It's a western pacific crop that's typically ground up and taken orally as a sedative. Folks throughout Polynesia, Hawaii, Vanuatu, and Melanesia have been using it for years. So, when the fine folks at ZEUSoffered to send me a badass vaporizer kit with a vial of Kava Kava wax included, I was like: um, yes, I can smoke some Polynesian sedatives. I did just that and documented the experience. Here's what happened.
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As a former(-ish) smoker, I really like the act of vaping. It'll never come close to the ungodly and wonderful feeling of a nice post-coital cigarette, but a vaporizer won't annihilate my lungs. Despite the minimalistic picture, my ZEUS kit came with everything I needed for a good time: extra atomizers, a switchable chamber for e-liquid, a charger, extra batteries, and an array of mouthpieces.
Using what looked like a torture device confiscated from a North Korean prison, I put a little more than a teaspoon of the Kava Kava wax onto the tip of the tool. Just the tip, just to see how it felt.
Initial thought: Wow! This looks and smells like earwax. It's actually pretty easy to make this stuff and you do it by way of the same process you'd make pot wax...which, uh, you shouldn't do because it's illegal?
Soak the Kava Kava in isopropyl alcohol, let it sit, and bake off the excess. It's a thick, pure concentrate and users have reported feeling effects similar to benzos or weed—minus the paranoia and urge to listen to Animal Collective.
I probably put a little too much of the herbal concentrate into the heating coil in the center chamber. You really only need a pinch of it, but I slathered that crap on like barbecue sauce. These vaporizer guys actually make it remarkably easy—add the goop, press a button, wait for it to heat up, and inhale.
I did a lot of research on the taste and effects of this stuff and wasn't pumped on smoking it. People reported a flavor similar to crack and PCP. I couldn't compare, but it did indeed taste highly-chemical and illegal—like burnt plastic. It smelled better than it tasted and, if you remember, it smelled like earwax.
A pleasant, sleepy, relaxed wave crashed into my skull after the second hit and settled right into the center of my brain. Basically, it felt the exact opposite of how it tasted. My brain felt numb—but not stupid—and my body relaxed, but not sluggish. It was as if I'd just popped a Klonopin or breathed in whatever the hell Dennis Hopper was doing in Blue Velvet.
Regardless of the fact that vaporizers allow you to take bigger, deeper hits, the effects of the Kava Kava didn't last long, maybe 30 minutes at most. It was a wild ride in the sense a hot bath is a wild ride. Definitely pleasant, definitely relaxing, and definitely not illegal. When I was done with the wax, I switched out the chambers, dropped in some e-liquid, and took my body to Camp Nicotine—right off the Nicotine Valley, USA. Man, legal drugs rock.
Jeremy Glass is the Vice editor for Supercompressor and is shocked that Lethal Weapon 3 is the only movie in the Lethal Weapon franchise on HBO GO.