Thermovape Cera: A Portable Vaporizer By Thermo-Essence Technologies
Congratulations Thermo-Essence Technologies, you blew the competition out of the water with this one! The Cera provides one of the best vaporizing experiences one can have — especially when medicating with essential oils.
Although there was a slight learning curve with the Cera, we’re going to teach you how to skip right to the expert techniques from the get-go. Once you become familiar with how to use the Cera as it was designed by Thermo-Essence Technologies, it’s a walk in the park. It has become our new favorite unit for vaporizing concentrates after using it for a little over a month. To date, we have not found a vaporizer made for essential oils that is a worthy opponent of the Cera. We believe their competitive edge is due to the vapor pathway being free of “battery air”, O-rings and cheap metals.
In addition, the unique heating element in the essential-oils cartridge does an exceptional job of evaporating your concentrates rather than burning them up with a hot coil. The difference is noticeable in both the taste and silkiness of the vapor. You never get the hot “vapor” that burns your nose and throat on the way down like some vaporizer pens on the market. While there is no “vaporizing” involved with most pens on the market, the Cera is a different story.
“Is That A Cera In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Excited To See Me?”
Now, before unleashing every dirty thought that immediately comes to mind when seeing this vaporizer, let us just come out and say it…this thing looks more like a vibrator than a vaporizer. We know. But don’t let the crude design dissuade you. The team at Thermo-Essence Technologies “definitely know about the ‘dildo’ factor,” and confide in the quality of the unit. We personally don’t give a damn because it is such an awesome product. However, we definitely can’t take it out in public without catching some strange glances. Especially when it’s swinging around in your pocket as you walk down the street; it’s awkward.
“The Cera is a purely mechanical vaporizer, and is designed to function today, and 20 years from now.” – Thermo-Essence Technologies
Nonetheless, the Cera is made from some of the highest quality raw materials the US has to offer, and provides a unique experience that allows the user to alternate between vaporizing dry herb, essential oils, and E-Liquids. The company employs many small American businesses for all of its parts and assembly, even down to the jar the Cera comes in. The device is powered by a rechargeable, high-capacity battery (cell made in Japan, BUT assembled in USA) and lasts about an hour of heat time; this unit requires a lot of power. Also included is a safety pin that prevents the battery from engaging on accident while transporting the unit.
“Real Hardware Entrepreneurs On A Mission”
Thermo-Essence Technologies (TET) is a small American company founded around the once simple concept of helping people “Never Smoke Again”. The company prides themselves on developing products that are innovative, high quality, and most importantly, safe. Every single unit is assembled here in the United States by hand and is held to a rigorous quality standard.
“One of our favorite hardware startups is pushing the vape-velope with their new Cera, a battery-powered vaporizer made almost entirely of stain-resistant ceramic.” – Tech Crunch
Tech Crunch (TC) posted an editorial on the San Francisco based company back in December in which they announced the release of the Cera. They had visited the small factory a few months prior to the release, and grew very fond of the new hardware startup founded by long-time friends, Noah Minskoff and Nathan Terry. Minskoff explained to TC in the ‘Makers’ episode that he started the company with his best friend after his mother passed away of lung cancer, and he was looking for an effective way to get people to quit smoking.
The company claims to have helped thousands of people do exactly that since their start. In addition, TET backs the Cera with a lifetime warranty from manufacturer defects even though they are built to withstand the test of time. They also offer a one-year warranty on heating cores, although they expect longer cartridge life than just one year. It is safe to say that the customer service at TET is top-knotch, and they certainly care a great deal about the customer.
The Cera Is Offered In Titanium Or Stainless Steel
When you pick the Cera up you immediately recognize the quality and durability of the product. At around six inches in length (15.24 cm by 2.5 cm), and weighing in a solid 12 ounces, this vaporizer is solid as a brick (seriously, you could knock someone out with this thing). Although TET was nice enough to provide us with their stainless steel Cera for our review, they also offer a titanium model for exactly twice the price (I can’t say we understand this price increase). In contrast to the stainless steel Cera, the titanium model is lighter (8 oz) and stronger. In addition, the titanium has a natural resistance to corrosion, which makes it perfect for those who might expose their unit to harsh weather or a high level of wear and tear.
The body of the Cera is made from a, “cutting edge ceramic material that has exceptional purity, and outstanding durability,” according to the companies website. While glass has been considered the optimal material for vaporizers in the past, TET notes that their ceramic’s (zirconia ceramic) melting temperature far exceeds that of glass, and it is almost 20x stronger. The materials used to make the Cera are FDA approved, and the ceramic body is about 10x stronger than the average coffee cup according to TET.
