Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on January 4, 2023

The popularity of vaping weed and THC concentrates has been steadily increasing in the last decade due to the ease of use and convenience. Over the years, the technology and the vaporizers themselves have evolved and they keep evolving, offering cannabis vapers an improved experience with each new upgrade.

Among the many different ways of consuming weed – using a bong, joint, pipe, dab – vape pens offer benefits that other consumption methods don’t. And when you combine the ease of use of a vape pen with all the pros of dabbing, you get a dab pen, the topic of today’s article.

So let’s see what dab pens are and how they work, how to use one, and what to look for when you make a purchase from your dispensary.

The Basics: What Is a Dab Pen?

A dab pen is essentially a vaping mechanism that allows you to vape weed concentrates. In a way, it’s similar to a vape pen that vaporizes dry herbs or cannabis oil, but its technology is a little different. There is no vape cartridge or oil cartridge, for example. Instead, dab pens utilize a heating element (called a coil) in the atomizer instead of a heating chamber like dry herb vaporizers and oil vape pens do.

A dab pen is a compact portable vaporizer. It pretty much resembles a regular writing pen, unlike dab rigs that have a much more complicated mechanism and require additional tools, like a blow torch.

The main components of a dab pen include:

  • The mouthpiece – it’s made of glass and you drag vapor through it from the heating coil. This component should feel comfortable, which is why it comes in different sizes so it could offer optimal airflow for the user;
  • Heating coil or atomizer – the component where the heating coil melts the cannabis concentrate before the vaporization happens. Heating coils can be made from different materials, more on that below;
  • The battery – The dab pen battery is rechargeable (with a micro USB charger) and 510 threaded, as any regular vaporizer. Some mods are more elevated and even come with a temperature control setting or variable voltage.

Is There a Difference Between Dab Pens and Wax Pens?

Dab pens and wax pens are sometimes used interchangeably, so there might be a small confusion as to whether they are one and the same thing. The truth is, while they both operate the same, the one main difference is that dab pens are designed to be used specifically with dab concentrates.

Wax vapes, on the other hand, are designed to melt any types of viscous substances and wax concentrates, such as shatter, budder, crumble, hash oil, etc. In a way, dab pens are a subtype of wax pens, but referring to them interchangeably is definitely not wrong as long as you know how to use them.

How to Use a Dab Pen

Using a dab pen is very simple and easy. The only minor inconvenience you may have depends on the type of dab you use. If you use a somewhat stickier substance, you may need a dab tool to help you handle the dab better without being messy. Sticky concentrates are more manageable if you put them in the fridge for a while and then use your tool.

That said, all you need to do is take the desired amount of dab and place it directly on the heating coil. When the battery powers up, it will heat the coil, melting the dab down onto the wick which absorbs it. When the wick heats up, it starts producing the vapor which you inhale.

The most important part of vaping is the temperature at which you vape. Different cannabinoids and terpenes get released at different temperatures, but also different types of materials require different temperature levels. You don’t want to burn your concentrate.

For example, oily concentrates require higher temperatures (between 440°F to 550°F), while others would need less. In any case, knowing these basics about temperature levels will enhance your vaping experience.

How to Choose a High-Quality Dab Vaporizer Pen for Yourself

The vaporizer market is very versatile and offers countless models of vape pens with different settings, including dab pens, and an even assortment of waxes and concentrates to suit everyone’s needs.

Vape lovers will probably enjoy browsing through the different models, so if you’re a newbie or a dabber thinking about trying a dab pen, knowing what the market has to offer will help you make an informed decision. Now, let’s see what you should look for.

Pay Attention to the Heating Coil Material

Depending on the price, the atomizer of the dab pens may be made of different kinds of materials that provide different longevity and experience.

Wicked atomizers are usually recommended for oils that are not as viscous. Because they are thinner, they will be more easily absorbed into the wick as it’s heated while still retaining their aroma.

Wickless atomizers are more suitable for waxier, thicker dabs, and more solid ones. Wickless atomizers will have a small rod within them made out of ceramic or quartz that produces a lot of heat and melts anything you put over it.

Ceramic coils are by far the best, safest, and most durable. They distribute the heat evenly without burning, and while retaining the flavor, especially at lower temperatures. 

Check Its Portability

The best dab pens are discrete and portable. They should be small enough to fit into your pocket, your purse, or your bag. Essentially, the best dab pens should look like writing pens (or an e-cigarette) and be compact enough to fit into your palm.

Battery Life Is Important

The durability of the battery can make or break your experience, especially if your lifestyle involves a lot of moving around and commuting, where you’ll want to make sure the battery will last you.

Basic dab pens usually have decent battery life, but if your dab pen comes with additional features, that can certainly impact the battery life. Some models have auto heating options, or as we said, temperature control options for a better experience, but they tend to consume more power. Make sure the warranty covers any damage.

The Perks of Using a Dab Pen

The legalization of weed has made weed users more comfortable with using it in the public, but some still need some discretion.

That said, there are many reasons why you can switch to a dab pen, one of them being that they’re discreet. They are easy to use and don’t produce much odor, and they’re highly portable. When it comes to the potency and flavor itself, the vapor from a dab pen is much more flavorful than the smoke from a joint, for example, and much easier on the tongue and lungs.

Given that you only need a small amount of the dab concentrate, dab pens are very sustainable provided that you take care of yours properly. They’re also more efficient potency-wise as dabs are naturally highly concentrated, whether you use a THC or a CBD dab. They heat up quickly and deliver the effects fully.

Lastly, dab pens are perfect for medical marijuana users who are looking to microdose. Taking smaller, controlled hits throughout the day, especially with a pen that has a temperature setting, will ensure the cannabinoids are doing their job.

The Takeaway

A dab pen is a compact vaporizing device that melts dab concentrates. It’s similar to a traditional vape pen that heats dry flowers, but dab pens have a slightly different technology and they melt different types of weed concentrates.

Dab pens are very convenient and simple to use, but when you buy one, the most important thing to pay attention to is the material of the heating coil.

These types of vaporizers are great for medical marijuana users because they heat up quickly and deliver a more potent high.

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


The information presented on this page is provided as a public service to aid in education and is derived from sources believed to be reliable. Readers are responsible for making their own assessment of the topics discussed here. In no event shall Leaf Nation be held reliable for any injury, loss or damage that could happen if using or abusing drugs.