What is a Dab Pen?

The act of vaping itself has been performed since ancient times, but the trend of developing heating elements and devices to dab concentrates into an inhalable vapor has been evolving exponentially. So, what is a dab pen, how is it used, and what are some of the best dab pens in this multi-billion-dollar market for the consumer who may be looking to purchase one? To answer these questions, it is important to walk through some history on dabbing, as well as review the current dab pen market trends to help the consumer make an educated decision based on their personal needs.

What is a Dab Pen? 

What is a Dab Pen? 

A dab pen (also known as a wax pen) is generally made with a wax atomizer for the user to refill concentrates manually. The wax atomizer consists of different coils systems that are made of ceramic, quartz, or even pancake-style nickel-chromium alloy coils. There is a wide range of dab pen devices available in different sizes, shapes, designs, as well as options to build a perfect device from the battery to the atomizer and mouthpiece. The prices vary based on obvious factors, such as: temperature control, materials used, extra atomizers/accessories, battery mAh and other custom settings like variable voltage. Selecting one that fits the user’s personal preference is a matter of taste.

Types of Dab Pens

Now that you're armed with the foundational knowledge on dabbing devices from the previous section, here are some common types of concentrate vape pens, and customizations/accessories options for levels ranging from a beginner to a connoisseur vaping professional.

 Magnetic Dab Pens

Magnetic Dab Pens

A magnetic dab pen is a newer vape design, but one of the most popular for obvious reasons. Typically dab pen attachments are screwed in. The wax specifically gets stuck in the atomizer threading, as well as the battery threading.  Magnetic pens use strong magnets, making it much quicker to attach and remove the parts from the mouthpiece to the chamber and battery, as well as the USB charger.

The Yocan Magneto and Yocan Loaded is a good example of this type of device and comes highly recommended by users, not only for the easy disassembly but apart from all the standard pen features, they also offer the user high-quality quartz coil heating systems and a detachable dab container for storing concentrates.

Beginner Dab Pens 

Beginner Dab Pens

There are plenty of cost-effective devices for those who are looking for an affordable dab pen to test out the vape waters. Once an expensive investment into entering this hobby, now it is possible to find plenty of acceptable options for under $50. They are typically simple in terms of mechanics: the coil heats when the power button is pressed or auto draw is engaged without any temperature control, and they come with smaller batteries that do not last the same as more advanced devices like a box mod.

They also generally have inexpensive coils, which shouldn’t be much of a concern, as wax pens go through them frequently regardless of the type. Wax residue will start to build upon the heating element either way; so you'll always need to have extra vape coils with you. The Steamcloud Mini 2.0 allows the user the option of vaping dry herbs, wax, and oils. It's discreet and comes with magnetic adapters to avoid threading issues that arise. All you need is an herb cartridge, wax cartridge, and oil cartridge to handle vaping any of the substances. 

Another fan favorite worth mentioning in this category is the Yocan Evolve Plus XL that retails for around $39. A little under 5’’ tall, it has quad quartz coil heat technology and a 1400mah battery capacity that will last forever, offering the owner convenience, quality, and functionality. 

 Glass Globe Dab Pens

Glass Globe Dab Pens 

This type of attachment has a glass globe accessory located between the mouthpiece, cartridge and battery, and is an available option for many vape pen styles. Some starter kits come equipped with them.  The advantage to incorporating this piece is mostly for flavor as well as increasing the vapor plume while using it, also called “milking”. The globe allows the wax vapor a place to sit before it hits the mouthpiece, which gives the vapor time to cool in the globe, making it a more enjoyable experience for the user. They are easy to clean, easy to replace, and affordable. Most Globe attachments are compatible with any battery that accepts 510 threading, making them agreeable with most devices.

Box Mod Vape Kits 

Box Mod Vapes

As the vape industry grows, so do the options to customize. A basic vape pen is simply a battery that heats up a coil. Box mods are progressing the culture into completely customized portable dab devices. First made popular by the ejuice/vape cigarette culture, box mods hold a battery, but also offer more variety, in terms of functionality, power, and overall user options. Because box mods are compatible with any 510-atomizer attachment for wax they are getting popular amongst regular users. The consumer can now choose from many add on options to enhance their experience and processing power, much like a gaming computer.

Box Mods achieve a long battery life with high mah’s, are powerful, and allow for adjustable vapor plume/temperature control. The SteamCloud box mod is great for those seeking long, powerful battery and low, smooth inhales. It has a standard 510 thread atomizer, adjustable up to 60W, 1600mah, with a resistance of .15-2.5ohm to create the biggest vapor plumes, and temperature control ranging from 200-600F.

Dab Pen Coil Heating Systems

Coils are the heating devices found in dab pens. They differ based on each model, and obviously some are better quality than others. They come in different designs: pancake style is the most traditional, and it looks like a tiny electric stove burner. Just like personal home dab rigs: quartz and ceramic rods/donuts are considered a healthier option, as the wax is not being melted onto a metal heating element.  Eventually, with time all coils will need to be replaced, either because they burn out or a fresh one feels needed. For durability and safety purposes it is important to not overpack the device and to not touch the coil directly. When using an adjustable voltage battery like a box mod, make sure to use the proper wattage. Often consumers will use too much power and burn through coils too quickly.

