Buying a vape pen can be an exciting adventure. Once you start to look into the different vape pens on the market, you may get the feeling you are out of your depth. First and foremost, let’s recognize there is a difference between vape pens and a whole mod kit. A vape pen is super easy to use and does not have to be difficult to understand. Trust us.
Along with being easy to use, a vape pen offers you several options. It is highly portable, discreet, and hassle-free. Here, we will be discussing everything you need to know when searching for and using a vape pen. Armed with this knowledge, you will be ready to sally forth and enjoy vaping for yourself.
The portable vaporizer world is growing in size and complexity every day, each design serving a different intended function. By the end of this guide you will understand what the most popular types of vape pens are, what materials they use (herb vs wax vs cartridge) and which ones are the best-sellers in each category.
This article was written by Michael Jacobs who has over 10 years of experience working in the vape pen industry. His writing has helped break some of the stereotypes people have towards health and vaping by providing educational first-hand insight. Feel free to ask Michael any questions you may have about vape pens or the industry at large in the comments below!
What is a Vape Pen?
The term vape comes from what a vape pen is. It is a vaporizer. Shortened down, you get the term vape. It is called a pen because several of the devices on the market are shaped like an ink pen. Most all are slim and easy to conceal. Best of all, the vape pen allows you to enjoy vaping practically anywhere.
Having said this, there are several different styles and shapes for vape pens. The operation of the vape pen may differ depending on the model you purchase. Let’s start to look at how vape pens are constructed, so you can get a better idea of how they work.
Main Components of Vape Pens
Different pens have different construction, but at their core they are all very similar. Here are the general parts you can expect in a vape pen:
- Battery – Every vape pen needs a power source to operate. Batteries are generally lithium-ion and can be recharged with the use of a mini USB charging cord. Battery life can range depending on usage and model.
- Tank – your oil or e-liquid is stored in the tank before it is vaporized. The tank may be something you can refill or it may be a disposable pod. Most chambers are clear to make sure you have the ability to see when you need to refill or replace the tank.
- Atomizer – To produce clouds, heat is used to vaporize the product. This is a coil that produces a resistance between the voltage from the battery and the coil itself. This is registered in Ohms.
- Charger – Without battery power, vape pens cannot operate. The charger is generally at the bottom of the pen and can recharge with a mini USB charging cord. Most models will come equipped with a charging cord.
- Mouthpiece – When you draw on your vape pen, the mouthpiece is where the clouds go through. The width of the opening in the mouthpiece alters the fluffiness of the clouds as well as the depth of flavor you will experience. They are designed to be comfortable when you close your lips around them.
- Buttons – Some models will activate simply by drawing on your pen. Other models will have a button for activating the atomizer. Usually, there is only one button, so if you have a vape pen that allows you to turn it on and off, or alter the intensity of the atomizer it will be explained to you in the owner’s manual.
Types of Vape Pens
As you are starting to understand, there are several different types of vape pens on the market. Some may have the ability to handle two different types of products. However, it is more common to find pens designed specifically for a singular product. Here are some examples of the typical pens you will find on the market.
- Cartridge Pens – As mentioned above, the tank can either be refillable or replaceable. When dealing with cartridge pens, the tank is replaceable. This eliminates the need to measure your e-liquid. It makes it very convenient for you to simply replace the cartridge and be on your way. The only downside is that cartridges can be more expensive than refilling a tank. These are often used for cannabis extracts like live resin and are also referred to as dab pens within the industry.
- Dry Herb Vape Pens – If you prefer not to use oils or juices, the dry herb vape pen may be the one for you. This allows you to put your own ground herb into the tank. This is perfect for those wanting to enjoy vaping CBD or cannabis. The atomizer heats up the herb until the point it becomes vapor. It produces fewer aromas than when you smoke from more traditional methods. This allows you to enjoy herbal products wherever you would like to. An example of a popular dry herb pen would be like the Pax vaporizer.