The Cera Provides A Sanitary Vaporizing Experience
The design of the Cera is very ingenious despite its slightly awkward outward appearance. If we have learned anything from fairy tales and Disney movies, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. All individual parts of the Cera either thread into each other very smoothly, or are sealed by O-rings on the outside of the cartridge when the mouthpiece and cap are fitted on the unit.
A representative from TET informed me that the floating mouthpiece inside of the cap was designed to trap unwanted particles and condensation that would normally be sucked in with your vapor in other units. We thought this was pretty awesome. This design also makes the unit very easy to clean as there are not many crevices or cracks for residue to form in. Because of the complex pathway the air must take before exiting through the mouthpiece, any particles or debris that would normally enter your vapor path are trapped, leaving you with only clean tasty vapor. When you inhale, air is drawn in through the four holes on the side of the unit at the base of the heating core (4 while holes on the body of the Cera). From there, the air is brought up through the heating core where it is warmed up and passed over your contents.
Once vapor has formed in the bowl, it must squeeze out through one of the four slits at the top of the bowl made by the mouthpiece fitting onto the cartridge. From there it has to make two right-turns into one of the four holes in the bottom of the mouthpiece. At this point, most particles and debris have been trapped and left behind. After the vapor makes its way into the mouthpiece, it must make its final right turn up through the airway and out of the unit.
A Conduction & Convection Vaporizer All-In-One
The ceramic heating system in the Essential Oil Cartridge is the most valuable proprietary technology TET has built for the Cera. The design is based around a heating element that sits in the middle of four ceramic rings that are stacked on top of one another. These four rings are then topped by one rectangle ceramic plate, which you can see by looking down the cartridge. The ceramic plates look and work like a sponge, soaking up your concentrate and then evaporating it when the heater is engaged causing the porous ceramic to become hot.
The Cera is therefore, more like a conduction vape when utilizing the Essential Oils Cartridge. However, the temperature at which the cartridge operates is what we believe to be the optimal temperature for vaporization of concentrates. In our experience, most portable vaporizers that are supposed to be “vaporizing” concentrates are getting the oil far too hot to be considered “vaporizers”. There is a noticeable difference when using the Cera. All flavinoids and terpinoids are kept in tact, and the vapor is smooth and easy to inhale every time.
The Loose Leaf Cartridge, on the other hand, utilizes a ceramic bowl with twelve small holes in the base that allow air to pass through the bowl and over your herb; making it a convection stylecartridge. However, using this cartridge definitely requires more battery power and tends to make the body very hot after a few minutes of continuous use. We will touch on this again towards the end of the review.
When using the Essential Oils Cartridge:
Overall, the Cera is a very easy unit to use despite it’s short-lived learning period. Once you understand how to use the unit as it was designed, you will fall in love. However, there is no doubt the dry herb cartridge is a bit more difficult to master than the essential oils.
- Simply load the desired amount of essential oil into the chamber with a tool. We have found that the Cera works best with larger amount of oil at a time (we recommend at least a pea sized dab ~0.25-0.5). The easiest way to load the Cera is to either drop more stable concentrates directly into the cartridge, or heat up your pea sized dab of less stable concentrate on the end of a dab tool causing it to drip off and into the cartridge. We hold a lighter up to the dab tool about an inch and a half away from the dab until it slides off into the cartridge.
- The gaps on either side of the middle ceramic plate allow oils to seep into the holding chamber of the cartridge until they are soaked up and vaporized by the ceramic plates. This allows for longer periods in between packs, but it is recommended that no more than .5 be added at once. If your concentrates are not seeping down into the heating element, hold the switch for 10-15 seconds to heat up the cartridge while holding the unit upright. If the concentrate is still not dripping down onto the ceramic element, take a hot dabber and pack the wax down being careful not to poke the ceramic plate tool; this should do the trick.
- The Essential Oils cartridge is very simple to use once you have it loaded, all you have to do is hold the button down and inhale. A slow steady inhale works best, and larger clouds of vapor can be attained when you hit it vertically rather than horizontally (gravity…Duh). Sometimes you will hear your oil bubbling or spitting while vaporizing. Do not worry, this is normal. After a few puffs you should really be getting some heavy vapor hits. Once the ceramic plates are heated up, the Cera produces clouds of smooth vapor with no effort at all; I never cough when using the Cera. Lastly, it is not necessary to keep the heater engaged in between hits due to the heat retention of the ceramic plates.
When using the Loose Leaf Cartridge:
The trick is to get the heating element preheated, grind your herbs finely and pack your herb tightly in the bowl (known as ‘advanced technique’ in the Thermovape Forum).
