Werner Pieper in conversation with the vaporizer pioneer Frank Fuchs
The herb remains visible: the eye inhales!
Frank, can you somehow fix when ‘that all’ started?
In the beginning, i. in the late ’60s was my migraine. Although I came from the countryside but had spent a year in England as a student, solving my pain problems, cannabis, was somewhat exotic to my environment, but helpful to me.
You came to Heidelberg in 1969. I remember some of your creative craftwork from that time.
Before I studied Sinology in Würzburg, there was a time when I was actually unemployed and living in conscientious objectors in a clinic. There were these tapered urine bottles made of plastic, which was easily in hookahs for GIs, of which there were many in HD, then rebuild.
After completing my studies, I did a variety of activities – for example, I worked for for the company of my father in sales, as well as in the 70s as a supplier of printing units of the Green Force. By the way, I’ve been busy designing new inhalers over and over again.
During the ECBS Congress 1996 in Heidelberg, a momentous encounter with Eagle Bill took place.
Eagle Bill, the emigrant American from Holland, built his chunky vaporizer, which was a monster as a device, but immediately convincing in its effect. At that time, I was already experimenting with aromatherapy and this new technical possibility of vaporizing, the evaporation of herbal ingredients without the production of smoke, so bypassing a combustion process, that was immediately apparent to me. First and foremost, we wanted to optimize Eagle Bill’s device for our purposes; not just a pure stoner party gag machine.
With the inhalation of other medicinal herbs we had already made best experiences. In Ayurveda, smoking is often used to reduce symptoms. According to current research (New Scientist, autumn 2001) this is usually very toxic due to incense sticks and smoked shells. So had an exact temperature adjustment for vaporization of active ingredients with different boiling points ago.
A funny side effect of the vaporizer is that e.g. The crumbled cannabis after inhaling enjoyment looks exactly the same as before – except that it no longer contains an illegal THC. This may result in some house searches to violent confusion on the official side. But to be sure to really extract all contained substances, it is advisable to grind the material small, after it no longer contains any flavors and barely has taste. The aromatics usually boil at lower temperatures than the active ingredients.
Of course you can extract pure nicotine from tobacco with the AroMed, but that seems to me as nonsense as nicotine patches. Smokers experience a slightly different inhalation effect. For lack of combustion products, the first buzz does not set. The active ingredients unfold as in smoking only after one to five minutes their full effect. At first the smoker feels a slight monoxide poisoning at best, and tobacco, of course, also the nicotine poisoning. But then the effect is much more pleasant.
So what made you decide to build such a part yourself?
A friend of mine was suffering from bone cancer and was suffering from severe pain. The consequences of chemotherapy, i. already badly marked by constant nausea and utter loss of appetite, only sporadic joints helped him to relieve, ie. they supported his appetite, etc. But then he had to remove a lung and smoking was no longer up for debate. The vaporizer came just right. The friend is no longer with us, but instead of a predicted survival of one year we could spend another five years together.
Did you do it all on your own?
Alone, I would hardly have gotten it on the line. Fortunately, some friends were infected by the idea of building a handy vaporizer. Then the story developed a certain momentum: Friends saw (and tested) our first homemade devices for home use. Soon, potential users (= “patients”) were added and finally some members of the ACM e.V. were interested in this health-protecting type of inhalation, so that we developed the device further and then suddenly produced correct quantities. Our first devices, the legendary “aromizers”, were still just tinkering.
The successor series of the ‘AroMed’ is still assembled and tested by the same crew. At first everything was done by Bobo, Petra and David in the two pools of a former indoor spa, today we work mostly in our own workshop. And without the cooperation of my dear wife Anne, the whole thing could never have reached such proportions.
And then suddenly the part was getting bigger and bigger …
Apart from the feedback of the close circle of friends, the support of the Berlin SEKIS group and Werner Sack was an incentive from the very beginning. But if Ede UDOPEA Böhme did not mean then, “Guys, you have something, I’d like to offer this to my customers”, it would hardly have come to mass production.
We do not produce any devices for a distant market, but we develop things for ourselves, in which we then let our fellow human beings participate. While others may market everything under the ‘Wellness’ label, we are still concerned with our own wellbeing.
The AroMed vaporizer is a universal inhaler and is suitable for inhalation of all herbal active ingredients and remedies, but in this case, the stoners were once again the fastest to recognize the benefits of this new form of inhalation. So UDOPEA has taken over the sales for the corresponding scene. And the colleagues of Rumpelstiltskin show a funny online movie presentation of our device.
In general, the eye also inhales in our AroMed: in the glass herb holder, the smokeless extraction process can be followed live.
