Eddie Villarreal is accustomed to the reaction his Polar Blast water pipe gets from first-time users.
“Everybody thinks the Polar Blast is a gimmick until they try it,” he says. “As soon as they take a draw, their eyes get big and they’re like, “Damn, that’s the smoothest hits I’ve ever taken!”
The Polar Blast, which features a dual-wall vacuum-insulated stainless-steel tumbler, looks nothing like an ordinary pipe. But that’s the real magic –- well not magic as much as innovation. Unlike ice molds and bongs containing ice catchers, which melt quickly, because of the extreme insulation in the Polar Blast tumbler, ice stays frozen for up to 24 hours. According to Villarreal, stainless steel also has advantages over glass in that it doesn’t sweat with condensation and is easy to clean.
The transparent plastic lid turns the tumbler into a water pipe. Villarreal designed it to not only help hold in the cold, but also to fit a high-quality glass bowl, stainless steel downstem, and a durable food-grade silicone nozzle. When filled with ice (and a little water), the Polar Blast chills the smoke to 29 degrees.
“When the smoke is cold, it makes it so much easier on your body and you can really taste the flavors,” Villarreal says. “I have asthma and it’s extremely hard for me to smoke without coughing. With the Polar Blast, you can take a full rip very smoothly because the smoke is so cold that it doesn’t burn your lungs and throat.”
The Polar Blast is a true homegrown product. Villarreal created this one-of-a-kind smoking device in his garage after losing the income from his job as an insurance broker. He had a side gig making custom-branded promotional products for local businesses, but that wasn’t going to give him and his family a level of security and comfort to which they were accustomed. A few months earlier, Villarreal had made himself an ice bong out of a Yeti tumbler by drilling holes in the lid and adding brass fittings. It was kind of a duct-tape version of what you see today. When a friend suggested he stop crying about losing his job and start selling his invention, the Polar Blast was born.
“I woke up the next day and just started going at it a million miles an hour,” Villarreal says. “I got some help to make a 3D model on the computer and bought a 3D printer to turn out prototypes of the lid.”
“I’m an extreme perfectionist, and when I do something, I want it to be done to my exacting standards,” Villarreal continues. “I sifted through over 4,000 manufacturers from around the world, talked to them directly, and dwindled it down to four top candidates. That’s when I discovered that McAllen, Texas, where I live, has a lot of industrial factories. I found an injection molding plant and introduced myself to them. When I told the director of operations my story, he was dumbfounded that it had all happened within one month.”
Perfecting the lid was key to the design but knowing that some consumers already have a favorite tumbler, Villarreal made the smart decision to offer the lid assembly separately.
“Having a lid that universally fits most other 20 oz tumblers is where we’ve really excelled,” Villarreal says. “Obviously, our tumbler is going to hold the ice the longest, and the all-inclusive Polar Blast is going to give you the best experience.”
The sky is the limit as far as designs are concerned. The Polar Blast is available in a variety of solid colors and limited-edition graphics, such as the popular unicorn (created by Villarreal himself), Texas camo, pride rainbow (with embedded glitter), the US Space Force logo and even a Bernie Blast featuring a very chilled out Bernie Sanders.
Calling on his background in promotional products, Villarreal says that for smoke shops and dispensaries, having their logo added to the Polar Blast is the ultimate marketing tool.
“We want the cup to by YOUR canvas,” he says, adding that custom designs have only a 6-piece minimum order. “We’re not egotistical, so we put the Polar Blast logo on the bottom of the cup.”
The Polar Blast is nearing 100,000 units in sales. And that is likely to climb higher with the release of the Incognito, an all-in-one, go anywhere version of the Polar Blast that includes a compartmentalized lid for all the parts and even a lighter. There’s also a built-in grinder and stash container that screws onto the bottom of the tumbler.
Villarreal launched the OG Polar Blast in 2018. Immediately there was a positive buzz. But it still had to pass the ultimate test.
“We come from a conservative Texas family and everybody was a little upset because I’d lost my job and now I was building bongs in a state where cannabis was illegal,” Villarreal says. “When I finally introduced it to my parents, and explained the science behind it, my dad just sat back and said, ‘Man, you’re a genius.’”
Villarreal credits his daughter for giving him the inspiration for the Incognito. She was in the workshop one day with her Snackeez cup that hold a drink with a snack bowl nested into the cup’s rim.
“I built this entire company with my kids next to me,” Villarreal says. “I’m proud that the Polar Blast is a family-run business and that it’s an American-made product.”
“I might move fast when I get an idea, but to be successful it takes grit, determination, perseverance and the support of a lot of good people,” he adds. “I’m going to be a little biased because it’s my product, but the Polar Blast is my favorite way to smoke.”