The Confusing Intersection Between Dabbing and Vaping

Dab Pens vs Vape Pens

By Kristina Parren
Mark Adriane, Unsplash

Dabs go by several names: wax, shatter, budder, crumble, rosin. They’re all types of cannabis concentrate, processed into a waxy consistency and used for “dabbing.” The trend has been around for some time, but the mechanisms to vaporize concentrate have evolved.

Today, many people vaporize concentrate using a dab pen or wax atomizer. Unlike a vape pen, dab pens are created for the sole purpose of dabbing. Therefore, there are some major differences between the devices despite their very similar structure.

Below, we’ll discuss dabbing and the difference between dab pens and vape pens.

What is Dabbing?

Dabbing is the act of inhaling vapor from the waxy extract of a cannabis plant. Traditionally, people use a dab rig, similar to a bong, and heat the concentrate inside of the rig. Other methods include a pipe or a nail to heat the concentrate and create a vapor. Today, dab pens are becoming more popular for their convenient, compact design.

Why Do People Dab?

Dabbing’s popularity is due to its high potency. Though CBD dabbing does exist, its THC counterpart is much more popular. Flower marijuana usually contains between 10-20% THC, but concentrate can easily have between 70 and 90% THC. This extreme potency is sometimes controversial, which means that dabbing is not for beginners to the cannabis world.

The government and some experts have warned consumers about the possible side effects of concentrate over flower, oils, and other cannabis forms. They cite that high doses of THC can lead to paranoia, panic attacks, and hallucinations. Therefore, dabbing should be done with caution in mind, or with alternative CBD concentrates.

A study of over 4,000 participants found that those who tried dabbing did it for a number of reasons, including boredom, experimentation, medical symptoms, and even depression.

For those who prefer concentrate over flower, there are several reasons:

  • There is no smell.
  • It’s more covert.
  • You’ll feel greater THC (or CBD) effects.
  • It’s cost-effective (higher potency allows for fewer hits).
  • There is a more distinct flavor.

Many of these benefits are offered by vaping wax concentrate, specifically using dab pens.

Dab Pens vs Vape Pens

They look the same. They’re both shaped like pens. They’re small and portable. They both have coils that heat the material. But, they’re very different.

In order to understand how dab pens work, you first need to understand the mechanics behind vape pens.

Vape Pens

Vape pens are often used for dry herb, oil, and even wax in some instances. Oils, whether they include mainly THC or CBD, are heated using a vaporizer pen that is made up of several different components:

  • A battery
  • A mouthpiece
  • A sensor
  • A tank/atomizer (heating chamber)

The sensor turns on the device. Sometimes this is a power button or it’s automatic. Then, the battery powers the vape pen, allowing a coil within the atomizer to heat the material.

The atomizer may be incorporated into the tank where the material is held. Sometimes they are separate, and the vape pen incorporates replaceable coils or refillable tanks.

Some vape pens allow you to heat the cannabis herb or oil at different temperatures to get different effects, or to hasten the heat up time. Some vaporizers allow you to adjust the variable voltage and temperature control to customize your vaping experience. Additionally, most vape pens are 510 threaded, with some models requiring vape pen batteries (like a mAH battery) or they may be rechargeable using a micro USB port.

Dab Pens

A dab pen has similar components, but there are some differences. And luckily, unlike a dab rig, there is no blow torch needed. Dab pens are created specifically for dabbing. They may also be called wax pens.

How does a dab pen work? First, you will need a dab tool to spread the concentrate into the atomizer. It’s less common for a dab pen to have disposable tanks or cartridges like oil vape pens.

Inside the atomizer, there may be a wick to absorb any wax oil from the heated concentrate, or you may just spread the wax into an atomizer with a wickless, quartz, or ceramic coil. Some dab pens have no coil or wick, in which case the wax is spread onto a ceramic plate that heats the material directly.

These pens are created specifically to handle the thick viscosity of wax. Depending on how thick or thin your prefer your concentrate, you should choose a dab pen that is suited for that type of wax. For example, a wicked dab pen is more suitable for thinner concentrates.

Can You Adjust the Vapor in a Dab Pen?

Some dab pens allow you to adjust the temperature setting of the coil to get your preferred amount of vapor. If you are new to dabbing, then it’s best to start with a lower temperature. You only need a few hits to get an effect, so you won’t need to use much concentrate.

One of the main benefits of vaping concentrate rather than using a rig or nail is the ability to control the intensity with high-quality dab pens. This is one of the reasons that wax vape pens are becoming more popular.

Types of Concentrate

We previously mentioned the different names for concentrate, but what do they all mean? Whether you are using a CBD or THC concentrate, here is a quick rundown of some common concentrates:

  • Shatter – This type of concentrate is called shatter, because it can look like clear shards of glass. It is very delicate.
  • Rosin – Rosin is a softer concentrate heated and pressed from the cannabis flower.
  • Budder – Budder has the consistency of, well, butter. This concentrate is whipped under heat to give it its consistency. It’s viscous, so less heat is needed.
  • Earwax – This concentrate looks exactly like its name suggests. It is a sticky, beeswax-like concentrate.
  • Crumble – Crumble has the consistency of a dried honeycomb, but it tends to be messy.

The Verdict on Dabbing CBD

It may not be as easy to get, but you can absolutely dab waxy concentrates of CBD or Cannabidiol. High CBD concentrates (i.e. isolate) may provide very potent relief to some symptoms like pain or anxiety. Plus, you won’t get the typical high.

It may seem useless to dab CBD if most dabbing is done to get the benefits of THC, but increasing the potency of CBD can be beneficial for those who don’t get the full effect of CBD in other forms.

Speak to a professional at your local dispensary, as well as a doctor if you plan to dab CBD, to find the right fit for you.

Remedy Review does not recommend CBD vapes. But we understand some people want a smokable option. If you are going to buy a vape product containing CBD, please do not purchase from a questionable source, like an individual seller, convenience store, or vape shop. Buy directly from trusted brand with a history of thorough testing. Brands like Bluebird Botanicals, CBDfx, and Gold CBD are good places to start.

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