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July 6, 2020

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A dab pen is a device that sits somewhere between a dab rig and a vape pen. You might be wondering why such a device even exists—I mean, if you’re looking for a portable vaping option, why not just use a vape pen? Is it just a scam to get you to spend more money on a new device?

There are so many different ways to consume cannabis—joint, blunt, pipe, bong, vape, dab, etc.—because the way you consume directly impacts the experience. Devices that rely on combustion offer different effects than a device that relies on vaporization, and it is not just about effects. Using devices with water filtration will not affect the high, but it will cool the smoke or vapor to make it more enjoyable. Everyone has their preference.

There are definite advantages to using a dab pen over a standard vape pen. To understand the reasons, we need to understand the shortcomings and benefits associated with vapor consumption methods.

The pros and cons of dabbing

When it comes to vaporizing cannabis oil, dabbing is one of the more labor intensive ways, however, it gives the consumer complete control over the process. When done right, dabbing gives the consumer a high-quality possible.

With dabbing, you can:

  • Pick your concentrate, choosing for type/texture and quality
  • Set the exact temperature
  • Choose the amount of oil

Dabbing can look scary to the unfamiliar, especially if using a torch, however, it is essentially just deconstructed cartridge vaping. Instead of a compact cartridge that works by pressing a button, dabbing requires the consumer to manipulate the oil with a separate heating element and surface—usually a torch and nail, or an e-nail.

The big shortcoming with dabbing is it’s not a very portable option. Electronic dab rigs are small, however, not exactly inconspicuous. But, if you are looking for a great tasting, terpene-filled experience, you really can’t do any better than a low-temp dab.

Pros and cons of vape pens

Portability is why vape cartridges are so popular. The entire vaping setup can fit inside your pocket, and the low odor associated with smoking oils makes this consumption method very discrete.

Vape carts are portable, however, there are definite drawbacks.

  • Many carts have thinning agents added to the cannabis oil to make it viscous enough for the device to work
  • Cartridges are expensive compared to concentrate sold on their own
  • Vape carts lack diversity in type—no rosins, resins, budders, or waxes, just oil
  • Cartridges generally aren’t reusable, so you end up making a larger environmental impact than you may like—an issue the cannabis community as a whole needs to address

Best of both worlds: The dab pen

A dab pen is a portable vape system that addresses many of the shortcomings of cartridges, making it perfect for someone looking for portability and discreteness, as well as more control over their vaping experience.

The most basic version of the dab pen is an attachment that fits on top of a standard vape battery. It usually consists of a replaceable ceramic bowl and a coil that heats up when you activate the battery. Some pens offer variable voltage, allowing you to change the temperature at which you vape.

More advanced dab pens are a bit bulkier (see image at top), however, they offer the user a lot more control over the experience. They avoid using a coil, which are prone to breaking and can be inconsistent in heating the oil in the device.

Better models employ a ceramic oven, which will evenly heat oil to avoid scorching, which can ruin the terpenes. This produces consistent draws, tastier vapor, and is more convenient to clean—a lot of coils break when people try to clean them.

These high quality dab pens also offer a wider range of temperatures, and you can use a wide range of oils in a dab pen: rosin, terp sauce, terp diamonds, shatter, wax, crumble… whatever you got, there is a setting for it.

How to use a dab pen

Using a dab pen is pretty simple. The most difficult part about using one is getting the oil into the device. Some oils are going to be very sticky and will require some finesse in order to get it from the original package into the oven of the pen. You can use a dab tool to help, and you can also put the oil in the fridge for a few minutes to make it more manageable.

After you get the oil in the device, make sure the dab pen is firing at your preferred setting. There are a lot of different options on the market for dab pens; thankfully, most are pretty intuitive and come with simple instructions.

Once you have the temperature dialed in, all you have to do is activate the device and enjoy the experience. After a few sessions, you’ll be a pro!

With dab pens, you also don’t have to worry about oils being diluted with additives as they can in vape carts—these are the same oils used for dabbing. This is reason enough for many people to choose the dab pen route, as the science is still unclear on the long-term health risks of vaping additives.

And, if you run out of oil, many of these devices have the ability to vape flower!

A dab pen is a great investment if you are looking to improve your portable vape game. They can be a little expensive but are a solid investment for those who truly appreciate quality in vaping cannabis oils.

Adam Pallay's Bio Image

Adam Pallay

Adam is Leafly’s Education Editor, specializing in helping people build expertise within the cannabis industry. He has spent the last five years working every job imaginable in retail cannabis and looks forward to continuing to help customers through writing.


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