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For those of you who’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, the Arizer Air (my review of the 2nd iteration here!) is one of the most popular portable vapes on the market today. With a glass vapor path, replaceable battery, and attractive price point, its no secret as to why the Air is a great choice of portable vape for so many people! Although the Air offers a great experience right out of the box, some people have created a line of custom made stems designed to improve efficiency and boost vapor output! Today I will be looking at three stems in particular; the PVHES Straight Turbo, the PVHES Vortex, and the Vortex Micro Bubbler Stem.
Prior to discussing the replacement stems, I feel like I should first talk about the stock Air stems a little bit. Made of borosilicate glass and a heat resistant mouthpiece, they’re quite small and portable, fitting nicely inside the Air’s included carrying case. Inside the bowls, there’s four small holes for vapor to pass through your bud from the heater and into your mouth without any screens. Although they’re highly portable, they do suffer the downside of getting hot while in operation, and sometimes I find the draw to be a little too tight for my liking.
With the attributes of the stock stems in mind in mind, I set out to test and compare the stems. Much like the stock Air stems, all three stems are made using durable borosilicate glass which is designed to handle the high temperatures of vaping with ease, and they fit perfectly in the Air (fitting just a little tighter than their stock counterparts). For all three stems, it is recommended that you let your Air continue warming up for 45 seconds after your unit reaches the desired temperature, as well as wait about 30 seconds in between hits. This is because the stems have a higher airflow and are therefore more taxing on the Air’s heating element (the bowls are also slightly bigger, but not by much). In my experience you definitely need to give the stems time to warm up, otherwise you won’t be getting an optimal level of vapor!
The first stem I plan to look at is the PVHES Straight Turbo. Measuring 4.5″ (11.5mm) in length, the Turbo is quite a bit longer than the stock stems (which measure 2.2″ (5.6cm) and 2.7″ (6.9mm) respectively). After filling the bowl and inserting it into my Air, I took a long and slow drag. The draw was quite loose and even with a filled bowl I still had an easy time taking puffs. Moreover, it has the benefit of staying cool at the tip, so my lips didn’t get hot even during an extended session. Finally, the Straight Turbo fits inside the Air’s included carrying case (it sticks out a little but is still portable!) which makes portability a tad easier.
Next up on our list is the PVHES Vortex which also measures 4.5″ in length. The Vortex stem uses their “Micro Channel Technology to improve airflow by 30% while still maintaining thick, dense vapor clouds.” The Vortex differs from the Turbo by having a single medium sized hole directly in the middle of the bowl, and it produces a vortex effect if you hit it just right.
Much like the PVHES Turbo, the Vortex fits nicely on top of my Air. After I took a few hits with the Vortex, I immediately took a liking to it. It has a very loose draw which makes taking big hits a breeze, and I definitely feel a small vortex being formed when I take a slow draw.
Furthermore, the Vortex’s length helps to cool the vapor somewhat, and I didn’t find that the tip of the mouthpiece heated up as much as the stock one which was a plus. Don’t expect the vapor to be as thick as what you’d see on a desktop machine, but its definitely a solid amount for a portable. In order to get the milkiest possible hits from the Vortex, I recommend that you take long slow draws.
The only downside I can think of is that the larger hole requires a screen and must be cleaned on a more frequent basis than the stock mouthpieces. Much like the Straight Turbo, the Vortex can fit inside the Air’s included carrying pouch.
The third and final stem on our list today is the Vortex Micro Bubbler, a relatively small bubbler designed to add some moisture to your vaping sessions. Normally I find that portables hit harsher than their desktop counterparts (mainly due to shorter air-paths), and so having a portable micro bubbler can help to smooth out your hits (especially in dry winter weather like we’re currently having on the East Coast)! You can also use this as a way to consume your daily dose of CBD e-liquids if you choose to.
Similar to the PVHES Vortex, the Micro Bubbler has a screen and a hole in the middle rather than four small holes.
After filling the bubbler halfway with water (from the top!), I found the vapor passing through it to be fairly smooth and tasty, although not as smooth as something like a Hydratube. I also noticed that it has two main downsides. Firstly, the bubbler itself is a little bulky (but still smaller than most portable bubblers), making it harder to bring with you on the go.
Secondly, I find the draw to be tight without any bud inside, and a full bowl requires a harder draw than usual which may be difficult for some medical marijuana patients to use. Similar to the PVHES Vortex, the Micro Bubbler also requires a screen for operation due to having a single large airhole, so you’ll need to clean it on a more frequent basis as well.
Overall, I found that the Vortex and Turbo stare quite good and some are definitely an improvement over the stock stems in certain areas. I didn’t enjoy the Vortex Micro Bubbler as much due to the tight draw it has. My favourite of the three was definitely the PVHES Vortex, as I found that I could get large and satisfying hits with a very light draw, and I definitely recommend giving it a try if your an Air user who is looking for light draws and thick vapor! To clean your stems, I suggest soaking them (along with the screens) in high proof grain alcohol and then rinsing them out with water. Another thing I recommend is to always use finely ground bud no matter which stem you choose. This is because fine grinds allow air to pass more evenly through your cannabis which results in a more consistent vape!