- Dab/Wax Vape Pens – Among the most potent products on the market are pens that utilize dab or wax. This is a super-concentrated form of cannabis. It can be very tricky to utilize when using a kit. Using a vape pen takes a lot of guesswork out of the usage. When you use a kit, you have to worry about getting the heating element too close to the dab or wax. The pen is meticulously designed to protect from wasting any of the products from overheating.
*When shopping for the different products on the market, keep in mind the experience you are after. Cartridge pens can be restrictive in what is available on the market, but they are the easiest to use. They also have more consistent results in terms of the strength of the vapor.
***The only downside is they’re disposable, so not exactly the most eco-friendly option of them all, which would probably be a device that can be packed with raw extract/herb and uses a re-chargeable battery.
***Also, if you’re serious about dabbing concentrates then we recommend a larger solution than a pen as many dab-able extracts are served in little glass jars (think wax, budder, sauce etc) which are designed for use in larger dab rigs/e-rigs. These burn hotter, last longer, and produce longer sessions than their pen-shaped cousins and worth consideration if that’s your main aim.
How to Use a Vape Pen
Once you have purchased your vape pen, it is time to enjoy producing some fluffy clouds. There are some things you should be aware of before using your device for the first time. This will help you to get started as well as to keep going with your vaping experience.
1. Charging Your Vape Pen
Vape pens generally offer hours of vaping off of a single charge. Charging the lithium-ion battery within the pen is easy to do. Locate the mini USB port at the bottom of the pen. Plug in your pen with a charging cord and let it charge. The charging time will depend on your model. There may also be a light that will illuminate or change colors when it is charged. Consult your owner’s manual to be sure. Disposable pens will not offer the chance to charge them and will come already charged.
2. Refilling Your Pen
Refilling your pen will depend on the model you have purchased. Find the tank and learn how to access it. If the tank is one you can refill with e-liquids, simply top up with your favorite juice. If the tank is a replaceable cartridge, simply discard the empty cartridge and insert a new one.
3. Using Dry Herbs (Pax-only)
If your pen has the ability to use dry herbs, it is necessary to finely grind the herb first. Simply putting a large whole flower in the chamber will present several problems. It will also result in products not utilized. Make sure there are no seeds in your herb when it goes into the chamber as this will severely alter your experience. When you no longer are getting clouds of vapor from your pen, clean out the tank and add more ground herbs.
Herb CEO Tip: For the smoothest vapor with the strongest freshest flavor make sure to keep the moisture content of your flower as high as possible because it’s that moisture and the terpenes contained within that imparts flavor and effect. Using a high quality stash jar that blocks light and oxygen will ensure your buds are kept as fresh as possible for the most satisfying vape session possible.
How to Clean and Maintain a Vape Pen
In order to maintain a pleasurable vaping experience, it is necessary to maintain your vape pen. It is not necessary to clean your pen after every use. It should be cleaned every few sessions. This will prevent anything from building up within the pen and eliminates the risk of blockage. Here are some tips for cleaning your vape pen:
- Completely disassemble your vape pen. Detach the mouthpiece. Separate the tank from the battery. Most of this will be accomplished by unscrewing the pieces one from the other. If you are unsure of how to accomplish this task, refer to your owner’s manual.
- Clean the inside layer of the mouthpiece using a cotton swab. Make sure to thoroughly clean any part where your mouth touches or where saliva might infiltrate. Rubbing alcohol is a good way to make sure you remove everything, including stains, but also to sanitize your device. Take care to clean all holes for intake and output.
- Be very careful when cleaning around the coil. Applying excessive pressure to the coil could damage it. This is one of the most delicate parts and without it your pen will not work. It is recommended to use a small dab tool, or any small metal object. This way you can remove the residue and prevent it from building up. Buildups have a tendency to reduce volume by reducing heat in the chamber.
- Wipe down the exterior of the device thoroughly. Using alcohol on a cotton swab or cotton cloth helps you to keep your pen looking new and sanitary.
