What to Use In a Dab Pen
As mentioned before, most dab pens are designed to hold cannabis concentrates of some fashion, typically something that holds at least a semi-solid form – Resin, shatter, wax, etc. etc. Though there are pens that are 100% compatible with the same types of e-liquid used in vape pens it’s important to check your specific vapor pen’s instructions & labels to make sure any liquids won’t mess up the interior (and potentially ruin your pen).
And though there may be exceptions, most dab pens are not designed by default to handle cannabis flower. If your vape of choice has a heating chamber (IE: the products inside do not come in direct contact with the heating element) it may support vaporizing dried flower, but if in doubt it’s best to check your instruction manual first.
Also note: You may hear of dab pens referred to by other names, typically related to the aforementioned cannabis concentrates. If someone mentions having a “wax pen” or a “resin pen”, these are ultimately just dab pens by other monikers.
Dab Pen Cleaning & Maintenance
It’s a good idea to give vaporizers that use cannabis concentrates a thorough cleaning once every week or two; concentrates in particular are very sticky and leave a lot of cannabis resin & other gunk behind, which can interfere with the working order of your vaporizer.
Cleaning wax pens usually only requires a cotton swab (IE: q-tip) and isopropyl alcohol. Dip the fluffy end of the swab into the alcohol, rub along the mouth piece and chamber to remove grime, and repeat as needed; try to avoid making direct contact with the coil while swabbing, to avoid transferring cotton fibers. If you find that the threading of your chamber has gotten sticky from THC a quick swab with alcohol followed by a quick scrub from a (no longer in active duty) toothbrush should make them clean as new.
Wickless coils can be cleaned by soaking in isopropyl alcohol, though replacement may be needed. Without cleaning coils often have a lifespan of less than a month, and while cleaning may help extend their lifespan replacing worn out coils is often a necessity, particularly models that include a wick. As many dab pens have vastly different designs you’ll need to refer to your manufacturer’s instructions for more details on how to accomplish this with your specific model.
Differences in Dab Pens
At their most basic level, all vape pens are a power source (IE: battery) connected to a device that creates vapor through application of heat (typically referred to as an “atomizer”). Different styles of vapor pens will use different components to customize the functionality of their device, and among the most crucial is in how it’s atomizer conveys heat.
First is whether or not the atomizer carries a wick. In vaping terms a wick is exactly what it sounds like – A small piece of absorbent, fibrous material which soaks up and holds any concentrates placed inside the chamber. Wick coils is usually used for vape pens designed to hold liquids and thinner, runnier concentrates, while bare coils are more often used for solid cannabis concentrates like wax, shatter or budder. Wick coils are also generally used for vaporization at lower temperatures, while wickless coils are preferred by those who like running their vaporizers at high temps.
Also important for wax pens is your number of coils, single or double. Needless to say, more means more – Double coils are more efficient at heating and usually have longer lifespans than single coil models. But double coils also use more battery, and do little for those who want to vape their concentrates at low temperatures. There are models with even more coils, but most standard models will offer a choice between one or two.
Equally important is coil composition, namely whether your coils are made purely from metal or include quartz or ceramic inside. Ceramic was the defacto material of choice for the first several generations of e-cigarettes and vaporizers but more manufacturers have moved on to quartz and titanium as heating elements, due to their improved capacity for vaporization without conveying flavor. Which material you prefer will ultimately be up to your personal preference, but it’s worth experimenting around with all three to see which one you enjoy the most.
Lastly, some pens place a heating chamber above the coils, typically made of ceramic. Though models with a ceramic chamber take longer to heat up they offer a more reliable temperature control, and prevent the concentrates from making direct contact with the heating element underneath. This method also tends to be more efficient, with less product lost in the heating process, and can house a wider variety of materials, often including weed in its natural form of cannabis flower/dry herb.