What is a Dab Pen? Guide to Using Wax Pens

Dab pens have become an increasingly popular way for cannabis enthusiasts to consume concentrates. Also known as wax pens, these compact vaporizers let you enjoy waxy oils and distillates on-the-go with precise temperature control. But how exactly do dab pens work? What temperature settings should you use? Are dab pens safe? This complete guide will cover everything you need to know.


  • Adjusting voltage changes flavor intensity, vapor production, efficiency, and effects.
  • Lower voltages around 3V produce smooth, flavorful hits; higher voltages around 4V create big clouds.
  • Different cartridge types, like live resin and distillate, need specific voltage ranges.
  • Start low, around 3V, and incrementally increase to find your personal sweet spot.
  • Experimentation with small voltage adjustments is key to balancing flavor, vapor, and potency.
  • There’s no single “best” voltage; find your ideal setting based on your priorities.

Want to see how the top Dab Pens compare? check out our picks for the Best Dab Pens

What is a Dab Pen?

A dab pen is a type of portable device designed specifically for vaporizing cannabis concentrates, extracts, and oils. Unlike vape pens, which use vape juice and e-liquids, dab pens are made for solid or semi-solid marijuana concentrates.

Dab pens typically consist of a lithium-ion battery, an atomizer with a chamber and heating coil, and a mouthpiece. The battery powers the atomizer’s heating element so that it reaches the precise temperature needed to turn your chosen concentrate into inhalable vapor. Dab pens are also sometimes called wax pens since one of the most popular materials used in them is waxy types of marijuana concentrate like budder, crumble or wax itself. However don’t let the name fool you – wax vaporizers can handle all kinds of cannabis extracts.

How to Use a Dab Pen or Vape Pen for THC, CBD, or Wax

How Do Wax Pens Work?

The key components that allow wax pens to vaporize your different concentrates are the heating coil and chamber.

Most dab pens use either ceramic or quartz heating coils. The coil is wrapped in a chamber that you load the concentrate into. When activated, the battery sends power to the coil which heats up rapidly to vaporize your material.

The chamber is built to withstand extremely high temperatures while evenly transmitting heat. This allows every part of the concentrate to melt and vaporize efficiently. The vapor then gets inhaled through the mouthpiece.

A dab pen battery can provide a much more controlled vaping experience compared to using a bong or pipe. You can select your ideal temperature to get the perfect flavor and thickness of vapor. Most dab pens also feature variable voltage batteries allowing further customization.

What Temperature Is Best For Dab Pens?

One of the great features of most dab pens is the ability to customize the heating profile with different temperature settings. But what’s the best temp to vape at?

There are a few factors to consider when setting your ideal temperature:

  • The type of cannabis concentrate – Different consistencies vaporize best at different temps. For example, budders and waxes vape well around 350°F to 400°F while harder, glassy shatters need higher temps of 500°F to 550°F.
  • Flavor vs vapor density – Lower temps around 300°F produce lighter, more flavorful vapor, while high temps over 500°F create thick, dense hits.
  • Personal preference – Work your way through the temperature spectrum to find your sweet spot. Start low and gradually increase.

A good starting point is around 350°F to 400°F. This works well for most wax pens and cannabis concentrates. If the vapor seems too thin or the flavor is weak, slowly bump the settings up until you find your ideal dabbing temp.

It’s generally better to start low rather than too hot to avoid burning your throat or wasting material.

How To Use A Wax Pen

Using a wax pen is simple once you get the hang of it. Just follow these steps:

  1. Charge the battery fully – Most wax pen batteries take 1 to 4 hours to charge.
  2. Load the chamber with concentrate – Use a dabbing tool to place a rice-grain sized dab into the chamber. Don’t overfill.
  3. Replace the mouthpiece – Screw the top back on carefully to avoid spills.
  4. Select your temp – Use the button clicks to set your desired heating temp. Start low.
  5. Press and inhale – Hold the button down and inhale slowly like sipping a drink.
  6. Exhale and enjoy!

It’s a good idea to start with small dabs, especially if you’re new to concentrates. You can always take another puff. Taking it slow helps you find the right temperature and avoid taking more than you can handle.

Make sure to q tip out any leftover oil resin after your session. Dab pens require more cleaning than vapes. A little isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab scrubs it squeaky clean.

How to Use a Dab Pen or Vape Pen for THC, CBD, or Wax

How Strong Are Dab Pens?