Before you enjoy using your vape pen, make sure all the parts have been completely dried. Do not use a cloth to dry the parts. Allow them to air dry in order to maintain the sanitization accomplished in cleaning with alcohol.
Benefits of Using a Vape Pen
If you are switching from smoking cigarettes to a vape pen you will appreciate the health benefits of making the switch. What we are going to concentrate on here is the benefits of using a vape pen as opposed to other more complicated devices. Here are some benefits for you to consider:
- Highly Portable – Lightweight and easy to slip into your pocket or purse, vape pens can literally go anywhere with you. While the design of the pen may differ, they are generally slim enough they will fit practically anywhere you would like to store them when not in use.
- Easy to Use – Even those who have complicated vape rigs can appreciate the ease of use with a vape pen. Simply pulling on the mouthpiece or pressing a button is all you need to do to create fluffy clouds. Perfect for a beginning vape user, the pen will not bog your down with endless settings or accessories.
- Affordable for Most Budgets – Devices can be easy to find and are inexpensive. The volume of devices on the market creates a lot of competition. Those without a lot of money to spend on a vape pen appreciate how easy it is to get started. It is more conducive to experimenting with different pens to see which ones you like best.
- Discreet – Thanks to the operation of vape pens, it is not necessary to announce to the world what you are doing. You can enjoy vaping practically anywhere without people being none the wiser as to what it is you are doing.
Important Things to Know When Buying a Vape Pen
If you have decided it is time for you to get your own vape pen, let’s talk about what to look for. The perfect pen will be different for different people. Here are some things for you to consider when choosing the right pen for you:
- Consider Available Features – Take some time to consider the different features available. Decide what kind of product you want to use, whether you want to use cartridges, how big of clouds you want, and battery life. Once you know which features you place the highest priority on, it can help you to narrow your search.
- Read Reviews – As with buying anything, you will generally not be the first one to do so. You can take some time to see what others have to say about the pens you are considering. This will give you a better understanding of the pros and cons of the product.
- Talk with Other Vapers – There are several forums for vapers you can access. Talk with people about what their favorite vape pens are as well as why. Most are happy to discuss what they use and why they like them.
- Purchase from Reputable Sellers – You can protect yourself from buying knockoff products by purchasing from a seller with a good reputation. Such things as a return policy can also be a good indicator you are buying from a seller dedicated to high-quality products.
Choosing the Best Vape Pen
Picking the best vape pen for you depends on your needs and personal preferences when it comes to cannabis and the effects you’re seeking.
Some pens are better for special occasions/traveling/outdoor events while others are more suited for the flower connoisseur.
It’s best you stop and give it a good think before you go out there and drop your hard earned money on a pen that isn’t the best type of vape for you, not only are the expensive but we don’t need to be creating any more unnecessary trash than we already do.
Pax 3 Vaporizer
- Gorgeous design
- Proven popular brand
- Larger battery than slim pens
- Widespread dispensary support network
Best Dual-purpose Vaporizer for Flower Lovers
Pax was the one of the first companies to put some serious R&D into their product when legal recreational cannabis was first taking off launching the original Pax in 2007 too much critical acclaim. If you didn’t have a stoner friend who told you his Pax was like “the iPhone of vaporizers” then idk what you were doing, maybe smoking joints like an OG?
The company has come a long way, and even though we’re not terribly excited about some of their other business ventures (cough Juul cough) we have to admit they are continually upping the bar when it comes to design and ease of use in the pocket-friendly vaporizer world.
My Pax 3 sits on my end table with my Re:Stash reusable jars of flower, rolling papers, ceramic hand pipe, and Smokus Focus inspection container. It’s there because if I’m going out for a long hike or even a weekend trip to the coast the Pax is a go-to for stealth operation in places where you might not have the space or receptiveness required to sit down and burn a whole joint.
Traditional Pax vaporizers are also great if you are a flower fanatic. Sure, they have concentrate adapters but honestly, in 3 years of use, I’ve yet to use it once simply because I enjoy smoking flower with it so much.
