Marijuana Vape Pens: How to Use Them & How They Work

Marijuana Vape Pens: How to Use Them & How They Work

Cannabis vaporizers are electronic devices that allow you to inhale the vapor from marijuana flower or cannabis concentrates like distillate or wax.

These game-changing devices come in different types such as tabletop vaporizers, portable vapes, and weed vape pens which are easy to use and discreet. We break down what those weed vape options are and how to use them  — including safety information.

How do vaporizers work?

Cannabis vaporizers work by heating marijuana flower or cannabis concentrates to optimal temperatures. Usually, there is an indicator light that flashes when the device is heated at the right temperature. The result is a flavorful vapor of active cannabinoids and terpenes that users inhale.

Most weed vapes are engineered to heat cannabis products to just below the temperature of combustion which ranges from 356 to 374 Fahrenheit. This means it’s usually easier on your lungs than smoking cannabis in a joint or bowl which can cause that burning sensation if you hit it too hard. Many marijuana vaporizers have different settings that adjust to different temperatures so you can find the right vape pen for you.

What are the different types of vaporizers?

Vaporizers are designed for different cannabis forms. Below is an overview of the different types of marijuana vaporizers. No lighters or torches are needed!

Tabletop cannabis vaporizers

Volcano vaporizer

These marijuana vapes were some of the first on the market and are larger than portable ones. They sit on a solid surface and have a few common features. These include a temperature dial, a chamber where you put cannabis flower, a heating element, and a mouthpiece.

The temperature dials allow a user to change the temperature setting and are typically the way you turn the device on. Put your flower in the heating chamber and draw on the mouthpiece to use. The mouthpiece can be a single tube that carries the vapor to your mouth. Or, it can be a bag, such as in a Volcano vape that you use to capture the vapor, detach and inhale the vapor inside. Vapes in these styles usually are for vaporizing marijuana flower.

Portable marijuana vapes

Portable cannabis vaporizers like the Pax 2 are designed to produce vapor from marijuana flower. There is a mouthpiece at one end and at the other end is a chamber where you put your ground-up flower in and close it with a lid. Inside the handheld device, there is also a battery and heating element.

Portable weed vapes like the Pax 3 are designed to vaporize marijuana flower and cannabis concentrates like wax, shatter and live resin. They come with a little aluminum insertion component to put the concentrate on. Every manufacturer has a unique technology with recommendations on settings so be sure to read the user guide.

Weed Vape pens

Cannabis vape pens are portable devices used to vaporize cannabis distillate. They are compactly designed and many resemble a pen thus the name vape pen. You vaporize cannabis concentrates via pre-filled CBD or THC distillate tanks or you can attach a cannabis oil cartridge to the internal battery. These tanks and THC oil cartridges usually come with 300mg, 500mg, or 1000mg of cannabis oil.

Disposable vape pens

All-in-one (AIO) weed vape pens come with a pre-filled tank full of cannabis distillate and are ready to use once you take it out of the package. They are disposable since you cannot re-fill the oil in the vape tank. Cannabis consumers can take a draw from the mouthpiece and usually an electronic light at the end of the disposable vape pen will light up to indicate that you are inhaling enough to produce the vapor. Some examples of brands that make AIO vape pens are Harmony, and Evolab.

Rechargeable vape pens

Non-disposable rechargeable cannabis vape pens are basically handheld batteries with a heating component and mouthpiece. You can buy disposable cartridges, some made by Pax are called ‘pods’, that are filled with cannabis oil. Once it makes contact with the vape battery, it powers the pod’s internal heating element. Or there is a special heating component called atomizers for concentrates. Both carts and atomizers must be attached to the vape battery to work.

O.pen 510 threaded cartridge

The most common cannabis oil cartridge for most non-disposable vape pens is called a 510 threaded cartridge. 510 describes the type of threading that is used to screw the cartridge or atomizer into a compatible 510 weed vape pen rechargeable battery.


Try to make it a habit to turn off your vape pen battery when not in use, this will help preserve battery life and protect it from use by children. Also, it’s recommended to remove the vape cartridge from the battery when not using it to help prevent possible damage.

Every manufacturer of cannabis distillate or oil will make a vape pen battery for their brand of cartridge. Some weed vape pens have a single voltage setting or multiple voltage settings. Having more than one temperature setting is called variable voltage. Not all voltage heat settings are recommended for vaping THC cartridges.