Dab pens can get you very high, very fast due to the extremely concentrated oils used. Even small hits provide intense, immediate effects.

For new users, the rush of cannabinoids to the system can feel almost psychedelic. It’s easy to overdo it. Set your dab pen to the low temperature setting and take small puffs to keep it smooth.

Vaping concentrates provides a much clearer high than smoking flower. You may notice more pronounced cerebral effects and less body sedation. Flavors also come through more boldly.While the soaring high of dab pens is pleasurable, don’t drive or operate machinery until you know how it affects you. Remember to wait at least 1 to 2 hours after your session before handling risky activities.

Are Dab Pens Safe?

Like any cannabis product, dab pens carry some risks if misused. However they are generally considered safer than smoking flower. Vaporizing eliminates toxins from combustion while still delivering fast-acting effects.

That said, safety depends largely on the quality of your device and concentrates. Only buy from reputable brands and licensed dispensaries. Avoid street carts which often contain contaminants.

Here are some safety tips for using dab pens:

  • Carefully handle the pen to avoid breaks and leaks. Don’t overfill the chamber.
  • Start on the lowest voltage and work upwards slowly. Too much heat can be harsh.
  • Take small puffs, especially for your first few uses until you know your limits.
  • Allow the heating chamber to cool fully between puffs to preserve the flavor.
  • Clean the chamber after each use to avoid residue buildup.
  • Store upright in a secure case to prevent spills and damage.

Following basic precautions greatly reduces any risks allowing you to enjoy the perks of dab pens worry-free! Read more in our in-depth article on are dab pens safe?

What’s The Difference Between Dab Pens And Vape Pens?

At first glance, dab pens and vape pens look nearly identical. But there are some important differences in how they work and what they’re designed for.

The main distinction is that vape pens use cannabis oils, distillates and e-liquids while dab pens are built for solid cannabis concentrates. Vape pens also rely on wicks and lower temperatures around 200°F to 300°F.

Dab pens operate at much higher temps of 300°F to 700°F to properly vaporize waxes and shatters efficiently.

A vape pen will consist of a 510 vape battery, that combines with a pre-filled or refillable atomizer. However dab pen batteries have chambers and mouthpieces that are designed specially to handle sticky concentrates without clogging.

Many vape pens use prefilled, disposable cartridges for convenience while dab pens require manually loading servings of concentrate. Both have pros and cons, so consider your preferences.

Overall, dab pens deliver an intense, highly-controllable dabbing experience in an ultra-portable device. Vape pens offer simplicity and discretion.

The experience and effects from dab pens varies considerably depending on the temperature setting, battery voltage, and of course the particular cannabis concentrate used.

How To Choose The Right Dab Pen

With so many wax vaporizers available, it can be tricky to choose the right one. Here are the key factors to keep in mind:

  • Heating material – Ceramic and quartz are the most common. Quartz retains heat well while ceramic is more affordable. Both work great.
  • Temperature settings – Look for multiple precisely controlled heat profiles for vaping flexibility.
  • Battery capacity – Higher mAh means longer vaping sessions before needing to recharge.
  • Size and shape – Pick a compact, pocketable unit unless ultra-discretion isn’t a concern.
  • Brand reputation – Stick to well-known, reputable manufacturers for reliability and safety.
  • Budget – Prices range from $20 to $200+. Match spending to your needs and experience level.

Focus on the features that matter most to you whether that’s precise temperature control, maximum portability or certain aesthetics. Taking the time to find the right wax pen for your priorities provides the best vaping experience.

Maintaining Your Dab Pen

Like any gadget, dab pens perform best when properly maintained. Here are some tips for taking care of your device:

  • Fully charge batteries between uses and avoid letting them die completely.
  • Clean the chamber after every dabbing session with rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs.
  • Replace heating coils once they’re gunked up or damaged.
  • Use a silicone container to store concentrates to avoid messes.
  • Wipe down the outside periodically to remove residue.
  • Avoid extreme hot or cold temperatures when storing the pen.
  • Handle carefully to prevent breaking the glass mouthpiece or chamber.

With regular care and cleaning, your wax pen should deliver great performance for many months or years. Get more tips on how to clean your dab pen.

Are There Alternatives To Wax Pens?

