The Lotus is one of my all time favorite vapes, I've personally used mine every day for about three years now and it is still going strong. If you've ever come into the store to talk about vapes you've probably heard me ramble on about this one in particular.
If you know how vaporizers work then skip this paragraph. The difference between vaporizing and smoking is the combustion. When you smoke you are putting flame to your stuff and incinerating the whole thing all at once, this means all that carcinogenic burnt material that goes up in flames ends up getting sucked into your lungs. When you vaporize you are only heating the material enough that you cook off all the good stuff that you want without igniting the rest of it, that way you are only inhaling the thin vaporous smoke that rises from the oils and not all the charred carbon material that requires a higher temperature to actually burn.
Most vaporizers use battery powered heating elements to raise the temperature in a chamber to roughly two hundred degrees Celsius then pass that heat through your stuff when you inhale from it.
Instead of an electric heater the Lotus uses a small butane torch to heat up a metal disk. The heat from that disk is then drawn through your stuff, using a series of well placed air holes on the bottom of the disk as air intakes to prevent from inhaling any of the butane flame fumes.
For me the main benefit of the Lotus is the control you have over the heat. Instead of turning on your electric one and setting a temperature then waiting a couple minutes for it to heat, the Lotus allows you to just stick the flame to the plate and be instantly heated and ready to draw. It does have a bit of a learning curve as it is possible to give it too much heat and burn what's inside but once you've used it a few times you figure out how much heat to give and how hard to draw on it.
Another big benefit is the fact that you aren't limited to the charge on your batteries. Going out on a long trip away from power and you don't want to lug around a dozen spare batteries or clunky solar chargers? Bring your Lotus, your butane torch and a can of butane and you won't have to go back home for a year. It took me over a year and a half to go through one large can of Puretane butane even using my torch multiple times a day every day.
Add the water pipe attachment to your kit and you can plug your Lotus into any 14mm glass rig. Bubblers work the best since you don't really need all that much chamber space (not that massive vape rips aren't nice, big chambers are normally useful for cooling down smoking and making it less harsh but since vapor isn't harsh in the same way you don't have to give it that extra time to cool down.)
Some people do say that vaporizers tend to tickle their throats. This is because the heating elements dry all the water out of what you are inhaling and the super low humidity can sometimes be less than desirable. Having the ability to plug a vape into a water pipe and run it through some percolators is the best way to solve that humidity problem. You'll be pulling massive clouds without even realizing anything is going into your lungs.
As with all vaporizers there is a bit of maintenance that needs to be done. Every week or two, or once you start to notice resistance when you draw on it, clean or change the screens and try to give the stem a 99% Isopropyl Alcohol bath to loosen off all the oil. DO NOT USE any commercial water pipe cleaners since some of them are too strong and will strip the paint off! Just plain old 99% iso from a pharmacy. Also DO NOT bath the cap itself in isopropyl. Other than weekly/biweekly screen cleaning and monthly iso baths, maybe once a year (at least if you use it as often as I do) you may want to replace your heating cap. Considering they can last for years and only cost a few dollars it's basically nothing compared to the maintenance costs of some electric units.
If I had to list some downsides for the sake of fairness, I'd say the main thing is sound of the torch and the visual aspect of smoking from something with a butane torch, it does kind of make this unit a little less inconspicuous than an electric unit you can hide in your sleeve. If you want something that you can discreetly use while walking down the street or trying to sneak a bowl in the middle of the night without making noise then after you buy the Lotus you should probably buy something like the Arizer Air too for using out and about while using your Lotus as your at home powerhouse. Maybe the learning curve is a bit of a downside too but you usually only burn it two or three times before realizing "wait maybe I shouldn't hold the flame so close/maybe I should pull a little softer because I'm not really getting anything out of it/etc"
Don't forget to check out their site too. http://www.lotusvaporizer.com/
And lots of useful info here. http://lotusvaporizer.com/faq/
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