All photos courtesy of Puffco
As more people understand the health benefits of cannabis, there’s a growing awareness around the inefficiencies of combustion. How can a delivery method that gives you less control over dosage and allows harmful carcinogens to enter the lungs be therapeutic? This concern is completely valid, and has cannabis enthusiasts seeking alternatives to smoking.
The days of unnecessarily sucking down tar are over thanks to innovators like Puffco CEO Roger Volodarsky, who set out to make the safest, healthiest and most stylish vaporizing pens possible. Designed in Brooklyn, the product’s sleek ergonomic design, easy-clean threading, and fingerprint resistant coating make Puffco’s line of concentrate-friendly, portable vape pens a new favorite of extract enthusiasts and MMJ patients alike. (The company’s sales have tripled since its 2013 launch.) MERRY JANE spoke with Volodarsky to learn more about Puffco, as well as the past, present, and future of vape technology.
MERRY JANE: How did the history of vape technology inform you on your quest to create a vape pen?
Roger Volodarsky: At first, concentrate vaporizers were just repurposed e-cigarette devices. They were never meant to be used in the capacity they were, which is why they would often melt or break. I think what pushed me into the market was being passionate about a new technology, as well as complete ignorance of product development. It took almost two years to make a product we were passionate about and that was what we now consider to be a simple coil-based system. Since then, we’ve turned into a well-scaled product company that designs everything in-house, so we can move at a much faster pace. The industry has come a long way from its humble beginnings, and Puffco makes products that empower users to consume anywhere with devices built specifically for them.
What tools did you use, prior to creating Puffco, to consume concentrates?
Before vape pens, the only way to consume was by freebasing (what is now called dabbing). It’s a process that, at the time, was difficult to master and discouraged me from learning more — partly because of stigma, partly because I couldn’t get a favorable experience from it. When vape pens came along, they made consuming concentrates approachable and actually created interest in learning how to consume more efficiently. The current options were mainly made of plastic and held together by glue. They would break, melt, and usually ruin the taste of your concentrates. These are all problems I wanted to solve with the hope that it would be a product my friends and I would love. That’s why our Puffco Pro, introduced in 2014, was the first vaporizer free of plastics, glues, and fibers, as well as made with all durable materials.
What does it take to innovate in such a competitive space?
We are the consumers we make products for. Our goal is to make consumption a more enjoyable and efficient experience. Creating products we wish existed instead of products we hope people will buy is the risk we take, making this such an exciting challenge. We bleed vision, and are now scaled to bring it to life.
Puffco CEO Roger Volodarsky
How can consumers tell the difference between a knock off and a quality vaporizing tool?
Quite easily. Are you seeing the same design under many different names? It’s likely a re-branded white label product. These aren't necessarily knock offs, but they lack any regard for the user experience or function of the product. Choose products that were made for your needs and are backed by a community and customer service. Always do your research and make informed purchases, especially when buying products to live by.
How have Puffco’s products evolved?
When we made the Puffco Plus, we thought no one would want a coil-based system ever again. Instead, we found an outspoken community of users that were demanding we bring it back, so we decided to take a closer look as to why. The Pro flash heats a small portion of your oil, giving you a big smoky hit that satisfies, allowing you to stretch your oil throughout the day. The Plus allows you to consume an entire dose at once with little to no compromise, compared to the dabbing experience. There are two sets of differences between the Pro and the Plus. If you are someone looking to stretch your oil and get a more relaxed effect, the Pro may be for you. If you are someone looking to consume your dose without compromise and experience full spectrum effects, there is no portable option that can do what the Plus does.
With the rise in popularity of microdosing and the legalization of cannabis, where do you see the future of vape technology?
I think that microdosing is a great way to attract new users to our market without intimidating them. This is why we released our Puffco Prism and plan on expanding on the line. Knowing that you are consuming a precise amount allows you to plan your consumption, which is a need for all responsible users.