Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Ploom modelTwo, Getting Reacquainted With the Concept of Tobacco Vapor

About a month and a half ago, I was in my hometown of Chicago for a visit. While I was taking a walk around my old neighborhood, I couldn't help but notice the number of tobacco shops and e-cigarette storefronts that had popped up around the area. Out of curiosity and a willingness to give the novel and ever evolving e-cigarette a second try (my first experience with a Propylene Glycol based e-cigarette was not so pleasant), I set out on a hunt for an e-cigarette that might suit my somewhat sensitive palate.

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" hem...but, not in spirit! Ok, let me rephrase that: A smoker without the tar:-)

I think that they may be unto something here.


  1. I know nothing about this 'Ploom' of which you speak, but it does sound interesting. I will have to do some Googling!

    I use an e-cig sometimes (EGO-CE4), although I find it at best a poor relative to the real thing (I smoke RYO without filters). I quite like the different flavours available though. Coffee, chocolate, menthol etc. However, this is all becoming rather academic with the moves from Tobacco Control. Because it LOOKS like smoking, so of course, it must be banned. I envision sometime in the near future a time when it will be easier to access tobacco cigarettes than it will be to get hold of e-cigs, Plooms or whatever. And you certainly won't be able to smoke / vape e-cigs or whatever anywhere that smoking is banned, i.e. everywhere. Because Tobacco Control don't like them. And they have shitloads of money to hose at anything they don't like. And money talks.

    Sad, but true. How I despise those unctuously self-righteous prigs with their warped, holier-than-thou morality that they seek to impose on all and sundry...

    1. Hi Nisakiman,

      Let me know if you find out anything interesting after googling the Ploom. I rather like mine now...probably due largely to the fact that it uses actual tobacco. I can taste the difference. I just wish that their pods were a bit cheaper.

      Tobacco "Control" is starting to look a lot more like "We Don't Like It If You Put Anything In Your Mouth" (unless we're selling it) Control. The public is beginning to catch on and all of the money in the world can't change that. Maybe there's hope:-)

  2. Interestingly, Ploom is financed by Japan Tobacco company and Ploom's world headquarters are in ...

    San Francisco, smoke-hating capital of the United States.

    More at their website:

    One would not expect a huge international tobacco company to make an investment in an exciting new start-up, then headquarter it in San Francisco.

    In fact, the two inventors were from Stanford, Palo Alto, California, just 30 miles from San Francisco to the south.

    1. It is ironic that they are based in San Fran. It is quite a beautiful place after all:-)

  3. Hi Jredheadgirl,
    I'm just learning about this Ploom device. Your post is about 5month old now, care to give your impressions/feelings about it after that period of time?
    Still using it? (so it seems from your more recent posts)
    Still happy about it?
    The lack of proper reviews on line makes me hesitant to take the plunge
    Thanks a lot in advance.


    1. Hi Berthe,

      Thanks for stopping by. Let me just start by saying that if it wasn't for the Ploom modelTwo I'd still be smoking; and the thing is, that I wasn't really trying to quit smoking. I have always been interested in harm reduction however, enter my interest in vapor.

      The Ploom is my favorite vapor product so far. I do have a Vea (an ego-ish e-cig) that I use with the 1.8 ohm clearomizer that goes with it and I love it (a close 2nd). I have been using the Vea with Velvet Could e-juice (and sometimes w/Johnson Creek's all VG juice), which I also love.

      But at the end of the day, my fav is still the Ploom modelTwo. It's that tobacco flavor, along with the added flavors, that can't be beat. I should probably mention (if I haven't already above) that I vape differently as compared to how I used to smoke by not inhaling directly (at first). I have found this method to be quite satisfying, as the flavor is quite intense.

      One downfall for me is the price of the pods: at $9 a pack (for 12 pods), I feel that it's a bit expensive. The Ploom pods have become my special nightly treat, as opposed to an "all day" vape as a result. However, being as there is no burning/combustion involved, I have found that one pod can last quite a bit longer than that of a traditional cigarette. The other pitfall is that the battery drains quite fast due to the constant heat source using up more energy than a regular e-cig.. For that reason I carry a few of them with me if I am going out on the town. I'm sure that as time goes on the technology of the battery will improve.

      With all of that said, if after trying various e-cigs and juices, you still feel like something is missing, I would say that it would be worth it to give the Ploom modelTwo a try. If you then find out that you REALLY like it as I do, then just order a couple extra to carry around with you. There really is nothing else like it so far. It's the reason why I no longer smoke traditional cigarettes.

      Let me know what you think if you decide to get one.


  4. Thanks a lot for your very prompt reply.
    It's funny because I too use the Vea and the JC juices which I like but my concern is I find it contradictory in a way, that trying to go away from smoking I find myself vaping a lot to compensate.
    The thing is now, I have no interest in smoking anymore, I still do once or twice a day because the "nic fix" really has no comparison but I hate the taste,smell etc while I like my juice taste.
    That's why I'm very interested in this Ploom as I see it could replace those 1-2 cigs I'm still stuck on.
    I know the pods are really expensive but I'm wondering could we re-use the pods with regular RYO tobacco?
    I saw a video where they say with some VG you can use "medicinal herbs" (well we all know what that means) in the pod so why not regular tobacco? that way it would be great cost wise and taste wise, don't you think?

    1. "That's why I'm very interested in this Ploom as I see it could replace those 1-2 cigs I'm still stuck on."

      That's exactly where I was. If you're anything like me, then the Ploom pods might be perfect for you. If you're a light smoker to begin with then it ends up not really being all that expensive. If you're a heavy smoker, then obviously it could get quite pricey.

