History of Storz & Bickel and their German Made Vaporizers
Storz & Bickel is a German manufacturer who design a selection of high end vaporizers. They have supplied an amazing line of products, which to date are considered the best vaporizers year after year. While they don’t spend as much time and money on marketing as competitors like PAX and Puffco, Storz & Bickel has enjoyed robust growth over the years with a loyal customer base and vaporizers which do the talking for themselves.
The beginning of Storz & Bickel goes back to 1996 when Markus Storz began development on an herbal vaporizer which would become known as the Volcano Vaporizer. He got the idea from a hemp magazine which showed a man using a heat gun with a water pipe and the caption “You don’t have to smoke cannabis to inhale it, if you blow hot air through the herbs they will vaporize” This struck Storz as a healthier alternative to smoking, stating that from the beginning his long term vision was to make the Volcano Vaporizer a medical device.
Putting his plan to action Markus Storz drafted up the design sketches for the prototype ( what is now the) Classic Volcano, he brought them to a local prototype manufacturer in Tuttlingen, Germany who gave an estimate of around $2750 for parts needed for one Volcano. Markus did not have the money at the time, but this didn’t stop him in his quest.
By 1998, Storz had designed an innovative detachable balloon aspect to incorporate into his vaporizer that was patented as the Volcano is 1999.
In 2000 Storz began selling the Volcano. As fate would have it one of these early sales came when his old friend Jürgen stopped by to visit him on Christmas. Markus had been assembling Volcanoes in his basement and Jürgen had heard about the new device. Jürgen, who was trying to quit smoking, tried it out and bought two, one for him and one for his brother.
Jürgen Bickel joined the company as a partner in 2002, which sparked the formation of Storz and Bickel GmbH & Co. KG.
Moving to America
While technically the first Volcano Vaporizer on the American continent was when Bickel brought his to Peru, the first expansion for Storz & Bickel outside of the European Union was into the US.
The American market was an area of interest as the company headed into 2003; delivering the first 110-volt devices on the market, and creating an accelerating upswing in sales. They further expanded into the American market in 2005 when the subsidiary Storz & Bickel America, Inc was founded in Oakland, California – Where it remains today.
The Classic Volcano
The Volcano Vaporizer is a plug in tabletop vaporizer that is designed incredibly well and has become the gold standard for the German manufacturers since their introduction in the early 2000s. This model is regularly referred to as the best desktop vaporizer and the pioneer of the vaporization industry. The Volcano was created out of a search for quality and consistency, while ensuring the highest standards possible. So, it’s easy to see why this became Storz and Bickel’s flagship product.
The first version of the Volcano was crafted using a heat gun in Storz’s basement. Though unsuccessful at first, it proved to pave the way for the air pump design that was developed into the patented detachable balloon chamber.
This design is capable of separating the inhalation and vaporization process. This feature allows the patient to avoid contact with the heat that the vaporizer can create. Another beneficial feature is that the balloon aspect allows a nurse or caretaker to prepare the vaporizer and to control the dose.
While the Classic Volcano has seen updates along the way it remains much the same vaporizer today as it was back then. The first model Classic Volcano (pictured above) came in an unbranded box with 3rd party oven bags instead of the proprietary solid valve bags. The solid valve was the only kit on the market. For the unit , the stainless steel cover was much more dull and the heating element ring was not black but white.
Today the Classic Volcano comes with the easy valve kit included. The packaging has seen some changes and the stainless shell is much shinier.
|Weight||3.5 pounds (lbs)|
|Dimensions||7.9 inches x 7.1 inches|
|Temperature||266°F to 446°F|
The Digital Volcano
New advances in design were introduced in 2007 with the Digital Volcano Vaporizer . This was Storz and Bickel’s first ever electronically controlled vaporizer.
The basic structure is identical to the Classic Volcano, with one major addition. The internal temperature is controlled using a digital LED screen that improves accuracy and ensures simple monitoring of internal temperature and adjustments. The LED display is very large, allowing for easy viewing. It also displays both the set temperature and the actual temperature of the device, which can be switched between Celsius and Fahrenheit. This model also features the same method of hot air convection heating that is designed to be the most efficient method of heating for vaporizers. It also features the same stainless steel make and utilizes medical grade materials for its construction.
Another benefit of the Digital Volcano is the 30 minute automatic shut off timer, ensuring your vaporizer won’t stay on longer than 30 minutes should you session and forget about it while watching video games or watching a movie.
