A lot can change over two decades. The way we live and work, societal views, and our mindsets about mental and physical wellness all look drastically different today when compared to the 1980s. This evolution in expression and acceptance is particularly evident in the shift in attitudes toward cannabis, which has gone from the nefarious, addictive drug depicted in “Just Say No” campaigns of the Eighties and Nineties to a go-to source of medical, recreation and wellness for everyone from soccer moms to business execs.
Through these changing times, Markus Storz and Jürgen Bickel, co-founders of Storz & Bickel, have been consistent figures in an ever-evolving culture of consumption. Their story starts in 1996, when the Germany-based Storz began designing a first of its kind herbal vaporizer after seeing a photo of a man bent over a large water pipe in the German magazine Hanf!“ The man depicted was blowing into a heat gun and the accompanying article described the process of inhaling herbs by means of vaporization. Storz was fascinated and inspired.
Working from his garage, he set out to create the most elite vaporizer on the market: an easy-to-use smokeless consumption device. The original Volcano, made of stainless steel and getting its name from its shape, would fill up with vapor through a bag-and-valve delivery system. It worked by pushing hot air through the cannabis, creating a vapor without combustion. At the time, smaller models trapped vapor inside a dome to be inhaled with a tube. By filling up a large turkey bag with vapor, Storz’s version also enabled passing and created a more social experience.
It’s no wonder the VOLCANO has developed a cult following among connoisseurs. At the peak of vaping parties in the U.S., the VOLCANO’s notoriety was spurred by repeated appearances in American pop culture, with music videos, songs, films and series giving mass appeal and instant recognition to the product. Over two decades, the cone-shaped desktop device has become a status symbol for discerning smokers and top-shelf collectors. Using a Storz & Bickel vaporizer is an unparalleled experience, best described as feeling like you’re consuming cannabis flower for the first time. Not surprisingly, the VOLCANO CLASSIC is the best-known and most coveted vaporizer on the market.
A Groundbreaking Option for the Medical Market
As interest in the VOLCANO picked up steam in the early 2000s with cannabis enthusiasts in the U.S., Markus Storz and Jürgen Bickel remained focused on innovating the vaping experience. For the co-founders, providing a health-focused consumption option has always been a key priority. The hallmark design was intended to be a medical device, providing a safe, clean, and combustion-free experience unlike smoking dried cannabis.
Research and ongoing testing would follow as the VOLCANO and its additional parts were refined. In 1999, the brand received a patent for the VOLCANO’s detachable balloon — an iconic piece of equipment in the cannabis community. The balloon made a lasting impression not only for purposes of social consumption and dosing, but also because it served as an efficient and effective way people could consume heated herbs without any combustion risk. The balloon itself was designed to be patient-friendly. For those using it to help with sleep, it’s neither hot nor electrical, minimizing risk if the patient falls asleep while using the device.
When the first VOLCANO reached the market, experts and enthusiasts alike were delighted. It soon became the gold standard and preferred vaporizer for lab studies, as it was the first vape proven to produce no combustion contaminants – further raising the bar on health standards. Professor of Medicine at the University of San Francisco, Donald Abrams, M.D., conducted studies with the VOLCANO, discovering that cannabinoids inhaled through the VOLCANO were entering the blood plasma of patients without an increase in carbon monoxide. This proved the VOLCANO could deliver cannabinoids to the bloodstream in a healthier way.
Subsequently, the Storz & Bickel Vapor Factory claimed its place as the world’s first factory for the production of medical cannabis vaporizers. This certification means that the brand is compliant with all requirements needed to produce medical devices, such as the VOLCANO MEDIC, a first-of-its-kind medical herbal vaporizer with EU certification as a recognized medical device. The VOLCANO MEDIC is now distributed to patients across Europe, Canada, Australia and Israel as part of the VAPORMED brand.
The company understands that stigmas remain — even 20 years later — especially in light of recent concerns and misconceptions surrounding vaping’s safety, and serves as motivation for Storz & Bickel to keep manufacturing products that reach the highest health standards.
The Gold Standard
The pioneer in vape tech brings newbies and enthusiasts alike a work of electromechanical wonder. High in quality and easy to use, the VOLCANO serves as an excellent entry point for anyone seeking a smokeless experience. At the same time, the precise dosage, multi-dimensional flavor and long-lasting, potent delivery keeps vape connoisseurs coming back to the signature piece.
Constant refinement and product evolution led Storz & Bickel to become a globally recognized and respected name in the vape community. Today, the VOLCANO is the go-to choice in tabletop vape options across the globe, and in 2014, the company entered the portable market with the introduction of the MIGHTY and first iteration of the CRAFTY – each serving as groundbreaking developments in the field, providing a previously unseen level of quality.
“Even today, after many years and trying hundreds of vaporizers, the only two I use on a regular basis are the VOLCANO and the Mighty,” said Kory Zelickson, co-founder of Namaste Technologies, an e-commerce platform that connects patients to doctors prescribing marijuana-related solutions. He added, “They’ve stood the test of time, and Storz & Bickel have continuously shown innovation with their products.”
Stoked for the Next 20 Years
With over one million vaporizers sold, Storz & Bickel show zero signs of slowing down.
“It’s been two decades since they sold their first vaporizer, and the popularity of their devices is continuing to grow exponentially,” said Andy Lytwynec, VP Global Vape Business, Canopy Growth, the diversified cannabis, hemp and cannabis device company that acquired Storz & Bickel in 2018. “As we continue this wave of legalization with states looking to allow both medical and recreational access to cannabis, I’m looking forward to more people discovering the premium, one-of-a-kind experience offered by Storz & Bickel,” Lytwynec said.
If the previous two decades are any indicator, the cannabis community will continue to evolve – and so will Storz & Bickel. Currently, an expansion of the company’s Germany headquarters is underway to support growing international consumer demand for superior vaporization technologies, as well as the research and development of even more efficient, streamlined devices.
From humble beginnings in a garage to leading a globally renowned brand, Markus Storz and Jürgen Bickel have never deviated from their mission to provide the world with high-quality, health-focused devices, and their story is far from over.
As a capstone crowning achievement on 20 years of excellence, Storz & Bickel is paying tribute to the world’s best-known vaporizer and its enduring success with the release of 100 limited edition, gold-plated Storz & Bickel VOLCANO CLASSIC table top devices. Numbered and engraved, this limited and highly collectible release arrives just in time for the holidays, making the perfect gift for the vape connoisseur who values superior performance and aesthetics.
Be sure to watch the full documentary behind the brand’s journey, and snag your own Gold Plated VOLCANO over at the anniversary site.