It’s showdown time! We’re pitting two heavyweight contenders against each other in this vaporizer comparison. In the red corner, it’s the German-made Volcano by Storz & Bickel. In the blue corner is the Canadian challenger, Arizer’s Extreme Q. Both big sellers, both with some serious selling points. Read on for a comparison between the Extreme Q vs the Volcano and find out which one is taking home the belt!
Extreme Q vs The Volcano:
The Extreme Q:
When it comes to most vaporizers, you get what you pay for in terms of quality. Often a cheap vaporizer means cheap materials, and therefore a unit that won’t vaporize your herbs effectively or is likely to break or malfunction. The Extreme Q is one of the exceptions to this rule. With value for money and reliable construction, the Extreme Q may be modestly priced but it is well-made, with all components covered under a two-year warranty.
- Stainless steel body
- Multiple inhalation options
- Glass-on-glass vaporization
- Digital temperature control
- Silent fan
Not So Good:
- Fragile glass pieces
- Valveless bags that can be fiddly to change
The exterior casing is made from high quality, dual walled stainless steel to reduce internal heat and keep the unit cool to the touch. Internally, the unit is lined with a safe, nontoxic insulation to keep vaporizing temperatures stable. The EQ also has a wealth of awesome features, including a quick-heating ceramic element, solid state circuitry, three sensors for temperature accuracy, a “clear view” LCD, and a whisper quiet fan.
Many of the Extreme Q’s components are made from quality boroscillate glass and can last a long time with proper care and careful handling. Though it is fragile, glass is one of the best materials you can find in a vaporizer for the simple fact that it’s taste and smell neutral, and won’t react with your herbs or with heat in any way. This makes the Extreme Q perfect for producing clean and tasty vapour, as glass-on-glass vaporization is preferred by health conscious connoisseurs for its ultimate purity.
Comparing the bag system to the Volcano’s, the Extreme Q doesn’t have nearly the ingenuity of the Volcano’s patented valve system. The Extreme Q’s bags are attached to a glass mouthpiece with two small rubber O-rings, which can make fitting a new bag a fiddly process. The EQ bag system is also lacking the convenience of a valve, meaning that you will have to hold your finger over the mouthpiece while you’re not inhaling to stop vapour from leaking out. Nevertheless, these are small issues that affect the convenience factor of the Extreme Q and don’t seriously impact on its overall performance.
Summary: The Extreme Q is well-made, with reliable construction and high value for money, though glass pieces are fragile.
You just can’t argue with German engineering. When it comes to the Volcano, we’re not just talking about the best vaporizing unit on the market, we’re talking about the first!
- One of the first ever vaporizers backed by years of research and development
- Large aluminum heating block
- Stainless steel body
- Large herb chamber
- High accuracy, precision and efficiency
- Bags have a patented valve system that prevents vapour from escaping
Not So Good:
- High price tag
- Fan can be loud
The Volcano is a machine years in the making. Markus Storz started developing the Volcano vaporization system in 1996, a few years before the Volcano Classic hit the market in the early 2000s. Jurgen Bickel was one of his first customers. The pair later teamed together to become the German vapour giant known as Storz & Bickel, and continued to innovate and improve with the Digit and Easy Valve system. It’s been over 12 years since the very first Volcano vaporizer hit the market and it’s still Top Dog in an industry with hundreds of other alternatives. If there’s another thing you can’t argue with, it’s a product that’s withstood the test of time that gracefully.
The Volcano is a heavy-duty machine that goes hard on efficiency and easy on the frills. It’s heated by a specially designed aluminum heat exchanger, Storz’s own invention. While it’s not as glamorous as glass or ceramic, aluminum is in fact the quickest material to respond to changes in temperature, making it incredibly efficient at regulating heat. The Volcano utilizes a large aluminum block that works with sensors to detect even small fluctuations in temperature to maintain very consistent heating and efficient vapour extraction. This efficiency is helped by the large herb chamber, which increases surface area for even heating and vaporization.