As of October 2019 Storz & Bickel has discontinued production of the Digital Volcano, but you can still buy the refurbished Digital Volcano here.
|Weight||4 pounds (lbs)|
|Dimensions||7.9 inches x 7.1 inches|
|Temperature||266°F to 446°F|
In 2008 Storz & Bickel took their product design down a whole new route by introducing the Plenty vaporizer. This model was created to be an extremely powerful vaporizer that you could hold in your hand. Receiving patented in 2011 this handheld device was the first vaporizer to combine air and radiation heat into its design.
The Plenty Vaporizer from Storz & Bickel is a hybrid desktop handheld vaporizer. It can be easily used with one hand, but cannot be transported freely like a portable vaporizer. The Plenty Vaporizer came to be upon the initial speak of a quality handheld which produces volcano quality vapor. The Plenty Vaporizer proved you can fit Volcano quality vapor into the hand and sparked the quest for what would be soon to come.
The Plenty Vaporizer is the only vaporizer out of the line up which has not seen any notable upgrades. Granted they have changed the packaging from the old navy blue to the white packaging (as they have done on all S&B vapes) , the Plenty from 2009 is not discernible from the Plenty Vaporizer of 2020.
|Weight||1.5 pounds (lbs)|
|Dimensions||6.1 inches x 8.9 inches x 2 inches (width)|
|Temperature||266°F to 395°F|
In 2010 Markus Storz accomplished his goal of receiving a medical certification for the Volcano Vaporizer. The Volcano Medic as it is called required the spin off company VaporMed be formed for distribution as a medical device. The Volcano Medic is just a rebranded Digital Volcano and is only recognized as a medical device by the EU, Canada and Israel , however it is a milestone for what is surely to come.
Portable Vaporizers Arrive
In 2014 the highly anticipated Storz & Bickel portable vaporizers arrived. Storz & Bickel entered the portable space with the Crafty & Mighty. While they were not the sleek and compact units offered by Bay Area competitor PAX , the quality of vapor was and still is unmatched in a portable vaporizer.
The Crafty vaporizer was S&B’s first vaporizer to utilize bluetooth technology allowing the user to change the temperature, view battery life, adjust haptic feedback and a handful of other features using a smart phone app.
Initially the Crafty was the more popular vaporizer due to the smaller size, lower price and bluetooth feature. However over time the less than ideal battery life saw more and more customers opting for the Mighty.
Rumor has it Storz & Bickel were only going to release one portable vaporizer, but the two founders couldn’t come to an agreement on the features it should have. One wanting a more sleek technologically forward approach and the other seeking function and vapor quality over design.
At first the Mighty Vaporizer appeared too bulky. References were made about the Mighty being as large as two of the oversized Iphone 6s stacked on top of one another. Yet the vapor is delivered was top notch, silky , smooth and flavorful. It amazed those who wondered how the mouthpiece could be so close to the cooling unit yet pump out mist like texture.
The Mighty beat out the Crafty over time with twice the battery life and pass through charging. Another aspect which even we personally noticed was how nice it was to not need an app (smartphone) to change the temperature. Ironically what drew many to the Crafty over the Mighty in the app , ended up being more of a hassle than just being able to change the temperature like one can do directly on the Mighty itself; causing the Mighty to win the popularity battle.
|Weight||0.5 pounds (lbs)|
|Dimensions||5.5 x 3.2 x 1.2 inches|
|Temperature||104°F – 410°F|
Storz & Bickel Drop Prices x 2
We’ve heard the old adage, you pay for what you get. Nothing could be more true when shopping for a vaporizer and nothing could be more expensive than a Storz & Bickel Vaporizer. Even more so since authorized vendors discounting their vaporizers, until recently, was strictly verboten . In 2015 Storz & Bickel dropped prices across the board on all their vaporizers. The Classic Volcano went from $539 to $479 , and the Digital went from $669 to $559. The Mighty when released was $449 and was dropped to $399.
This price drop did speak to new entrants in the space. When Storz & Bickel first got going , competition for herb vaporizers was a tad less fierce. Around the time of the first price drop the Digital Volcano saw some competition from high end desktop vaporizer Herbalizer. So much so that Storz & Bickel filed a lawsuit against Herbalizer for copyright infringement on grounds of the patented removable vapor bag.
