What exactly are dab pens? It's a common question, but it can still be tricky to get a precise answer. The concentrate scene was very niche for a very long time, and that tends to breed a certain amount of in-group lingo and elitism. Now, concentrates are hitting the mainstream, and more and more newcomers flock to them every day.
If you're one of these people then this article is for you. We're going to tell you everything you need to know about concentrates and the best way to consume them: Dab pens.
So, without any further ado, let's get started. Here is the absolute beginner's guide to dab pens.
Check out: The List of Best Dab Pens
What Are Concentrates?
Concentrates are well named, they are a condensed form of dry herb. Unlike the many, more well known, and long established forms, concentrates are designed to contain as little plant material as possible. The result is a pure distillation of everything that makes herb what it is.
The most common concentrates on the market are created through a specialized, and pretty complicated process. First, all the active ingredients (cannabinoids, flavonoids, and so on) are flushed out of the plant matter with a chemical solvent. One of the most common of these is butane.
Obviously, this isn't the safest substance to work with, so this process requires specialized scientific equipment and knowledge.
Next, the solvent needs to be boiled off. This is done with a vacuum oven that lowers the air pressure surrounding the concentrate until the boiling point of the butane is lowered to a safe level. Once all of the solvent is boiled off, you'll be left with concentrate.
The resulting concentrate often takes one of three forms:
The most common and affordable form of concentrate, and the comparatively weakest. Oils have a golden, honey like appearance. They can be used in all dab rigs, in certain dry herb vapes, most concentrate vapes, and with specialized pocket dab pens like honey straws.
The second most common and third most powerful form of concentrate. Wax often has a crumbly, sticky consistency. This means that it needs to be stored in special non-stick containers and handled with specialized tools. It can be used with dab rigs, some dry herb vapes (depending on its consistency), and most concentrate vaporizers.
Some times during the purification process, concentrate will form into a crumbly, dry substance. This, suitably enough, is called crumble. It is the second most potent form of concentrate that is easily available. This type of concentrate is surprisingly easy to handle, and often breaks down into vapable chunks by itself
The purest and most potent form of concentrate. Shatter has a brittle, candy-like consistency. However, it is still very sticky and should be sorted and handled with non-stick tools. It can be used in dab rigs, and concentrate vapes.
Check out: Best Portable Dry Herb Vaporizer Guides
What’s The Appeal of Concentrates?
That's how you make concentrates, but what exactly is the appeal of them? It's pretty simple; a gram of concentrate is going to be several times the potency of its equivalent weight in dry herb. This means that you can make a little go a lot further.
This strength is why, for the most part, concentrates are thought of as being for more advanced users. Beginners should be careful when consuming dabs, but with a little caution and a bit of experience you'll find that dabs might be right for you.
Another important feature of dabs that bears mentioning is their flavor. Along with psychoactive cannabinoids, flavonoids are condensed into concentrates. In short, a hit from a dab pen will have a stronger and more distinct taste than one from a vaporizer.
Many concentrate users seek them out for medicinal uses. This is because they have several advantages over herbs in this way. The first, is that a little goes a long way, allowing users to take doses less frequently. Another is that concentrates tend to have more predictable quantities of active ingredients, making it easier to measure doses.
Finally, concentrates can vaporize very cleanly, sparing the user's lungs from the harsh smoke associated with dry herb combustion.
How to Consume Concentrates
Bongs, pipes, and blunts; these are among the most famous methods of dry herb consumption. Unfortunately none of them are compatible with concentrates. This is because concentrates are designed to vaporize very quickly at very high temperatures. Traditional forms of botanical consumption simply cannot reach these temperatures.
Instead, there is a range of different, specially designed methods intended solely for concentrates.
At first glance, dab rigs look a lot like a traditional bong. They are often glass water pipes that use a shallow reservoir to cool hits, and they need an external heat source to work. However, one of the key differences is in how materials are applied to them.
Rather than using a bowl, a dab rig uses a bucket or nail. This is a shallow dish made from a heat-resistant material, often titanium, quartz, or ceramic. Each of these materials have different qualities. Some, like titanium, are incredibly conductive. Others, like quartz are renowned for their non-reactive nature that lets the user enjoy their concentrate's pure flavor.
The nail is heated to an incredibly high temperature with a butane torch, a special type of torch lighter that is capable of generating incredibly high temperatures. When the nail reaches vaping temperature, the concentrate is applied to it with a dab tool. It instantly vaporizes, creating a potent vapor that is cooled with the water pipe.
This is certainly an effective way of consuming dry herb, but some users may find it unwieldy.