 Dab Pen Batteries

Dab Pen Batteries 

There are many kinds of dab/wax pen batteries, ranging from simple push-button battery sticks all the way to high tech box mods that house a battery while also allowing users the customization of basically carrying a dab rig in a pocket. The most commonly used batteries are those with 510 threading, which is the universal standard in the vaping industry. Some devices do not have a button, “auto draw” is where the user places their mouth on the mouthpiece and drags in, initiating the battery. Many affordable pieces like the Yocan Evolve uses a button.

When researching batteries, the consumer will likely come across debates about single voltage vs variable voltage battery style. Single voltage functions at a constant 3.3V, while a variable voltage battery, such as the SteamCloud EVOD operates between 3.7V and 4.8. It offers a “twist” function, which allows you to simply turn the dial to change the voltage. Keep in mind that vaping at higher voltages can also drain the battery life. Many batteries and attachments are interchangeable between these types of pens, just make sure to research before attempting to customize. Due diligence must be completed to find the proper batteries and accessories for the best personalized vaping experience.

How to Choose a Dab Pen

To be able to pick the best device for the user’s personal needs it is important to go over the basics. A dab pen is a portable vaporization device with a battery charged atomizer that is specifically used to heat concentrates. They all have the same basic parts: a battery, an atomizer, a cartridge, and a mouthpiece. The most popular dab pen is one with 510 threaded atomizers and batteries.

When looking for the perfect dab pen to purchase, the term mAh is used frequently, and it is an acronym for Milliamp Hours. It determines the duration of the battery life. The higher the mAh, the longer the battery life. 100 mah is about an hour of battery life, and it does not affect the heat of the coil in any way. Users get to choose from the portable and discreet look of a regular dab pen, or the sophistication and versatility of a slightly bigger box mod who have large capacities for after-market additions, for more serious consumers.

It is best to research coil heating systems before your purchase. Are you interested in something simple that's built with a single quartz or single ceramic coil system? Do you want more heat distribution and power using dual quartz coils? Or do you want really powerful dabbing atomizers, such as the Yocan Evolve Plus XL, which comes with a quad quartz coil heating system? Make sure you research the dab pens coils before choosing which one you want to purchase. 

How to Use a Dab Pen

How to Use a Dab Pen

Regardless of the device, the consumer chooses: It is important to follow some general rules for using dab pens as a proud owner of one of these devices. When someone chooses their first dab pen there may be some anxiety over how to properly use and maintain it. However, dab pens have the same basic parts, they are easy to use, and they come with easy to read instructions.

Generally, dab pens request the user to either press a button to activate the heating mechanism or take a drag on the mouthpiece to trigger the vaporization mechanism. The best brands have detailed tutorials on YouTube or vape store websites, such as vapevetstore.com.

Due diligence is necessary before using any inhalation device. It is also important to make sure the pen is being charged as per the instructions on the box. Just like with other electronic devices, employing non-compatible accessories can kill a battery’s lifespan.

Manual loading of wax into a vape tank should be performed with precaution. Overpacking the atomizer could cause damage to the coils, and there is a risk of wasting expensive concentrates. Keeping the pen upright, especially after usage prevents leakage. If the option is available to adjust temperatures or settings, like a box mod, it is wise to learn how to heat different oils at different lower levels for optimal flavor. Staying mindful of these tips, along with exercising general rules about electronic devices will help you keep your dab pen clean, functioning, and ready for use when needed. 

How to Clean a Dab Pen

Keeping a clean dab pen is like practicing good dental hygiene: mindfulness and maintenance are key. After each use, the pen should be cleaned on the outside, and the mouthpiece should be sanitized, especially if it was shared by multiple people. Rubbing alcohol may be used on the outside of the chamber and pen but should never be used where the concentrates will be vaporized.

Remove oil that may have melted onto where the battery attaches to the cartridge with caution, as liquid can ruin the ability to charge it. It is best to read the instructions provided on specific devices for tailored cleaning instructions, as every model is different. It is okay to use a cotton swab, or a tool provided by the manufacturer to remove obvious debris that could be causing any issues, keeping in mind that it is one of the most sensitive areas on the dab pen.

The best way to keep a clean dab pen is to use it with care and maintain it. This includes replacing coils, atomizers, and cartridges as needed, storing the device in an upright position, not overpacking the cartridge with too much wax, and cleaning it after each use. These low-cost steps will keep your device functioning and may prevent having to purchase a new one!

Dab Pen vs Dab Rig

Dab Pen vs Dab Rig 

The Dab Rig is a home device that allows the vaporization of concentrates. It has multiple pieces, including a heating element like a torch or electric heater, a device to hold the wax, like a dab nail, and something to cool the vapor and inhale it. It is a large set up that often requires several bags/briefcases to transport. Although the dab pen is essentially the mini electronic version of this same concept, it is still hard to compare the two experiences as if they are the same thing.

The heating element of a dab pen is a coil instead of a torch, the atomizer is like having a portable enail, and the mouthpiece is the inhalation method. Many dab pens are small enough to fit in a front pocket, making them the preferred device for convenience, ease, and travel. Pens are discreet, and easy to load and clean. Rigs take more time to maintain, and prices range from $300 up to thousands of dollars for more elaborate inhalation devices.

When it comes to that many variables to enhance the user’s experience rigs are the preferred set up for enthusiasts and connoisseurs of fine botanical extracts. Dab pens like the Yocan Evolve Plus XL retail for $39.99, but do not offer the same level of customization and settings that the traditional rigs provide. Concentrate users who are unable to transport their large, expensive home devices can find comfort in using a portable device such as the Boundless CF 710 Dab Pen that allows you to take quick and powerful dab hits. 


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