Vape Pens, Dab Pens, and Wax Pens

Vape Pens, Dab Pens, and Wax Pens

When it comes to consuming cannabis, you have many methods to choose from. This lets you select the way that you prefer to consume cannabis, whether you want to use a wax, vape, or dab. You could also opt for edibles, smoke marijuana, or choose another method. 

Pens are growing in popularity as the legality of cannabis spreads, offering a convenient and portable way for you to bring your marijuana with you on the go. But what is the difference between the various pens you will see on the market, specifically vape pens, dab pens, and wax pens? 

The Commonalities

Whether you look at vape pens, dab pens, or wax pens, you will find a portable device that is discreet and in the general shape of a pen. They are easy to fit into your pocket or bag and typically straightforward to use. They all include some sort of heating element as well as a way to hold your concentrate or cannabis. They will also all have a power source of some sort, usually a battery. Take a closer look at these similarities. 


One of the main draws of wax, vape, and dab pens is that they are all highly portable. They are sleek and small, usually similar in size to a very thick pen. This makes them easy to fit in any small space. For enhanced portability, all of them can feature carrying cases for protection, making them even more discreet. 


As mentioned, all three of these types of cannabis pens are highly discreet. If you are somewhere where you do not want to pull out a bong or joint, then they offer a subtler method of consuming your favorite strain of marijuana. No one will know what you are consuming either since the pens all look very similar to e-cigarettes. 

Further discretion comes from the ease of use and the small size of the pens. This means that you can theoretically take them out, enjoy your quick vape, wax, or dab, and then put it away within a matter of minutes. 

Ease of Use

Ease of Use

All three pens are also very easy to use, especially compared to smoking marijuana or using a tabletop dab rig or vaporizer. With many of the models, you simply press a button then inhale. This is particularly common for vape pens, but it is less common for dab pens and wax pens. 

Even if you choose a more advanced pen with a somewhat complicated process, it should still be simple enough for you to get the hang of very quickly. 

Temperature Controls

All wax pens, dab pens, and vape pens can work within a specific temperature range. That range will vary somewhat depending on the type of pen, but it will always be within temperatures that are safe for you to operate. No matter which of these three styles of pens you choose, you can also find models that let you control the temperature within a given range. 

Power and Energy

No matter whether you choose a vape pen, wax pen, or dab pen, you should expect it to have a similar method of storing and using energy. They also all consume similar amounts of energy with each use. 


Pricing for vape pens, wax pens, and dab pens is all within the same general range. You are likely to find plenty of reasonable options for $50 to $100. You can likely find a few cheaper models, but you should always confirm they have the features you want. You can also likely find more expensive versions of each type of pen with additional features or durability. 


Whether you choose a dab pen, wax pen, or vape pen, you will get what you pay for in terms of durability. Comparable pens from similar brands in each category should last a similar amount of time, provided you care for them properly. 


Available Accessories 

No matter the type of pen you choose, you will likely find similar options for accessories. Vape pens, wax pens, and dab pens can frequently be upgraded or customized by changing components like the battery, atomizer, mouthpiece, or coil. As mentioned, you can also usually find carrying cases for all of them. 

Vape Pens

Vape pens usually feature four major components. The tank holds your vaping oil or liquid. The atomizer uses heat to convert the oil or liquid into vapor. The sensors control mechanisms, including the voltage, atomizer, and power. The battery powers the vape pen. 

Vape pens are frequently rechargeable and can work with a range of oil cartridges, including those that you fill yourself. 

Using a Vape Pen

As you use a vape pen, you will suck the vape oil or liquid into the pen’s atomizer. There, it becomes vapor. You inhale this vapor via your mouth. 

Wax Pens

Wax pens do not involve any liquids or oils. Instead, they involve using wax concentrates of your chosen cannabis. They can also theoretically work with other substances in the form of a wax concentrate, although cannabis and cannabis-related products are the most popular. 

The main components of a wax pen are the battery to power the device, the chamber featuring the heating element (usually a coil), and the mouthpiece that makes it easier to inhale. 

Most wax pens feature steel casing that will stop you from burning your hands. This is a key feature of wax pens because they require a higher level of heat than vape pens. 

Dab Pens

Dab Pens

Dab pens are similar in nature to vape pens and wax pens, but they are designed to be used with dabs. For those unfamiliar with them, dabs are smaller concentrates. The idea is that when you inhale a dab, you inhale a highly concentrated dose of cannabis. 

