What is a Dab Pen (or a Wax Pen) & What Does It Do?

June 30, 2024

Dab pens are simple, portable, and practical devices to consume just about any type of cannabis concentrates. Read on to learn more about dabbing, how to use a dab pen, and how they work.

What’s a Dab Pen & How Does It Work?

Dab pens, also called wax pens, are portable, easy-to-use tools for smoking cannabis concentrates. These devices have a chamber, called an atomizer, that holds the concentrate while the battery-powered heating element heats the atomizer to a high temperature, between 350°F and 400°F. This vaporizes the concentrate which can then be inhaled through the mouthpiece.1

Dab Pen vs Dab Carts: Are They The Same?

No, dab carts and dab pens aren't the same device. Dab carts are cartridges that have been pre-filled with liquid concentrates that are designed to be used with a compatible vape pen. A dab pen is a device in which the consumer places more solid concentrate–shatter, crumble, etc.–into a chamber to be heated and smoked.

How To Use A Dab Pen [3 Steps]

Using a dab pen can be intimidating, but it’s a relatively simple tool to use. Before you begin, make sure your dab pen is completely charged and you have your concentrate of choice ready to go.

  • Step 1: Unscrew the atomizer and place your concentrate in the chamber. (Pro tip: concentrates are often sticky and thick, so a metal dab tool can be helpful.) 

  • Step 2: Reattach the atomizer to the heating element, and press the heating button. Different concentrates require different temperatures, so you may want to experiment with the different heat settings on your dab pen.

  • Step 3: Place your mouth on the mouthpiece and inhale the vapor.

When you're finished, turn the pen off and screw the cap back on so concentrate doesn't leak out.

How To Clean A Dab Pen [3 Steps]

Dab pens are relatively simple devices, but it’s incredibly important to keep it squeaky clean. This is because heating sticky concentrates can cause residue to build up over time, potentially attracting mold and bacteria. To prevent this from occurring and to extend the life of your device, make sure to give it a regular cleaning.

To clean your dab pen, following these steps.1

  • Step 1: Gather the following cleaning supplies: a small glass bowl, cotton swabs, warm water, rubbing alcohol, and paper towels.

  • Step 2: Set the pen to its highest temperature and turn it upside down over a paper towel. This step will melt concentrate residue, which should flow down onto the towel.

  • Step 3: Once the atomizer has cooled down, unscrew all the parts of the dab pen so you can thoroughly clean each one. 

  • Step 4: Fill a small glass bowl with rubbing alcohol, then soak a cotton swab in the alcohol and use it to wipe down the atomizer, avoiding the coils. Continue wiping all of the other parts of the pen with the alcohol-soaked swab.

  • Step 5: The final step is to rinse everything in warm water and allow it to dry naturally before using the pen again.

If you find that the atomizer still has residue inside of it, you can soak it in the bowl of alcohol for about 30 minutes, which should loosen the remaining material.

Dab Pen Pros & Cons

There are several pros and cons to using dab pens.

  • Pro: Dab pens are portable, discreet, and simpler to use than dab rigs.1

  • Con: You need to learn which temperatures are best for the type of concentrate you're using, and dab pens need to be cleaned regularly.

Depending on your preferences, you may choose other ways to consume concentrates, or may find that dab pens are right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions about dab pens? These frequently asked questions can help – and be sure to check with your budtender if you have any other questions:

Is a dab pen the same as vaping?
No. Dab pens are specialized devices that heat cannabis concentrates into vapor that can be inhaled. The term “vaping” is generally used to describe smoking cannabis through a vape pen.  

What do you use with a dab pen?
Dab pens can be used for cannabis concentrates, including wax, live resin, sauce, or rosin.

Do dab pens smell?
Yes, dab pens do smell, but the smell will not be as strong as smoking marijuana flower. This is because the concentrate is heated inside the dab pen using a battery-powered heating element, as opposed to lighting a joint or an open bowl of flower with a lighter.3

More About Dab Pens

Dab pens can allow you to consume different types of cannabis concentrate, from wax and budder to live resin, rosin, and sauce. Ready to shop for concentrates? Not sure where to start? Check with your budtender to find the dab pen that works best for you.

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1. "What Are Dab Pens, And How Do They Work?" Leafwell, https://leafwell.com/blog/what-is-a-dab-pen

2. "What is a Dab Pen? How They Work and How to Use Them,” NuggMD, May 1, 2024, https://www.nuggmd.com/blog/what-is-a-dab-pen

3. "Do Dabs Smell? How Long Does the Smell Last?" The Stash, December 9, 2019, https://www.wikileaf.com/thestash/do-dabs-smell/

Use of Marijuana Concentrate may lead to: Psychotic symptoms and/or Psychotic disorder (delusions, hallucinations, or difficulty distinguishing reality); Mental Health Symptoms/Problems; Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) (uncontrolled and repetitive vomiting); Cannabis use disorder/dependence, including physical and psychological dependence. Please consume responsibly. This product may cause impairment and may be habit forming. There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product.  State laws impact what dispensaries can and can’t sell to recreational customers and medical marijuana patients. Not every type of product, consumption method, dosage form, or potency mentioned on this blog will be permitted in all locations.

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