If you’re not as obsessed about flower flavor or looking for a bit of a more sudden kick then the below options may be more to your liking.
Pax Era/510 Catrdidges
- Smallest form factor for portability
- Very low cost to entry
- Use standard USB-C chargers you already have
- Can swap out different strains/extract type pods
- Discreet for out-in-open use
- Simple engineering/design = reliability
- Most common vape pen type
Best for On-the-go
We get it, sometimes you don’t have access to quality flower, a grinder, or are just too lazy to grind something up to be loaded and packed into an oven. Fair enough. For these situations disposable cartridge vape pens are probably going to be your best bet for marrying quality highs with convenience and portability.
The Pax Era is an award winning device, the company is no stranger to quality design and construction. However we usually go towards the standard live resin cartridges with standard 510 threads to fit any standard vape pen battery pack.
You can equate the Pax Era vs standard 510 cartridge rivalry pretty accurately to the iOS vs Android debate. If you go the Pax route you will have to buy exclusively their proprietary cartridges, which, we might add, come very highly reviewed as the company doesn’t want to hurt it’s brand reputation and thus usually only partners with quality extract producers.
Finding dispensaries that sell the Pax pods really isn’t hard because like iPhones they’ve become so widely used they’re kind of a standard at this point.
That said, most dispensaries we frequent have an even larger selection of extract cartridges in the standard pen-shaped 510 threaded variety.
These type of vape pens are fantastic for their portability, I’ve rocked them hiking, shopping, traveling, and just laying on the couch being too lazy to pack bowls.
The one big downside is the environmental impact, unlike the above (and below) options the single use pods and cartridges mean that inevitably you’re just supporting a system that dumps more trash into landfills, something which we’d prefer not have to contribute to.
Thus, we keep the cartridge/pod pens on standby and only use them when ultra-portability is necessary.
Puffco Plus Wax Vaporizer Pen
- Legit pen for legit extract lovers
- No cartridges
- High quality construction
- Ceramic bowl
- Built-in extract shovel
- Puffco quality and reliability
- No compromise in dab quality (vs cartridges or Pax)
Best Premium Wax/Budder Dab Pen
This is the most pure “dab” pen in the sense of the words in that it was designed from the bottom up to work directly with your little extract jar.
While Pax added a concentrate function to their flower vaporizer, and other “dab pens” simply often use distillate in a 510 cartridge, the Puffco Plus actually is a swiss army knife designed to be used with fresh waxes and budders directly.
How? Well it unscrews and there is a little shovel built right into the pen for easy ceramic oven loading which results in pure dabs on the go.
Will it create massive thunderclouds of vapor like your $1,000 home rig setup? No probably not, BUT if you’re out on a trip (we think the Puffco Plus would be PERFECT for a long weekend camping trip) and looking for a more intense longer-lasting high than what you get with standard flower then this design is simply ingenious in it’s practicality.
And of course, Puffco has already become a dominant player in the e-rig space with their Puffco Peak Pro, which stands as one of the go-to electronic dab rigs for home use (although it can be taken on the go as well, just have to be careful with the water).
Regardless of whether you are using vape pens as a way to quit smoking or as a way to have fun, getting started doesn’t have to be daunting. You have just learned the basics of the types of pens, how they are used, and what they are best suited for.
Congratulations, you are now armed with the knowledge of the different types of pens out there, how to use them, and how to maintain them like a pro. You also understand which products are used for which substances like nicotine vape juice, CBD, CBG, THC, Delta 8, and other cannabis-derived extracts.
We wish you luck in exploring the new cloudy horizon ahead of you. If you are already an experienced vaper and know of another pen that we missed in this list that is deserving of inclusion let us know in the comments.
Also, we’re curious, do you vape nicotine, CBD, THC or any combination of the three? We want to better understand our readers and thus are curious how popular each vape category is so let us know in the comments!