So you decided to get yourself a brand new, shiny Volcano Hybrid. Congratulations! You made a smart move and you’re now officially the coolest kid on the block.
But what’s even cooler than owning one is knowing how to actually use the thing. Maybe this is your first vaporizer. Maybe you’re a seasoned pro who just needs a few pointers specific to this device. Or maybe you need to know what you’re doing before heading to your friend’s house to use theirs.
While the overall use of Storz & Bickel’s new device is pretty straight forward, there are definitely some tricks to using it most effectively, for getting the most out of your herb, and for maintaining your machine so it’ll last you years to come.
This is your definitive guide on how to use the Volcano Hybrid vaporizer.
If you’re already familiar with the basics, skip down to “Tips Specific to the Hybrid”.
The fundamental things you need to know are 1) how to load your herb and 2) how to use the balloon and mouthpiece. If you’re using the tube kit then all you really need is step 1!
But first, there are two setup steps: you’ll want to do an initial burn off session, and you’ll need to prepare your herb.
The burn off
When you first get any new vaporizer, you’ll want to do a quick session without herbs and without inhaling the air, to prep your machine. This helps burn off any residue that may be in there, and any plastic fumes. Doing this before your first real session will prevent any plastic or chemical taste from leaching into your vapor.
To do this, turn on your machine and turn on the heat for 10-15 minutes, without anything in the chamber, and just let it run. Meanwhile, you can prepare your herb.
Preparing your herb
It’s worth noting that the herb grinder that comes with the Hybrid works awesomely. While I do have another grinder I had been happily using previously, I tried out the one included with my Hybrid and was pleasantly surprised at how thoroughly and evenly it grinds my material. I definitely recommend sticking with this grinder rather than going out and buying something else, although if you already have one you love, by all means.
I’ve found the Hybrid to be less finicky about how coarse or fine your material is, relative to other vaporizers, so this isn’t an area to worry about much. I still like going with a finer grind, because generally that helps heat the herb most efficiently.
Loading your herb
On the top of the Hybrid you’ll find the filling chamber. This is composed of two pieces — one orange and one black — which you unscrew to access the bowl inside. Fill that lightly with your material (you don’t need a ton, especially if this is a solo session), and try to keep it even and level. Then screw it back together and back on the device. Press the ‘HEAT’ button to turn it on, and use the “+” and “-” buttons to adjust it to your desired temperature, and you’re ready for the next step.
Note: There’s really a lot that can go into finding your perfect temperature setting. It depends on a few factors, but in general, I’d say to stick within the 350-385 degree F range. Or, start in the 300-350 range if you’re new.
Attaching/detaching the balloon
Take the black mouthpiece off the balloon, and then place the orange piece right on top of the Hybrid. It just pops on and off, no release button or anything. Turn on the air and once the balloon is full (or quite a bit less full if this is a solo session), turn off the air, and simply lift off the balloon via the orange piece.
The valve will close when you life the balloon off the device, so you don’t have to worry about air leaking out. You can take your time. Remove the two-piece filling chamber from the device and set it aside (more on that below). Insert the black mouthpiece in the balloon’s orange piece. The valve opens when you push on the mouthpiece, so try not to push it towards the balloon more than necessary when you’re putting it in.
Using the Hybrid
Inhaling the vapor from the balloon feels quite natural. Your mouth will push the mouthpiece towards the balloon, opening the valve and allowing the vapor to be inhaled. When you stop pushing the mouthpiece in, the valve will close again.
Using the balloon method is great because you can easily control how much vapor you take in at a time. This means you can enjoy your session at a slower pace without feeling rushed. This is one reason I always use my own balloon, too, so I don’t need to hurry up and pass it to someone else.
I typically take shorter draws when using the balloon method, as I find that’s all I need. This gets me a good couple of hits per balloon and is a nice, easy way to go, and what I’d recommend for beginners or anyone who wants a more chill session.
The other way to use the Hybrid is with the whip attachment, or Tube System. The tube just pops on the device like the balloon does, but instead of turning on the air, you just use your lung power to pull the vapor up through the tube. With this method, your draw will typically be significantly longer (up to 10 seconds or so), and definitely does require that lung power. For this reason, this method isn’t my favorite, but some people don’t jibe with the balloons so this is their preferred way to go.
A plus side of the whip is that it’s easy to use and very straight forward, so if this is your preferred style of vaping you’re definitely in luck with the Hybrid.
Tips Specific to the Hybrid
While similar to other vapes out there, this device is in a league of its own, and requires some familiarity in order to use it properly.
What I love about the Hybrid is how user-friendly it is to get started. It’s easy to load the material, with really no special instructions. You can be a bit flexible on the grind, and it’s easy to load the filling chamber. You don’t need to pack it in any certain way, just put it in loosely.
The only thing I would advise is that you keep it level (not mounded up to one side) because this will help it heat evenly and efficiently. You also don’t have to open the filling chamber and stir your herb at all during the session, which is great for time and convenience.
