To say that you have several choices when shopping for a new vaporizer would be an enormous understatement. There are literally dozens of different devices available at any given time, and you’re not going to have the best possible experience unless you choose the right vaporizer for your needs. The most important aspect of that choice is picking the type of device that’s appropriate for the material you’re planning to use.
The three most popular types of small vaporizers for herbal concentrates are wax pens, dab pens and vape pens – and although the three types of devices may look similar on the surface, their pros and cons are actually very different from one another. The choice between vape pens vs. wax pens vs. dab pens isn’t quite as cut and dry as you might think, so we’re going to help you make the best decision by describing the differences between those devices.
First, though, let’s talk a bit about the types of materials that you might use in a vaporizer for concentrates.
What Are the Different Types of Concentrates for Vaping?
A discussion of the different types of concentrates for vaping can actually become much more detailed than the overview that we’re about to give you. In the interest of brevity, though, we’ll keep things short. Concentrates for vaping loosely break down into three different categories.
- Oils: Any concentrate that’s more liquid than solid can be called an oil. Although thinner oils do exist, they’re often thick enough that you can only really dispense them reliably with a syringe.
- Waxes: Any concentrate that’s more solid than liquid can be called a wax. Because a wax isn’t runny at all, it won’t flow through a syringe. To load a chamber or atomizer with wax, you typically need to pick the wax up and deposit it with a small metal stick called a dab tool.
- E-Liquids: E-liquids technically aren’t concentrates because they’re diluted with propylene glycol and/or terpenes. They will, however, work with most vape pens. Because an e-liquid isn’t too viscous, you can usually fill a tank or cartridge with e-liquid without using a syringe. Since e-liquids are diluted, though, you’ll typically have to use more to get the same effect that you’d get with a few puffs of an oil or wax concentrate.
What Are Vape Pens, and What Are Their Benefits?
A vape pen is a vaporizer that’s designed to work with oil or e-liquid. A vape pen will either have 510 threading that allows you to attach a vape cartridge, or it’ll be a pod system designed to use proprietary drop-in pods. Disposable vapes are also vape pens. In many cases, it’s possible to refill a vape cartridge and reuse it several times before the flavor quality starts to decline. Other cartridges are designed to be used just once until they’re empty and then discarded. You’ll find pre-filled cartridges at your local dispensary, and those cartridges will work with a vape pen designed for oil or e-liquid vaping.
Benefits of Vape Pens
Vape pens are very discreet, and they’re also very portable because there’s no need to carry your oil or wax separately. You can fill a cartridge at the beginning of the day – or connect a pre-filled cartridge – and use that cartridge all day without worrying that you’re going to run out. Vape cartridges are usually very leak resistant, so you can generally carry a vape pen in your pocket without worrying about leaks. Vape pens are generally the easiest vaporizers to use. A vape pen is also the only type of portable vaporizer that can give you a single puff on demand – whenever you want it – without the need to preheat the coil first. It’s always ready to use.
How Do You Use a Vape Pen?
The easiest way to understand the differences between vape pens, wax pens and dab pens is to experience all three types of vapes for yourself. That may not be practical for you, though – and it certainly wouldn’t be cheap. Instead, we’ll provide an overview of how these devices work. That’ll help you draw your own conclusion about the type of experience that you want to have.
First, you’ll need to choose between disposable vs. refillable vape carts. You can find disposable cartridges online and in local dispensaries. They’re already filled with oil, and you can connect them to any 510 vape battery. When you use a refillable cartridge, on the other hand, you’ll provide your own oil.
You can also use a disposable vape, which comes with its own oil and pre-charged battery. You can use a disposable vape until it runs out of vape oil or battery power. In that case, all that you need to do is take the device out of the package and puff on it. Disposable vapes are the easiest vape pens to use, but they cost more than refillable devices in the long run.
- If you’re using a refillable cartridge, you’ll need to open and fill the cartridge before you can start vaping. If you’re using a pre-filled cartridge, on the other hand, you can simply connect the cartridge to your vape pen after charging the battery.
- Charge the vape pen by connecting it to your computer using the included charging cable. When the light changes color or turns off, the battery is charged.
- Connect the cartridge to the vape pen by screwing it into the device’s threading.
- Vape by puffing on the vape pen or by holding the vape pen’s fire button.
- Recharge the vape pen when the light begins to blink.
What Are Wax Pens, and What Are Their Benefits?
A wax pen is designed to use waxy concentrates like shatter, rosin, crumble and budder. It might be equipped with a wax atomizer, or it could have a closed cup-shaped chamber. Different types of wax pens can vary in terms of the types of concentrates they work best with, so it can be a process of trial and error until you gain experience.
