Sublimator, despite its shortcomings, has proven time and time again to be a crowd favorite.
So what is the Sublimator?
The Sublimator is a vaporization system (a vaporizer with some extras). A complete kit will include:
- Sublimator base with launch tube.
- Apollo/Dabmaster/ENail Heater
The Sublimator also works with existing glass bubblers and water pipes in place of the Sublimator base. The atomizer will fit a female 14mm ground glass joint, or with the supplied adapter, 18mm ground glass joint.
The Sublimator’s claim to fame is that a more complete extraction can be had by breaking the vapor down into even finer gas particles through a high temperature, high pressure environment inside the atomizer. This process, called bio gasification, means that the herb is heated to vaporization temperature, then the vapor is drawn through the hot atomizer heating it up again. The second wave of heat, coupled with the high pressure environment produces a thick, smoke-like cloud of super fine gas particles (vapor) from very little plant material.
In my experience, as little as .1 grams of herb can yield thick satisfying clouds of vapor. I’ve never been able to reproduce vapor this thick from such little plant material with any other vaporizer. While some of the science of the Sublimator escapes me, I can say without a doubt that there is some impressive science at work inside the atomizer.
The Sublimator is capable of vaporizing both dry herb and oil. You can even enjoy both oil and dry herb at the same time, which is known among the Sublimator community as a double decker.
Being able to take huge draws isn’t the only thing that separates the Sublimator from the rest. It also has a large, always-on (if the Sub is on) heating element wrapped in a solid heat sink. When the Sub gets hot, it stays hot. No matter how hard you draw.
The atomizer serves as the herb chamber for the Sublimator.
The herbs sit on a screen partway down the atomizer.
The heater sits on top of the atomizer, making direct metal-to-metal contact.
The atomizer reaches the same temperature as outside of the heater, this is called thermal equilibrium.
I then place an Iolite vaporizer screen on top of the screen in the atomizer. It keeps the atomizer screen clean and keeps herbs from sticking.
The stainless steel Sublimator base is modular, allowing you to substitute the polycarbonate launch tube with a glass tube, or even a (45mm jointed) glass bubbler. While an optional accessory, the Sub base is an important part of the overall experience for me. Once loaded up with a glass bubbler, the base weighs in at a hefty 7 or 8 pounds. I’m less worried about knocking the Sublimator over when it’s firmly seated in a heavy steel stand with a low center of gravity.
The Sublimator is a serious vaporizer, it will seriously hurt you if you don’t follow basic precautions. Many vaporizers may have hot spots, but for the most part, they’re somewhat insulated to keep the heat inside. The Sublimator is a giant exposed heater.
The good news is that the friendly Canadians over at Sublimator are already working on a safety shield, and I’ve been lucky enough to test the shield out. Without the heat shield, I managed to accidently tap a knuckle against the heater three times, and all three times I regretted it. With the heat shield I’ve had no accidents to date.
It’s important to note that the heat shield will still leave HOT metal exposed above and below it, but it’ll protect you from the most likely burns. While running, the heat shield will warm up along with the Sublimator. The top of the heat shield may become too hot to hold during use, but it won’t burn you instantly like the heater would. The bottom of the heat shield stays considerably cooler, and functions as a stand for the Sublimator heater.
The Titan ring is designed to hold the Sublimator Launch Tube in place. It includes a choke that you can cover with your finger.
I like the launch tube. Its not necessary, but boy is it fun to watch it fill up with vapor. To iron out any confusion, the launch tube is dry and is not intended to be used with water. Even though it lacks water, the launch tube manages to cool down the vapor down to add another added layer of smoothness to each draw.
45MM ADAPTER RING
The 45mm adapter ring lets you pair a 45mm ground glass bubbler with the Sub Base. The weight of the steel Sub Base along with a glass bubbler should give the entire setup a low center of gravity. This means less tipping, less breaking, and less hot Sublimator heater on the floor.
WHY SO MANY HEATERS?!
I currently only own the Apollo, I have however used all three heater styles.
- Great for herbs
- Can do oil
- Can do double deckers
- Great for double deckers
- Good for herbs
- Good for oil
- Great for oil
- Not recommended for herbs
Which do you want? If you’re primarily vaporizing dry herb, get the Apollo. The Apollo is designed for dry herb, and retains heat better than the Dabmaster.
You can still enjoy oil by sticking it into the air intake holes, just remember not to block the hole completely with your dabber. If you miss a hole with a dab there is a good chance most of the vapor won’t make it into the Sub.
If you’re looking to mix oil and herbs frequently, get the Dabmaster. The Dabmaster is an Apollo with easier access to the inner heater. Dabbing with the Dabmaster requires less aiming, and missing the hole with your dab isn’t a deal breaker, it’ll still get sucked in. Because the Dabmaster has less mass than the Apollo, it won’t retain heat as well and will not retain as much heat when you’re taxing it with back-to-back use. That being said, the Dabmaster will still outclass most non-Sublimator vaporizers in heat retention.
The ENail is designed for oils. The air path through the ENail shoots directly into the bottom of the atomizer, as opposed to the Apollo and Dabmaster which direct the air to the atomizer walls, distributing the heat evenly through the entire atomizer chamber. The ENail is going to fry the herbs in the center of the atomizer without much regard for the outer edges. With enough tinkering a good double decker should be possible with the ENail, but it isn’t as dead simple as using the Apollo or Dabmaster.
The Sublimator is a majestic vaporizer. It’s quite a piece of art. I’m generally cautious that someone, human or animal, is going to get hurt using or being present near the Sublimator. Maybe the sense of danger is part of the art…
I was lucky enough to have gotten a (still in beta testing) heat shield which keeps the larger hotter parts away from stray hands. Not that I incurred many burns beforehand, once was enough.
Once I stopped hurting myself, everything else was peachy. Quick, powerful, full hits back to back to back to back. Double deckers, more double deckers… Sublimator doesn’t care. It stays hot and ready once up to temperature.
That’s another kick in the pants, it takes 20 minutes to heat up. Some may say it heats up faster, but I’m not toying around with the Sublimator until its hot, why bother? I know at 20 minutes its hot and has really soaked in the heat. If it isn’t already hot, the Sublimator isn’t getting used at bedtime. That is something to consider for people who need instant access for medical emergencies.
The Sublimator has a built in one hour shutoff timer. If I’m using it for an evening, I’ll keep an eye out and usually restart it from time to time. It does turn off on me, it’s a hassle if I don’t know how long it’s been cooling down and opt to wait out another 20 minutes.
The performance of the Sublimator outweighs these annoyances. I like to show off the Sublimator as much as I enjoy using it. The controls are simple. Press the dial to turn the Sublimator on (and start the 1 hour timer), then turn the dial to the desired temperature. I prefer setting seven for herb, eight for double deckers. Room temperature plays into the temperature setting, in the winter when the house is colder I find myself stepping the temp up a notch.
I heat up the heater and atomizer together. I also let them cool down together. Once in a while I won’t be able to separate the heater from the atomizer while they’re hot. It’s a bummer, but I can still use oils with a stuck Sublimator. To separate a stuck Sublimator I’ll let it cool down, separate the heater and atomizer (comes apart easy when cool), then reseat them before heating them back up together.
The Sublimator is an incredible vaporizer that can deliver one powerful hit after another. I highly recommend anyone with any interest in the Sublimator do their best to try one, the experience will speak louder than text. With a price range that starts in the low $500s it’s competitively priced with other high end vaporizers. Two different base launchers are available, the original aluminum, and the newer stainless steel.
You can find more info, pictures, and updates directly from the manufacturer at Sublimator.ca