Dual Use Vapes
Many dry herb vapes are advertised as being 'dual use'. This means that they can be used with both botanicals and concentrates. Often, dabs are vaped with the assistance of a concentrate pad. This is an absorbent disc that slips into the heating chamber. Then, the vape is set to either its highest temperature, or a bespoke concentrate setting. The main drawback is that the resulting hits are less impressive than those from a dedicated device, and it can only be used with oils and the more viscous wax concentrates.
Disposable Vape Pen
This is a relatively new form of consumption that is quickly becoming one of the most popular. This type of device comes pre-loaded with a certain amount of specially formulated concentrate that is designed to vaporize with an atomizer. It is easy to use, accessible, and individually cheap. However, it doesn't give you much in the way of flexibility, and is often constrained to low-potency forms of concentrate.
These are all great ways to consume concentrate, however they do each have drawbacks. Overall, when it comes to ease of use, reliability, and flexibility; you can't beat a dab pen. So, let's take a look at what makes a dab pen so perfect for consuming concentrates.
Everything You Need to Know About Dab Pens
Dab pens have grown from a niche corner of the vape market, into a booming industry packed with stylish and cutting edge devices. However, they still lag behind dry herb vapes in terms of exposure and cultural relevance.
Of course, that is all quickly changing, dab pens are rapidly growing in popularity and soon may be one of the most common ways for users to enjoy vape experiences. Until then, however, it's still important for newcomers to have a grasp on the basics of dab pens.
What's So Great About Dab Pens?
The appeal of dab pens isn't a hundred miles away from the appeal of dry herb vaporizers. They make the consumption of concentrates easier, more reliable, more convenient, and cleaner! They also serve as a way to adjust the aesthetics of concentrate consumption. Let's face it, a full dab rig with a bubbler and titanium nail can look like a complicated chemistry set to a new comer. However, a dab pen, sleek and silver, is much more approachable for the average lay person.
This compact arrangement is one of the biggest pluses of a dab pen. They are discreet, portable, and easy to handle. This makes them perfect for bringing with you when you're out and about, storing if you don't have much spare room, or even just making sure that you keep things low key and entirely on your own terms.
Aside from their physical size, another advantage of dab pens is they don't leave any lingering smoke in the air. At most, you'll have to contend with a thin vapor that will quickly dissipate. This makes them ideal for those who want to spare their home the distinctive smell of dry herb.
The style factor is an undeniable advantage, too. Linx, for example, have a stunning range of concentrate vapes and dab pens. They are all rendered in sleek, clean steel with minimalist designs. These have an undeniable appeal.
Finally, the comparative wieldiness of a dab pen makes it a lot easier for precise and measurable dosing. This is something of great importance to both recreational and medical users!
What's Not So Great About Dab Pens?
Of course, everything has downsides, and dab pens are no exception. While they are a fantastic way to enjoy concentrates, this super specialized nature generally means that they are usually unable to be used with any other form of material. You won't be able to use dry herbs at all. Dual use vaporizers exist, of course. However, these have a downside of their own, often focusing on dry herb at the expense of concentrates.
Another problem with dab pens is their lack of aftermarket accessories. These devices seemed to have been designed with a real 'what you see is what you get' philosophy, and don't offer much in the way of opportunities for expansion. Another issue with this single-minded design, is how there is rarely any real space for customizing your vape experience. You are generally restricted to the pre-programed heat settings, with little space for expansion beyond that.
Finally, the last problem with dab pens is more to do with the material they use. Dabs are messy and sticky. You have to put a bit of thought into how you're going to store them, transport them, and handle them. This usually means investing in specialized containers and tools.
How Do Dab Pens Work?
Dab pens are electronic devices that are designed to be portable and rechargeable. They use different types of electronic heating systems depending on the type of material they are designed for.
A wax pen, like the Linx Hypnos, uses a special heating coils system. These are often made out of ceramic or metal and are designed to be highly conductive and to reach vaping temperatures incredibly quickly. They are a lot smaller than many of the other electronic heating systems seen in the vape industry, and can deliver a lot of sessions on a single charge.
This type of electronic heating system has a big advantage over traditional dab rigs as it allows users to pre-load their device, sparing them the trouble of fiddling about with sticky concentrates every time they want a hit.
Oil pens are often called honey straws. These are compact and simple devices like the Linx Ares. Unlike wax pens, you don't have to load them up, instead you open both ends, place it above your oil-style concentrate, activate them, and inhale. They will vaporize the oil and evaporate them as they travel towards the mouthpiece.
What Are The Best Dab Pens For Beginners?
Despite it being a relatively new market, there are an overwhelming number of dab pens out there. To make it easier for you, we've brought together a small list of what we think are the best dab pens for beginners.