Unlike vape pens, wax pens usually aren’t designed for on-demand vaping. Instead, they’re generally session devices. Although you can take a loaded wax pen with you when you’re out and about, you won’t get many puffs out of it before it runs out of material. You’ll also usually have to warm the wax to soften it before you can start vaping. Some wax pens have automatic preheating functions and can soften your material for you.
Benefits of Wax Pens
Waxy concentrates are usually highly potent – so although you may only get a few puffs out of a wax pen before you need to refill it, you’re not likely to need more than that unless your tolerance is extremely high. If you have a wax pen with a closed chamber, you can fill it at the start of the day and take it with you as you go about your business – but you probably won’t get as many puffs out of it as you would a vape pen. A wax pen is often a good vape for those who make their own concentrates because it’s hard to achieve exactly the same result every time when you aren’t making concentrates in a controlled environment. If a particular batch happens to be a bit waxier or runnier than normal, it’ll still work fine with a wax pen.
How Do You Use a Wax Pen?
Although the terms are somewhat interchangeable, the main difference between wax pens vs. dab pens is that a wax pen has an enclosed wax cartridge that makes the device a little more portable but tends to restrict airflow a bit. If you’re having trouble choosing between a wax pen and a dab pen, that’s the main thing you should consider. A wax pen with an enclosed cartridge is usually less likely to leak and is therefore a bit easier to carry in your pocket. A dab pen with an exposed coil, on the other hand, isn’t very portable because it can leak easily. Because a dab pen has very open airflow characteristics, though, it’ll allow you to take big, deep rips with ease.
Here’s a basic overview of how to use a wax pen with an enclosed cartridge.
- Charge the device by connecting it to your computer using the included charging cable. When the indicator light changes color or turns off, the wax pen is fully charged.
- Open the wax cartridge by unscrewing the mouthpiece. Depending on the cartridge’s design, you’ll usually either see a ceramic plate or an exposed metal heating coil.
- Use a metal dab tool to place a rice-sized ball of wax on the cartridge’s coil or heating plate. Close the cartridge.
- Use gentle heat to warm the wax until it spreads out and covers the cartridge’s entire heating surface. Depending on the design of your wax pen, you can do this by pressing the fire button a few times quickly or by taking short puffs on the mouthpiece without inhaling.
- Use your wax pen as normal by puffing more deeply. A rice-sized serving of wax will usually provide a few deep puffs, at which point you’ll need to add more wax if desired. Wax concentrates are usually very potent, so start slowly.
- Recharge the wax pen when the light begins to blink.
What Are Dab Pens, and What Are Their Benefits?
A dab pen is a vaping device that has a wax coil and is designed for session vaping only. You load the coil with a thick waxy concentrate immediately before vaping, and you continue vaping until all of the material is consumed. Dab pens work best with extremely thick concentrates because the material needs to be viscous enough to place directly on the coil with a dab tool. Although dab pens can be quite small, they aren’t really meant to be portable because the idea is that you use all of the material immediately after placing it on the coil. Unused material can seep below the coil and contaminate the device’s threading.
Benefits of Dab Pens
The biggest benefit of dab pens is that they have excellent airflow characteristics. If you like taking really big rips and blowing huge clouds across the room, you’ve probably found vape pens to be a bit limiting due to their tight airflow. You won’t have that issue with a dab pen because a wax coil always has enormous airflow vents. You can inhale as deeply as you like and enjoy some truly enormous cloud production.
How Do You Use a Dab Pen?
As we mentioned above, the biggest difference between dab pens vs. wax pens is that a dab pen has a non-enclosed wax coil and isn’t designed for portability. Otherwise, you’ll use it much the same as you would a wax pen, with one exception: The enhanced airflow will allow you to take really deep puffs for an even more elevating experience.
Here’s a basic overview of how to use a dab pen with a non-enclosed wax coil.
- Connect the dab pen to your computer to charge it. The dab pen is charged when the indicator light changes color or turns off.
- Remove the mouthpiece from the wax coil to expose the heating surface.
- Use a metal dab tool to place a rice-sized ball of wax on the heating surface.
- Use gentle heat to soften the wax and make it spread over the heating surface, either by pressing your dab pen’s fire button a few times quickly or by taking a few short puffs without inhaling.
- Use your dab pen as normal by puffing more deeply. Because you can take extremely deep puffs with a dab pen, you may only be able to take one or two puffs before you’ll need to add more wax. With a dab pen, it’s easy to look under the mouthpiece to see if you’ve used all of the wax.
- Recharge the dab pen when the light begins to blink.