- Start by preheating your Cera (unpacked) for 20 to 30 seconds until you see the heating element begin to glow through the holes in the bottom of the bowl. At this point, pack your finely ground herb into the bowl all the way to the rim and fit the mouthpiece and cap back on.
- During the first draw you will really be able to taste the herb, but no heavy vapor will be produced. Continue to hold the heater while inhaling deeply at a slow to medium pace. After about 30 more seconds of this process, you should be able to see a fairly heavy vapor upon exhale. If you are not, it is because you are probably letting the bowl cool down too much between hits.
- Since the bowl is so small (done intentionally) some users with iron lungs are able to fully vape the usable contents off their herb in a long draw or two. I personally like this about the Cera because your herb goes much further this way. One normal snap in the Toro can provide for a full medicating session with the Cera. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much you can get off one small bowl.
But My Fingers Hurt…Anybody Else’s Fingers Hurt?
Obviously, we would like the design of the Cera to be changed a bit. It’s a little too heavy (the stainless steel model at least) to carry around in your pocket comfortably. And when you do put the Cera in your pocket, it looks like you are extremely excited to see someone…For this, we unfortunately have to downgrade the Cera’s discreteness as well as portability. Although it may be perfect for taking with you to a friend’s house or in the car on a road trip, you just can’t use the Cera in public without drawing tons of attention to yourself. However, if you can convince your girlfriend, wife, sister or whoever you’re with to keep it in her purse while you are out and about, you’re all set.
The power button is also difficult to press for a long periods of time. I would like to see an upgrade to the switch so you only are required to press it in once to turn it on, and again to turn it off. For older patients with fragile or painful joints, we can see this being an issue. Even our fingers began to hurt after holding it in for long periods at a time. In addition, there is no comfortable way to use the unit with one hand. You are forced to use one hand to hold the Cera while you use the other to press the power button.
“Although it may be perfect for taking with you to a friend’s house or in the car on a road trip, you just can’t use the Cera in public without drawing tons of attention to yourself.”
Additionally, the mouthpiece and body of the Cera get far too hot when vaporizing dry herb. After about one solid minute of constant use, the body of the Cera is too hot to even touch and we found ourselves actually burning our lips. TET sent us a Top Thermal Cap, which helped a bit, but we just like to turn the Cera upside down and stick it in the bong when we are using the dry herb attachment. We have not experienced any of the same problems when using the Essential-Oils cartridge.
Also, don’t forget to wipe the bottom of the mouthpiece clean before switching to Loose Leaf from your Essential Oils cartridge. Some concentrates are pulled to the top of the bowl during use and will get stuck to the bottom of the mouthpiece. If you do not clean the mouthpiece before using your Loose Leaf cartridge, herb will get stuck to the mouthpiece and may melt down into your heating element when you switch back to essential oils. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that can’t be good for the cartridge. The good news is that the unit is incredibly easy to clean, and most clean up jobs only require a wet paper towel. Isopropyl alcohol and q-tips are useful for more detailed cleaning and should remove any tough residue on the dry herb cartridge.
The only other thing that I would like to see from the Cera is possibly some indication of battery level, and a light indicating when the heater is on. Halfway through a session, vapor clouds will gradually diminish with no warning. A battery indication light would give the user some idea of whether the unit is on and how much juice they are working with.
The Cera Is A Long-Term Investment Well Worth Its Price
The stainless steel Cera retails for $249.99 on the Thermo Essence website, and you have your choice between the Botanical, Essential-Oil (waxes & concentrates), or E-Liquid models. The unit comes with whatever heating core you choose and one thermal cap sleeve for the mouthpiece. The battery ($24.99) and Tenergy Home Charging Kit ($19.99) are sold separately along with some other accessories such as a car adapter or a replacement ceramic mouthpiece. If you wish to purchase an E-liquid or Essential Oil cartridge, each one costs an additional $100 for stainless steel model. The total comes to around $400 by the time you are done adding accessories and one additional cartridge of choice.
If you go with the titanium unit, the base price is $499.99 with each additional cartridge (also made from titanium, even the loose leaf cartridge) costing $199.99. After adding accessories and one additional cartridge to the titanium model, you are looking at a price tag close to $800.
Final thought: Although the price may be a bit steep, the fact of the matter is that this is a long term investment. I have no problem investing in a high quality product that is going to provide a guaranteed return like the Cera, especially since it is made in America.
Thermo Essence Technologies (Thermovape) is a California based vaporizer company that manufactures 100% American made, medical grade portable vaporizers. In fact, each part that they use is FDA approvedFounded in May of 2010, Thermovape is …