The Linx Hypnos Zero
This dab pen fuses form, function, and cutting edge technology. The Linx Hypnos Zero is a super compact concentrate pen. It features the distinctive Linx aesthetic sleek, silver, and futuristic. It is one of the most solid and reliable concentrate vapes on the market, and it is built to last. The body of the Zero is made out of high quality stainless steel, it features a glass vapor path, and a high quality ceramic dish. It is perfect for beginners thanks to its affordability and easy of use.
The Zero has a unique atomizer design that was carefully crafted to ensure that users get the fullest flavor from their concentrates. On top of this, its wickless design massively cuts down on maintenance, making it a dream for beginners who may not know the ins and outs of dab pen maintenance.
Ceramic Plate Heating System
Rather than using coils, the Linx Hypnos Zero uses a ceramic place found at the bottom of the chamber. This never comes into contact with the concentrate, thus preventing hotspots or combustion. This makes the Zero very much a 'plug in and play' vape. Just load it up and go!
The Linx Hypnos comes with four temperature presets, these are easy to cycle though and allow users to enjoy a range of different vape experiences. The simplicity of the control scheme is perfect for newcomers.
Linx Ares Vaporizer
The Ares is a honey straw style vaporizer designed for use with oil-type and softer wax-style concentrates. It is even smaller than the Hypnos Zero, looking more like an actual pen than a dab one. This all changes when you pop off the magnetically sealed caps. They reveal the ceramic heating element and glass vapor path.
The Ares couldn't be easier to use. Simply pop the caps off and it's pretty much good to go. Place the atomizer end into your oil concentrate, hold down the power button, and inhale. It's really that easy. This is a must have for the technophobic dab pen newbie.
The Ares comes equipped with a 750mAh battery. This is more than powerful enough to quickly get the ceramic heating elements up to dabbing temperatures. It also allows for dozens of sessions on a full charge, this is far from a temperamental piece of equipment.
Like the Zero, the Ares has a solid, stainless steel construction. As long as the caps are on, it's more than capable of standing up to the trials and tribulations of daily use. Of course, when the caps are off, the ceramic heater and glass components are delicate, so some care should be taken!
KandyPens are another established brand in the vape industry, known for their affordable, stylish, and innovative vapes. The KandyPen Donuts is an appreciable and intuitive vape pen that is built to help you get the very most out of wax concentrates with the least amount of effort. For those who like their vape to have a personal touch it is available in a huge range of colors. It also comes out of the box with more or less everything you need.
Excellent Vapor Quality
The Donuts is equipped with a ceramic disc atomizer that is perfect for heavy, waxy concentrates. It works at a lower temperature compared to many of its peers, and this allows you to enjoy a cooler, tastier vape experience. This is a godsend for novice users who can't bear rough, super-heated hits.
The Donuts is a truly compact vaporizer, closer to a small e-cig than a portable vape. This makes it an amazing every day carry, allowing you to easily carry it in any pocket or bag. If you don't want to be weighed down, this is a must.
The Donuts is about as simple as it gets. It is incredibly easy to load, thanks to the included dab tool, and features a single button control scheme. It also has a low draw resistance, making it perfect for those who suffer from shortness of breath.
Puffco Pro V2
The Puffco Pro V2 is a stylish, solid, and reliable dab pen that is the perfect next step for intermediate vapers. This sleek device is small enough to fit into any pocket and comes equipped with a range of labor saving and quality of life features. If you want to make sure you start things off right, then the Puffco Pro V2 is the ideal vape for you.
The Plus V2 features a ceramici bucket. This type of heating system is especially good for anyone who wants to get the very most out of their concentrate's flavor. The non-reactive nature of ceramic, combined with its even conduction of heat, means that any resulting vapor will be smooth and tasty.
Built in Dab Tool
A fantastic space saver in the V2 is the inclusion of a built in dab tool. When you remove the mouthpiece to fill the chamber, you'll notice that there's a small dart built into the mouthpiece. This is a dabbing tool. Simply scoop up a little concentrate and reattach the mouthpiece and the chamber will be loaded, it's as simple as that!
Easy To Use
Not only is loading the V2 simple, it's also super easy to use thanks to its straightforward single button control scheme. It even features an even more straightforward mode called 'sesh mode', this is perfect for sharing with friends, as it totally removes the need to hold down the power button for a hit.
Dab pens are one of the most portable, easy to use, and stylish ways to consume concentrates. If you're a newbie in the concentrate scene and you want to find the best way to get your foot in the door, then you can't go wrong with one.
They are perfect for everyday use, occasional sessions, or even sharing with friends. On top of this their compact form means that they're ideal for carrying about or simply slipping away for easy storage.
There is a massive range of dab pens on the market, and their popularity is only growing. It's only a matter of time before they become the go-to way to enjoy concentrates.
Whether you're a beginner looking for somewhere to begin, or a long time vape veterain, a solid quality dab pen would be a seriously good investment.