You say the device is not just for cannabis use?
This is an advantage of our vaporizer over other devices: with the AroMed, the temperature at which certain herbal active ingredients boil can be precisely adjusted. It is really a health device, although most stoners usually (or can not) spend so much money on their health.
Our vaporizer can be filled with herbs of your own choice or state of mind. One dose is five to ten times more likely to inhale (inhale) than smoking. The effect is correspondingly gentler and more controllable. Since our heat source is mounted above the herb holder, you can leave the device turned on, if you just do not want to inhale. Because an extraction of the active ingredients only happens when inhaled actively.
Today’s vaporizers work on different principles. Something more effective than our hot air method but we have not yet come up. So the yield is simply the biggest.
One point makes me particularly hope that the device is increasingly used by the real needy: Various health insurance companies have now taken in case-by-case tests zigmal the cost of our AroMed vaporizer. Experience has shown that in many cases, the use of conventional chemo drugs reduces medication consumption by regular use of AroMed. In the case of pneumoconiosis and asthma patients, the cortisone dose required daily could be reduced by approximately one third by vaporizer inhalation of selected herbal mixtures. Even severe menstrual cramps can be relieved within minutes by inhaling clary sage. When taken as tea, this drug usually helps only weakly and that only after hours.
In Cuba, medical professionals use our device for similar indications because they have little access to pharmaceuticals. Equipment set up in outpatient clinics is used alternately by many patients with herbs grown at home.
Vaporizers have already been tested for their effects in the USA. What did these tests reveal?
In the study of MAPS, the academic psychedelic researchers, vaporizers are fundamentally great. It is only criticized that in devices such as ours a little drug vapor in the water filter, the last particulate matter and dusts from the inhaled air to hold back, condenses. This water, which should always be renewed daily, but can still drink with all the accumulated active ingredients as a delicious cold extract. The active ingredients in most vaporizers have little opportunity to adhere to the inhalation process anywhere as a condensate. However, if the vapor is collected in large bags and stored, so to speak, all the active ingredient condenses after a few minutes and settles on the bag walls.
Some potential consumers mock about the price.
But only people who have no idea about the development costs of electronic devices. Such a development costs! And then the whole official procedure of the patent application and TÜV-approvals. I had no idea what all the accompanying phenomena might be. Since it is comparatively easy, if one operates a head shop or a magazine.
The price is also relative, considering that up to 95% of the active ingredients in the lungs and thus come to work. With bongs or glowing sticks, up to 60% of the active ingredients go unused and fizzle out. What a waste! With regular inhalation that pays off. Apart from that, the AroMed among the good vaporizers is also the cheapest.
The degree of popularity of vaporizing is soaring. Your phyto-inhalation book certainly contributed to that.
In fact, the book was a difficult birth, but it was necessary to document the versatility of uses not only in medicine. Of course, it is a pleasure that the plant (Schuldes / Roscher: Phyto-Inhalation, The Green Branch 218) has received the Cannabis Media Product Award at CannaBusiness. Well, actually, the price neither the authors, nor the publisher received, but UDOPEA, because the book at CannaBusiness at their booth issued. But maybe there will soon be an award to the authors.
Now five years have passed. How have your goals changed?
In the past year we started to manufacture not only equipment for direct inhalation, but also for the aromatization of large and small rooms.
The beginning of the Ba-Wü-Landesgartenschau 2000 was an art project in the pedestrian zone in Singen: the pedestrian zone was scented with fiber hemp and eyebright from a large container. In the meantime, after the ‘scenting’ of the large indoor swimming pool of the Toskana Therme in Bad Sulza, I was selected as a fragrance artist. Next, Howard Marks invited me to the final event of his big England tour in 2001 in the huge ocean nightclub in London, where he was to rehearse the premises with hemp fragrances.
So far, we have refrained from developing a truly stylish, health-compatible device for today’s market. Somehow, our ambition has been to market a ‘niche product’. And it’s a satisfying feeling to craft such a groundbreaking device together with friends by hand.
Now there are three more vaporizers for different purposes. This gives us hope that we will be able to stop self-production at some point and be able to pursue our very idea of a ‘good life’. With the Aromat we have already created another pillar and soon we will present another product: an extremely economical power heating system.
One last word?
Thanks to all who supported us so far on our journey and thanks also to Christian Morgenstern for his company hymn:
“Inspired by Korf’s smell sonata,
friends start an ‘aromatics’.
A room in which, in short,
not swallowed, but smelled.
To kick against small coins
balsamic trumpets from the wall,
the guests in blown noses,
what you want, easy and funny blow. “