If dab pens aren’t your thing, there are other great options for enjoying concentrates conveniently. The most common alternatives are:

  • Dab rigs – These water pipe devices work like bongs for dabbing wax. Traditional dab rigs offer great vapor production but less portable than pens.
  • E-rigs – Portable, electric dab rigs with precise temperature control in a compact device. Easier to use than torch rigs.
  • E-nails – Highly adjustable electric nails that attach to any water pipe. Feature accurate heat for big rips.
  • Nectar collectors – Simple glass straws with a titanium tip to scoop and vaporize concentrates. Very straightforward.

Each system has pros and cons to weigh against your needs and preferences. Having variety keeps your dabbing exciting!

Dab Pen Safety Tips

To wrap up, here are some key safety tips to remember whenever using your wax pen:

  • Start with the lowest temperature setting and work upwards slowly.
  • Take small puffs, especially when trying a new concentrate.
  • Allow the heating chamber to fully cool between hits.
  • Keep batteries stored safely away from heat, liquids, and pressure.
  • Use only high quality cannabis concentrates from reliable sources.
  • Clean the chamber regularly to prevent buildup of gunk.
  • Avoid using dab pens excessively throughout the day.
  • Never operate heavy machinery or drive while under the influence.

Staying informed and using common sense goes a long way in ensuring you have enjoyable, trouble-free experiences with your dab pen or any cannabis product.

The Benefits Of Dab Pens

Dab pens offer several unique advantages:

  • Ultra portability and discretion
  • Intense vapor production from cannabis concentrates
  • Ability to precisely control temperatures
  • Convenience of vaping quickly on-the-go
  • More flavorful than smoking
  • Smoother, cooler vapor than dab rigs
  • Rechargeable batteries for extended use between charges
  • Less harsh on lungs than smoking cannabis
  • More control over a dab pen high than smoking 

For serious vaping fans, the combination of intense effects, convenience, and customization makes dab pens unique compared to other methods.


Hopefully this guide has helped you understand what a dab pen is and how you can use one to consume cannabis concentrates.

We’ve covered everything from temperature recommendations to safety precautions.

Remember to start low and slow with new dab pens until you learn your tolerances and preferences. Always buy from legitimate sources and keep your device clean. Follow the tips outlined and your wax pen will deliver awesome flavor and effects for a long time!

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is a dab pen the same as a vape pen?

No, dab pens and vape pens are completely different devices designed for separate purposes. Dab pens vaporize solid cannabis concentrates using precision heating coils. Vape pens rely on e-liquids soaked into wicks and work at lower temperatures. The user experience and effects are vastly different between the two.

What’s the difference between a cart and a vape?

Vape carts are much smaller and hold less liquid, typically 0.5-1.0 ml in a narrow cylindrical shape similar in size to a cigarette. Vape tanks are larger, often holding 2 ml of e-liquid or more, and have a wider profile. Vape carts are made to be disposed of while tanks can be refilled and reused.

How do dab pens work?

Dab pens use ceramic or quartz heating coils to vaporize solid cannabis concentrates when powered by the battery. This heating chamber allows you to vape waxes, budders, shatters and more by turning them into inhalable vapor at the touch of a button. Dab pens offer temperature flexibility and portability in a compact unit.

How do I use a dab pen?

Using a dab pen involves charging it fully, cleaning the chamber, loading a small amount of concentrate into the atomizer, setting your temperature, and inhaling the vapor produced. Start low and slow, especially as a beginner. Q-tip the chamber after to keep it clean.

Are dab pens safe?

Dab pens are generally considered safer than smoking cannabis, when used properly. However, safety largely depends on the quality of the device and concentrates. Buy from legitimate retailers and follow all usage and handling instructions. Start with low temps and small doses. Clean regularly.

Do dab pens smell?

Dab pens produce very little odor compared to smoking cannabis flower. The vapor carries almost no lingering scent. However, the concentrates themselves can be quite aromatic and pungent. Properly storing your materials is important to contain smells. For more on how long dab pen odors persist, check out this article.

Jules Martinez
Jules Martinez
Jules Martinez, a co-founder of our vaping website, is our esteemed Editor-in-Chief. With over a decade of experience in vaping, CBD, and cannabis, Jules is a knowledgeable and respected figure. His expertise spans vaping devices, e-liquids, CBD products, and cannabis-related topics, providing comprehensive insights. Jules's keen editorial eye ensures our content maintains the highest quality, accuracy, and relevance standards. His dedication fosters community and delivers reliable information on vaping, CBD, and cannabis, driving our website's growth. With Jules leading the way, we're a trusted resource for enthusiasts seeking valuable information and guidance.

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