Wax and dab vape pens explained
What is a Dab?
No, not the dance move that looks like you are sneezing. In the vape pen game, dabs are highly concentrated formulations of tetrahydrocannabinol, aka “THC”. This is the active compound in the cannabis plant, known for its psychotropic effects.
Some call it wax, and some call it oil, despite its solid composition. The reason being, it melts into a liquid form when heated up, just before it is vaporized. Come to think of it, dabs go through each of the three states of matter, solid, liquid and gas, but I’m no Bill Nye…
So glad you should ask. Using a wax vaporizer for concentrates, or “dabbing” is simply more efficient because you are only inhaling the active components of the cannabis plant.
Also it is much safer than traditional combustion methods, since the wax is being vaporized instead of burned. Wax vaporizers provide a healthier alternative to smoking, so let’s get to dabbing!
How to dab?
Traditionally, dabs are done using a glass piece that resembles a traditional bong except that users have a nail and a source of heat, usually a blow-torch. This is still considered the proper way to dab, but wax vape pens provide an alternative option for people who don’t want to go out and buy a ten foot bong and a blowtorch. Dab pens are a great way to dab on the go.
Dab rigs cater to a very niche crowd at this point, kind of like mechanical mods do in the e-cig world, and dab pens are better suited for the masses. Let’s talk about the various types of wax/dab pens…
Types of dab/wax pens
In our book, there are really two main categories of vape pens for wax. There are either ones that try to simulate a classic dab rig, containing a coil and wick that heats up relatively fast. You then have the slow-cooking ones that usually feature a coil-free chamber, typically made of ceramic.
There are advantages to both, namely the latter will give you a more noticeable effect right away versus the former, which is a “slow-creeper”. The advantage however is that your oil will get vaporized slower and produce better flavor. Similar to using a cannabis vaporizer vs. smoking, you will get a much more mellow experience with these type of wax pens.
They say “different tokes for different folks”.
An example of a hard-hitting, coil-based wax pen would have to be the Kandypens Galaxy. The MigVapor Yabba Dabber on the other hand, is a coil-less “donut” style dab or wax pen that vaporizes concentrates slower and at slightly lower temperatures.
Each one has it’s own unique advantages that we will be discussing. Some even come with an array of coil heads that are optimized for the various viscosities of concentrates.
The thinner waxes tend do better with quartz and silica wicks, and the thicker wax/dabs seem to do well with ceramic.
The evolution of wax/dab coils
Since the “nail” of a dab rig is usually constructed of Titanium, it makes perfect sense that it is the most common material is used for the coils in wax atomizers. This factor also contributes to simulating that classic dab rig experience. The coils are wrapped out of relatively thin wire usually containing some type of wicking material.
Originally silica was popular in the first Micro G Pens, much like some of the early e-cigarette models. Since then, we have noticed a major switch to using ceramic rods instead. Recently, there has been a trend of using hard glass such as quartz. This is supposed to vaporize your wax a little bit cleaner, and provide a cleaner taste.
Fortunately, many of these companies offer more than just one atomizer option. Some of them include a variety of coil heads for the user to further customize their wax pen experience such as the Dr. Dabber Aurora.
In addition to the wicking material, many companies have evolved from a stainless steel chamber, to a fully ceramic and now a quartz one. Having the chamber made of the same material as your wicks provides better heat distribution and flavor, instead of getting a metallic aftertaste.
How many wax/dab coils do I need?
There is no right answer that question. It all comes down to finding the right balance between getting a powerful hit, and having your wax/dabs last longer. If you are trying to conserve, then go with a coil-less atomizer and it will bake your wax slowly.
For many people, this type of hit will not be satisfying. In that case, we would suggest starting with a single coil and working your way up to a dual-coil wax atomizer. Keep in mind, the more coils you have, the faster it will vaporize your wax/concentrates. What will be the next evolution in wax atomizer technology? Triple or perhaps even quad-coils?
Source Vapes already has a triple coil head in their new Flosstradamus wax atomizer, so this might actually be becoming a reality in the near future. (See above)
How to get the most out of your wax/dab pens
Sometimes less is more. If you overpack, the wax is going to bubble up once it turns into oil and potentially clog the air-hole or mouthpiece of your dab pen. It may also get stuck to the sides of the chamber or even worse in the threading of the wax atomizer.
It is recommended to pack between 0.1 and 0.2 grams at first to see how your pen vapes. Some work better with more or less dabs. The harder, shatter-type waxes for these type of devices because they make loading it up easier. The softer dabs are very sticky and can be more difficult to load up your wax atomizer properly.
Cannabis concentrates are not always easy to come by, but if you do have a choice, go with the harder dabs when using most wax vape pens.