Dabbers unite! There has never been a better time for the refined and exquisite method of enjoying vaporized extracts than now. There is a bewildering range of devices on offer and an even more bewildering range of ways to use them. But do not worry, help is at hand to guide you through the dizzying array and help you on your way to discreet dabbing nirvana.
But first, what is a Dab Pen?
A dab pen can be known by many different names – atomizers, wax pens, a dab vape pen, concentrate vaporizers, you name it – but they all have one function. To turn a waxy extract of your favourite herb into delicious vapour as discreetly as possible. Most of them will not vaporize a dry herb extract, so if you are into your ground herbs, look elsewhere (there are combos available, but we are looking at just the wax pens here).
Wax concentrates (the dab) like shatter and crumble, oils, and whatever other extract you can get from your herbs are placed into a tiny chamber heated by a (usually) ceramic coil and heated to a specific high temperature, turning that extract into tasty, tasty vapour. There can be enormous vaporizers for your coffee table or boudoir, but these are designed to look as similar to an e-cigarette as possible, or maximum discretion. Because not everybody approves of what some people put in their dab pen, it can pay to be discreet.
Usually no bigger than an actual pen, they can be secreted in a pocket or hidden up a sleeve and whipped out for a quick blast when nobody's looking. It is not just discretion, it is sensible to have as portable a machine as possible, right? Batteries have improved massively over the last few years and now even cheap dab pens can give a few days’ heavy use or satisfy a few friends on a trip out for the day.
Without the combustion that makes smoke so bad for you, the heating of extracts and concentrates to produce vapour is much, much less toxic than smoke. They are increasingly popular amongst even die-hard smokers for their depth of flavour, nice kick and precision when it comes to getting the right temperature for maximum effect from your vape.
So, what do you Put in Them?
Whatever you like, it just might be disgusting. We recommend you go for wax concentrates and oils. There are a few subtypes, so let’s take you through them.
Whatever flavours and additives you want, suspended in an oil that produces thick vapour at a certain temperature. Oils are a popular choice but a lot of wax pens will not work with them, so if you are fan of oils, or want the versatility, look for a dab oil pen. Oils can be eaten, dabbed, stuck in a cigarette or a vaporizer. A bit fiddly for a discreet vape.
When you use butane or carbon dioxide to concentrate your extracts you get what is called shatter. When it gets cold, it shatters like glass, hence the name. This is useful because the little shards can be packed easily into your dab pen for a discreet vape on the go.
Not actual earwax, thankfully. Though someone has probably tried it … Some say this is the superior way to consume extracts, it is oil whipped to produce a fluffy wax that apparently has a smoother vape and better flavour. Can be a bit fiddly but is certainly better than oils, if usually more expensive.
Some people dab because it is a viable alternative to smoking. A pleasing kick at the back of the throat, the smoky feel, the delicious flavour, with only 5% of the cancerous death risk. Smoking herbs is also smelly and obvious, it hardly meets the needs of a discreet herb user. A blast on a dab pen is less risky, more discreet and to some, much more palatable. Lots of people dislike smoking but plenty like vaping.
What is the Best Dab Pen?
It is entirely subjective, of course, so the best dab pen is the one that gives you the best results. For some people, one heat setting is OK and a simple design is all they need. For others who are more picky about their dabbing, adjustable temperatures, faster heat up times, longer battery lives and quicker charging are all worth paying for.
In general, the more you pay, the less you have to wait for it to heat up, the more tokes you will get, the longer the battery will last and the higher quality vape you will get. Bear in mind, a dab pen will never compete with a proper desktop vaporizer or a larger hand held, so don’t expect enormous clouds of incredible vapour here.
The best dab pen for wax is not the best dab pen for oils, so if you know what your supply is going to be like, you can buy the right one for your extract or concentrate of choice.
How to Load your Dab Pen
For the loading of your dab pen, you are going to need a dab tool, your extract or oil and a dose of hand/eye coordination. The dab tool is super-simple, it is just a metal rod with a scoop on the end. Scoop out the desired amount of dab onto the end of the tool (a little goes a long way, so don’t get greedy!), pushing it round the edge of the container to get it into a nice round shape, pop it into the chamber of your dab pen, scrape off (do not use your fingers) and spread evenly over the part of the chamber with the heater in. An even spread will ensure you get a nice even vape as it will heat up at a constant rate. If you leave little lumps you can experience a burnt taste, not good.
For storing your wax or oil, a little silicone chamber is the best bet. They are easy to clean, tough, make good seals for maximum storage duration, and they are recyclable. Extremely convenient, they are a must for any but the most temporary of journeys.
For oils, do the best you can with the tool but prepare to be a bit frustrated.
Dab pens are simple by design, and do not need much maintenance as a result. Unscrew the mouthpiece and atomizer, wipe down the contacts with a clean cloth, screw it back on and get on with your day. If there are waxy residues, try isopropyl alcohol, a surfactant like washing up liquid or an appropriate cleaning solution. Make sure it is perfectly dry before you put it back together or the contacts will corrode and your precious dab pen will die.