Vaporisation is chosen by many as the preferred method for releasing the aromas and flavours locked into so many different herbs and spices, and it has a variety of uses, from aromatherapy to cookery. Vaporisation is generally considered superior to combustion as it heats the materials without ever burning them. This results in a fine mist, rather than smoke, which not only releases the aroma more thoroughly but is also better for you. Gentle heating is the key and a vaporiser will ensure that the burning point of wood is never reached, so that you may enjoy the benefits of your herbs and spice more effectively.

Erupting onto the vaporiser scene is the Volcano Vaporizer, which aims to be the most versatile piece of equipment for this very purpose. Created in Tuttlingen, Germany by the highly respected Storz & Bickel Company, the Volcano Vaporizer demonstrates German engineering at its finest, providing a gentle release that will ensure fragrant materials reach their full potential – however you wish to use them. Meanwhile, the lack of burning materials and smoke means there are no harmful carcinogens in the vapour, resulting in a safer inhalation method that removes any cancer risks associated with smoking. ( You can buy your own Volcano Vaporizer here.)

Volcano Vaporizers work by gradually heating the materials with hot air. The air passes through the materials with the Volcano set at a very specific temperature, although this can be adjusted, allowing the vaporisable ingredients to be released into the air without burning them. A burnt material will release its aroma but many harmful chemicals will be released with it and the inhalation can be bad for your health. The Volcano avoids this problem by never allowing the material to burn; instead the aroma is safely released and, since the herbs and spices are not being burnt up, they go a lot further and you get much more out of them.

Attached to the Volcano is a special balloon that will fill up with the vapour as it is released. When the balloon is full you can then remove it and either inhale the vapour directly or release it into the air, depending on how you wish to use it. If you wish to release it then the Volcano Vaporizer is more effective when used in a smaller, enclosed environment so that its benefits are not lost when it diffuses into the atmosphere.

There are in fact two different models of Volcano Vaporizers to choose from: the Volcano Classic and the Volcano Digital. The Volcano Digital is the latest version and is slightly more expensive but with the higher price comes increased functionality. Both models are similar but the Classic has a thermostat with a rotary dial for controlling the temperature, while the Digital has a digital heat sensor, complete with LED display to let you see clearly what the temperature is. But perhaps the biggest difference between the two is that while the Classic can heat at temperatures between 130° and 230°C, the Volcano can go as low as 40°, making it suitable for a wider range of vaporizable materials.

There is a broad range of herbs that are perfectly suited to the vaporizer and each one has its own recommended temperature for optimal vaporisation, while the type you use will depend on which benefits you hope to gain from it. Modern cooking techniques have recently begun to incorporate the use of vapour in the kitchen as a means to enhance the flavour of food, while one of the classic uses is aromatherapy. Whatever you need it for, the Volcano Vaporizer is a versatile way to extract aromas from materials in a more effective and safe manner.