What are dab pens?

Dab pens (aka wax pens, weed pens) are specialized vaporizers designed for vaporizing wax or dab concentrates. They have a battery-powered heating element (usually a coil or a bowl) that heats the concentrate to produce vapor without combustion.

Dab Pens offers a potent and flavor-rich experience with a sleek, portable design and easy and discreet use, unlike dry herb vaporizers, which are typically larger, more expensive, and more complicated to use and maintain.

Related: Best Dab Pens of 2024

Benefits of Using a Vape Pen for Dabs

  1. Discreetness: Vape Pens are small and unobtrusive, making them stealthy and discreet. The vapor they produce dissipates quickly and does not linger.
  2. Portability: Some Vape Pens are the size and thickness of regular “writing pens.” Unlike eRigs, they can easily fit in a pocket or purse while still packing a punch in terms of potency.
  3. Efficiency: Dab Pens heat up quickly and use less material than traditional methods, which can lead to cost savings over time.
  4. Controlled Dosage: With a vape pen, users have better control over their dosage. The ability to take small, measured hits helps manage intake, which is especially beneficial for medical users or those new to concentrates.
  5. Flavor Preservation: Vape pens heat concentrates at a lower temperature compared to combustion methods, which preserves the flavors and aromas of the concentrate, providing a more enjoyable experience.
  6. Healthier Alternative: Vaporizing is generally considered a healthier alternative to smoking (according to this research by Pub Med) as it reduces the inhalation of combustible byproducts, which can be harmful to the lungs.
  7. Convenience: Vape pens are easy to use and maintain. They typically have simple operational mechanisms and require minimal cleaning and upkeep compared to more complex dabbing rigs.

Anatomy of a Dab Pen

A typical dab pen contains three primary components: the battery, atomizer, and mouthpiece.


The battery is often rechargeable and provides the electrical power to heat the concentrate. In most pens, the battery is the largest component and determines the device’s overall size. Some batteries come with pre-set voltage or temp settings.


This is the heating element where the dab concentrate is placed. Atomizers can vary in design, with some using exposed coils and others featuring coil-less bowls. The atomizer’s type and quality directly affect the extraction efficiency and the vapor quality.


The mouthpiece is where the user inhales the vapor, plus it is also the vapor path. It is often made from glass, silicone, stainless, or metal. The design and material of the mouthpiece can influence the vapor’s flavor and temperature as it reaches the user for inhalation.

Coil Types of vape pens

Dab Pens usually feature one of two coil types: coil-less bowls and exposed coils/rods.

Exposed Coils/Rods

These heating elements use coils or rods made from materials like quartz, ceramic, or titanium. These coils directly heat the concentrate, producing vapor. Exposed coils are known for their rapid heating and ability to produce large amounts of vapor quickly. However, they can sometimes overheat the concentrate, leading to a harsher taste. Additionally, exposed coils might require more frequent cleaning and replacement as the concentrate can come into direct contact with the heating element. These provide a “nail-like” experience and are best suited for experienced users.

Coil-less Bowls

These use a smooth, often ceramic, chamber that indirectly heats the concentrate. This method provides a more even heat distribution, reducing the chances of overheating and preserving the flavor and quality of the vapor. Coil-less bowls are typically easier to clean and maintain, as they don’t have crevices where residue can accumulate. They are ideal for users who prioritize flavor and a smoother vaping experience, although they may take longer to heat up compared to exposed coils.

How to Use a Dab Pen?

  1. Load the Concentrate: Start by unscrewing the mouthpiece of the dab pen to access the atomizer. Use a dab tool or a hot knife to place a small amount of concentrate directly onto the center of the bowl. Be careful not to overload it, as it may cause leakage.
  2. Heat and Inhale: Once the concentrate is loaded, screw the mouthpiece back on. Unlock by clicking five times, and then press the button to heat the concentrate. When the pen is heated (some models indicate readiness with a light or vibration), inhale slowly and steadily through the mouthpiece.
  3. Clean After Use: After vaping, clean any residue from the coil or bowl using a cotton swab or cleaning tool. Regular cleaning after use prevents buildup and maintains the quality of vapor.

Compatible concentrates

Dab pens are specifically designed to be used with solid concentrates, distinguishing them from devices compatible with oil-based cartridges. Understanding this difference is crucial when selecting the appropriate extract for your device.

Solid Extracts: Dab pens are ideally suited for various forms of solid concentrates. These include:

    • Wax: A sticky, creamy substance known for its potency and flavor.
    • Shatter: A glass-like, brittle concentrate that offers high purity and intensity.
    • Crumble: Drier and more brittle, crumble is easy to dose and handle.
    • Rosin: A solventless extract, rich in terpenes, providing a natural and flavorful experience.
    • Live Resin: Made from fresh, frozen flowers, it offers a highly aromatic and flavorful vaping experience.

Oils and liquids such as distillate are not compatible with dab pens. Oil concentrates are typically sold in prefilled 510 cartridges and are not compatible with traditional dab pens. These cartridges are designed for use with 510 batteries.