Both Volcano models also have an independent temperature fuse, air filter and silencer and use flavourless, food safe materials. The Volcano unit itself is also incredibly sturdy, with a stainless steel exterior. The aluminum heating block and the strong air pump can withstand the stresses and normal wear and tear of heavy use, making the Volcano a machine that will truly last you a lifetime with minimal maintenance required.
The Classic has a robust, electromechanical design and has 9 pre-set temperatures ranging from 130°C – 230°C controlled by an analog dial. The fact that it has fewer electronics than the Digit adds to its reliability with a lower price tag to boot! Truly a classic, this was the very first Volcano model and is still a winner for anyone wanting top quality with ultra simple, no frills operation.
But let’s not discount the Digit. With a digital temperature control comes increased accuracy and precision when vaporizing your herbs. The Digit is estimated to have accuracy down to the nearest 1.5°C, whereas the Classic’s accuracy measures more to the nearest 5°C. The temperature range on the Digit is also wider and can be set to any number between 40°C and 230°C. The digital display will show you the actual temperature your herbs are vaporizing at, as well as the temperature you set, so you always know exactly what’s going on in there. Another additional feature that sets the Digit apart from the Classic is its auto-shutoff feature that will turn the machine off if left alone for a set time, so you won’t have to worry about burning your house down or wasting electricity if you forget.
The Volcano’s innovation and practical design sense doesn’t just stop at the base unit. The Volcano’s bags are equally as intuitive and user-friendly, with a patented valve system that stops vapour from escaping the bag when you’re not inhaling. The valve is controlled by the mouthpiece, which pushes in when you inhale to release the valve, and pops out again when you’re done to seal the bag.
There are two different balloon systems that are both compatible with the Classic or Digit. The Solid Valve system consists of a balloon valve, mouthpiece and herb chamber, all of which can be completely disassembled for cleaning and changing the bags. The Solid Valve allows the user to use any size and type of bag they want, and Volcano bag material is cheap to buy in a range of sizes. The Solid Valve is a little more involved when it comes to maintenance, being that the bags have to be changed over manually and the valve itself is made up of many parts.
The Easy Valve system was created with convenience in mind. All Easy Valve bags and valves come pre-assembled, so the only thing you need to clean regularly is the herb chamber. When your Easy Valve bag gets old and dirty, changing it is as simple as grabbing a new one. Replacement sets come in standard or XL size for those who prefer a bigger bag.
The Volcano is a machine that has all bases covered in terms of efficiency, ease of use and reliability. If a dedicated bag vaporizer is what you’re looking for, you simply can’t fault the quality of the Volcano.
Summary: The Volcano is impeccably made, with a specially designed aluminium heat exchanger that keeps temperature very consistent. It’s a no frills machine, focusing more on quality and sensible design.
The Extreme Q:
Our quality rating: 85%
The Extreme Q is capable of producing some very pleasant vapour. Heating time is about the same as the Volcano but bags do take longer to fill. The display will also show you the actual vaporizing temperature of your herbs, as well as the temperature you set it at, so you’ll know if you need to make any adjustments.
The Extreme Q’s ceramic element and glass construction mean that it produces very clean vapour with minimal interference from other compounds. Because glass and ceramic are inert and flavourless, they don’t interact with your herbs, ensuring that you taste nothing but delicious vapour. The Extreme Q does come with stock vinyl tubing, but very health-conscious vapers can purchase high quality silicone tubing for optimum purity and flavour.
It is difficult to compare the Extreme Q to the Volcano. The Extreme Q gives you the option to inhale vapour from either a whip or a bag, and both are a completely different experience. Using a bag generally produces light and gentle vapour, as a lot of air makes its way into the balloon. That’s not to say that using a bag can’t produce some potent effects, but whip hits are generally denser and produce more visible vapour because there is less air in the tube.
The Extreme Q delivers satisfactory vapour using both methods. It’s able to fill a bag with light and flavourful vapour, as well as delivering a thicker vapour hit through the whip. But, when comparing the vapour from an Extreme Q balloon to a Volcano balloon, or a hit from an Extreme Q whip to that of a top whip vaporizer, it’s not the best by any means.