    2. "I know the pods are really expensive but I'm wondering could we re-use the pods with regular RYO tobacco? "

      I've tried that before and tasted like crap! Ploom does have a pipe tobacco tin called Blend X that's meant for vaping and it is quite tasty (though not quite as tasty as the pods).I also vape that on occasion when I'm trying to ration out my pods over time. Blend X is meant to be used with the PAX vaporizer, but theoretically it can be used with any pen-style vaporizer just the same. I intend to get one of those eventually, but I don't have the spare $$ to fork over $250 at the moment.

  5. I just join their mailing list.. I'll see if they send any offer (just in case)

    Yeah the PAX is what brought me over to ploom but the price is prohibitive
    Hopefully if this trend picks up, we can see better models/ options on the market.

    I guess I will order the model two in a while, and then I'll give some feedback

    Thanks again for your help and advice and your website!

    1. You're welcome. I look forward to hearing back on your experience with the Ploom pods:-)

  6. According to their site the pids are "single serving", which I presume means that once you start vaping a pod you must finish it. So unlike e-cigs you can't just take 2-3 hits and turn it off and back on again later. Is this correct?

    1. You can turn of the modelTwo after a few puffs and resume later. A little bit goes a long way and the flavor will still be there if you turn it off after a quick (few) puffs:-)

    2. Pardon me....What I meant was that the flavor will still be there if/when you heat the pod the 2nd time...

    3. Thanks!! Can it be used multiple times so, or is two times the limit before the pod starts losing flavour? If so, how many puffs do you think you get per pod?(just a guestimate)

    4. I suppose that it all depends on how often you draw and how many times you turn it on/off. You will drain the battery a bit each time you turn it back on again. I tend to get about 10-15 minutes of vaping from one pod. Coincidentally, I noticed when I was vaping with my PAX yesterday, that I tend to draw/puff around every 25 seconds...So do the math according to how often you tend to puff. It's a whole other world from e-cigs and traditional cigs though and you may find that your "smoking" behavior changes a bit like mine did. I don't inhale and I tend to savor each puff for the flavor.....more like a pipe..

  7. I just purchased the Ploom Model Two and some pods. I'm looking forward to trying this instead of vaping e liquids. Do you typically do little puffs and then inhale? How is the vapor quantity? Thanks.

    1. I don't inhale at all. Instead I approach it more like a pipe or a cigar (minus the combustion). If you approach it like a cigarette, you will (likely) not like it much on first approach. Of course, I am just speaking from personal experience. The pods have a robust flavor, and ironically, as someone who used to smoke and inhale ultra-light cigarettes, I find that the modelTwo surpasses the entire (cigarette) smoking experience in every way.

      I hope that you like it, and I hope that if you do, that you live outside of the U.S. because the modelTwo and its pods are soon to become unavailable here in the U.S.. From my limited understanding, it will become more available in Europe and in Asia.

      It's a great product with great potential if you have an open mind. I'd still be smoking if I had not stumbled upon it.

  8. I was wondering why the PaxLabs site no longer offered the hardware for sale anymore. I guess I'll have to stock up on some pods since I live in SoCal. Did you like the Pax that you can put tobacco into? I'll most likely buy the Pax 2 and the X blend that you mentioned earlier.

  9. Well, it appears as if your prediction came true sooner rather than later. I checked the Pax Labs site and it looks like they're no longer selling pods for the Model Two or even Blend X. It seems that they dropped the tobacco part of the business. Did you see that their new product coming out is called, 'Juul'? If you google Pax Juul, there's a design site that has pics and a little description.

    1. Yep. I have been visiting tobacconist shops a bit more frequently to learn about various pipe tobacco blends as a result of knowing that this day was coming.

      Do you have a link for the Juul site?

  10. I found the info on:

    They had a nice description of the Juul as well as some pics. Looking forward to trying this out when it becomes available. In the meantime I have my PAX 2 and the remaining Blend X raspberry. I'm going to try some of my pipe tobacco stash and moistening it with some vegetable glycerin.

    1. Interesting...Thanks!

      "The indicator light gently communicates battery life. Our patented technologies make a much more efficient, effective device, while our e-juice formula provides best-in-class vapor quality. JUUL has a smoother delivery and even better nicotine satisfaction. It regulates the temperature with real-time measurement to deliver the right amount of power with every puff, and Juul knows when the pod is empty so you don’t have to. JUUL’s sophisticated design takes care of every detail so the user can simply enjoy the experience: merely insert JUUL pod and draw. We researched the chemical differences between cigarettes and e-cigs and determined that by retaining 1 ingredient found in tobacco the nicotine effect an e-cig delivers is increased. Clinical studies with adult smokers comparing our formula with the typical e-cig formula and cigarettes showed JUUL’s blood nicotine is similar to cigarettes, with superior satisfaction to typical e-cigs. JUUL is the 1st e-cig to deliver nicotine like a cigarette..."

      It uses pods? Hmm....Well, if it tastes as good at the modelTwo pods do/did, then I am certain that I will become a fan. We'll see.

      I'm still wanting to purchase a PAX 2...

      Let me know how the VG added to pipe tobacco experiment works out. I have found that some aromatics tend to already be quite moist by default (depending on the brand), but I wonder if adding a bit of VG may help. I have tried a few on the cheap, some are good and some not so much for vaping. I did manage to find a Virginia blend that is almost identical to the original Blend X and a peach flavored pipe tobacco that is quite good after dinner (..almost as good as a pod). Ah, but those pods are still the tastiest in my humble opinion.