Essential accessories

Cotton swabs (such as these) are indispensable for maintaining a clean dab pen. After each use, they are used to mop up residual concentrate from the heating chamber, preventing buildup that can affect vapor quality and the device’s efficiency. This simple practice extends the lifespan of the pen and ensures a consistently pure flavor.

hot knife is crucial for efficiently loading sticky concentrates like wax or shatter. It allows for precise application of the concentrate onto the heating element, reducing wastage and avoiding scraping the wax on the chamber’s walls.

Dab Pens vs. Dab Straws

Electric dab straws, often seen as a variation of dab pens, offer a different approach to consuming concentrates. Like dab pens, they are battery-powered and portable, but their method of use sets them apart. Instead of loading the concentrate into a chamber, the tip – usually a coil – is dipped directly into the concentrate. This direct contact vaporizes the concentrate instantly, allowing the user to inhale through the other end of the straw.

Dab Starws eliminates the need for loading and unloading concentrates, offering a more straightforward and potentially less messy experience.

Dab Pens vs. eRigs

While eRigs are also concentrate vaporizers, they are larger and often feature a water filtration system. This setup, while less portable than the compact dab pen, allows for various features like improved battery life, more robust heating systems, and smoother vapor due to water filtration.

This contrasts with the simpler operation of dab pens, which are designed for quick, on-the-go use with minimal setup.

While dab pens offer portability and ease of use, eRigs appeal to those who prefer the ritual of dabbing and appreciate the smoother vapor and precise temperature control that these electronic systems offer.

Dab Pens vs. Dry Herb Vaporizers

The sweet spot vaping temperature of THC Dabs starts around 410F and goes up to 500°F. The good news is that to reach that temperature for a few seconds to heat very little material. Therefore, vape pens do not need a lot of power. This allows them to be small and discreet, unlike dry herb vaporizers.

Dry herb vapes need to stay at a high temperature for an extended “session,” which requires a larger battery and more involved usage. Dab pens are more practical and easy to use.

Health implications

The use of dab pens, while often considered a safer alternative to traditional smoking methods, carries its own set of health implications that users should be aware of (highlighted in this research paper from PMC).

The primary advantage lies in the method of vaporization, which eliminates the combustion process associated with smoking. Combustion can produce harmful byproducts like tar and carcinogens, whereas vaporizing concentrates at controlled temperatures significantly reduces the inhalation of these toxic substances.

It’s important to note that the safety of vaping also depends on the quality of the concentrate used. Impurities or additives in low-quality concentrates can be harmful when vaporized. Only buy concentrates from licensed dispensaries.


  • What is the difference between quartz and ceramic atomizers?

    Quartz atomizers typically heat up faster than ceramic, and the vapor they produce tends to be harsher and denser as a result. Ceramic atomizers heat up more slowly, and their vapor quality tends to be more palatable. Ceramic atomizers tend to produce thinner clouds. If you’re a beginner, we recommend starting out with ceramic.

  • Do wax pens smell like weed?

    There is a marijuana smell since wax is a concentrated form of marijuana, after all. However, it dissipates very quickly and doesn’t stick to clothes or hair.

  • Do wax pens get you higher than dry herb vaporizers?

    Since wax is a concentrated form of marijuana, the high it gives you is faster and more intense than what you would get from dry herb.

  • Can I use wax in a dry herb vaporizer?

    Some dry herb vaporizers include an insert that allows you to use wax. However, dry herb vapes do not tend to reach the high temperatures necessary to provide a good vaping experience. A dedicated dab pen is the best way to use wax in a portable device.

  • Is wax the same as oil?

    Even though they are created using similar extraction methods, wax and oil are different when it comes to consistency. Wax is either a semi-soft substance or a hard, brittle substance, while oil is a thin, liquid substance.

  • Where can I buy THC and CBD Wax / Extract?

    THC extracts are available in dispensaries within legal states. It cannot be purchased online. CBD extracts and CBD-infused products can be purchased from online and brick-and-mortar smoke shops and dispensaries since CBD is legal in all 50 states.

  • Can wax vape pens be used with oil carts?

    If the vape pen battery and the oil cartridge are both 510 threaded, then the cartridge can be attached to the vape pen battery. However, you should not put oil in a vape pen’s atomizer because it is not designed for use with that substance.

  • How much dab should I use in a vape pen?

    Use a small amount, about the size of a grain of rice. Overloading can clog the pen and affect vapor quality.

  • How do I know when to replace the coil?

    Replace the coil if you notice a burnt taste, reduced vapor production, or visible damage. Coils typically last several weeks to months.

  • How do I clean a dab pen?

    Turn off and cool the pen, then clean the coil and chamber with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Allow to dry completely before reassembling.

  • What is the best temperature for a dab pen?

    Ideal temperatures range from 380°F to 450°F. Lower temperatures yield more flavor, while higher temperatures produce thicker vapor. Adjust according to your preference and concentrate type.