Ever since I’ve used the Lotus Vaporizer, my perception of butane powered vaporizers has completely changed. Upon discovering the Hammer Vaporizer, I was eager to get my hands on it and see if it lives up to all of the expectations the Lotus has set for me.
The Hammer vaporizer is a butane powered vaporizer that uses a built-in torch rather than relying on an external torch lighter. This means that the Hammer has one less component to keep track of, which is especially important for a portable vaporizer as a lost torch lighter would render many other butane powered vaporizers inoperable. The Hammer works by heating the exterior of a stainless steel heat exchanger (tube) which in turn heats the air traveling through it towards the herb chamber. I’ve experimented with two different methods of using the Hammer, the first is to heat and draw at the same time, the second was to alternate heating and drawing. While alternating between heating and drawing is more time consuming, I find that method delivers a smoother tasting draw if I’m not using the Hammer through any kind of water filtration.
What do you get?
The Hammer kit includes:
- Hammer Vaporizer
- 2 Glass Lock-On Stems
- 2 Screens
- A Nail (to help with screen placement)
- Toolbox (carrying case)
The Hammer is just shy of 5.5″ tall and just over 2.5″ at its widest point (the heat exchanger). The exterior housing is a black plastic with red accents on the trigger and temperature lever. The plastic never gets hot enough to concern me that it won’t hold up. The Lock-On stems are the latest generation draw stem offered by the folks over at Hammer. They feature a slightly larger herb chamber, as well as hands-free operation. The older stem style required you to manually hold the stem against the end of the heat exchanger, while the Lock-On stem style can be pushed onto the heat exchanger and is held in place by a piece of silicone tubing placed around the heat exchanger. The Toolbox is made of bright red plastic and is a perfect fit to house the Hammer, some stems, and has room to spare.
How does it work?
First off, the Hammer ships with an empty tank. This means you’ll need to find some butane to fill it it up before using it. The manufacturer says that the unit was designed to work with any brand butane, but I prefer to use butane that has been filtered, currently I’m using 5x filtered butane. Once you’ve filled the Hammer, give it a few clicks and make sure you get a reliable flame. The flame can be seen through a small hole below the heat exchanger opening. If your flame isn’t staying lit, try adjusting the red dial on the front of the Hammer which regulates the intensity of the torch. Once you’re able to maintain a consistent flame you’re ready to begin vaporizing.
As I mentioned earlier, the Hammer works by heating a stainless steel heat exchanger. The heat exchanger acts as the air path, and is constricted in the center to properly heat the air passing through. The exhaust fumes from the torch as then vented around the heat exchanger and out the top of the Hammer (when held upright). This means that the exhaust fumes and the air intake should be far enough apart to prevent any cross contamination.
The herb is loaded into a glass stem fitted with a screen, the stem pictures above is one of the many custom stem designs offered, the standard stems are clear and lack pattern. The stem is then placed against the “lock-on kit” end of the Hammer and held in place by the silicone around the heat exchanger. The next steps vary based on personal preference. You can either heat the Hammer and draw as it heats, or heat the Hammer and draw after you release the trigger. If you choose to heat the Hammer and draw, you’ll need to preheat the Hammer for at least 30 seconds (in my experience). Choosing to heat then draw means that you’ll have to heat the Hammer for around 60 seconds to get a few (one or two) good hits before having to reheat.
A big part of the reason I mentioned the two different drawing styles is my experience heating the Hammer while drawing at the same time. When heating the Hammer at the same time as drawing it I felt an uncomfortable tingle in the back of my throat. At first I suspected that this tingle was due to exhaust mixing with the air intake, I tested this theory by attaching another stem to the air intake side of the Hammer. Even with the air intake separated from the exhaust by the length of another stem, the tingle persisted. When I brought my concerns to the manufacturer, he informed me that the tingle may be from the extreme dryness of the air due to a very short airpath. I found that the sensation (and concern) went away when using the Hammer through a water tool. The tingling sensation isn’t present when using the Hammer by alternating heating and drawing, which is my method of choice when I’m not using the Hammer through a water tool.
When first using the Hammer I had some trouble with keeping the flame on consistently. It would randomly go out after running for anywhere between two seconds and ninety seconds. I ultimately learned that this was caused by air bubbles in the butane tank from shipping empty, this is due to restrictions surrounding the shipment of flammable liquids (butane). The air in the butane tank can be removed by either:
- Filling and running the Hammer continuously (PLEASE DO THIS OUTDOORS AWAY FROM OPEN FLAME AND SPARK HAZARDS) until you can hear a steady stream without the air bubbles.
- Filling the Hammer and then using a pin or fine point object to press the filling nozzle which will let some of the butane escape. This will release the air along with the butane, and you can then refill it with more butane and do it again until the Hammer runs consistently. Follow the warning mentioned above as well.
As a vaporizer the Hammer has the ability to deliver near burning to hardly toasted vapor. The length of time you hold the trigger coupled with how quickly you draw air will determine how hot the air passing through the herb is. Balancing the two different contributing factors isn’t two difficult and a few full sessions should be enough time to find the desired heat to draw speed ratio. I started low and stepped my way up by heating longer and drawing slower, but others have started with a slow draw and a long heat time. I prefer not to risk burning my herb because I don’t like the taste.
A few negative observations: During use my hand would cramp a bit due to the position of the trigger and the prolonged period holding the trigger. The top of the Hammer can get too hot to stick it directly in my pocket after use, a few minutes is usually enough time to let it cool down.
The Hammer’s place in my collection plays to its strengths. The Hammer will be joining me on camping trips and multi-day hikes. It runs off of butane which is easy to carry and quick to recharge. The housing is solid, I’m not worried about breaking the Hammer in my backpack, especially if I’m carrying it inside the case.
I don’t use the Hammer at home primarily because the hissing sound of the flame scares my dog and annoys my wife. The sound wouldn’t be a problem if I wasn’t using the Hammer right before bed, which is where my wife was exposed to it.
The Hammer is an extremely handy vaporizer to have around when the power goes out, and a solid backup for a collection of any size. The Hammer Kit can be purchased directly from the manufacturer at www.thehammervaporizer.com for $119.99. Adding a custom stem to your collection starts at $29.99. As of the time of this review the only way to get a water tool from Hammer is by contacting them directly, I really enjoy mine and use it with a multitude of vaporizers.