This is a guest blog post written by Ritual's friend Zak. Zak gives a great account of his conversion to thermal extraction and experience with the latest generation of ball vapes. He also produces some ridiculously enviable clouds which can be found on his insta (@monochord71) or reddit (u/SuproValco).
"Over the years I've had a number of friends try to convert me to vaping. Various episodes of friends bringing over devices that occasionally worked as designed all start blurring into one now, but the best case scenario for these attempts was me responding with "tastes nice, but will never replace combustion." Even the high-end devices of the past involved puffing on your herb for a prolonged period of time as it slowly turned brown and went from tasty to the infamous burnt popcorn taste of fully-vaped material. The speed of extraction was just too slow to be a suitable combustion substitute for me. And when it comes to delivering strong effects, speed of extraction is everything. I always give the wine analogy: you can leisurely sip a couple of bottles over the course of a long dinner and get a good light head buzz. Or you can gulp down half a bottle in 15 seconds and find yourself helplessly inebriated.
And that's the opinion I stuck with, until about a decade ago when I had a chance encounter with a somewhat infamous, locally made, pre-ball injector style vape. It required a small amount of material, which it completely extracted in an instant, and delivered effects that were not only comparable to combustion but, much to my surprise, noticeably stronger and longer lasting. It was intimidating, unrefined, potentially hazardous, prohibitively priced, but that was the very first time a vaporizer truly impressed me with its effects. After unsuccessfully attempting to acquire one, I tried to forget about this device and carried on combusting.
Fast-forward to the beginning of the ol' pandemic: No one I know is sharing joints socially, public coughing invites suspicion and side-eye glances from people around me, and I begin seriously thinking about switching to vaping. Very fortunately this decision comes right in time to experience the dawn of the ball vapes. After a few false-starts with portables which could not even begin to keep up with my daily consumption, along with a couple of desktops, I acquire my first ball vape, and down the rabbit hole I go, while my previously acquired desktops, portables, and my lighter gather dust on a shelf.
Over the past year I've seen the selection of ball vapes (and the market for them) increase rapidly as people start to realize that in spite of their initially intimidating appearance and form factor, these are the most efficient, flavorful, versatile, and powerful devices out there. One of the common myths about them is that they're "all the same" — yes, in theory they all operate on the same principle, a housing filled with media that increases mass and extends the air path over heated surfaces before it exits the device and vaporizes the active ingredients in the contents of your bowl. Yes, they can all efficiently heat your herb, are all capable of full extraction in a single shot, or can be turned down to provide leisurely flavorful sessions. However, after having spent many months with ball vapes made of different materials, I can confidently say that in terms of function they most definitely are not "all the same" at all, and the differences between them can be far from subtle.
I'll be the first to admit I was skeptical of the idea that the housings themselves could have such a drastic effect on the overall experience. The QaromaShop lineup provides a rare opportunity for an "all other variables being equal" comparison, and it becomes easy to see how differences in housing material modify flavor, vapor texture, and optimal operating temperature. Adding another variable — bowls made from these various materials — offers almost infinite possibilities. I've even managed to stave off "strain fatigue" for previously unheard of periods of time by varying devices I use and the temperatures I use them at.
The most common housing material for ball vapes is titanium, but performance differences offered by alternative materials such as quartz or ceramic are striking and unique. Even among titanium housing devices, the flavor difference can be significant. The proportion of the amount of metal in relation to the surface area of balls inside the housing plays a tremendous role in the overall flavor profile, as can be evidenced in the difference between the Taroma 2.0 and Taroma Lite Plus. The difference between these two titanium models demonstrates just how much of an effect the metal-to-glass ratio has on flavor and vapor density. Needless to say, the previous bias I held against titanium, at least where flavor is concerned, has been completely dispelled.
Unsurprisingly, quartz offers the most explosive and detailed flavor profile, along with a uniquely smooth vapor texture. There is nothing quit like savoring the full terpene spectrum of your material through an all-glass airpath, it is the gateway to flavor snobbery which may never be successfully closed once it has been cracked open. There was a time when the only concern I had for flavor was when I'd open up a bag for the first time and take a good long whiff...before setting the stuff ablaze, flavor be damned. The Qaroma has spoiled me and turned me into a cannabis corksniffer. There's nothing quite like savoring a new strain with what feels like a magnifying glass spotlighting every nuance of taste and highlighting different terpene flavors at different temperatures.
While it has been used in heating elements since the very first commercially manufactured dry herb vapes, its use as housing material for a ball vape has proven ceramic to be both thermally efficient and extremely flavorful. Offering eye-popping flavor detail in the lower temperature range, while providing its own uniquely textured vapor profile, the Ceroma can also be turned up high to deliver extraction power on par with titanium. Combined with a ceramic bowl, the Ceroma is capable of rapidly plowing through large loads with no stirring.
New offerings in steel and brass will expand these choices and possibilities even further. We live in the times of the vaporizer renaissance, and ball vapes are at the very forefront. It's a wonderful time to be alive."