What is an atomizer?
Possibly the single most interesting component in a dry herb vaporizer, the atomizer can also be a bit confusing. It’s called by a few different names that vary regionally and by the precise function it performs, and there is a lot of design variance from one model to another, none of which helps the average user to understand what an atomizer does or why it’s called that. It’s also a problem that for anybody over 30, “atomizer” is a term used most commonly to describe a mechanical (as opposed to electrical) device that distributes perfume or nasal spray from a liquid in a bottle into a mist. So, let’s take a minute or two and clear up the confusion and understand why it’s a such a cool component.
Before getting too far into their performance in portable vaporizers, it’s probably a good idea to look at some of the other things we call an atomizer and what they have in common. There are the mechanical devices so common in the personal care and cosmetic industry. There are paint tools used in arts and crafts to soften the coloring effect. There are the old e-cigarette atomizers that heat juice that’s wicked up to heat source. And there are the atomizers we use to vaporize the lipids in our dried botanicals. The job they all do in different ways is to take a liquid and turn it into a nearly gaseous mist. In perfumes, this gets you a fairly even but thin distribution of product across the surface of the skin. In vaping, it allows you to inhale the desired compound without the health risks inherent to burning them.
At its simplest, the atomizer is the part of your personal vaporizer that makes and directs the heat. Inside are the coils, which heat up when electricity from the battery passes through them. The heat is either directed from there to the herb chamber using conduction, or air is passed over the coils, warmed, and pulled through the chamber using convection. Either way, it’s a remarkably controlled process and achieves the desired temperatures very precisely because the atomizer is also the point where the battery and the user interface meet. So, when you enter 395 degrees on your control, you get the right amount of energy to heat to that point and not have to worry about accidental combustion or failure to release the botanical compounds you’ve planned your evening around.
You’ll notice that unlike the e-cig mods you see around, the coils in our sort of vape atomizer are generally fully contained and difficult to get a look at in operation. This is a necessary alteration because you’re not bringing the vape material to the heat (like a wick), so that heat must be contained, moved, and distributed as evenly as possible around the herbs in your tank. You won’t create the huge dense clouds of vapor that so many people with e-cig mods strive for, because you’re not using a material manufactured to perform that way, and we’ve designed vaporizers around the material that nature has provided us. Also, there’s no real good reason to waste your plant material or energy on making a big show about an activity that’s traditionally better performed with stealth. Modern atomizers are designed to be as efficient as possible, and to allow the user to enjoy maximum effect with minimal waste, and that definitely means not making clouds.
Hopefully we’ve managed to illuminate the various types of atomizers out in world today, and helped you understand the similar function that they perform, even if the applications are quite different.