You will notice similar components in dab pens as those in wax and vape pens. To prepare the pen, put your dab on the coils of your pen. When you turn the pen on, the coils heat up and melt the dab onto the wick of the pen. The wick will absorb the melted dab liquid, heating it up even more. It is this second heating that turns it into the vapor that you inhale. 

Dab pens are the only kind of pen that lets you inhale dabs. Although dabs and wax are similar in some ways, wax pens will not work with dabs. 

The Most Notable Differences

With a better idea of what each type of pen entails in mind, it is time to take a closer look at the various features and characteristics that set the pens apart from each other. 

Form of Cannabis Used

The biggest difference between the three types of pens is what form of cannabis you will use. Vape pens tend to use oil or liquid of some sort, which will almost always be less concentrated than dabs or waxes. In contrast, wax pens use wax concentrate and dab pens use dabs. Both of these are concentrated forms, and dabs are very highly concentrated. 

Some types of pens can also accept more than one form of cannabis. Vape pens will usually only work for vaping as they are designed to contain the cartridges. On the other hand, dab pens tend to be more versatile, and you can easily find one that will accept shatter, crumble, butter, or even wax. Remember that you cannot use dabs in a wax pen. 

Keep in mind, however, that this compatibility is not true of all dab pens, and it is never true of wax or vape pens. You can typically find pens that perform more than one function if you look hard enough. Some may even have removable parts that let you vaporize fresh cannabis buds instead of the oil or interchangeable parts, so they can fit into more than one of the three categories of pens in this guide. You will likely pay more for these pens with greater versatility. 

Form of Cannabis Used

Additives in the Concentrate and Safety 

The differences in additives are also a concern because you will likely inhale any additive that is in your chosen concentrate. Dabs and wax tend to be pure concentrates without additives, although there are exceptions to the rule. In contrast, vape oils tend to have extra additives, some of which are known carcinogens. You theoretically do not heat the oil enough to release the carcinogens fully, but the risk is still there. 

Of course, you can reduce this risk by choosing your vape oils carefully. However, you will be hard-pressed to find an oil without additives as it will not vaporize properly. You should also keep in mind that there is not much long-term research on the safety of dabbing or wax pens either, so the presence of additives as a safety concern is not necessarily enough of a reason to completely avoid vape pens. 


Because of the type of substance used, vape pens always feature cartridges for storing the oil. These are usually disposable cartridges that you can toss when you use them up. You can also find refillable cartridges for vape pens that let you use the oil of your choice and refill them as many times as you want. 

Meanwhile, dab and wax pens do not have cartridges. Instead, you just place a small quantity of your wax or dab in the appropriate part of the pen. 


Each type of pen also has its own level of messiness, and this can vary greatly based on the pen you choose. If you load a dab pen or wax pen by hand instead of with a dab tool or a similar item, you will likely be in for a mess. You will also have a mess if you use refillable vape cartridges. However, using pre-loaded vape oil cartridges is not messy at all, as you do not have to come into contact with the cannabis oil at all. This helps them appeal to those who do not want a mess. 


Because of the messiness involved in loading your cartridges, dab and wax pens are much more likely to get dirty, including becoming very sticky. This means that you have to spend more time cleaning them than you would vape pens. It also results in more frequent replacement of the coil. In contrast, vape pens typically require much less cleaning and maintenance. 



All three of these pen types use safe temperatures that have been carefully calculated to maximize the potency and results of the cannabis product. Because of the differences in the cannabis form used, however, they have different temperature requirements. 

Vape pens will usually have temperatures of 315 to 385 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, dab and wax pens need temperatures that are a bit higher, from 350 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Your Smoking Experience

It should not be surprising that there are also some differences in the smoking experience with each of these types of pens, some of which are due to the form of cannabis

If you like cooler hits instead of hotter ones, then dab pens are usually the best choice. They have lower temperature ranges than wax pens and are likely to offer increased temperature control compared to vape pens. 

You may also notice that the vapor for vape pens tends to be harsher than the smoke that you get from dabs or wax. That being said, all three will deliver smooth experiences: there are just different levels of smoothness. 


Vape pens, wax pens, and dab pens are all discreet and portable, giving you a convenient way to consume cannabis on the go. They all heat up different forms of cannabis, so you can inhale them to feel the effects. Vape pens use oils and liquids specifically designed for this purpose while wax pens use wax cannabis concentrates and dab pens use dabs, which are known for being highly concentrated. Each type of pen has its own advantages and disadvantages, so your choice will come down to personal preference. 


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