I envisioned puffing away (like in the "old" days) at the nearest hipster coffee house, free from the hassle of being told to get up out of a comfy chair while being forced to abandon my laptop temporarily.
Soon after daydreaming about this reclaimed freedom, I purchased an ego-style vaporizer and ordered some PG-free e-liquid from Johnson Creek (a great company...more about them in a future post). The initial results were better than I had expected, and other than a sometimes dry throat, the VG e-liquid from Johnson Creek proved to be quite flavorful and enjoyable, and more importantly, less harsh on the throat than its PG-based cousin. In an attempt to tackle the dry throat issue, I decided to try a different approach by not inhaling in the exact same way as I would an analog cigarette.
This proved to be a somewhat successful technique. Though it did not eliminate the issue completely, it did help significantly. As a vocalist who sings sometimes for hours at a time, avoiding any harshness is of paramount importance.
With this new-found technique in mind, I decided to give the Ploom vaporizer (I had tried the Model One in the past) another chance, because even though I am quite pleased with my new found love of Johnson Creek Smoke Juice, I still have a deep craving for the taste of actual tobacco. Instead of PG and VG-based e-liquids, The Ploom Model Two is a tobacco vaporizer that heats pods filled with actual tobacco. (note: There is some PG in the pods, but in a much lesser quantity/percentage than that of an e-cig) On the company site, there is a brief definition of their tobacco-filled pods:
Ploom pods are single-serving tobacco capsules used in the Ploom modelTwo. They are filled with the highest quality ingredients including whole leaf tobacco, botanicals and all-natural flavors. Ploom pods are made from anodized, food-grade aluminum. Pods can be recycled.
My first experience with Plooming was with the Ploom Model One. Much like my first experience with the e-cigarette, my initial attempts at Plooming were not successful. The vapor from the tobacco-filled pods was just too harsh for someone who was used to smoking (double) filtered cigarettes. The first inhale brought on enough of an undesirable reaction (ie., big cough) that I decided to return it and get my money back.
That was then; this is now.
About 2 1/2 weeks ago my Ploom Model Two arrived in the mail, along with five "packs" of flavored pods. I was skeptical, but willing to be open-minded. The first thing that I did was to abandon this new-found technique of not inhaling (directly) like a cigarette by well, inhaling it like an ultra-light, double-filtered combustible cigarette. Big mistake! Once again, I coughed and swore to never try it again. It sat there in its box for a few days before I decided to give it one more try. I do like the taste of real tobacco, after all.
This time was going to be different I told myself, and surprisingly, it was.
I dropped in a honey and cognac flavored "Gold" pod into the Ploom, let it heat up, and then took a very slight inhale (a real challenge, but worth getting used to) to counteract the fact that there is little to no resistance in the draw. I held the vapor it in my mouth for a few seconds before inhaling, and proceeded to experience the finest tobacco vapor that I had ever experienced. To say that I was surprised would be an understatement. There was another surprising side-effect: no real dry mouth or throat the day after vaping with the Ploom Model Two, even though the pods are not 100% PG-free. My guess is that it has something to do with the balancing effects of vaping actual tobacco.
Apart from the Gold pods that I received in my starter package, there were four other flavors to try. My favorites, from one to five are in this order:
1) Gold- Hints of Honey and Cognac (yum!)
2) Jaybird-Smooth Tobacco Flavor (quite tasty)
3) Potrero- Rich, Full Tobacco Flavor (a bit strong at first, but quite good once past the learning curve on not inhaling too deeply or directly)
4) Kick Ass Mint- (Powerful and tasty in a good way, even for someone who is unaccustomed to menthol smoking)
5) Rocket- Hot Cinnamon and Mint (Ditto, as in #4)
The flavor is intense and satisfying, and eh hem....better than an e-cigarette...and pretty close to being as satisfying (or better, albeit in a different way) as an actual cigarette! Now I realize that taste is subjective, and I am no way implying that the Ploom is going to be the "better" alternative to smoking for everyone, only that it may be for some. I am simply stating my own personal opinion. The more options, the better.
I have only a few complaints:
1) The pods are quite pricey.
2) The oven gets a bit too hot at times, causing the vapor to be a bit harsh if left on too long. I found that his can be alleviated by heating up the pod via the initial 30 second heat up time, taking a few puffs, then turning the "oven" off, then turning it on again intermittently (ie., as needed to suit your preferences) until the pod loses its flavor.
3) The battery charge could last longer, but if turned on and off (as mentioned in complaint #2), the life of the battery can be extended in-between charges.
4) It only comes with one USB charger. ( ...a small inconvenience).
Complaints aside, I am coming to find but the Ploom Model Two is a lot closer (than any other cigarette alternative) to what I have been looking for all along. I realized this the other night when I was having some red wine (this is when I tend to crave a smoke the most) and without thinking about it, I reached out for the Ploom instead of a cigarette (or an e-cigarette). Given the three choices in front of me, it felt natural to vape real tobacco, and the added flavors available only add to the overall experience.
There's just something about real tobacco and its associated alkaloids (all of which can now be lowered or raised in order to achieve specific and various targeted effects... a discussion for the future that is already taking place amongst some in the tobacco industry). With the use of real tobacco, there exists a myriad of possibilities in the "smokeless" world. For the first time, I am coming quite close to becoming a "non-smoker"...eh hem...but, not in spirit! Ok, let me rephrase that: A smoker without the tar:-)
I think that they may be unto something here.