Another pro tip: remove the filling chamber between balloons, and be gentle when you do so. The device actually has a warning sticker on it saying to take off the filling chamber when you’re not actively heating the material, and this is good for two reasons. One, it keeps the machine from overheating or being left on accidentally (though it does shut off after 30 minutes), and two, it conserves your herb. When you leave your herb heating while you’re not using it, you’re wasting that prime fresh taste, and that’s just not what we want to happen. Remove the chamber gently so you’re not accidentally shaking up the material inside and undoing your beautiful leveling job.
For those who use their AVB (already vaped bud) after their session, take note that it will be darker after being used in the Hybrid. The dual heating using both convection and conduction will make efficient use of your bud, so be prepared for that when you take it out.
And if you’re looking for ideas of what to do with your AVB, look no further than our stash of recipes and ideas for leftovers.
The Volcano Hybrid works with both dry herb and concentrates. The Hybrid comes with a Drip Pad, which is a small stainless steel pad that can be used with liquids, oils, and wax. Remove the screen in your filling chamber, and insert the Drip Pad in its place. Flip the filling chamber upside down and drop a couple drops of your concentrate directly onto the bottom of the pad. Try to spread them out evenly throughout the pad, not just all in the center. Then flip it back over and attach the filling chamber like normal.
Here’s a really clear video on how to do it!
My tip here is to start out with less than you think you need. The pad can hold about 10 drops, but I’d start with just a couple and see how it goes. You might find that’s enough, or you might want to add a couple more and try again.
The other tip here is that after a couple of times, the pad will establish a build-up of concentrated material, which will have a noticeable impact on your sessions (in a good way!). So again, always start with adding just a bit, because you might find that you have a good layer already in there and don’t need to add much if any for your future sessions.
Because the Hybrid is super efficient, you might find that you need fewer hits than you’re used to. I would start out with loading less material, and filling the balloon less full, and see how it goes. I love that I can conserve my herb this way, and that’s definitely a benefit of this vape over others which are less efficient.
Keep it clean
I wrote a whole post on how to clean the Volcano Hybrid, but I’ll condense it into a few key points here.
The best way to keep your Hybrid clean is by not using your balloons past their prime. This will help your session be tastier, too, so it’s really just as much for you as it is for your device. The balloons, and also whips, are meant to be replaced, not cleaned. For this reason the Hybrid is very low maintenance, but you still need to be on top of it and make sure you get extras so you have them on hand.
Replace the balloons every month to month and a half, if you’re a regular user. They’ll start looking brownish on the inside and you’ll know it’s time.
For the rest of the cleaning (cleaning the base, the valves, and mouthpieces), it’s pretty simple. I use a damp cloth to wipe down the base every now and then to keep fingerprints off it and to clean any smudges, spills, or dust. For the smaller pieces like the mouthpieces, I use the cleaning kit that comes with the Hybrid. And when that runs out, I just use a cup of rubbing alcohol and a small cloth.
While we’re on the topic of cleaning, it’s worth mentioning that Storz & Bickel recommend not sharing tubes with anyone else. And while this initially sounds like an unnecessary precaution, once you think about it, it is pretty gross. You use your lung power to bring the air through the tube, and undoubtedly you’re getting your germs all up in there. Since you need to replace the tubes periodically anyway, go ahead and have a couple on hand for when friends come over. This will keep everyone’s germs to themselves, and it will help the longevity of each tube last longer. I recommend everyone having their own balloon as well (although that’s more about taking your time and enjoying your session than it is about sharing germs).
Using the app
So one thing we have to mention is using the app. The Hybrid, like its brother the Crafty, can be controlled with an app. If you’re not into apps, don’t worry, it’s optional. But for those who like to control their device remotely and to have precision doing it, the app is a great addition to this Volcano.
The app connects via Bluetooth between your phone/tablet and your Hybrid. This means you can get your session started without being right there, leaning over the device.
The app doesn’t have too much going on, and is pretty self explanatory and user friendly. But there are a couple quick tips I’ll give you.
First, take advantage of the “Workflows”. These are saved settings of your preferred session, so you can get things going without the manual set up each time.
Second, explore the precision of the temperature range. The app makes it so easy to adjust the settings, I’ve found myself experimenting way more than I normally would. Usually I just know my temperature and go straight to it without trying anything different. But with the Hybrid and its app, I’m trying out different temps — even within the same session — and really enjoying getting a different experience than my same-old. If you’re a regular user, your sessions have likely become predictable (not a bad thing!). I invite you to change things up now and again, and the app makes this so easy to do.
Let’s talk about what some buttons do! If you want to change your temperature display to show Celsius instead of Fahrenheit (or vice versa) press both the “+” and “-” buttons at the same time.
If you’re looking to do a factory reset, hold the “HEAT” button for 10 seconds (your device must be on for this to work). You might want to do this if your Bluetooth has turned off, as this will turn it back on, or if you want to reset the setpoint and booster temps.
Another way to turn Bluetooth on and off, without doing a whole factory reset, is to hold both the “-” button and the “AIR” button for 3 seconds.
What are your tips?
We’ve covered a lot of tips in this article, and now I want to hear from you.
When using such an impressive machine, we rightly expect to get the best sessions ever, and the exact ways of doing that vary from person to person. So let me know in the comments some of your tips for getting the best sessions with your Volcano Hybrid.