Typically, most vape pen batteries with a button turn on by clicking it 5 times. Most variable voltage 510-thread batteries will switch voltage settings by clicking it either 2 or 3 times rapidly. It's important to always read the vape pen instructions before using a new one.

Temperature settings

We will describe temperature settings for the O.pen 2.0 vape pen, which can be similar to other weed vape pens. This is so you can see the different settings depending on what type of concentrate you want to vape and the size of hits you want. Any of the O.pen 2.0 vape pens can work with both prefilled THC cartridges and wax atomizer options that have a 510-thread connection.

vape pen temperature settings

The first three settings are perfect for those who want to vape without having to press a button and will vape THC cartridges by simply inhaling. The fourth setting, the dab mode, requires you to press down on the stylus button while inhaling.

  • Low - 2.4 volts are great for vape cartridges meant for low voltage settings. Live resin cartridges or cartridges with high terpene content are designed to be hit at these lower settings so the flavor profile is preserved. This lower setting shows a purple LED light. 
  • Medium - 3.2 volts are perfect for a more flavorful and sizable vape hit, and are shown through a red light.   
  • High - Green lights mean you are at the high setting, which is 4.0 volts. This setting is going to provide the biggest vape hit but will sacrifice flavor, some THC cartridges may even start to burn at this voltage setting.
  • Dab - The mode is meant for vaping cannabis extracts with a 510-thread wax atomizer, and is indicated with blue lights. It can also be used with THC cartridges that can take this voltage setting. Do not use this setting with any vape cartridge unless you're certain it's capable of vaping at this voltage.

How to vape cartridges with cannabis oil

There are many cannabis oil cartridges available on the market with a range of effects, flavor profiles, and effects. One example of a cannabis oil cartridge is Magnitude which uses live terpene distillate to preserve flavor and quality.

If you are hitting a weed vape pen with an oil cartridge for the first time, it’s best not to take a huge puff right away. This can lead to unwanted side effects such as lung irritation and paranoia.

Instead, take some small puffs and inhale for only a few seconds, this will allow the ceramic coils to warm up the THC oil.

After the coils have warmed, you can proceed with some larger hits which will become easier with continued use as the marijuana oil thins as it heats up. If you find yourself using a buttonless vape pen battery, simply take a few smaller draws before going for that bigger one.

What to expect on your first vape puff

Most vape pen batteries, like the O.pen 2.0 have a timeout heat setting. This means the pen will stop heating the cartridge after a certain amount of time. Most pens will have this occur around 8-seconds. More experienced users may decide to draw for the full 8-seconds and more novice consumers may start with a smaller 2-second inhale.

Once you take a vape hit, don’t hold it for a long time thinking it's going to help you get higher. It's important to take a draw, briefly hold, and then gently exhale to minimize lung irritation. We also recommend not underestimating the potential effects of a cannabis oil cartridge. If you’re new to vaping, try waiting 10-15 minutes before attempting a second vape puff to see how you feel.

Realistically, if the potency of the THC cartridge is above 80%, a small hit will be sufficient to feel effects for even the heaviest cannabis user. While the effects of vaping THC oil are often felt immediately, it can take time for the full effects of any THC vape cartridge to be felt. Therefore, it’s recommended to always start slow and proceed with caution.

Charging your vape pen

It's never fun to discover that your vape pen battery is dead when you’re getting ready to use it. Most weed vape pens have a way to check if the battery is low. You can check the charge level on your O.pen 2.0 battery by clicking the stylus button 3x (red means it's time for a charge).

To charge your battery, most vape pens have a USB or micro USB and a charging cable is usually included with the device. Simply screw on or insert the USB charger and plug it into any compatible charging dock.

For example, the O.pen 2.0 comes equipped with a 20-minute rapid charge mode that can be activated by simply swiping your finger over the O. The light on the USB charger will turn from red to green when charging is complete. Unplug the device when fully charged.

Buy vapes with safety in mind

Vaporizing cannabis may be a healthier alternative than smoking because weed vaporizers are designed to avoid combustion. However, when purchasing vape pens and cannabis oil, look at the ingredients and ask your budtender if you are unsure of what they are. Always avoid purchasing distillate made with cutting agents like vitamin E acetate and other additives or flavorings.

It’s always a good idea to buy marijuana vapes and cannabis oil at licensed brands and dispensaries like LivWell. This is so you know they are tested by a third-party lab and can avoid the risk of inhaling any dangerous substances.

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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