Part disheveled (and reluctant) businessman, part eccentric inventor, part Amsterdam hippy with a big heart; that’s Evert “De Verdamper”. I never caught his surname, and since everyone knows him as Evert De Verdamper (The Vaporizer), I don’t suppose it’s that important.
What is important though is that he developed the first vaporizer that didn’t rely on a re-purposed hot air paint stripper, having seen this prototype operated by it’s legendary Amsterdam-based American inventor Eagle Bill and judged it unwieldy – and improvable.
We meet up in Evert’s home base when he’s in Amsterdam, the Any Day coffeeshop . Upstairs, half a dozen of his beautiful glass vaporizers are warmed up and ready for action. He crumbles a large bud into a bowl that then sits snugly under a glass covered heating element, which will deliver a perfect 180-190 degrees C. airstream through the weed when the Verdamper is sucked on.
Hand Crafted Roller of a Vape
Being entirely glass and cooled by a triple-chambered water bowl (preventing sucking up water through the inhalation tube), the weed vapor is both flavorsome and smooth. This, plus the handcrafted ‘chemistry lab’ look of the Verdamper, is what has led it to be nicknamed the ‘Rolls Royce of vaporizers’.
“I don’t think mine was first on market – the first I saw was Eagle Bill’s which I think didn’t work. I came out with something similar but added a heating element, so you could set the right temperature,” says Evert. “Bill’s technique was to turn on and turn off the hot air source; it had a very small head so anyone around the machine was getting high too. The heating gun had created problems for medical users, especially when travelling.
Tech ‘stolen’ from the Ancients
“I’d smoked a lot of pure pipes before seeing Bill’s set up, but I consider the real inventors were the ancients who used hot coals in their pipes, in Afghanistan and places like that, which was a form of vaporization. (Verdamper technology) is all stolen: the ‘three holes system’ is from Afghanistan, as is the three chamber cooling bowl.”
The first model he made, featuring a square jar with a cork, was in 1995. He gave a second one to Bill, and the two of them started doing small demos around Amsterdam. People interested in the medical uses of the Verdamper soon approached them. Evert quit his job in computing to begin his long (and at times, frustrating) association with the medical marijuana community.
In the early 2000s, he was introduced at a cannabis fair to a guy from a Czech glass making company, Vitrum, who said he’d like to start making an improved version for the market.
High-grade glassblowing is a traditional craft in Prague, and Vitrum’s workshop was set up about 11 years ago. They produce mainly laboratory glass items but the products for De Verdamper demands the same technology – special hard, heat and chemical resistant glass (Simax = type 3.3) with low expansion.
Vitrum makes all the components, using tubes and standards joints. The big flasks must be produced by the classical glass technology, that is: hand blown into the moulds.
Losing Money by Doing Good
Evert complains about his treatment from the medi-weed community. “It’s costing me a lot of money. This machine costs 410 Euros and they don’t have money. I don’t earn much from them: being hand made, all the components are very expensive. Then add distribution and taxes…”
“I’ve been dealing with people with no work and no support. And they screw me. I take the vapes to sick people, maybe 100 kms away. I give them explanations, marijuana – sometimes very good hash – because they’re in pain. I sit there for 2-3 hours because I smoke with them – and I can’t charge for that, as I’m not a coffeeshop.
“Then after 2-3 weeks they say ‘oh, it didn’t work’ and I have to drive back and pick it up – all this for 35 Euros consultation. Why am I doing this for years? I’m a stupid guy for helping people! (laughs).
“Why is my Verdamper stupid? Its all hand made, so nothing is standardized. Everything has to be just right in order for it to work. Each batch of wires is slightly different (the heating coil is also hand made), so we have to try them out.”
“Most people think you have to burn your joint, but that is the most stupid thing. If you burn THC you get water, CO2 and NOx – much worse than THC between your ears! A joint is also ‘vaporizing’; not at the burning tip, which is shit, but the hot air drawn from that.”
“When you burn you don’t get a good high but a downer. Tobacco is very stupid. It brings you down, makes you ‘stoned’, so you have to smoke more to keep eyes open.”
Evert’s lack of business drive is cheerfully admitted. “At a fair, if there are many people who want to buy one, I don’t like it,” he says. “I have my marijuana, I get my drinks for free; I have a good life and a very good vaporizer.”
Evert estimates he sells a steady 600-800 of them a year. He visits many European hemp fairs – “Not for selling the machine but just to sample the marijuana people bring to me,” he says. “When you’re high you don’t think ‘Wow, 100 Euros!’ You think: ‘oh, that’s a lot of stupid paperwork – don’t buy this machine off me; buy a Volcano!”
“The more people want it the harder I have to work, the harder the glassblower has to work. There’s no machine to make it. People think it’s expensive but it isn’t. The glassblowers tell me I’m stupid as it’s too cheap.”
More Friend than Customer
“Frankly, Evert is our partner, but more a friend than a customer,” says Miroslav Šteflícek, Sales Manager for Vitrum. I know he does not ‘do’ business but is more a charity. He has a big support from us, much bigger than a standard customer, but I like him and I understand why he does it.
“We have been talking about that many times,” says Miroslav. “It should be possible to do good business with these items, which are authentic and the production is not easy, and to earn some money. But it is his philosophy and I do not want and cannot convince him to do a ‘real business,’” says Miroslav.
A Vape for Weed Lovers & Buyers
So the Verdamper is underpriced, but still not cheap. Who buys it? “Medical users, also people who like marijuana,” says Evert. “You get everything from it – the taste, the high, but you don’t burn. It is made from glass so it has no taste. If you make something from plastic such as the Volcano vape bag, you get old vapor that was in the bag, and that has a taste.”
It’s about taste, the experience of the product. “These are optimized by that machine of mine. It’s for lovers – and buyers – of weed; they tend to go for my product. If you try a weed, you know immediately what you have. Three puffs maximum, you know its effect.”
Bouncing out of Any Day coffeeshop, high as a kite in a very motivated, together kind of way – yes, much better than a tobacco joint – I can only agree.