Ultimately, it comes down to versatility. If having both options is important to you, then the Extreme Q will satisfy your needs the best out of the small range of multipurpose vaporizers available. If you’re more likely to use just one method of inhalation, then the Volcano or a dedicated whip vaporizer will most likely produce better vapour results. When it comes down to it, the Extreme Q may be a jack-of-all-trades, but it’s a master at none.
Summary: The Extreme Q produces good vapour with a whip or a bag, but it is not exceptional when compared to other top units. Vapour produced is very clean and aromatic, thanks to the ceramic element and glass-on-glass vaporization. We recommend the Extreme Q as the best multipurpose vaporizer on the market.
Our quality rating: 96%
Our German contender has some of the best vapour out of any unit we’ve ever tried, with an almost 100% rating. Filling a bag in 30 seconds, the Volcano didn’t get its name for nothing. It’s a geyser of herby deliciousness, and incredibly efficient at extracting active ingredients and delivering them in the form of potent, powerful vapour.
The vapour from the Volcano can be very flavourful at lower heat settings, and thicker and more visible on higher settings. The large herb chamber also allows you to vape a considerable amount during one session, as well as providing more surface area for your herbs to heat and vaporize evenly.
Like we mentioned before, the Digit’s display will show you what temperature you’ve set on your machine as well as the actual temperature your herbs are being vaporized at. Plot twist: the set temperature and the actual vaporizing temperature are almost always the same in the Volcano. While some other units are known not to measure the actual vaporizing temperature accurately, the Volcano Digit is said to be accurate down to the nearest 1.5°C thanks to the sensitive aluminum block that prevents fluctuations. This is absolutely key to producing good vapour, as temperature fluctuations up or down will upset the equilibrium inside the chamber and make vaporizing less efficient. Glass (like the glass in the Extreme Q) is not as apt at regulating these fluctuations as aluminium, making the Extreme Q slightly less efficient in this department.
Summary: The Volcano is the ultimate in vapour quality and efficiency. The aluminium heat block prevents fluctuations in temperature, so your herbs heat very consistently. Vapour produced by a Volcano is dense and full of flavour.
The Extreme Q:
Versatility is where the Extreme Q shines! It’s a multifunction vaporizer, with the ability to be used with a bag, whip, or aroma diffuser, and is also suited to additional attachments.The 3-speed fan also gives you additional choices, allowing you to use the whip as a manual draw or forced air whip. After-market attachments (e.g. water pipes) can expand your options even further. If you’re somebody who likes variety, the Extreme Q will allow you to experiment.
The fact that it has a remote control and an available battery pack also makes the Extreme Q extremely convenient. The remote control is a feature found only in the Extreme Q, and is a blessing for the lazy or those with limited mobility. If you go ahead and purchase the battery pack, your Extreme Q can also become portable. You can use it rain, hail or shine, at a friend’s house, on a camping trip, or even in a blackout. When it comes to versatility, the Canadian has it!
Summary: The Extreme Q is extremely versatile, offering an array of different inhalation options.
The Volcano is strictly a balloon vaporizer, offering just the one method of inhalation, but you do have a choice between the Classic model and the Digit, and between the Easy Valve or Solid Valve balloon sets.
While it isn’t the most versatile in terms of its operation, the freedom of a bag is a big plus for some. With a bag, you don’t have to be tethered to the machine to enjoy a session. You can simply fill the bag, detach it, and then use it anywhere you like. You can walk around the house, recline on the couch or go outside while inhaling from a Volcano bag; it’s completely up to you! The vapour in a Volcano bag is generally good for up to 30 minutes, so you can vape from it at your own pace without having to worry about burning herbs or wasted vapour. The valves also allow you to put the bag down between hits.
What it may lack in versatility, the Volcano makes up for in ease of use and convenience.
Summary: The Volcano is not versatile, but it is extremely convenient. It can only be used with bags, though purchasing the Solid Valve set will allow you to fit any size you like.
The Extreme Q:
As we mentioned before, the Extreme Q is sturdy but has several glass components. Though glass is fragile, it can last a while with careful treatment. It’s also likely to accumulate residue build-up and need regular cleaning to preserve the taste and quality of your vapour.
