So how far back does the history of the vaporizer actually go? The answer: a lot farther back than you’d think. But considering that the first cases of hemp use date back to 8,000 BCE, are you really that surprised? Vaping is now a massive industry. Clearly, it has proven its place as something more than a passing trend among cannabis users. What we recognize as vapes have only been around for a decade or so. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t previously exist in another form.
How Far Back Does the History of the Vaporizer Go?
While mechanized vapes might be a recent phenomenon, their predecessor spans back millennia. In fact, the early ancestor of today’s vaporizers come from the ancient Egyptians.
These early vaporizers obviously were not powered by batteries. But they were still innovative devices for the time. Placing seeds over a bed of heated stones, Egyptians would inhale the fumes created by the burning kernels.
This would effectively get them high. To modern-day vape fans, this method is rudimentary. But the main features are the same: make vapor then inhale it to get high.
Eventually, the vaporizer evolved into a more recognizable form: the hookah. Hookahs first popped up in India around 1,000 years ago. Used mainly to smoke flavored tobacco, these water-pipes were also used to smoke hashish.
Hash is a natural-occurring substance found in the cannabis plant. It became popular in the Indian and Middle Eastern regions around the same time that people started using hookahs.
After cropping up in Turkey roughly 500 years later, the hookah saw a resurgence in popularity. It became especially popular among the upper classes. As this happened, pipes became more ornate to cater to the tastes of wealthy smokers.
Opium and the Vaporizer
These early precursors to the vaporizer weren’t used just for hash and tobacco. At the peak of the 19th century, hookahs were a mainstay in the typical opium den.
At that time, opium was becoming popular in the West in countries like the U.S. and the British Isles. Despite the fact that opium is an addictive narcotic far more dangerous than weed, law enforcement at the time did little to curb the trade.
The water pipes used in these dens were rarely confiscated by authorities. As one British journalist wrote: “occasionally, when the police are short of funds, they make a descent on some of the dens but, as a rule, the proprietors are left unmolested.”
This more or less gave a sense of permissibility to the hookah. And in many ways, helped set the stage for the vaporizer as we know it.
Final Hit: The History of the Vaporizer
So, what about the vaporizer we know and love today? How did it come about?
It all started in 1993. That’s when inventor and entrepreneur Eagle Bill Amato saw a grower vaping with a heat gun. He decided to capitalize on the idea. He eventually created the Shake and Vape.
They were made out of glass and were very similar to traditional glass weed pipes. To activate them, the bottom of the bowl was heated up.
While Amato’s vaporizer looked more like the traditional weed bowl than anything else, they were important steps in the development of the vaporizers you’re familiar with today.
It wasn’t until the early 2000s that the vaping industry began to boom. Since then, the vaping scene has seen rapid expansion.
As for the future of vaping? A recent article published by VICE’s Motherboard was quick to point out that the vaping market isn’t just for people in the cannabis industry.
In fact, experts in fields as diverse as mechanical engineering to computer scientists and product designers are now moving into the market. With all this activity and ingenuity, only time will tell what the future of the vape will look like.