What do you do when a vaporizer doesn’t meet your expectations? Do you blame others for projecting their opinions onto you, or do you blame yourself for passing judgement without having used the vaporizer first?
I can’t tell you who to fault, but here is what I can tell you:
Had I not set out to review as many vaporizers as I could get my hands on, I would have never tried the Lotus Vaporizer by Mendocino Therapeutics.
I had made up my mind on butane vaporizers without ever having used one. I cant tell you how wrong I was. I’ll save my opinions on the Lotus for the appropriate section in the review, but here is a direct quote from my wife while we were using it:
“The Lotus and Sheldon Black combo is by far my favorite to use in the evenings.”
What is it?
The Lotus vaporizer is a two-piece system comprised of a wooden shell with a metal plate fastened on top and a second chamber piece (which can be either a pipe-like form, or the water pipe adapter). A butane jet lighter is used to heat the metal cap on the Lotus which then heats the air that passes underneath it and into the herb chamber. It’s important to note that the air intake is located on the bottom of the wooden shell, this design ensures that you’re drawing fresh air and not lighter fumes.
Whats in the box?
The Lotus comes in a variety of kits which contain:
- The Vapor Cap (All Kits)
- Butane torch lighter (All Kits)
- Zipper pouch with Lotus Vaporizer logo (All Kits)
- Stem (Pipe Kit and ‘Pipe/WPA’ Kit)
- 14mm stainless steel water pipe adapter (WPA Kit and ‘Pipe/WPA’ kit)
The true beauty of the Lotus is that any piece of the vaporizer or supplied accessories can be purchased individually through the accessories page in the Lotus shop. This means that you can replace a damaged or missing vapor cap without needing to re-purchase a stem or WPA.
What most would call the Lotus vaporizer is actually called the Vapor Cap, the Lotus vaporizer itself is a combination of the Vapor Cap and either the WPA or the stem. The Vapor Cap is 1.9″ in diameter and 1.1″ tall if you measure from the end of the stir tool to the top of the heat shield. The bottom of the Vapor Cap has six air intake holes, a .6″ stir tool sits between two intake holes, and in the center, a half inch diameter opening that allows the Vapor Cap to slide onto either the WPA or stem chamber. The heat shield on top is covered by a one year regular wear (piercing, denting, or obvious abuse are not covered) warranty and is user replaceable. The rest of the Lotus is covered by a three year regular wear and tear warranty.
The stem comes in one of two lengths: 6 ½” and 5 ½” and is available only in black. It is made out an anodized aluminum which adds to the stem’s durability. There are two magnets nestled inside the stem at the base of the chamber which hold the Vapor Cap securely in place to avoid spillage (or worse, sending your Vapor Cap flying).
You can choose to pick up a Mendo Mulcher four-piece grinder or the Lotus vaporizer grinder card with your order if you don’t already have a grinder. I don’t have any experience with grinder cards, but if you don’t already have a grinder, I’d highly recommend picking one up to properly prepare your herb for vaporization in the Lotus. One accessory which I did have a chance to use and highly recommend is the herb scoop which makes loading the Lotus (or any vaporizer with a small chamber opening) much easier. The herb scoop arrives completely flat, and has instructions on how to assemble it for either right-hand or left-hand use. When not in use I store my scoop in the bottom (third) chamber of my four-piece grinder.
I really enjoy using the Lotus. I never expected to like it, and I never thought that a vaporizer that relied on a butane torch would be worth considering. During my first few times using the Lotus I was very careful to have a light touch with the lighter and not burn the contents of my chamber. I’ve since learned that the correct technique involves pre-heating the Vapor Cap by holding the torch to it for four long seconds before beginning to draw or move the torch. Once you’ve pre-heated the Vapor Cap and you begin to draw, draw slowly but consistently, at the same time begin to move the torch lighter in a small circle inside the raised circle in the center of the cap. Writing these instructions in detail makes the process sound complicated, but I assure you that is exactly how I felt reading about the Lotus before I ever used one.
In reality, to use the Lotus I:
- Grab my water pipe (this is how I use it 90% of the time)
- Load the chamber in the WPA
- Place the WPA into the water pipe
- Put the Vapor Cap on top of the WPA
- Four (long) second pre-heat and then draw while still heating (with a ½” flame)
Assuming you had your torch in hand, you’re ready to go very quickly. The instructions would be no different for using the stem in place of the WPA.
I’ve never burned a load in the chamber, I’ve gotten close, but never burned.
In the instances where I’ve ended up with very dark brittle herbs in the chamber I was usually experimenting with finding the ideal pre-heat time as well as draw speed. You’d have to heat the Vapor Cap excessively as well as draw at a slow rate to create an environment that could potentially combust.
A few observations from my time with the Lotus:
- The top layer of metal (heat shield) on the Vapor Cap is very thin, be careful not to damage it.
- The heat shield (same as above) will discolor after a few uses, this is normal.
- The Vapor Cap has a built in stir tool. This is awesome to have, and very handy, but it can cause issues with some water pipes that don’t have enough clearance for it.
- The butane you use is important, triple-filtered butane or better will keep your torch operating in peak condition.
- The tip of the torch will become very hot with use, be careful not to touch it immediately after use. Take care not to hand the torch to someone top first if you’re passing the Lotus around.
In terms of portability, I’d describe the Lotus as portable but not discreet. The torch lighter generates a hissing flame sounds when in use (as expected), and nothing about the Lotus looks inconspicuous. The stem is too long to comfortably carry in my pocket (may not be an issue for people who wear cargo pants, or have pants with deeper than average pockets), and the shape of the Vapor Cap (especially the stir tool) makes it a poor candidate for comfortable pocket transport as well. The folks over at Mendocino Therapeutics must have kept this concern in mind, because every Lotus kit comes with a nylon carrying pouch with a zipper closure. The pouch is the perfect size to carry all of your Lotus accessories and a few extras if you choose. I keep my Vapor Cap, stem, WPA, torch, and two small herb preserve jars in my pouch when I’m transporting my Lotus.
I mentioned earlier that I use the Lotus with a water pipe most of the time, this is because the Lotus adds practically no added bulk or weight to the water pipe. The entire setup is contained to the size of the water pipe I’m using, and can travel around the house with me (torch lighter in pocket). Other vaporizers may require me to have an outlet nearby, may have added bulk from the addition of a battery, or might not pair very well with water pipes.
Drawing directly from the stem isn’t extremely harsh, or hot, or bad even, I just prefer the added smoothness from a water filtered draw.
I’m a believer. The Lotus is a vaporizer that’ll carve its own niche in your vaporizer collection and deliver draw after draw of vapor-filled hits. The Lotus kits are extremely competitively priced from $91 for the WPA kit to $137 for the ‘Pipe/WPA’ kit. Couple a great vaporizer with its competitive price point, I believe the only thing that keeps the Lotus from being a top seller is the general misconceptions surrounding butane torch powered vaporizers.
For those that would like to buy the Lotus, you can purchase one directly from the manufacturer over at http://www.lotusvaporizer.com.
Edit: The folks over at Mendocino Therapeutics have informed me that lengthening the flame to 5/8″ will drastically reduce the preheat time. Keep in mind that making the flame too large (1″ for example) will make it difficult to control the vaporization temperature and you risk combustion.