Answered: WTF ... is a Cannabis Dab Pen?

Let's talk about cannabis dab pens and how to use them.
Let's talk about cannabis dab pens and how to use them. /

When you hear the word vaporizer, you probably think of handheld oil devices like a PAX or STIIIZY. Rarely do you think about dabs and their portability, but I’m here to give you some good news: there are plenty of ways to dab on-the-go.

Let’s talk about dab pens and how to use them.

What is a cannabis dab pen?

Before we talk about dab pens, we have to talk about dabs in general. What are dabs? Dabs are a type of cannabis hash oil that you consume through a device called a dab rig. Dab rigs have reservoirs, usually made from glass, ceramic, or quartz, called bangers (or nails) where you place the oil while heating the reservoir until the oil vaporizes, and you’re able to suck the vapor through a dab rig’s mouthpiece. 

Dab pens are electronic devices that take the aforementioned process and make it portable. Unlike traditional vaporizers, they work directly with dabs (waxes), instead of pre-filled oil pods and cartridges. Dab pens are also called wax pens. Wax is just another consistency of dabs.

What is the best cannabis dab pen?

There are plenty of different portable dab pens out there. Some are built with wax atomizers on top of traditional batteries for heating, some are more advanced with ceramic coils and heating ovens. Whichever is best is up to you. For a list of options, peep sites that rank and review dab pens like Vaping360, TVape, and Smoke Cartel.

How do you use a cannabis dab pen?

How to use a dab pen depends on the type of pen you have. But traditionally, the process of using a dab pen follows five simple steps:

Step 1: Open cannabis dab pen

The obvious first step in using a dab pen is to open the dab pen.

Step 2: Insert cannabis hash oil

Logically, after opening the pen, you have to put some oil in it. How much oil to use is up to you. Most people do a little spec, just to see how the pen works and go from here. But if you want to, glob up right out the gate. 

Step 3: Heat your device

Once the oil is in the device, push whatever button is on your dab pen that activates its heating mechanism. It’s important to not overheat the device, as it’ll burn the oil, not vaporize it. Once the oil is burnt, so are the cannabinoids and terpenes within it, which greatly degrades the overall dabbing experience. This is why it’s always advised to never take red hot dabs.

Step 4: Consume from dab pen

Once the device has heated, inhale those dabs and’re now high. It really is that simple.


Once your dab pen session is over, just like with dab rigs, cleaning is the priority. Take a cotton swab through the coils to clean out the leftover oil residue. This will ensure that your pen is all gunked up next time you want to use it. Gunked up dab residue distorts that taste of your next dabs, overall leading to a much less flavorful, much less enjoyable experience. Clean your dab pen after every use and you won’t have to worry about this.

The pros and cons of cannabis dab pens

The pros of using a dab pen are portability and freedom of concentrate choice.


The biggest win with a dab pen is that you can put it in your pocket (or carrying case) and take it wherever you go.

Freedom of product choice

In addition to portability, the freedom of choice with dab pens is stellar. In 510 cartridges, you’re mostly limited to distillate and other Co2 oils, though live resin and rosin carts have become more popular as the cannabis market matures. With wax pens, you can go cop some wax, budder, shatter, rosin, resin, live resin, literally any type of dabbable concentrate in the store will work with your dab pen.

The cons of using a dab pen are the lack of temperature control, reduced flavor, price, and battery life.

Temperature control

Most dab pens only have two to four temperature settings, if that. With actual dabs, you can use a dab thermometer to dial temperature to an exact degree. That allows you to get the best out of whatever oil you buy.


Simply put: dabs from a dab rig will always taste better than dabs from a dab rig. Rigs were made for consumption over convenience.


Wax pens can be pretty expensive. Some on the lower end will hit your pocket for $70, and that’s before you even buy the oil. Additionally, the more you use them, the more you risk wax pens breaking over time. Once your wax pen breaks, it’s right back to the store to drop another $70. If you choose a more expensive model, you could end up paying up to $200 out of pocket. For the most part, you can find a pretty good dab pen for under $100.

Battery life

Lastly, a big disadvantage of using a dab pen versus taking dabs, or traditional oil vape pens, is battery life. Dab pens tend to have a battery life that lasts for only a few hours i.e. just a few sessions. Vape batteries can last for days, even weeks. Dab rigs never need power, so they never die on you.

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