Parts of the Extreme Q you will need to clean include the cyclone bowl, glass elbow, mouthpieces, and whip tubing. Luckily, glass is super easy to clean with just a little rubbing alcohol. You can choose to scrub your parts one by one, or soak them all together in Isopropyl until they’re all clean. You can also use the same method for your screens, as cleaning them once before you replace them will reduce the amount you spend on new ones. If a soak in Isopropyl alcohol is not enough to remove stubborn residue, light scrubbing with a pipe cleaner or soft cleaning brush should be effective.
As for whip tubing, the Extreme Q comes with stock vinyl whip tubing, but high quality silicone is also available. Neither of these materials should be soaked in alcohol, as it will begin to degrade them. You can clean your tubing by rinsing it quickly in Isopropyl and then washing it out with water, or by soaking it in a gentle cleaning solution (like dish soap or water and vinegar.) Cleaning the tube will prolong its life, but just buying a new length every so often won’t put a huge dent in your wallet.
The Extreme Q shouldn’t cost you much to maintain, unless your glass pieces break frequently. If you want to know exactly what’s involved in keeping an EQ in top condition, you can check out our Extreme Q cleaning guide.
Summary: Cleaning the Extreme Q is easy but will need to be done regularly, and the glass parts are known to be quite fragile. If you’re clumsy, you may end up spending money on replacement parts. Whip tubing also needs to be replaced every so often.
The Volcano is so low-maintenance that you’ll hardly ever have to do a thing. The Easy Valve set, especially, is as hassle-free as you can get, with the herb chamber being the only component you need to worry about cleaning. The Solid Valve is still pretty robust and low maintenance, but fitting new bags manually and disassembling the valve and chamber for cleaning is a little more involved than the Easy Valve set.
Parts for the Volcano are made of heavy-duty plastic and are virtually indestructible. Either valve set will need minimal cleaning except for the herb chamber, which should be brushed out after every use. You will need to purchase new bags on occasion, but the number included in the starter pack should last a while before you’ll need to buy more.
Basically, cleaning your valve set and checking the air filter whenever you change to a new bag (every 2-4 weeks depending on use) should be enough to keep your Volcano running clean. The plastic material that the Volcano’s parts are made of won’t accumulate a lot of residue and stays fairly clean on its own. The regular cleaning suggestion is more for hygiene’s sake.
All plastic components are also safe to clean in your dishwasher! How’s that for convenience? Screens, springs and rubber O-rings will need to be washed by hand to avoid losing them. If you decide to wash the plastic components by hand as well, be sure not to use alcohol to avoid damaging the plastic.
To see just how easy it is to keep the Volcano clean, head to our Volcano cleaning guide for step-by-step instructions on how to care for a Volcano vaporizer.
Summary: The Volcano is very low maintenance, and all plastic components are dishwasher safe! The only thing you will need to replace regularly are the bags. Be careful not to clean with alcohol, as this can weaken the plastic.
Ease of Use
The Extreme Q:
The Extreme Q is quite straightforward, but when placed next to the Volcano it’s noticeably more complicated to use. The controls on the face of the machine are clunky and doing anything this way requires you to push through all the options on the digital menu. The remote remedies this somewhat with more buttons for specific functions, plus the convenience of being able to operate your vape from the couch.
There are some other small and finicky things that are slightly annoying about the Extreme Q. Some of the glass components do get hot to touch during use, which can be a hassle if you need to detach parts to refill or stir your herbs. If you do need to remove the herb chamber to re-load, remember to grab the rubber at the top rather than the hot glass. You will also have to be careful when swiveling the whip, as the glass elbow can be fragile and will snap if too much pressure is applied.
Changing over the bags is another thing you will have to master, as they don’t come pre-assembled. The bags for the Extreme Q attach to a glass mouthpiece and are secured by two small O-rings. It can be fiddly to get this assembled neatly, and if the bag isn’t gathered evenly around the mouthpiece it can bend awkwardly during filling.
With all nitpicking aside, the digital display, auto-shutoff and 3 fan speeds give you a wealth of options to tailor the Extreme Q to your specific preferences and needs. You are able to control everything from the inhalation mode, fan speed and temperature down to the sound and LED lights. With a little tinkering, you’ll surely find the perfect settings for you.
