Iolite Review: Iolite Original Vaporizer (please see here for a review of the Wispr)
Iolite have been getting rave reviews recently for their newly released Wispr vape, which we’ve reviewed elsewhere on www.vaporizerkingdom.co.uk. The Wispr is basically an updated version of this popular classic, and it’s worth noting that Iolite’s original vape is still available and still a reliable piece of kit. If you don’t need to pay for the new frills of the Wispr, this solid portable will save you a good few quid, coming in at around two-thirds the cost (depending where you buy it).
So if you’re on a bit of budget, what do you get (and what do you sacrifice) in choosing the older version?
The first thing to note is that the Iolite Original remains an enduringly popular and respected vape. In such a fast-changing market, such consistent popularity over several years is itself a reassuring sign. The second thing to note is that both vapes actually operate on a very similar system; the Wispr is sleeker, with some cute design improvements, but the differences are largely superficial. Let’s take a closer look.
The Iolite Original is a handheld portable. It fits neatly in your palm or coat pocket. With its non-bendable mouthpiece, it bears a passing resemblance to a walkie-talkie, and has acquired that as a nickname with some users. This protruding mouthpiece also makes it look slightly less discreet than its newer brother – that is, it’s a little more obvious what it actually is. Also, whereas the Wispr comes in a range of stylish colours, the Original is more limited. This is obviously just a cosmetic thing and it is still a decent-looking piece of kit, but it’s something to be aware of when choosing.
The most important similarity (and the best feature, we at Vaporizer Kingdom think), is that both vapes are entirely self-contained. No wires, no batteries, no chargers. They just run on butane (as you would use in a refillable lighter), widely available from hardware stores. So great for home use but particularly advantageous when you’re out and about and not near electricity, say if you’re camping or on the road.
We found we got around half-a-dozen full vape sessions (of around a 10-15 minutes each) from a single fill, and around 10 fills from a single butane cans, so a pop a couple of tins in your backpack and you should be good for a long festival or camping trip, for instance, no problem. And if you ever run out, well, lighter gas is easy and discreet to purchase.
Filling the vape is easy. As with a lighter, you simply invert the can of butane gas, click the nozzle into the vape’s filler valve, and press down gently. You’ll hear the gas flow in. It takes only a few seconds to fill, and you’ll see/hear the gas escape when you’re done. Straightforward and safe (well, don’t do this close to an open fire or lit cigarette, obviously, but we hope this is just common sense!)
After filling, we found it best to wait a couple of minutes for the gas to settle before first use. You can use this time to pack your herbs. This is done by unclipping the mouthpiece. It has a little filler chamber at the bottom. We found it best not to overfill this; aim for about 75% full, and not packed too tight. This will ensure a smooth draw. Then clip it back into the unit, where the herb chamber connects with the heating element.
To turn it on, a simple side-switch (marked with a ‘1’ for on and ‘0’ for off) is flicked to start the gas flowing. You’ll hear a soft hissing. You then click a second switch for ignition (again, this will be simple and familiar to anyone who’s used a gas lighter). If it doesn’t ignite first time, give it a couple of seconds and click again, it rarely takes more than a couple of goes. You won’t be in any doubt anyway, as when it’s lit you’ll see a soft orange indicator light on the unit’s side.
It takes around a minute to reach its optimum operating temperature (around 190 degrees celsius, 370 farenheit). It’s fully automatic, in that a built-in thermostat will turn it off when it reaches this temperature, then switch itself back on when it begins to cool. So during your session you’ll hear it switch itself on or off from time to time, and the aforementioned indicator light will also blink to indicate this. So it pretty much takes care of itself.
The operating temperature has been well chosen, such that it leads to a smooth and even vape throughout the session, with little danger of wastage or combustion.
There are some slight drawbacks. One is that (as with the Wispr) you can detect a slight smell of escaping butane during use, coming out from the side. This isn’t dangerous and it doesn’t go through the herb chamber so doesn’t actually affect the taste or get into your lungs, but it is something you will notice sometimes when close up. More expensive butane (with less impurities) has less of a noticeable odour, but it’s still slightly there. No big deal, especially for the convenience of being entirely butane-powered, but worth being aware of.
A second slight minus (which is in common with most portables, including incidentally the Wispr) is that due to the short mouthpiece, if you take long, slow draws (which we recommend as the best method), the mouthpiece can get a little hot. You’ll learn to regulate your draw-length to what works best for you and get the smoothest draw possible, but it seems that this is a price you pay for portability. Not the end of the world by any means, but takes a bit of practice to get right.
Iolite are aware of this though, and helpfully provide a short mouthpiece extender that you can slot in. It doesn’t totally solve the problem – but certainly helps.
A third (also minor) drawback it that hissing sound we mentioned earlier. It’s pretty subtle but it is there. We just got used to it and didn’t really notice – and even found it handy to know the gas was flowing smoothly – but if you’re sensitive to these things or planning on smoking in a very quiet environment, you might notice it.
One disadvantage it has over the newer Wispr is that there is no viewing window to let you see how much gas is left. You just have to keep a rough memory of how many sessions you’ve had. Of course, as long as you’ve got your butane tin with you, this needn’t be calamitous. When the gas runs out, the vape simply slows to a halt. You pause, refill the gas chamber and you’re good to go again. But still, there’s no doubting that the newer model’s viewing window is an improvement on this.
A final minor drawback (compared with the upgraded Wispr) is that the non-flexible mouthpiece may be more prone to damage, with rough treatment, and also that it doesn’t fold away quite so niftily. However they provide you with a nice zip-up carry pouch for carrying, and with sensible treatment you should be fine.
Overall, a classic portable vape, representing decent value, that has been rightly respected for years and, despite some largely cosmetic improvements to newer models, is likely to remain popular for some time to come.
- Requires no batteries, chargers, leads or electricity source
- Compact and portable
- Classic design
- Reliable, simple operation
- Good value
- Automatically maintains optimum vape temperature during use
- Solid and reliable reputation
- Carry case
- Not quite as stylish design as newer and pricier models
- Mouthpiece can get a little hot
- Slight smell of butane during use
- No viewer window to monitor gas level