The difference between dab pens, vape pens, and e-cigarettes might not be immediately apparent to you, but we can attest to the fact that there are quite a few differences between these 3 categories of products.
Over the last few years vaporizing, vaping, and dabbing have experienced a formidable increase in popularity. Most of these terms are being wrongly mistaken to be the same thing, which they most definitely are not. There are distinct differences between the device categories of shatter pens, wax pens, dab pens, vape pens, and vaporizers.
Although plenty of confusion exists around the subject, it’s not a secret that all devices share the same major functions.
Regardless of the type of pen you use, they all have a heating chamber that’s powered by an internal battery.
The heating chamber is used to heat the coil that will subsequently turn your vape juice/concentrate/weed into a vapour that you can inhale in case you’re working with a conduction heat device.
In this article, we aim to explain the main differences that each of these pen categories holds between each other, their ease of use and how they work. We will also make sure that you know what to look for when purchasing a vape or dab tool, and that you know how to differentiate them from each other.
Let’s get into the sticky, icky world of dab pens!
What are Dab Pens?
A dab pen is any device that’s used to vaporize a cannabis concentrate. The term dab pen has been coined as a generic term used to describe all types of devices that can vape cannabis concentrates, but this is ultimately wrong.
The truth is, dab pens are specifically used to vaporize concentrates like shatter, wax, rosin, and other cannabis extractions. Sometimes, you might hear a dab pen is referred to as a shatter pen or wax pen.
A vape pen, on the other hand, is a vaporizing device that can be used to consume distillates. This can include cannabis oils, weed distillate and even THC vape juice.
While a dab pen can technically vaporize any cannabis concentrate, including cannabis oils, weed distillate and vape juice, not all vape pens can vaporize any cannabis concentrate.
Concentrate Dab Pens
It’s confusing, but the term “dab pen” can be used to describe any sort of device that can vaporize smoking material, but it’s best used to describe devices that vaporize any type of concentrate, including wax, shatter, and rosin. This is why concentrate dab pens can be often referred to as wax pens.
To best understand what dab pens can do, we’ll have to first understand what sorts of concentrates a dab pen can vaporize.
The type of concentrate you use depends on your personal taste, so the best dab is not a question of what concentrate you use but the type of concentrate that you prefer.
The best dab pens, however, can be determined by their chamber size, appearance, and overall feel in the hand.
Other ways to classify the best dab pens include battery life, whether they have micro USB charging or not, mah battery specifications, and the type of battery they come with (interchangeable or internal).
Due to the wide range of concentrates they can vaporize, concentrate dab pens often carry a set of variable temperatures that fit each specific concentrate type.
Remember that every concentrate has a certain temperature at which they vaporize the best and provide the best effects; if you go too low, you might not get the expected effects, if you go too high, you run the risk of burning and even ruining your concentrate!
Concentrate dab pens are also recognized for coming in two main designs. One is a conduction heating mechanism design which consists of a metal coil or a convection style heating chamber that heats up and vaporizes the contents inside.
While this makes for a faster warm-up time and cheaper design, it may also prove harder to maintain and carries a higher risk of burning through your concentrate.
Flower vape pens are typically referred to as, well, dry flower vape pens, but as more and more novices and beginners enter into cannabis space, the terminology has gotten increasingly muddy.
For the purposes of this guide, we’ll be focusing on vape pens that utilize cartridges of cannabis distillate.
While concentrates tend to be denser and thicker, distillates are products that look and feel like oil rather than a paste or solid mass, like other concentrates do.
A vape pen looks almost like any other dab pen but with a much slimmer design and a visible cartridge of distillate screwed on top instead of a covered heating chamber.
A vape pen can be designed to take interchangeable cartridges or have pre-filled and disposable cartridges while dab (aka wax) pens are usually made of a single compartment instead of interchangeable ones.
The best vape pen is judged in the same ways as the best wax pen. Battery size, battery life, and rechargeability are all things to look out for in a great vape pen. Some vape pens, like Pyro’s ceramic vaporizers, will even have variable temperature controls.
Variable temperature control allows you to control the temperature at which the distillate is being vaporized. This allows you to finetune your experience to either focus on preserving flavorful terpenes at a lower temperature or fat clouds at a higher temperature.
Like concentrate dab pens, vape pens provide the added benefit of being discrete, portable, fairly cheap if you look well enough, and pretty darn effective.
Dab vs. Vape – The Main Differences
Obviously, there are differences between both types of pens, their design, components, and uses.
To sum it up, all you need to remember is that dab pens can handle all types of concentrates, while vape pens can typically only handle distillate.
Another hint towards discerning the difference? Dab pens have a chamber you fill with concentrates, while vape pens have cartridges you twist and screw on.
Another main difference is that dab pens are usually refillable, and high-quality devices are designed with a ceramic heating chamber.
If you do encounter a dab pen with a ceramic chamber, it most likely means that it can also be used for vaping dry herb. In comparison, vape pens can also be found with refillable designs, but the most popular units are disposable devices with interchangeable cartridges.
Dab Pens – Worth Trying?
The main benefit of using a dab pen is the ability to choose between a wide array of different concentrate products, including, but not limited to, shatter, wax, and rosin.
Vape pens, on the other hand, are dab pens that are also portable but are meant to be used to consume cartridges of distillate.
Which of the two you go with is dependent on your personal taste and budget. Both options are incredibly efficient, easy to find, convenient to use, and pretty similar in cost.