Summary: Overall, we’d say that the Extreme Q is an easy vaporizer to use, though you may need the instruction manual while you figure out how to operate its many features.
The Volcano is a machine that will take you all of 10 minutes to figure out straight from the box. It’s incredibly simple to operate and perfect for people who want a simple device that won’t have them reaching for the instruction manual every step of the way. Even in the Digit, the Volcano uses just two buttons to heat and activate the fan. You’ll only have to use the digital display to set the temperature and the auto-shutoff function (if you choose to use it.)
Filling a bag takes just a few steps with hardly any messing around. Simply turn your Volcano on, set the temperature and let it preheat, place your herb chamber on top, attach the bag, and turn on the fan. Easy! We also recommend letting your herbs heat up a little before activating the fan, to ensure that the bag is collecting good vapour straight away.
None of the Volcano’s parts ever get too hot to touch; they’re made from heat-resistant plastic for this very purpose. Temperatures are also really easy to set, with the Classic using a dial (the corresponding temperatures for each setting are in the manual) and the Digit allowing you to choose any temperature you like by simply pressing the up or down arrows.
Using a bag is probably the easiest way possible to inhale your vapour. The fact that the vapour has time to cool makes it very gentle on your throat while still delivering potent active ingredients. Plus, the actual Volcano bag system is designed for the ultimate ease of use. The Easy Valve set requires no assembling whatsoever; the bags come attached to a valve and included mouthpiece. The Solid Valve does require the user to change the bags over manually, but you have the added freedom of being able to fit any size bag. Fitting bags onto the Solid Valve may take a little practice as, once again, if the bag isn’t on straight it will bend during filling, which can be an issue in the Volcano as the bags fill vertically.
The built-in valve on the Volcano bag allows you to relax and even put the bag down between hits, as no vapour can escape while you’re not inhaling. This is perfect for people who like to take their time, as the vapour will be good for up to 30 minutes before its quality starts to deteriorate.
Summary: If we had to rate the Volcano on how easy it is to use, we’d probably give it a 10/10. It’s very easy to assemble and operate straight out of the box.
Value for Money
The Extreme Q:
The Extreme Q is great value-for-money. It offers sturdy construction, reliable operation, glass-on-glass vaporization, digital temperature control, versatility, and a host of cool features for under $300. The Extreme Q is cheaper than any other multifunction vaporizer we stock and has twice the reputation. It’s a fantastic buy for those looking for a multifunction vaporizer that allows dual use with a bag or whip.
However, we did say that the Extreme Q is a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none. Those who are more likely to use just one inhalation option will enjoy better vapour with a machine that’s dedicated to one method of use. A dedicated whip vaporizer, like a 7th Floor unit (Da Buddha, Silver Surfer), has only a marginal price difference with better performance.
Summary: The Extreme Q is good value for money, and we recommend it over any other multipurpose vaporizer. It’s a good buy if you want both inhalation methods.
We said that the Volcano is the best vaporizer on the market, and we weren’t exaggerating. If you have cash to spare and need a robust device that will stand up to heavy use, the Volcano is IT. When it comes to exceptional quality, flawless engineering, great performance and very low maintenance requirements, you will get what you pay for. It may not be the most versatile unit or come with a laundry list of additional features, but for a heavy-duty unit that’s a breeze to use, the Volcano is worth every cent of its higher price tag.
Summary: We don’t recommend the Volcano just because it’s expensive, we recommend it because it’s actually worth the money. Well made, perfectly engineered and super efficient, the Volcano will perform for many years.
Do you want all the bells and whistles, or just something that works? Are you willing to splash out on the best of the best, or are you on a tight budget? These two units are lightyears apart on price as well as quality, which makes recommending one over the other a hard task.
Best quality: When comparing these two vaporizers on quality alone, the winner is the Volcano with no contest. It has the most reliable build and the best vapour quality. You can’t beat it; it may as well be made of rock!
Best price: The Volcano may be worth its price tag, but it’s certainly not affordable for everybody. We would recommend the Extreme Q for its value for money as a reliable all-rounder. If you want a reliable unit with some cool features at a modest price, the Extreme Q is a good buy.