In April 2017 Storz & Bickel yet again dropped prices , this time on the Mighty, Crafty and Plenty to gain market share against the ever competitive field of portable herbal vaporizers.
2018 Mighty & Crafty Updates
2018 saw some subtle improvements to the Mighty & Crafty Vaporizers
- Added Boost Mode , A quick double tap of the power button will up your temperature by 10 degrees
- Shutoff Warning, short haptic feedback pulses letting you know the Mighty will shut down in 30 seconds
- 20% More Battery for longer battery life
The Crafty got the same updated 20% more battery along with adjustments to the app
- Locate your Crafty with your app
- Add multiple Crafty Vaporizers to one app
- Extend automatic shut off time
- Turn the Crafty on with the app
Some Packaging Rebranding
This packaging design overhaul coincided roughly the same time as the Crafty & Mighty Vaporizer updates, but affected the Classic & Digital Volcano the most. Up until the new white packaging Volcano Vaporizers were released one could buy the Volcano heating element all by itself with no valve kit. The Easy Valve or Solid Valve were produced and sold separate and could be added or if you just wanted the heating element you could opt out.
A few months before the time of this overhaul Chinese counterfeiters began copying the Digital Volcano & the Easy Valve. It is widely believed Storz & Bickel made this change, in part, to throw the manufacturers of fakes for a loop. However the counterfeiters have proven resilient and fake white box Digital Volcanoes and Easy Valve Kits can be found today.
Whatever may be the reason in 2018 Storz & Bickel started producing all their vaporizers and accessories with the new white packaging. From the Dosing Capsule kits to the Plenty , across the board. Blue was out and white was in.
Storz & Bickel Acquired by Canopy Growth
In 2018 it was announced that Storz & Bickel was purchased in an all cash transaction for €145 Million by Cannabis conglomerate Canopy Growth. This acquisition kept Markus and Jurgen on as the leaders to drive new innovations, while giving them access to greater resources and giving Canopy rights to their IP library.
The Volcano Hybrid
Besides the minor updates between 2014 – 2018, the release of nifty little accessories such as dosing capsules & chamber reducers, and the sale of the company, there was not a peep about a new vaporizer on the horizon.
That all changed with the discovery of a public document online showing Storz & Bickel had something in the works since 2018 according to the FCC.
In 2019 Storz & Bickel released the Volcano Hybrid. A Volcano Vaporizer for the modern era. The new Volcano Hybrid features touch senors, bluetooth control and dual function vapor output; via a whip or the old classic way of using the easy valve vapor bag.
The Volcano Hybrid also heats up a heck of alot faster than it’s predecessors taking around 90 seconds where the old Classic Volcano would take around 4 minutes.
The Hybrid Volcano has so far been well received besides a minor issue with the heating chamber insert which has since been resolved.
At $699 the price tag makes it one of the most expensive vaporizers on the market. In lieu of the Hybrid’s release the Digital Volcano has been discontinued.
|Weight||6.5 pounds (lbs)|
|Dimensions||7.9 inches x 7.1 inches|
|Temperature||104°F to 446°F|
The Crafty+ Release
Shortly after the release of the Volcano Hybrid, Storz & Bickel hit us with the Crafty+ . the Crafty+ didn’t exactly awe the vapor community but offered some good improvements over the original Crafty such as an improved outer heat shell , improved circuitry for faster heat up time, better battery life / charge times and three preset temperatures.
With the release of the Crafty+ Storz & Bickel ceased production of the original Crafty. There has also been some speculation on when and if we will see a Mighty+ and why the two vaporizers were not unveiled together like they were in 2014.
|Weight||0.25 pounds (lbs)|
|Dimensions||4.4 inches x 2.3 inches|
|Temperature||104°F to 410°F|
|Warranty||2 Years + 1 additional with registration|
20th Anniversary Golden Classic Volcano
That brings us to where we are today. Storz & Bickel have established themselves over the years with only 6 vaporizers, 7 if you want to count the Crafty+. They are pioneers in the space and while many have come and gone they have remained on top while staying true to their name- delivering the consistently highest rated herb vaporizers in the world. It will be interesting to see what comes from the company now under the Canopy Growth umbrella, but if it’s a Storz & Bickel Vaporizer we can’t imagine it will be anything less than amazing.
To commemorate 20 years Storz & Bickel have released the limited edition Iconic Golden Volcano Vaporizer.